January 25, 2012
It’s not my strongest virtue. At times I have a hidden store of endless patience on which I can meditate but for the time I don’t have access to this treasure trove, I pace, stubborn and indignant. Frustrated. Irritable.
Come on, I say. Hurry up.
Nothing makes me so impatient as having to wait for books. I order them sometimes on a whim, other times in bulk, to satisfy what Lewis Buzbee describes as ‘book lust’ in his memoirs The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop. Lust always demands satisfaction.
I could swallow my agoraphobia, dose myself on chill-pills and descend upon my local book store but my desire for books often extends beyond their catalogue. Then the paradox comes; I have the patience to search out the best possible deal.
(Note: I do love supporting bookstores but I long for the secondhand store that thrives on people as much as it does profit. Online secondhand stores that donate proceeds to charity are my preferred choice even though they lack that physical, human element. Support your local bookshop, corporate or independent. Imagine the world without them… Disgusting, isn’t it?)
So whilst I’m suspended between contemplating prices for days on end and waiting furiously for days on end for the books to arrive, I find myself thinking about my lack/abundance of patience.
It’s application extends beyond books by the way; I have as much patience for waiting for my root vegetables to sprout as I do waiting for the dentists to send me an appointment; both can take as much time as they need, though for different reasons.
I become devoid of my staying power when cravings are involved. Chocolate for instance, is an insistent addiction. It’s said that waiting five to ten minutes when experiencing a chocolate craving is enough to render it mute but after having waited almost two hours last night, I set upon a long forgotten packet of baking chocolate chips and satisfied myself that way. Not as cathartic as a small square of Lindt, but it put me at ease.
(Note: I didn’t eat all of the chips by the way, just a small handful. They were sickly).
My composure disintegrates when there’s a hole to be filled; knowledge (book lust), sweetness (chocolate), loneliness (friends, letters, phone calls). It’s the expectation, the anticipation of the fulfilment of those desires, all of them base desires, that drive me to twisting my fingers about themselves until their joints are so loose, they disconnect from one another with a gentle tug and then slide back into place.
My grit exists when I expect nothing. I’ve answered a few calls to writing submissions and I’m calmer about this than I am about anything else in my life. Part of it is confidence, part is knowing that there will always be someone better. As long as I have done my best at the time of submission, I have nothing to feel anxious about.
And if I fail to catch the attention of the judges this time, I can revise the works and do my best for the next set of submissions, the effort itself being better than my last attempt because I have learnt more, matured, and am comfortable with perseverance.
January 8, 2011
We all knew it’d happen. I’m still trying to figure out the link between ‘loss-of-interest’ and ‘forgetting’ but let’s not make this too complicated because it can’t be any simpler than this: I almost screwed up on my ‘one new post a week’ promise I made at the start of the year. I think I’m in time to catch the last moments of a week, aren’t I?
What matters is that I’m here now. Actually what matters is that I have something to say, should have something to say, and I think I do. Something about being dissatisfied with what I’m doing at the moment, that is, trying to write the first chapter of this novel. Again.
I changed a bunch of things; I’ve figured out some decent imagery instead of groping at bored clichés and hoping they’d work for me, and I’ve started the process of letting my main character be herself (which is in part me but tenfold) and call the shots when it comes to her own details.
The plot has changed again but has simplified which I’m pleased about because it was all getting out-of-hand and becoming a farce rather than a genuine exploration of an existence that in part seems alien to me but one that I wish would cave in on itself so that I can experience it fully and then find a way out of. Because escape is so much easier to practice when there are gaping holes.
Things are working out in a haphazard way and I’m guessing that this is okay as long as I produce something (which I am) so why the dissatisfaction? I’m going over the same old stuff again and again, trying to reshape it when I’m close to scrapping the whole lot and starting again. I hear this is common practice but I’m whining about it because
- I don’t have the luxury of time; this needs to be completed soon or I fail the module
- I’m getting restless; I want to move on and explore other chapters
- Everything I’m writing is hollow; the inner critic is trashing everything I do and this isn’t helped by the fact that I keep reading exquisite novels by published authors including Bret Easton-Ellis (Lunar Park), Scarlett Thomas (PopCo), and Amy Sackville (The Still Point), my most recent expedition into the land of ‘They’re So Much Better Than Me’.
- I’m discovering huge gaps in my knowledge and worse, my memory. There’s a residue of all the things I should know and a bunch of faint memories where I was learning these things but apart from the occasional scrap of detail that arrives as an epiphany, there’s not much going on upstairs. I learn and then forget.
The real plus out of all this is that my notebook for the project is intense and detailed. I can trace (hehe) how everything has been changing from those weird seed moments right to trying to figure out the formation of a family tree where fathers and mothers are really aunts and uncles.
I think I’ll take a risk today and begin the novel again. I’ll aim to reach 5,000 words by 6pm. I can only gain. Even if I don’t use it as the opener, I’ll have plenty of new material to work and adjust the original chapter with.
But first, lunch.
Until next week (if I remember).
December 6, 2008
So here it is. Saturday night: just me, my blog, the bass of Portishead trip-hopped and remixed. Me and another ebay purchase, keeping it as cheap as I can; under £5 for a nice silver,Indian style engraved, wide wrist cuff. I’d had my eye on it.
Anyways. The purposes of this rambling. Asides from slipping between people the past few days, it’s all relatively and beautifully unstable. Contradiction? Hardly; it’s nice to be clear about instability. But this isn’t the purpose of this rambling.
I am torn. I have sooooooo many books I want to read. Allow me to list…
1. The Journals of Sylvia Plath 1950-1962 ed. Karen V. Kukil (currently reading)
2. A Lover’s Discourse by Roland Barthes (currently reading)
3. Between Us: A Legacy of Lesbian Love Letters ed. Kay Turner (currently reading)
4. How to Write Love Letters by Michelle Lovric (currently reading)
5. Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures by Walter Moers
6. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse
7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
8. Helen of Troy by Margaret George
9. Sappho’s Leap by Erica Jong
10. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Murakami
12. The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall
13. The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
14. Geisha by Liza Dalby
15. Perfume by Patrick Suskind
16. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
That’s what I want to read, and am reading. These are the things I’m going to be reading amidst all of my desired reading:
1. Stigmata by Cixous
2. Voiles by Cixious & Derrida
3. A Philosophical Enquiry by Burke
4. The Sublime: A Reader ed. Ashfield & de Bolla
5. The Lifted Veil by George Eliot
6. Memoirs of the Blind by Derrida
7. The Birth of Tragedy by Nietzche
Amongst other tid-bits, that constitutes the named material I will be throwing myself into for the module next term. The unnamed stuff includes: material pertaining to literary practice and criticism, Aristotle’s Poetics, Longinus, Kant, a snappy little book by Phillip Shaw entitled The Sublime, and if I get time… Lyotard.
I have no issues with the material on the module’s reading list, the extraneous work that I wish to read alongside or even the books that I intend to read for pleasure.
Note: I also want to submerge myself in every inch of work I can that was written by, or is related to Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf, including essays and critique, and also the correspondences they had between various people. I’m trying desperately to get hold of The Letters of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West (not The Letters of Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Woolf), so if anyone can help me there… please tell me how and where…
The only problem with all of this is the lack of time I have. I’ve started getting up earlier (oh how it pains me) and have ditched the laptop for long periods of time in favour of reading. This is after I’ve done the chores and all. I could quite happily squeeeeeeze in 5-8 hours of reading a day, maybe more. But. And it’s a big one. My mind.
By now, readers have probably figured out (or have been told if you’re unfortunate enough to be a friend) that my good ‘ol mind is a bit doolally. To you anyway. (Urg, the Danish I ate is rolling around – damn you food, damn you…) So yes, to you it’s all a bit delicate and new, but if you get it over and out with, just say it… go on… I have several other people in my head.
It’s like having housemates, except they’re tidy.
Anyway. This in itself causes a problem because sometimes there’s a bit of disruption due to whatever (the details are too detailed) and then there’s the problem of memory in that (urg… why did I have to try that vanilla Danish…) I usually have the company of another part of me reading up alongside and it all gets mushed into discussion and hedonistic indulgence and quite frankly … I lose all memory of what I have previously read. This occurs to the point of where I read the same line over and over without realising it and then being completely bewildered by who and what I’m reading:
You see my dilemma. I have little time as it is on top of having a skull full of marbles doused in baby oil. And I could be reading now but I’m blogging.
I guess my real question is: Do I begin reading one of my ‘desired’ texts alongside what I’m already picking my way through, or finish the smaller titles so that I may focus on Plath’s Journals (which are huuuuuuuuuuuge) for the Christmas period?
Answers in a comment box.
Ms. Dexter, if you read this – do not mock my weakness for the cinnamon roll; it is a love that knows no bounds. Not even the death in my stomach. …
November 14, 2008
Literature. It’s a beautiful thing. It does so much for us:
*Saves us from boredom
*Delivers us to boredom
*Opens our eyes
*Makes us think
*Helps us sleep
*Distracts us from our problems
*Resolves our problems
*Distracts us from that annoying snotty-nosed kid in the doctor’s surgery
*Gives us an excuse to be anti-social
*Makes us laugh, cry, scream, shiver, sigh, grumble, smirk, panic etc.
*Brings us down a peg or launches us into the stratosphere
Yes, literature does a lot for us. All that and more. For me, literature is a sort of relationship. A difficult one, complete with a scorning ‘pseudo-mother-in-law’ who wishes to gut me in public and feed me to stray cats because I’ve taken her impressionable daughter, fresh from the wide, wide world and opened her up. Searched about and found the secret that Mummy and Daddy weren’t supposed to find out about: literature suggesting that a woman … could love another woman.
SHOCK! HORROR!!! Although not that uncommon…
I’ve spent the last couple of hours trying to find some literature along these lines. Three volumes of lesbian erotica sit proudly on my bookcase. Pages and pages of smutty goings-on, tastefully written I might add, for lonely nights when a bit of titillation is needed to remind me that being single isn’t so bad.
But sometimes a night of lovingly crafted tales about girl-on-girl romps just doesn’t push the right buttons, so to speak. Sometimes you want a book to talk to you about love. I want a book to woo me with the yearnings of others who have been in my position, are in my position; I want to be told of those women who have spent their lives unashamedly holding hands and ignoring the gawks emitted by the stiff upper lip of society. I want to glimpse upon their privacy and form my own.
Considering the popularity of lesbian literature circulating the free, empowered, out and proud world, you would have thought that finding collections of letters sent between women in close relationships would be a reasonable thing to ask of the myriad of online bookstores. But no.
The fruits of my search have resulted in suspended satisfaction. The dusty philosopher in me decided upon Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse, purely because of my interests in language on a whole. The fact that it deals with the language of love in all its forms sprinkles my decision to buy with a reassuringly fuzzy warmth.
My second choice, one that I had to really dig around for, was Between Us: A Legacy of Lesbian Love Letters (ed Kay Turner). How long it will take me to get my lonely mitts on this book is debatable.
restricted payment options, ordering overseas and buying out-of-print texts all adds up to waiting ages for the book and possibly never getting it at all. I’m cynical about buying from abroad. It could get lost. And because a lot of sellers opt for cheap transit, postal insurance is often non-existent. You can kiss tracking goodbye too. You know how it is. You order a book, you pay, the money is taken from your account, you wait, you complain, you’re reassured, you wait, you wait, you become apathetic, you forget and then about 12 weeks later, a package arrive containing a book that you have no memory of ordering or even searching for.
So where does this all lead to? Another pointless blog rambling about pointless things in order to make a pointless (and lonely) evening seem less … pointless?
Have you ever notice how people’s expressions go from disbelief to shock to horror to comatose to near-death experience when they see that you’re reading lesbian erotica in public? Try it out. Just for fun. You can find a decent enough selection of material in Waterstones. At the back. Right under the Classics.
Note: Positioning of pornographic material may vary from store to store. If in doubt, ask a gormless looking shop assistant…