This week has mostly been about reading. Some writing has occurred, but lately, I have just been stumbling from deadline to deadline scribbling away furiously in notebooks and typing like a demon possessed in between managing two jobs and making a vain attempt at having a life in between.
All these assessments for uni have left scant reading time. Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh was the first book I finished, from my ever-burgeoning pile. I was duty bound, after a suggestion that I not bother and just ‘wing’ my review piece. The ‘honest injun’ in me could not live with that. I often struggle with a book, film or music album, but I rarely give up entirely – it would need to be monumentally bad. I like to give other’s creations some grace and try to find a positive. You never know when you might need it yourself.
Eileen made me want to give up half way through, so I shelved her for a bit. I found it repetitive, and the novel was becoming monotonous. You know you are nearing the end of your tether when you have to restrain yourself from shouting ‘OH JUST GET ON WITH IT’ at the pages – on a packed train, no less.
I am glad that I persevered. My cockiness of ‘I know what is going to happen anyway’ wasn’t entirely justified, my ego was delivered a little surprise twist. Eileen isn’t the kind of novel I’m used to reading, so I am giving myself a wee pat on the back. If I want to push boundaries with my writing, then I have to be willing to do the same with my reading. It is all yin and yang, innit?
After having flung Eileen to the side with a sigh of relief, I could hardly wait to get my teeth into ‘Scar Culture‘ by Toni Davidson. My tutor Kirsty Gunn recommended this to me during one of my tutorials. I just started it and am halfway through already. I can hardly put it down. It is a horrifying, yet fascinating novel and I love the way it is written, all fucked-up and jarring in snapshots and using grim, real subject matter. I can see why Kirsty suggested it to me, it is right up my dark, weird and twisted street. I won’t bang on about it too much, because I’m not finished yet and I’m not fond of forming half baked opinions. I like to make informed and considered judgements on these matters, who knows, I may hate it by the end, although that doesn’t seem likely after the electrifying kick start.
I’ve also been reading other classmates work and sharing mine. I was a little nervous, as my work reaches into dark places that most people don’t want to see. These things are demanding to be written, and I must obey. As an earlier blog title proclaims, I have no control over what comes out, my writing is as random as the nonsense that goes on inside my head. I fell asleep early the other night, forgetting to take my make up off and woke up at mental o’ clock with a poem about potatoes going round and round in my head. It was particularly insistent that I write it all down. So I did, and went back to bed two hours later with black eyes and fingers covered in blue ink. This is not the ‘wood cabin, maroon cardigan, candles, log fire and old typewriter’ glamour of the writer’s life I had envisaged for myself.
I digress. The point that I wanted to make about sharing work is how valuable the process is. Fear accompanies everything I do, so trusting someone with my writing is a HUGE deal for me, but the rewards are worth it. And nobody has run screaming from me…yet. In all seriousness, I’m learning that writing and refining that writing are two separate things. A fresh perspective enhances your original piece, and even the most self sufficient of us need a little help, to become what we are truly meant to be.