Friday, April 08, 2005

The End of Things

Now that the talk is finished I can pack away my research - boxes of books and files of notes - so much work for such a little thing. In a way I hate to see it go. I always feel slightly bereft when I come to the end of a book. After living with it for months or years it is gone and I feel like I have lost something.

But there is always something new to investigate though and I love the research almost as much as the writing. It is fun becoming obsessed with a topic and for a short while becoming an expert. I am the sort of writer that needs to live the book I write - at the moment I am in nineteenth century Patagonia, and I begrudge coming into the real world.

Today I met a couple of friends for lunch and it was weird coming out in daylight. Apart from the odd poetry evening and shopping trip (when things have got truly desperate and my poor children and husband are standing there with serviettes tied around their throats and knives and forks in their hands demanding to be fed) I haven’t been outside for weeks. The sad thing is that even though I enjoyed my friends’ company I was secretly dying to get back into the book. Is this a clinical obsession I wonder - it certainly doesn’t seem healthy. Some people manage to hold down normal jobs and write but I can’t seem to. I tried working as a part-time university lecturer recently but I had to give it up - the book was just fading away, it was either work or write, and the writing won - quite easily. People told me they thought I was mad to give up such a job, and maybe I am. I know I will be poorer and more isolated and I do keep wondering if I’ll regret it but it is something I felt I had to do.

It doesn’t matter if I don’t get published again, I tell myself, it doesn’t matter what reviewers say, the important thing are the words on the paper and this curious feeling of satisfaction I have when I think it has come out right...and I try to believe that.

So the Hoffmann book is gone now, finally and absolutely, up into the loft in boxes and I think and hope that the next book is half way through. I am already thinking of the book after that and applying for grants and funds. My next one, I think, will take place a little in the future which will be a bit of a departure for me and I don’t know if I can do it but I am determined to find out.

Before I go I would just like to add that I now have a copy of WEIRDMONGER by D.F. Lewis which I have enjoyed dipping into - quite an extraordinary view of the world - and THE GENIZAH AT THE HOUSE OF SHEPHER. I read the first few chapters on Tamar Yelin’s website and it was so enticing I ordered it straightaway. I’m glad I did. It’s beautiful writing - I open page after page at random and there is always something to delight.

Anyway, those two are now at the top of the tottering pile (I am actually beginning to doubt that I will ever live long enough to read them all - even if I do emulate George) and I’ll hand over to Elizabeth - we have already exchanged emails and I am looking forward very much to reading what she has to say.

So with that I end my fortnight’s blogging stint. I have enjoyed it and thanks for reading my thoughts and especially for the comments which I have much appreciated.



At 10:24 AM, Anonymous Tamar said...

Has it really been a fortnight? I hope you enjoy 'Genizah,' Clare. I'm very much looking forward to reading 'Wegener's Jigsaw' and '98 Reasons for Being' (I love that title). I'm curious to know which was your preferred or original title - 'Wegener's Jigsaw' or the US edition's 'One Day the Ice Will Reveal All of Its Dead.' The latter seems to me so resonant.

At 4:42 AM, Anonymous Clare said...

Tamar: I am sure I shall enjoy Genizah.
My former agent named both my books. I wanted to call it the Jigsaw Man but that was already taken. The original title in the UK was Wegener's Jigsaw but my American editor wasn't too keen so my agent suggested ONE DAY THE...which is a quote from the text. I'm not very good at titles, but I did come with 98 REASONS all on my own!

At 7:19 AM, Blogger Weirdmonger said...

Thanks for the two weeks' postings here (and for buying my book!).

At 7:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Clare,

Thank you very much for blogging. Hope more of your visits here or other genre literature forums.

Regarding living the books, I've heard some of the translators are so immersed in the books that they suffer from mental and physical unbalances. Glad that I'm just a carefree reader.

So I'll be reading a story of an obscure Patagonian character, hopefuly next year? Excellent. Wish I don't have to wait so long.

- montmorency

At 4:53 AM, Anonymous Clare said...

Des: My pleasure...I'm looking forward to doing some more dipping soon.

Montmorency: I recently read an article by David Mitchell - he said that one of his translators works in a basement surrounded by sacks of potatoes. He also said that if he had to work under such conditions he'd soon be talking to the potatoes. Can't see anything at all wrong with that though I do find turnips better listeners.

Thank you for being my reader in Japan. You are so kind and I feel very fortunate. If this Patagonian book is ever published I'll be sure to let you know.

At 5:45 PM, Blogger Luís Rodrigues said...

Cloud Atlas is the kind of book that I think would drive me insane if I had to translate it. I'd probably end up talking to potatoes that weren't even there.

At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Clare said...

Luis: heh, heh. heh...talking to vegetables that are not really those have to be the best conversations of all.
'Am I a genius?'
(invisible potato says yes)
'And truly beautiful?'
(again he says yes)
'And my eyes, oh nobbly one, do you not want to pluck them out so they may grow into divine replicas of myself?'

I really think I'd better shut up now and go and try to write something sensible. Bye-bye!


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