Friday, August 18, 2006

One true cliche (actually aren't all cliches true?) is how the best books continue to creep up on you long after you've read them. I'm normally a peaceful sleeper, but last night I woke up in a rage, thinking I just had to hit someone. After I'd happily battered to a pulp several of the people currently on my hate-list against a wall at the end of a dead end I'd chased them down (it was a long and enjoyable process but hey, I've never said I was 'nice'), I started to work my way back to why I was feeling like that.

The answer: Alison Lurie's new novel, Truth and Consequences. Unlike most critics it seems, I LOVE books about writers - after all, you can have the confidence that the author is writing from a position of knowledge, rather than, say, with a vampire story. Delia is the writer in Truth and Consequences and she definitely isn't nice. She hates teaching - all those students wanting things from her, she 'forgot' to tell her second husband she hadn't divorced her first, she manipulates everybody into becoming her slave, and when she's caught red-handed by her lover's wife, her reaction is to burst out laughing. But in one thing she is inspiring. She's completely single-minded about her writing. And oh so disciplined.

And I've just realised that's why I woke up angry - because I haven't been like that for a long time. In fact, the opposite. I spent some time last night getting cross with everybody I could think of who has stopped me writing, but came to the conclusion that the main culprit was, of course, myself. There's a balance - I wouldn't want to run away and leave the kids (well, only sometimes) but I'm going to stop sabotaging my writing by always putting it last.

And here endeth the lesson. Well, nearly. Delia's not all bad. One of her lines made me laugh out loud, and still gets me smiling. It's when she tells Alan she's going to move to Key West, and he replies:
'According to what I read, Key West is overrun with homeless chickens and feral six-toed cats, and drugs, and drunken writers and crazy motorcyclists, and the local government is completely corrupt,' he said.
'Yes, doesn't it sound wonderful?' Delia laughed. 'I'm going to be so happy there. Even happier than Henry and Jane.'

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