To You, To Me

movingfurniture    There are encouraging whispers about another book contract  –  calm down, that girl at the back. It’s not in the bag yet   –  but in the meanwhile I’m still rather conveniently in publishing limbo and therefore available to nurse my injured husband. And move furniture.

I’ve been in my current study for five years and  realised only recently that I was perching in it, like an office temp. It is the repository for all on-going (and half-abandoned) projects, and frankly it had become a dispiriting mess. I have written four books looking at the same wall and the same framed poster for a show I once directed.  A poster I didn’t even particularly like. So that got tossed earlier today and, stiffened by that small achievement, I began moving furniture.

Notes From a Far Shore

historywritersWell not a terribly far shore, admittedly, but the wrong side of the Irish sea with a husband immobilised in a hospital bed. Fifteen years ago when he fell and sustained the very same injury he memorialised the calamity by fixing a small brass plaque at the San Toma’ vaporetto stop (downtown route). HIC IACET HOWARDUS it read (I think. I am no classicist) and there it stayed for many years, ignored by the city and the bus company and occasionally visited by kind friends carrying a can of Brasso and a cloth. When the embarcadero was revamped a couple of years ago it was torn up and no doubt now lies in some Italian landfill.

Fay’s At It Again

fay      The indefatigable Fay Weldon has been opining again, dishing out advice to writers. She says we need to get with the program and write fast, page-turning reads because people nowadays are too busy for contemplative or demanding reading. There may be some commercial wisdom in what she’s saying but her reasoning is flawed. People don’t have less time these days, they have more time because they no longer have to polish the brasses, push sheets through a clothes-wringer, black-lead the grate, try to make something edible out of a sheep’s head, or walk ten miles to market to sell their eggs. People today have plenty of time to read if they really want to. If they choose to do other things should we writers chase after them? If we hope to continue earning a living perhaps we’ll have to. Or should we just pack it in, call it a day, try a new profession? I wonder if I could be a life-style mentor?

Drowning in Books

drowningIt isn’t the first time I’ve written on the topic of book overload but I’m hoping to turn things round this time and actually do something about it. I’m spring-cleaning, which is to say I’m dusting around the high-rise piles of Laurie Graham books. My study is starting to look like a Dubai skyline.

The Writing Life

adrenalinjunkie  This has been a roller-coaster of a week. After nearly a month of waiting outside the Principal’s office (or as we say in the business, waiting for reactions to first draft) I heard first from my agent who, rather seriously, didn’t ‘get’ the book at all and predicted a considerable rewrite. Twenty four miserable hours later my editor’s email dropped into my Inbox. ‘Well, Laurie Graham,’ I thought, ‘Here we go. They’ve finally twigged that you can’t write. And so you face the final curtain.

Hearing Voices

headvoices During these languorous days, the calm before the rewrite storm, I find myself (sometimes) thinking about the writing process. Generally, when I’m at work on a novel, I don’t give the process a second thought. Actually, I fear to do so. I’ve never taken a course. When I started writing I don’t think there were any courses. What if I did a course and discovered, erk, that I’ve been getting it wrong all those years? It might be like a swimming instructor trying to cure you of a corkscrew kick. Result: a sinking feeling.

A Small Victory

Now here’s a nice story. Twenty years ago I wrote a feature for Country Life magazine. It was probably called something like My Country Childhood  –  a bit of a stretch really because I was raised in suburbia and only sent to the country during school holidays in a misguided attempt to cure my asthma. But anyway, sent I was, and I have many happy memories of being off my usual short leash and allowed to go free-range by my enlightened  totally clueless grandparents. It was pretty much heaven, apart from the pollen and the animal hair.

To Do

exhausted   My list for today:


OPEN BOTTLE OF CAVA              check

DRINK  DEEPLY THEREOF          hic & check

EAT BLOW-OUT INDIAN              check











The End is Nigh

finishlineUnlike most of the Western world I’ve been back at work since December 28th, setting the bar a bit higher every day. Go on, woman, get on with it. Another 500 words before you put the kettle on. The end isn’t yet quite in sight but I know I can get there. In London Marathon terms I’m closer to Big Ben than I am to the Tower.

The Ghost of Christmas Past

scrooge     There are very few stories I read again and again but Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is one of them. It is one of those instant pathways to my own childhood Christmases. My father, who never read any other book and who worked long hours, came home on Christmas Eve with just two things on his agenda. The first was to carry the previous Christmas’s empties to the off-licence and trade them for a few beers and a bottle of egg flip to add a bit of oomph to my mother’s lemonade. I went with him, partly to remind him to buy crisps and partly because he was very good company. He could do all the Goon Show voices, plus several others of his own invention.