Monday, 10 August 2015

In creative chaos

I'm up to my neck in creative projects at the moment which is - mostly - Yay! but slightly ARGHHH as well. I sit down to work and a dozen projects claim my attention. Grant applications, job applications, marking, teaching workshops, two books almost finished, promotion, a legacy to organise from my mother-in-law's death, an investment property to (maybe) buy... the list goes on (and on). The problem is the sheer number of choices to be made. Not to mention all the kids' stuff and normal family stuff. I'm looking forward to October when it all calms down, books will be out, paperwork will be done, decisions made, kids back at college/university. 

We wanted to make a sensible investment by buying a nice little house around the corner. Since then, information has come to light that the shop next door is going to become three flats - all of whom are going to want to share the property's parking space - which comes with the property but I don't want to spend the rest of my life asking people to move their cars for the benefit of our tenant. Anyway, it seemed like a very safe option, and part of me wants something a bit more exciting. I have just spent half an hour speculating on buying  railway carriage by the sea...

The Lorina Bulwer project is marching on whatever else I think about, the words just fall onto the page in capitals, partly influenced by August, when my daughter died after her final illness. I'm just so glad she died at home, but the horrible rawness of that time stays with me, mostly because I can't think about it too much except each August when it demands to be seen, and experienced and grieved. Now the words just come gently, and pierce the printed cotton strips and say their own thing. I'm amazed at the power of the very personal words and the way they feel sort of finished once they are stitched. Very therapeutic, maybe stitching helped Lorina deal with her feelings. 

Other themes wander in, the wonderful Bellacouche studio in Moretonhampstead makes woollen shrouds, and in Yuli Somme's church studio she has felt shoes on each stair which brought so many ideas into my head, now getting space on the fabric. 
And so on. Who knows where it will go or how it will edit itself? It doesn't have to be poetry, the lack of punctuation plays games with the meaning as it goes anyway. It's also absolutely addictive to do. Lorina appliquéd figures and then ranted over the top, I'm going to have a play with that next on a separate piece. 

Meanwhile the Twins book is powering on, I'm presently standing with my back to a locked door while two nutty characters play out their end game. It's all just adding to the decision making stress. Will they get out of this alive, and if so, which one? I look forward to finding out. Perhaps I ought to stitch the scene onto fabric...

Monday, 3 August 2015

Finding a new voice

Every instinct is saying 'write a fictional character' but all that comes is my own story. Lorina's words trigger my own memories, both sympathetic and antithetic. I wrote a few notes about her learning the piano, and my own childhood experiences of pianos came to mind. She wrote about her anger about being unable to complain, I found myself choked up on her behalf as well as my own. I still find it difficult to stand up to doctors. But her childless state, her living at home with her mother (for fifty-five years) suggests a domestic dullness that I have never suffered from! I even found a detail of her will.
I was surprised to find she had so much money on her death, effectively almost three hundred and sixty pounds. Which I suppose explains the various threads and fabrics she had in order to produce her rants! I'm playing around with both an autobiographical voice (I'm reading everything Julia Blackburn has done at the moment - amazing writer!) and my fictional character as well. Part of me knows no-one wants to read about me, but it's a way to compare Lorina's life to a modern voice. Which a fictional character could do. I'm not sure, more head scratching to do.

The story has drawn me in, so much that I find myself writing snippets in the middle of the night when I can't sleep. I wish I could sleep, insomnia is getting a bit tedious. When I was younger I would just come downstairs and work for a few hours, but I'm too tired to concentrate.

The Secrets of Blood and Bone comes out in the US on September 1st and I am writing bits and pieces of publicity enquiries as they come in. It's lovely to get back to book 2 and I find I'm getting more excited about it. It comes out in paperback in the UK on October 8th. Then book 3 will have its turn, and the trilogy will be done, which nicely rounds the series off. Except for me, I'm already drafting out book 4 (just for fun, but it's a bit compulsive).

Meanwhile, it's hard to concentrate on the Twins book, which I hope to get back to shortly, because we have builders coming to take off all the asbestos on the roof and hopefully put nice, reclaimed slates back on. Of course, high winds and torrential rain are forecast...