At the moment I spend half my days at a scratched antique table, the chair beneath me creaking with age. On my left is a pile of books and papers including about eight literary journals I’ve intended to blog on for weeks. There’s a book for which I’m interviewing the author; the one on top I’m reviewing for a newspaper. In front of them are multicoloured post-its with good intentions. I look at the top one and think about the email that bounced back this morning. I so badly want to ask him what he reads.
On the right is my manuscript, sprawled-out. I’m editing the second draft before finally letting some people read it. I need to know if I’m getting somewhere with this one. I know it still has a long way to go – needs to be richer. But I’m enjoying writing it, so much. On top of it sits a couple of scrunched-up chocolate wrappers, my phone, a bottle of water. Right beside me is a diary. I flip five pages and suddenly G and I are in Paris. The next ten pages from there promise adventure. It is coming up so soon now.
In this room is the uncomfortable futon where I also spend much time, curled up, scribbling notes and dog-earing books. This is, amazingly, work. I’m reading: Iris Murdoch, a book on institutions, Bright and Distant Shores by Dominic Smith and a big hardcover book on Marilyn Monroe. Last week I was reading eight books at once. As long as they’re all pretty different, there’s no chance of getting mixed up. There’s always a chance, though, of despairing over how far you have to go until you can write a passage like this, a line like that, a character like this, a story like that. The form, the details, the mood. I am learning.
Besides book reviews and the manuscript, work lately has been an academic paper, on The Hours. It’s my second, and it’s taking a while. Its starts out as an idea, an angle. I revisit the text a few times, I read all around it, I write out a plan, I write a convoluted draft (slowly), I rewrite and rewrite. Sometimes work, too, is speaking with and to people – workshops, interviews, festival panels.
Outside of work life is my partner, family and friends, exercise, movies, drinking, planning – I’m a serial planner. Or maybe a dreamer.
And there is LiteraryMinded. My companion for these past four years; vehicle for thoughts, analysis, comments on books, culture and my place in it all. The blog created a place for me in it all. It has helped me in all the endeavours above – to write reviews professionally, to teach and speak, to get my scholarship so I can work on a book. You have helped with it all, by reading, by encouraging me. You are always there, when I am sitting alone at home in my creaky chair. Thank you.