Tuesday, 15 December 2009


Mine comes from the usual places, I think. Here's a selection from my recent notes (categorized for this blog)

  • brave in front of the children
  • trading loneliness for humiliation
  • dramatic irony - a person who thinks she's helpful and understanding, called Little Miss Gullible behind her back
  • "Blame Culture" - someone surprises their partner with a trip to St Oleve's churchyard, Hart St to show them Mary Ramsay's grave (she brought the plague to London)
  • Nostalia = a broken cassette on the roadside, tape billowing like seaweed
  • Start with "We had a fight. I don't remember what it was all about"
  • Two pieces which sound the same but are spelt differently: e.g. "Can circumstances change?" - "Cancer comes, stances change"
  • A piece called "Single" about splitting up, which reads differently if doubled letters are made single - "her ragged words scarred me, her tinny laughter"
In the News
  • some councils have to put notices up in cemetaries after a kid playing on graves was killed by a falling headstone
  • In the Utah Desert during WW2 an imitation Berlin zone was build to test which bombs worked best. Wood was imported from as far away as Murmensck. It was furnished by RKO Radio Pictures Authenticity Division (who also did Citizen Kane)
  • After Elizabeth died, Rossetti kept a zebra, a kangaroo, a wombat, and a raccoon at 16 Cheyne Walk. Neighbours complained only when he got a peacock.
  • When a friend went to a contact lens appointment she was told that tear quality goes down after you're past 40

I often need 2 reasons for starting on a work. I often build around a symbolic framework or a plot, or start with a few dotted images and scenes that I try to join up. "Voice" is my the least successful starting point. If I start in a new voice it all too often trails off, leaving me in my habitual styles. A spark's not enough. I need tinder, paragraphs of it, which is why I have a box folder of work by "Others" (on the right in this photo).

Inside are a few torn-out pages but mostly there are photocopies. Before I could afford photocopies I copied passages by hand - just a paragraph sometimes, paragraphs I could never have written, new places to start from. You see, I sometimes want to sound like Hart Crane, Wallace Stevens and Dylan Thomas. Or Borges, De Lillo and AL Kennedy.

While sifting through the folder earlier this year I saw a name that was familiar - Elizabeth Baines

I must have written this decades ago (don't be fooled by the TXT-like spelling - that's my shorthand). Doubtless it's the voice I was interested in.

Voice is a feature I sacrifice or fracture as a compromise, in order to make room for other features, but those other features tend to mean more to me than to others. In particular, the forms of formal prose demand sacrifices that to others look self-defeating. Voice (in particular starting a story from somewhere new) is what I'll be practising soon.


  1. Whoops, what a shock again! I was more shocked, though, when you first sent me that pic by email, and I meant to blog about it but somehow never did... It's that weird thing of seeing words of your own out of context and hardly recognising them...

  2. "It's that weird thing of seeing words of your own out of context and hardly recognising them" - it happens to me when I stumble upon old WWW pages of mine.