Saturday, 24 November 2007

Speaking of Love and The Book To Talk About

Speaking of Love has been longlisted for Spread the Word's Book to Talk About, which is wonderful news for the book, and for all the books on the list (there are 100 of them). The award will be announced in the UK's Year of Reading (2008). The short list will appear in February - voted for by book groups and individuals - and the Book to Talk About will be announced on 6 March, which is World Book Day.

If you or your book group would like to vote for Speaking of Love go HERE. (You have to log in and then register to vote.)

To find out more about Spread the Word, Books to Talk About go HERE.

To see the longlist and read what the Guardian wrote about the prize on Friday, go HERE.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

La Serenissima

I have been here:

and I was going to show you some other beauties ... but the photographs proved impossible to upload ... and Blogger kept showing me an incomprehensible code and saying 'We're sorry'.

I have just got back and it is extremely difficult to work as fast as I did before I left, to see a car without wondering why it's not a vaporetto and as for computers ... .

But I think my next novel will end in Venice because she is heartbreakingly beautiful and quite unafraid to show her age.

Monday, 5 November 2007

The writing process ...

... or should that be

the thicket?

I seem to go from a simple idea for a novel, a contemporary Beauty and the Beast in the case of my next novel, into a thicket of handwritten notes, ideas scribbled on stray pieces of paper, written scenes, more ideas, bits of plot, character notes, more ideas, structure notes, notes carefully filed in plastic folders with headings like 'Edward's Section' which become part of a pile of plastic folders on a blue stool beside me, and scenes. Not to mention the typed Word documents of all the above (sometimes writing by hand pleases me; sometimes I type) which are carefully filed in different subfolders in a folder called Beauty and the Beast. The subfolders are growing like the branches of a thicket.

All these notes
a thicket
in my head.
Through which it is difficult to see out.

And then this morning I knew that I had to make it simple. I knew that I had to write the one line that - like the root of the tree at the heart of the thicket - holds the whole thing up.


From which I have begun the novel again.
And from which I will redraft it again and again.
And again.
Until the characters embody that simple idea.

But, of course, by the end the novel will be fat with the colours and smells and physical attributes, the inspirations and desperations and insights - in short, the characters - of the many unexpected paths (notes) that I trod along the way. So the paths and the notes that lead to them are useful, more than useful, essential. It's just that I hate that thicket feeling.

This morning, as I wondered where to file this, I realised that the best place was here. It would only get lost in the thicket otherwise.

Friday, 2 November 2007

GIFT day and Lewis Hyde's The Gift

Over on Dovegreyreader's blog today she writes about GIFT day, organised by Canongate for the publication of Lewis Hyde's book, The Gift, which argues

that we should keep some parts of our social, cultural and spiritual life out of the marketplace.

He believes that the rise of capitalism has brought about the decline of the creative spirit.

You can sign up with Canongate to make a gift on 15 December and if you're among the first 100 to do so they will send you a free copy of Lewis Hyde's book. Hurry over to Dovegreyreader's blog, 2 November post.

I think it's a wonderful idea ... I'm going to write something and I'll probably write what I write in one of the two categories Canongate suggest. Because the best things in life are free, aren't they?

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Booking Through Thursday, Oh Horror!

What with yesterday being Halloween, and all . . . do you read horror? Stories of things that go bump in the night and keep you from sleeping?

I thought about asking you whether you were participating in NaNoWriMo, but I asked that last year. Although . . . if you want to answer that one, too, please feel free to go ahead and do both, or either, your choice!

I had to watch Pulp Fiction through my fingers ... and I can't read horror fiction at all because, like almost all the fiction that I read, it lives on in my mind and I can't get away from it. (And, unlike almost all the fiction that I read, I long to get away from it!) Ambrose Bierce's An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (which you can download as an ebook for free HERE) is the closest I've ever got, and it's not horror in the Pulp Fiction blood-guns-and-guts sense.

And as for writing a 50,000-word novel in a month, the idea gives me as many nightmares as a horror story would if I read one. But if anyone else wants to have a go, go HERE. The National Novel Writing Month (no, I didn't know either ...) begins today.

And so, back to writing a few hundred a words a day ... .