Wednesday, 25 June 2014

On Writing Books

Quill (Photo credit: campra)
There you are, head thoroughly in the clouds. You're in the middle of a rainy day in Thurles, Co. Tipperary. It's cold and there's a wind - what they call in Ireland a 'lazy wind', the type that can't be bothered to go around you but goes straight through you. The thud of a car door sounds and footsteps scrunch on the wet tarmac. A man pulls his coat around himself and then you get a Man From Porlock.

It's like being torn out of your life and jettisoned instantly to another time and place, suddenly finding yourself in the 25th century in a massive space station, surrounded by little bald naked green men making strange inquisitive hooting noises and poking you. It's a moment of almost existential discontinuity.

Can't you see? You want to scream. I'm writing!

British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge it was, feverishly jotting down the vision he'd experienced during a particularly vivid opium binge, who was apparently interrupted by a knock on the door. It was the Man From Porlock, the nearby village. Coleridge dealt with his visitor and returned to his poetic vision only to find he'd forgotten the rest of it. The poem (It's the one that starts 'In Xanadu did Kubla Khan, a stately pleasure dome decree, where Alph the sacred river ran, through caverns measureless to man, down to a sunless sea'. You can tell the years of being beasted by increasingly frustrated teachers weren't entirely wasted, can't you?) stands as one of the great creations of poesy, a fragmentary, brilliant thing. But it ends badly.

Sometimes it goes well and the words cascade off your fingertips like flicked butterflies. Sometimes you just sit staring at the screen and drooling. More often you wander off to Twitter, making some awful excuse about 'taking a break' or 'building one's author profile'. I might be lying about the latter, only a complete arse would think of Twitter as being any good for that.

But the worst thing in the world is when you're in your other world and the words are tumbling and someone thinks the scandalous price of broccoli is something that you need brought to your attention RIGHT NOW.

Apart from that, it's all going very smoothly, thank you. Taking a bit more research than I'd reckoned on, the story twisting in my hands like an over-excited anaconda with a sparkler up its bottom, but that's okay, that's how it goes.

All of which is my way of saying sorry for not posting very much, as if anyone cared whether or not I did anyway. And now, if you'll forgive me, I'm off back to a cold day in Tipp...

1 comment:

Rupert Neil Bumfrey said...

your random word bombs are enjoyable interruptions........

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