Tuesday, October 28, 2003

I'm addicted to spider solitaire. I don't even seem to need to move on to more difficult levels, just play the same game again and again. I'd like to say it's part of my creativity but it's not. It's just a waste of the time I should be spending writing. I even think about it at night and when I'm travelling - it's as if my fingers want to be clicking.

Have been reading horror stories in preparation for a class on writing them. I love one description which is that they make the skin on our souls shiver. Am surprised by how much I am enjoying them considering I was the child who refused to read Kidnapped because I got too scared by the title alone. I've still never managed to read the book. Watching the 100 most scarey film moments on TV too - it's not the gore and blood that gets me, it's the everyday actions turned on their head. Was surprised at how much telephones were used in horror action - could it be something to do with the way they allow voices to be disembodied?

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Have just agreed a contract for Russian translation rights for the Lexicon. The publishers go by the extraordinarily English name of Thornton and Sugden.
Must be a story there.
A habit in our family is to cut out stupid or even interesting newspaper clippings. Two this weekend are about being forced to move from homes - firstly, a couple who had to move from their address - Butt Hole Road - because they couldn't take the jokes anymore. What seemed to grieve them most was that pizzas weren't even being delivered because the pizza companies thought it was a prank. Second, a jail sentence for the neighbours from hell who set up an amplified laughter machine which went off every time their neighbours left their house, greeting them with noisy and lengthy laughter. Hmmm.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

'Everyone who's worth anything begins life again somewhere between thirty-five and fifty - begins it destitute in some important respect.' Alice Duer Miller.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Heard a romantic 'Thornbirds' story from an Irish friend last night. There's a grave in her local cementry of a priest from Lewes, near here. He's buried next to a widowed woman who he lived with in Ireland for many years as her 'companion'. When the woman died, she was buried nine foot deep so her daughter could be buried on top of her. Then when it came to the priest's turn to die, he requested that he be buried next to the woman, and even though he had no one to be buried on top of him, they took his coffin down to nine foot too so the couple could continue to exist happily side by side.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Book club tonight. Always makes me feel a bit inadequate because I feel the group expects me to be able to say something more intelligent about the books than them because I'm a 'writer', and I can't. Writers don't always make the best readers - sometimes I get too interested in the techniques used to take one step back and see the larger themes but I'm amazed at the quality of the discussion - and yes, we DO talk about the books! Inadequacy is even worse tonight because I've just found out I've been reading the wrong book - Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford, when it should have been Love in a Cold Climate. Mind you, they're probably both so similar that I'm wondering if I can get away with it!

Been speaking to students recently about this writing/reading thing. Some of them claim that they've stopped enjoying books because they're getting held up with the style. I've certainly less patience than I used to have with books. There are several recently that I've just stopped reading, but with others - the joy. I'm not reading I'm living it. The latest of these is The Curious Incident of the Dog at Nightime. It was stunning and why it wasn't on the Booker shortlist, I can't imagine.

A bit of a strange day - have been able to write all day which is good, but I've had to spend hours on my teenage hero's wetdream. Not the most pleasant place to be.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Spent hours last night on the internet trying to research into Sarah Sophia Banks to see if she'd be an interesting subject for the monologue I'm writing to be put on in Brighton before Christmas. She was the sister of Joseph Banks, the plant collector, and lived with him and his wife. It seemed a pretty claustrophobic relationship. Apparently once when someone remarked that it was a nice day, she replied: 'I know nothing at all about it. You must speak to my brother Sir Joseph Banks, the noted naturalist upon that subject when you are at dinner.' I LOVE that, - a bit like that joke about the woman who cries out 'My son - the Doctor - is drowning' - but am not sure whether it justifies a whole monologue. When we had our meeting, we were advised to pick a character 'in extremis'. More and more this makes sense - there needs to be a reason for a character to be telling their story.

Writing with a friend this morning, we picked on the subject - things that revolt us. We tried to really write into the subject, using all the senses to really make it disgusting, but we were sharing a table with a couple of middle aged women busily enjoying their lunch so it felt too mean to read our stuff out!