"When we read, we start at the beginning and continue until we reach the end. When we write, we start in the middle and fight our way out." - Vickie Karp
Thursday, 9 August 2012
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” - Philip Pullman
Tonight you can find me in the garden, finishing my re-read of Pullman's Northern Lights. It makes my heart happy. It also makes me want a daemon. Badly. I might try and shock our tortoise into changing shape. But, then, I suppose I'm all grown up now. Oh dear. And if I did have a tortoise for a daemon, what would that say about my soul? Hmm.
I hear Emily Berry's first full-length collection, 'Dear Boy,' is going to be published by Faber early next year. This makes me happy. I very much enjoyed her pamphlet 'Stingray Fevers.' While we're taking 'Berry's, here, I also recommend collections by Liz Berry and Lauren Berry. Clearly there's something poetic in that surname. Emily Berry's got two cracking new poems in the new issue of The Rialto [#75], too.
I've been in something of a writing rut recently. Mainly because I haven't been reading [work and other things have been getting in the way]. I find if I'm not doing one, then I'm not doing the other, either. Obviously when I do both it's not quite at the same time. I haven't mastered that yet. However, I think I'm pulling myself out of it. This is by means of rereading; it's like comfort eating. In the past week I've been revisiting poems by Andrew Philip, Margaret Atwood and Kate Kilalea, falling back in love with the work of Ryan Van Winkle, Sharon Olds and Terry-Ann Thaxton. Also prose by Marya Hornbacher and Susanna Kaysen.
On my to-read pile for the next week or so I have new books: The Lighthouse - Alison Moore, The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Through The Window and Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson, Lizard - Banana Yoshimoto, the new issue of The London Magazine and Swimming Home - Deborah Levy. The new Jeanette Winterson book is out next week - I'm very excited about that. I've also got poetry collections up to my eyeballs. Not reading hasn't stopped me from buying. I was saying on Twitter the other day that there's a saying: when we buy books we naively think that we're buying the time to read them. I think I've bought myself about 300 years of reading time.
So, with reading, and getting my brain in gear, I've slowly started writing some more poetry. And also writing my novel. It's dystopian; that's all you're getting from me at the moment. If anyone has tips as to how to deal with 'the writing fear' [ie 'How do I approach this?' 'Oh my goodness there's so much to do', and self-doubt etc] then please do share your wisdom. My wisdom, so far, seems to be eating lots of cheese. I'm sure this can't be healthy.
I suppose I must turn again to the quote at the top of this blog: 'When we read, we start at the beginning and continue until we reach the end. When we write, we start in the middle and fight our way out.'
Jen Campbell is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling 'Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops' series, and 'The Bookshop Book.' She's also an award-winning poet and short story writer. Her poetry collection 'The Hungry Ghost Festival' is published by The Rialto and she is currently writing a short story collection. She runs a Booktube channel over at youtube.com/jenvcampbell
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