Vale Doris

Goodbye, Doris Lessing. Thank you for your worlds, both strange and familiar. You were sometimes cruel, controversial. Maybe you needed to be. I will miss your voice, your curiosity, your feistiness. It wasn’t perfect: it didn’t have to be. You came, you wrote. I am deeply grateful…

Doris Lessing

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Waiting

I know I’ve sent a version of the ms out through my agents when I suddenly find myself with ample time to do housework. How floors are industriously vacuumed! Paperwork is filed, bathrooms bleached and bed covers find their way into the wash. And all of this as I try to take my mind off the thought of that ms – far from finished or worthy of attention, to my exacerbated sensibilities – making the rounds of publishers’ desks. It’s not even weighty enough to support a cup of coffee, I want to wail. At a mere 82000 words it’s half the length of a typical fantasy novel! How will it hold its own in any slush pile worthy of the name?

Ah, the perils of switching genre. I can’t see this thing – I’m too close to it – I have absolutely no idea what I’ve accomplished, if anything. There’s nothing for it but to scrub another patch of floor.

 

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Moving on

My oh my. I think I’ve broken my own personal record for length of time spent away from this journal!

Much has transpired in the past six weeks. We found a new house, bought it (that sounds easy, doesn’t it? Just two word’s worth to describe a great deal of palaver) and finally moved in as of last week. We’re now installed in the lovely town of St Albans, just twenty minutes north of London by train out of King’s Cross, platform 9 ¾ of course.

It wasn’t easy to leave the boat. De Jelte tugged on our heartstrings and emptied our pocket book as only true love can do. She is now in good hands, however – I have visited and seen what the new skipper is up to below decks. Some fine renovations are going down.

I will very much miss our friends on the island – what a community that was, and is. Writers, artists, carpenters, travelers, businessmen – a slice of London life at its best, an oasis in the wilds of Brentford. If you’re reading this, Lot’s Aiters, please keep in touch!

Work-wise, I’ve entered the last lap on the WIP that is IP. It has to be the last lap because of the Frankfurt Book Fair, which insists on happening in October rather than a more personally convenient time of, say, January. Never mind. Deadlines help me focus and the ms will either cut it or it won’t. I’m having fun, either way.

Is it allowed to have fun while writing to a deadline? Is it a Bad Sign? Must we always suffer in order to produce something worthwhile? I do hope not.

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Booksworn and Gemmells

Linktopia:

First of all, two Booksworn authors, Helen Lowe and Mark Lawrence, have been shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend award. They’re doing a giveaway over at the Booksworn site – check it out, and don’t forget to vote on this final leg of the competition! The Gemmells are popular choice awards and it’s lovely to see a strong international showing on the lists.

Secondly, I have a post up on BookSworn myself today, chewing over the subject of critiques. Feel free to drop by and share your own experiences. 😀

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Still working

I’m moving. Again. And in the midst of it all, the WIP is still IP. Rewrites abound, but in the meantime I shall leave you with a verse written by a nonexistent young woman in my unfinished novel. You may guess her name:

In the story, I’m just a girl

Hades plucks out of a field

and carries off to Hell in his black chariot.

Demeter, my mother

wanders the world in search of me,

cursing the poor earth barren with her grief

until she finds me lying under it.

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Tymon’s Flight, Samiha’s Song and Oracle’s Fire in iTunes bookstore!

Lookee. A kind friend just pointed this out to me. Apparently you can download ‘Tymon’s Flight’, ‘Samiha’s Song’ and ‘Oracle’s Fire’ in the iTunes bookstore. This is a big deal for me as it makes all three books available worldwide in digital format for the first time ever. Huzzah!

So what are you waiting for? Find a field, find a big tree in that field, lie down under it and download some summer reading.

Chronicles of the Tree in the iTunes Bookstore

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I’ve been circling my WIP for the past few days, poking at it with a stick. It says it’s done, claims shiny almost-finished-ness, in fact complains when I poke too hard, but I’ve grown wary of those sorts of claims coming from a story. Stories are notoriously unreliable things. You can’t believe a word they say.

In other news I am weary. I try Doing Good Things and Eating Healthy and Making An Effort but I suspect I just need to sleep. Funny, that.

EDIT: After poking one chapter particularly hard, the darned thing hissed at me. I have more work to do. Down, you spotted snakes with double tongue.

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Alma Alexander – appeal

The US health care system isn’t all that, as we know. It charges you for dying.

There must be a Kafka story resembling this somewhere. Or at least, Kafka would have written the tale, had he been alive in our times, in the land of the free, home of the terminally ill. To confront one’s own mortality is one thing. To let a loved one go, quite another.

But to be charged $20000 for it, after a mere two days, is close to unconscionable.

Please read this appeal. Even if you can’t spare a dime, pass the word along. Alma is a storyteller of the first order. This time, unfortunately, the story is true.

THE STORY OF THE WHITE RABBIT

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General updatery

It’s that time again. I’m good at the once-a-month appearances, aren’t I?  😉

On the personal front, I haven’t much to report, except that I feel I’ve seen this road before. We’re contemplating moving yet again, to be closer to work. I’m still doggedly chipping away at the ms in between all the rest. While it seems never to be done, I suspect that may be because I’m close to the finish. It’s when I think I’m finished that I find I’m nowhere near done.

Meanwhile, and on a related topic, a couple of articles caught my attention this morning. The idea that artists shouldn’t expect to be paid for their work continues to gain credence in some quarters while Jaron Lanier takes the opposite view, arguing the internet hasn’t really helped us create a fairer world.

I am continuously amazed at people who advocate reducing the already precarious livelihoods of artists. I want to put that smug ‘pirate party’ European parliament member in the shoes of a working author or musician who needs three pennies to rub together to keep writing, making music etc. Please, direct your zeal for transparency and fair use towards a worthy target – politicians, perhaps?

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Spam laureate

I get a great deal of spam on this site. But it isn’t all wasted. If you sift random sentences from the muck, there’s a strange, found-art beauty to the phrases:

Chinese cinema big-shot, environmental immunity enthusiasts
launched out of the ordinary responsibility
in a 19th-century construction surface
some may be struck before to skin the slump 
a substitute alternatively of thinking
He said: braids fancy
marrow shops displaying and selling Confectionery
located on the left-wing bank of the Seine
as a replacement for the accrual of dirt.

Eisenstein knew it: We can make sense out of anything.

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