Sunday, September 18, 2005

Auteur Blues

I have just finished - at long last - my book on the great Russian auteur Tarkovsky. I emailed it to my editor and publisher about twenty minutes ago, and am now relaxing with a glass of wine and Tord Gustavsen on the stereo, not quite believing that the ordeal is over. I started working on the book back in January, and I was confident that I would make my original deadline of 30 April, and that the book would be around the 35,000 word mark. 30 April came and went, and it was nowhere near finished. 31 May, 3o June, 31 July all duly put in appearances, but the book did not. Over the summer, I was beginning to wonder what I'd gotten myself into, and honestly couldn't see any end in sight to my travails. There were daily visits to the pub. I even worked in the pub. But it still wouldn't come any quicker. About two weeks ago, I thought I only had another day or so to go, but those two days dragged out into a week, and then another week. Finally, yesterday afternoon, I finished it. A quick bit of tinkering this evening, and off it went.

At 61,000 words, it's the longest thing I've ever written, and the hardest. Quite why, I still don't know. Perhaps it's 20 years of loving Tarkovsky's films, and rarely talking about why I loved them. I still can't quite articulate it. I could cite Rilke and Zen, but that's about all. Trying to find words for all those years of living with them - of having them live within me - was like some sort of knight's quest, and I frequently felt myself to be lost in those deep, dark woods of Arthurian romance. But on the good side, it did make me examine what I regard as not only good films, but also good art, whatever the medium. Again, I could mention Rilke, or even Tord Gustavsen. It's something to do with simplicity, and the soul, acknowledging the unknown, and celebrating the mysterious.

These are values I hope to get into Elias, which I am now going to go to work on full time. In fact, I suspect that these things are in the novel already. And knowning that I can write 50,000 words in three months (my approximate Tarkovsky wordage between June and today), means that I could get a draft of Elias done more or less by the end of the year, or early next. Revising it will be another story, but right now all I want to do is get on and finish the first draft. In order to do that, I need to re-immerse myself in all things alchemical, which I am looking forward to very much. I will feel like a plant being watered. And out of that water, I need to produce a novel. What did the alchemists say, something about living, philosophic water? I'm too tired to remember. But Elias will dictate itself to me now, of that I am sure. All I need to do is be alert and quiet, and not get myself bogged down in books about film directors, even if I do love them.