Skip to main content

What next?

I thought this past week would be one of inspired (new) creation as far as my writing is concerned but that hasn't been the case. I spent a couple of days at the London Library, but no new writing was forthcoming. I got a stack of books out last weekend, only to return them on the Tuesday. And then I got another stack out, mainly on histories of mental illness - Roy Porter and Foucault. But they're not what I'm looking for. I thought that I'd return to my Mum's book - but it still feels... Undecided. Too early. Although it is there - brewing. But then a new idea struck me yesterday and I wrote the first few hundred words, but that doesn't feel like its going to gain pace. Perhaps it's the general mood I'm in. A bit indifferent. Unmotivated. Uninspired. And also the part of me that thinks: 'what's the point?' Time constraints loom overhead constantly. Trying to fit in as many of the things that constitute a 'life': work, friends, exercise, culture, creativity, etc, become just cards in a deck that are shuffled. This is life. Perhaps one makes time - finds time - when the will is alive? I've been here before - I shall keep flitting between things and wait. Failing that, I shall decide upon a project and apply myself. Not so easy to do with creative endeavours.

Today I'm off to spend the day in Kingston. It is the time to get my theses hard bound and gold-lettered!

Last night I went to see The Artist. Nearly everyone I know who saw it, loved it. I did. It was charming. I thought, I wonder how the project was pitched. Such are the risks. I kept thinking throughout 'no-one knows anything' with regards to films, books, whatever. One could almost pick any subject - any story - execution is all. The Artist, though, followed a traditional narrative - star is humbled by progression, overtaken by the new, full of pride, reaches rock bottom, is 'rescued'. It all works out in the end.

The same could not be said of another film I saw this week: Martha Marcy May Marlene. I'm not sure I've got the names in the right order. Elizabeth Olsen is captivating in this American movie with an indie feel. It stars my new favourite actor, John Hawkes, who played Teardrop in Winters Bone. In MMMM (!) he plays Patrick, a cult leader. Elizabeth Olsen flees the commune/cult, despite having fallen for the dangerously manipulative Hawkes. She is taken in by her preppy older sister and it becomes clear that they've not seen each other for years. Olsen's 'issues' are revealed, whilst highlighting at the same time some of the questionable mainstream norms of her sister and brother-in-law's privileged lives. But Olsen already knows too much about Hawkes, and she fears, yet also desires, him to come and rescue her. Does he?

I've been dipping in and out of Sebald's Austerlitz. I so want to immerse myself in it, but find it too distanced. A third of the way in and I find that I can't 'feel Austerlitz, mediated as he is. I have also been sent a review copy of a new book by Patrick Kavanagh, Iceberg (Honest Publishing). So we'll see how that goes.


Popular posts from this blog

Who was Mary Burns?

On 7th January 1863 Mary Burns was found dead from a suspected heart attack. She was 43 years old. Since her death Mary has received barely any attention despite the fact that she spent over twenty years as the common-law wife of Friedrich Engels, one of the world’s most influential thinkers and the co-founder of Marxism.

Born in 1822, Mary was the oldest surviving child of textile dyer and factory operative, Michael Burns, and Mary Conroy, Irish immigrants from Tipperary. Mary’s parents had married at St. Patrick’s in an area known casually as Irish Town, one of few Catholic churches in Manchester at that time. The year of Mary’s birth and her infancy were significant in that Manchester was still dealing with the aftermath of the event that became known as the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a peaceful protest of the working-classes on the site of St. Peter’s Fields in which several people were killed and hundreds injured. The Massacre occurred when magistrates, alarmed at the size of t…

My PhD critical paper

I thought I'd upload the critical element of my PhD thesis. Hopefully, for those who are interested enough to read it, it will make sense despite the references to my creative work, which I can't upload as I'm seeking publication. And besides, at 68,000 words...

I'm also going to tweak section one of this three section critical paper with a view to journal publication because of the academic interest in the claims I make of Mary.

-Dedicated with love and respect to Dr Bruce Lloyd-

And in memory of my parents:
Thomas Valentine and Joan Theresa
Good people who taught me so much more than they realised


The biggest thank-you is due to Norma Clarke, Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University, who supervised this PhD. I never had cause to doubt my initial instincts as Norma proved to be the best mentor I could ever have wished for.

I would also like to acknowledge the generous studentship that I was fortunate to be awarded by Kingston Universi…

Midwinter Break - Bernard McLaverty

The only other book that I've read of Bernard MacLaverty was the sublime Grace Notes, published in 1997, and shortlisted for the Booker Prize of the same year. That prize was awarded to an author of another similar hiatus recently broken, Arundhati Roy, of the widely acclaimed The God of Small Things. I was certain, when buying the kindle version of Midwinter Break, that MacLaverty's first book in seventeen years (Cal, 2001, was his most recent) had made both the Booker Longlist and Shortlist - but having just double-checked - am disappointed and confused to find it had made neither. MacLaverty's prose style feels Yatesian, after the late Richard Yates, US author of Revolutionary Road, and TheEaster Parade
Midwinter Break, set in Amsterdam, is written in the same deliciously clear and poignant prose that so widely marked out Grace Notes. The husby and I have not long returned from a late summer break in that same fabulous city. With the visit to the Rijksmuseum still fre…