Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Well, the Dinesen's turned up (I opted for the Penguin C20 Classic edition, now out of print, as it has a great Hammershoi on the cover), and I've started reading. The blurb on the back says that one theme runs through the whole book - that of Ariel - and that the first and last stories act as prologue and epilogue ('The Diver' and 'The Ring' respectively), so Lindsay's comment about how to structure Elias could well prove to be inspiring. Needless to say, I'm still reading the Stephenson (nearing the end of the first book in the first volume), and actually quite enjoying it, although whether I get through all 3,000 pages of the bugger remains to be seen. In between breaks from the Stephenson, I'll be studying the Dinesen, and then making copious notes. Or perhaps just a few notes.

The note-taking will be greatly aided, I hope, by some writing software I've just ordered from Amazon called New Novelist, more on which here. I thought it might help organise things a little better, and may act as an incentive - if any were needed at the moment - to get on with the thing. I'm also getting a second laptop, which I'll use more or less exclusively for writing. A bit of a luxury, but, again, anything to get it done. I shall certainly raise a glass in my own direction if I can do so, preferrably by this time next year.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The News for Parrotts

On Saturday Lindsay's group finally reconvened after a difficult period in which our drummer was suspected of suffering from death. This turned out to be a rumour, and we split up again... No, in fact, our six-month hiatus has been more due to double-bookings, the World Cup, people being away etc (unless there was one in September that I couldn't make - can't remember as that seems like a long time ago now). I also had the train journey from hell getting into London, which included a delightful hour at Swindon, where we were holed up while there was foul play in the air at Didcot (a fatality, police activity on the line - which sounded like a suicide, until we heard news of another fatality, which sounded more like trigger happy fascists shooting people they believe to be terrorists, but were in fact completely innocent, and just happened to be wearing a baggy anorak/non-caucasian/dark-haired/not wearing a Hitler-style moustache etc).

Once actually in London (and in our old haunt, the Fitzroy), I told Lindsay of my conceptual problems - i.e. the novel started out as an Utz-style short thing, and now, what with reading Quicksilver, I am thinking more in terms of sequoias than toothpicks - but Lindsay told me to fear not, and to think of the book as simply four short stories, that could be read independently of one another. To that end, he advised me to read Isak Dinesen's Seven Gothic Tales (which I have a copy of somewhere, bought many years ago) and Anecdotes of Destiny (which contains two titles I'm familiar with, 'Babette's Feast' and 'The Immortal Story', as they have both been made into rather good films) . I spent the train journey home - Didcot suspiciously quiet - going through the first episode with a fine toothcomb, feeling like I have a handle on the beast once more.