Book-wise I’m at what my marathon-running children tell me is around the 20 mile marker, also known as Just Shoot Me Now. I’m about ten days off finishing first draft and still, somewhat worryingly, making major decisions. Yesterday I tossed a coin to see who would inherit the worm farm. So much for a carefully crafted plot. But I’m a great believer in coin-tossing. When you think you’re undecided it’s a very quick way of discovering what your true feelings are.
I have no idea whether this link will work beyond the Irish sea but for anyone who has ever lain awake nights thinking, ‘Damn! I wish I knew more about Laurie Graham’, toss and turn no more. Here is County Dublin’s answer to Desert Island Discs.
Thank you all for your good wishes following my last post. I had a lovely break, which is just as well because I’ve come back to pandemonium, but sure doesn’t everything come with a price tag?
Today let’s talk about critics.
In my thirty year career I’ve enjoyed some very generous reviews and few stinkers. Of course it’s the stinkers one remembers. Someone (and my revenge has been to forget his name) once described me as being the kind of woman who cornered you at a party and regaled you with hilarious (not) stories about her children. Boy did he get that wrong. I’m the kind of woman who keeps her coat on and leaves after one drink and a Twiglet. Anyway it was a stupid ad hominem criticism that had absolutely nothing to do with my book so ya boo sucks to him.
I’m about a month behind on delivering first draft but we’re nevertheless nearing the time when the jacket designer has to be briefed. My editor and I had the following exchange yesterday:
LG: Bearing in mind that my principal characters are now in their seventies and eighties can we please have a jacket that reflects that? Something like this
Or even this
LG: Because, you know, us old gals rarely get a look in. And frankly, I’m sick of it.
I know, I know, I KNOW. Bloggers who rarely blog are very annoying. But I have this damned book to finish and I’m horrendously behind. So I thought I’d throw you a tidbit, just to keep you going until I have something more articulate to say than ‘aaaagggghhh.’
I read this poem yesterday and the last few lines fairly made me yelp with joy. I never saw it coming.
It’s by Billy Collins, sometime US Poet Laureate, and goes as follows:
So much gloom and doubt in our poetry-
flowers wilting on the table,
the self regarding itself in a watery mirror.
So there I was, at the advanced age of sixty eight, published author an’ all, on the receiving end of the most withering of looks from my Russian teacher. ‘Where is your predicate, Laurie?’ she said, and I was darned if I had an answer for her.
I spent a good deal of yesterday gazing more in resignation than in hope at an airport departure board and so missed posting on the anniversary of Mark Twain’s death. He is a perennially uncontested entry in my list of favourite authors. The day I grow tired of reading him I will truly be tired of life.
MT accurately predicted his own death on the basis that he had been born in a year when Halley’s Comet approached Earth (1835) and would surely leave this life on the comet’s next return in 1910. And so he did. He imagined God saying to Himself, ‘Now here are a pair of unaccountable freaks. They came in together and must go out together.’
I’ve had a bit of an Old White Guy week with two joy-delivering discoveries. First, Richard Ford.
‘Earth to Laurie. Where have you been all these years?’
Richard Ford (I now know) is the deservedly successful creator of Frank Bascombe with whom I am currently sleeping or at least sharing, before I nod off, the sardonic observations of a man who will never again see 50 nor enjoy good prostate health. If you too have just emerged from the Siberian taiga or landed from Mars and haven’t yet read Richard Ford – get to it.
So let’s talk about cultural appropriation. J K Rowling got a tongue-lashing this week from an American academic with a big Cherokee Nation axe to grind. JK has apparently dared to venture onto the hallowed ground of Native American beliefs and written, on her website, about skin-walking. Miss Rowling doesn’t need me to defend her but I do think I should say a word or two on behalf of writers in general.
Do I now have your attention?
My loyal reader may remember the discouraging advice I received from my agent a few months back, regarding play scripts: no money to be made, and the only plays people are interested in are those that address difficult contemporary themes. Reading reviews of the National Theatre’s current production of Cleansed I now absolutely see her point. Totes.