Thursday, 26 January 2012

Wise Monkeys



How are you all? My father-in-law once told me about an editor he knew in Moscow in the sixties. I picture the men walking through a snowy Gorky Park having this conversation, fur hats, greatcoats and all: the editor said to him that he rarely had to cut articles because his writers knew to self-censor before putting their copy in.

The beauty of blogs, of Twitter, of Facebook is their freedom. You say, and write what you want - right? Well, no. Lately, for a whole host of reasons, I've found myself discounting idea after idea for blog posts. For instance ...

What can I say about where I live? Not a lot. The kids are happy. In a global recession, my husband is working. So, what about home life then? The pilot made it very clear early on that he had no interest in the family being written about except in the most general way. *Scratch that one too*. Frankly I don't feel comfortable talking about the family anyway (Jojo Moyes wrote interestingly about this in her blog). 

Another side to being published is that rather a lot of people you know in real life start subscribing/following you, and it suddenly feels like you are flashing your knickers at a cocktail party. I find myself saying 'would I want X to know about this?' if I think of a blog post that means something to me - or 'I can't write about that, no matter how hilarious, because Y will read it.' I miss my comedy sidekick - the Hound. Dogs are good, safe, humour. Cats take themselves too seriously, both rescue hamsters have died within a week of each other, and how much mileage can you get out of a Siamese Fighting Fish called Flashman?

Perhaps I could write about the books? But you need to keep your powder dry with a new story, and how interesting are posts on copy-editing and proof-reading (which is what I've been doing for the last couple of months). Hm. The MA, then? Could tell you about my thesis on ... hey, wake up at the back there.

It's quite ironic that the hands-down worst review I have ever had for anything, *ever*, suggested that my work was so appalling I should 'stick to blogging'. This is the one thing I'm finding difficult at the moment. Public flaming on review sites like this will never be wrapped around tomorrow's fish and chips - it's there, forever, and if you're sensible you just ignore it, keep a dignified silence, get on with good work and say ... nothing. (Or as one author does, makes t-shirts bearing the worst reviews: 'Author of the most god-awful tripe ...' etc).

Which leaves us with, what? The weather? Abnormally cold, if you're interested. We've gone from day after day of 'scorchio!' to 8 degrees and Siberian winds in the desert. No ... I really don't do the weather, or smalltalk. Something will come to mind soon.

Meanwhile, *please* tell me what you've been up to, and writing (comments below), and here are some of my favourite things this week. Enjoy:

A search for the complete 'Writers on Writing' series in the New York Times. I *love* these articles, and hope they help with whatever you're working on: http://query.nytimes.com/search/sitesearch?query=writers+on+writing&more=date_all

The trailer for Wim Wenders' film celebrating Pina Bausch (makes you feel glad to be alive): http://www.pina-film.de/en/trailer.html

And finally, in memory of the wonderful Etta James, a clip of her and Dr John - I'd Rather Go Blind


TODAY'S WRITING PROMPT: Think about one of your characters (or yourself for that matter). What are they - or you - not saying? What are they closing their ears or eyes to?
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