Like most Brits, I’ve been filling in my census form this week. (What is your job title? WRITER. Briefly describe what you do (did) in your main job. WRITING.) I dithered more over the ‘how many hours a week do you work in this employment?’ question. In the last two weeks, I’ve written barely 500 words of Project Bluebell.
I’m not slacking. (Apart from that day Leverage Season 2 arrived and I ate a lot of Revels.) I’m brewing, mulling, cooking a new take on an old idea. And cooking needs fuel.
But the brain needs feeding as well, so I’m stuffing myself with artistic nutrition. Last week I saw Frankenstein at the Olivier in London. The run is sold out (though you might yet snare a ticket for an NTLive cinema showing – on Thursday in the UK, varying dates internationally – which will be the exact production I saw: I’m going, can’t wait to see how it translates onscreen). I went for purely intellectual reasons, of course, and in no way to stare at Benedict ‘Sherlock’ Cumberbatch in a series of extremely well-tailored coats – but I left incoherent with adulation, at a familiar story told afresh with the perfect mix of respect and inspiration. Hard not to walk away with a piqued curiosity about what makes us alive, human, worthy, and a perked sense of love for storytelling.
I’ve watched Cabaret again (can anyone get through Tomorrow Belongs To Me without sobbing?); I’ve been part of the giddy crowd led by skiffle kings The Severed Limb in a Drunken Sailor singalong. I feel surrounded by slightly skewiff people, pursuing the thing they love to do whether it makes sense to the rest of the world or not. Granted, it didn’t work out all that well for Victor Frankenstein – but I think writing a book, you’re more Creature than Mad Scientist: stumbling from rejection to rejection, fumbling for language, striving towards some comforting apprehension of your place in the universe (and very possibly discovering you don’t have one).
So why do we keep doing it? In refuelling mode, everything resonates. I watched Serenity for the millionth time this weekend too, and this might just nail it.
Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson. Another phenomenal, important YA read from the author of Speak, this time tackling anorexia. Outstanding stuff, beautifully written – but I urge you, especially if you’re a teen reader or have any ED history: Take care of yourself while you read this book. Be kind to yourself. Talk about it afterwards.
Not a whole stack of tangible wordage from me, then – but oh my golly, it’s been an exciting week. I’m thrilled to say that Authors For Japan raised just shy of £11,000 for the Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal, and thanks to her generosity I will now have the privilege of mentoring aspiring children’s writer Michelle Newell for the next 6 months. (Do read AL Kennedy’s brilliant piece on the exact sort of handholding I’m hoping to provide.) Thank you so much to everyone who made a bid! And if you missed out, it’s not too late: do check out Kidlit for Japan and Genre for Japan, which are still open with many amazing items on offer.
Failing to quell my inexplicable desire to eat gyoza for every meal; hanging with marvellous old mates who know how to put fish to sleep and how to wake them up again and much more besides (it’s all in the clove oil, apparently); deciding that all things considered, I am not meant to have a fringe.