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Memoir and Iceland

I have made good headway on the memoir. I made a schoolgirl error this week though when I sought approval on where I'd reached by sending it to a literary agent. Her response, whilst friendly enough, made me question the entire thing; being questioned on one's endeavours is not a bad thing - but when you're not even halfway through the first shit draft, it is positively dangerous. I am now viewing it through her eyes, and my subjectivity has become diminished, which does not do for memoir. Or first draft of anything. I managed to plod on and do a bit more this evening but half-heartedly. I spoke to a good writer friend - she has read some of it, and she declared it to be the best thing I've written and that I must continue with it. Now it feels a bit like a big heavy bag of shite hanging above me. Will this feeling pass or can I push myself beyond it? I don't know. Maybe I need to look at my own attempts at self-sabotage through the seeking of professional approval that can only itself ever be objective.

It is hard, this writing bollocks; one has to feel the need at a core level, and I must, given how much time and energy I've devoted to it over the years. And then despite telling myself it's arrogance on my part, one can't help but note some of the stuff out there that gains recognition; some of it is absolute dross.

I may. I might. I must.

On the reading front, having been bowled over and winded by McGahern's Amongst Women and his Memoir, I turned to The Dark, the novel that was banned in Ireland when it was published. I found I couldn't even get through a third. Perhaps it was McGahern overload.

Desperate to get sucked into another book I picked up another from my 'bought but haven't read' pile and turned to Charles Frazier's Nightwoods. But it hasn't stuck yet. I bought Notting Hill Edition's 'Questions of Travel - William Morris on Iceland' with parallel commentary by Lavinia Greenlaw, ordered very quickly for me by my local: Kew Books. It's fascinating so far. There's no great heaviness - maybe that's why I feel so drawn every so often to 'cold climate' literature. That it represents both a clarity and a freezing? Morris first went when his marriage was 'in disarray'. It is on his second visit there when his 'spirits rise when he finally gets a hit of strangeness in the form of an extreme barrenness that he hasn't encountered before'. It is in the defamiliarisation or the unfamiliar (different concepts but the attraction or renewing ability presented by both is the same) that he needed; the sense of awe and wonder that can 'heal' a jaded spirit. He admits it when he says 'it was no idle whim that drew me here, but a true instinct for what I needed'. I shall continue and may post more anon. If I don't get utterly consumed with renewal of purpose on the memoir!



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