Friday, June 08, 2007

Where I'm At Again

It occurs to me that, although this is a writer’s personal blog, very little of it is either personal or about writing. There is a lot of stuff about climate change – I’m somewhat obsessed with it – but even so that isn’t (or shouldn’t be) the central preoccupation of my waking life.

So I have decided to make an effort with the other stuff – to give visitors (if there are any) a sense of what it is to be me: an earnest, slightly portly, thirty year-old heterosexual obscure novelist.

The first item on the agenda is that I have just moved, properly and with much of my clobber, to Edinburgh. My little house in Hampshire is home to a young couple whose rent payments are just about my only reliable income. It has been a pretty tiring business and expensive: if only I’d learn to use a lending library. My girlfriend, mercifully, is not as acquisitive as me (in fact she’s rather a minimalist), so I’ve been able to bring up about two thirds of my books, along with pictures, clothes, computers and a surprisingly large amount of underwear. We’ve set me up in an ‘office’ overlooking combined tenement gardens: about an acre of ash trees and burgeoning scrub, with sparrows and starlings nesting in the walls and fat wood pigeons shitting on the goose-grass. It is a lovely, shifting green and full of incident for a bird watcher who isn’t unhealthily preoccupied with spotting rarities. My working day consists of lengthy sit outs in front of a screen, occasional trips to the research library and pleasant strolls about the Meadows. For all the anxieties of writing, I’m aware how lucky I am to be free to pursue my own projects, scarcely known or read but, for the present at least, getting by. And in excellent company.

On the writing side, I have completed ‘post-production’ on Serious Things. My editor, the scarily perceptive Carole Welch, has sent me her questions and queries and helped me knock the manuscript into shape. Now I am waiting to see the galley proofs. The opportunity to make substantial changes has gone. And thank goodness, since the text leaves me cross-eyed after so many months of work. Anthony Burgess once compared writing a novel to burrowing for months underground, only to surface and be bashed on the head by a critic. That last detail is something I still have to look forward to.

So what next? Well, I intend to take a breather, writing articles and short stories and maybe finding a part-time job until I decide which of three ideas I intend to focus on. One has to be sure one can stomach two years in the company of fictional people before embarking on a project. Just like in real life, I suppose.


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