I went to see the Basquiat exhibition at the Barbican. I don’t have anything clever to say about it. It made me think again about identity and who we think we are, or might be, or become. It seems to me that Basquiat was between more worlds than only being the black artist in the white scene, homeless to famous, private school to sleeping on a bench, between languages, between forms of expression.
Maybe the most punk rock thing to do is something that you think is a good idea and probably everyone else will hate. Has anyone read the Stephen Millhauser story, In the Reign of Harald IV? What do you think is going on at the end of it?
Here are some more discarded words from the old version of the book.
My head thuds. ‘Set me off again?’ I ad-lib, ‘That was a long time ago.’ I hold my breath. Don’t push too far. Let it come. What more there is, let it come.
‘Yeah I suppose so. I mean everyone’s a bit nuts when they’re kids. I’ve done my share of wild things,’ Debbie says. Her attention is somewhere inside her head. She laughs.
I laugh too, clipping it, trying to cover up clipping it. Act natural. I have my hands shoved into my jeans pockets and I feel your hand grow inside my fist. A tiny baby hand becoming fleshy. I jerk my hand out of my pocket. Debbie doesn’t notice. I flex my fingers, find a glove in my jacket pocket and put it on.
Time seems to move so slowly on Sundays, and at the same time it has that urgency, that sense that Monday is about to happen and that this laziness will not stand. So when you’re hungover, like I am now, with a work-writing and self-writing to do list as long as it ever is that’s when the self recrimination really sticks in your ribs. Coulda woulda shoulda.
I know I’ll get it all done, eventually, but it’ll be painful. The new book is in omniscient third person, with four characters followed in focus and connective tissue of their interactions with each other. So that’s five narratives to write, sort of. I’ve done one and a half. The half is part of the connective tissue narrative. The next one I’m writing is actually a first person voice via her blog. You can read it on Medium if you want to.
I wrote an academic article, that needs a lot of revision, gak.
I’m writing an online exhibition, gak.
And some other stuff needs editing. I am going to overhaul Patience and Bridget’s story – mainly P’s part.
Rolls up sleeves.
Goes back to bed.
You know that feeling when you have worked on a story so much that it is now lifeless, and you think, ‘Did it ever live?’. It’s like, it’s like, it’s like when a fisherman pulls an octopus out of the crystal Mediterranean and takes it to shore and beats it on a rock until it’s dead and what was jewel-like in the water is now jelly on land and what was beauty is now death and what had potential is just wet and slimy flesh grey on grey rock.
But maybe it can be salvaged.
It doesn’t have to be dead.
We turned the heating on. We don’t want our energy bills to go up, but it’s cold. All week we have been yawning or awake too early. The clocks have gone back, re-gifting the hour that we gave for springtime. I was excited that I could walk home in twilight. London’s autumn evening light was rose. The buildings looked like deep sea creatures lighting up in the dusk. But the hour we’ve gained makes me walk home in darkness. London is now jewels in the dark. I have to wait until after the winter solstice to see the underwater creatures of London’s tall buildings again. Continue reading
A difficult first third, or at least 80odd pages, that’s what I’m hearing. That’s all right, useful. I’ve begun my edit now. It’s startling to see what I couldn’t before. The distance has done its work. My writing was or is a huge mess of typos, an entire missing section, awkward phrases. The Story is all there, though. And eventually it’s a “page turner” according to some readers who have ploughed through. I think they must love me to get to the end of this draft. It’s pretty hard work with all the errors of style and judgement the readers’ first draft contains.
If I put into google “agents debut novellists commercial fiction” will I see some miraculous future? I’m becoming more nervous as the reading period for my ‘beta readers’ drags on. Some of my readers are reading it through twice to make sure they have given me as much feedback as possible. Others have gone Very Quiet which suggests that it is perhaps difficult to read, too shoddy to read, to shoddy to give feedback to. ERK. Or perhaps they’re busy. Or perhaps they don’t know how paranoid I can be.
Nice people have agreed to read my book project as it is at the moment to help me see it for what it might be. I think that it is in perhaps its third draft, a true horrorshow of lumps and knots. A tree growing around obstacles. I wrote it in fifteen minute bursts on trains, waiting for meetings, at lunch, at gigs. It isn’t very jointed at the moment, or maybe it is double jointed which is too many joints.