fire-alarms, writing blues, borrowed gauntlets

-my greatest achievement so far this week: i threw a teabag at the bin in my room & actually got it in! never mind that there’s cocoa & coconut rooibos streaks all down one bit of the wall.

-okay, real talk. i’m busy as hell. trying to juggle my uni’s literature conference, which for some godforsaken reason i’ve decided to actually attend, whilst on a twelve-day writing kick (whenever i need to turn up the heat on whatever project, i set myself to write 31k in twelve days. it is invariably a bloody nightmare). whilst also making my way through shakespeare & mallarmé & everything else i’m currently reading. & trying to eat things that aren’t pasta or nakd bars. & also, you know, having friends.

-i’ve nearly finished reading richard ii. holy shit, the deposition scene. the whole play is spectacular. as he falls from grace, king richard becomes a human being. the transformation is on the page- it happens basically before your eyes- & it’s exhilarating to read. (& to watch. the hollow crown!) he goes from the land of poetic cypher- a land where he doesn’t really have a singular identity, where he is the royal ‘we’- to, you know, the land of being an actual person who questions, who wonders about who went before him & who will come after, who feels hunger, doubt, pain, who perceives the irony & poetry & mythos in his own tale. of course the allegorical territory is rich as hell- never mind the narcissus/christ/mythological figure of your choice parallels- but there is nothing in the play so exciting to me as that slow unravelling.

-except maybe the bizarrely hilarious scene where aumerle gives & receives so many insults to various lords that he runs out of gauntlets to throw down, & has to borrow one. i do like that scene.

-the book i’ve been assigned for the uni literature conference is rosemary tonks’ poetry/prose collection bedouin of the london evening. it’s knocking me OUT. set in a heady nocturnal london where the centuries seem to cross & criss-cross- the yellow fog & opium-dreams of victoriana melting into stark lightbulbs, drowned leaves, desperation.

-i so nearly bought ali smith’s autumn in waterstones earlier. also neil gaiman’s norse mythology book, & a gorgeous paperblank, & a cuddly monkey toy. fortunately jo was there to drag me out once i’d bought bedouin.

-i’m trying to write a certain project but it feels more like horse-wrangling. it doesn’t help that the fire-alarm went off at three a.m today, cue half an hour of me, lucy & the other unfortunates of mcc shivering in the courtyard while i tried to see if i could fit my knees inside my jumper. i could, but that didn’t do much to alleviate the fact that, you know, it was three a.m & i wasn’t even wearing my spectacles & i just wanted to go back to sleep, dammit.

-it also doesn’t help that Mallet Moron is currently playing shitty 2009 pop remixes at tooth-rattling volume. Mallet Moron is the psychopath in the room above mine who hammers his chinese mirror-sculptures at one in the morning, plays horrible music at deeply inconsiderate hours, & once chased one of my flatmates down the stairs before hammering on our door for half an hour while we called the police & i eyed the kitchen-knives just in case. but, hey, i move out in three weeks.

-i have, technically, finished my first year of uni. which is insane. i don’t even know what i’ve been doing all this time. i mean, sure, i’ve been to lectures & written enormous essays on dostoevsky & eaten a horrific amount of peanut butter & stayed awake for days on the trot before passing out in front of my laptop & watched the moon rise from the balcony with a mug of pink lemonade & written thirty-six thousand words of space-opera Dreck & done inappropriate things in nightclubs & read roughly sixty-six books & met a bunch of people who inexplicably seem to like spending time with me. but what have i DONE?

-time to make more tea & crack on with writing, i suppose. sending love to anyone who makes it to the end of this post. you’re a trooper.




10 thoughts on “fire-alarms, writing blues, borrowed gauntlets

      • a religion of literature nonetheless? I was wondering: can you recommend any books pertaining to the concepts of “solitude” and “writing”?: now I’m exam-free, I intend (in relative solitude) to write about the relationship between the two

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          • Sylvia Plath to Philip E. McCurdy, Wednesday 14 April 1954
            Anyhow, after the lecture I was so transfigured that I went across the street to buy the collected plays of Ibsen and read them immediately! Phil, I’m worried – what I’ve got is worse than epilepsy or syphilis! I went to that damn store and came back having bought TWELVE (12!) books! I got the collected plays of Ibsen, Shaw, O’Neill, the Greeks, Fry’s Venus Observed, Delmore Schwartz’s Vaudeville for a Princess, Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, Sterne’s Tristram Shandy – and simply stacks of others! My bookcases are overflowing – shelves of novels, poetry, plays, with clots of philosophy, sociology, psych. I am a bibliomaniac (with a slight touch of nympho thrown in!).

            ^ I’m just going to leave that there

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            • I rather enjoy exams, or more, the opportunity to write in a frenzied state for 90min or more with no distractions. The results are always more abstract and purely symbolic after the act of exam-writing itself (maybe you know what I mean). But, solitude and creativity! It comes up everywhere in fiction from Nietzsche to Thomas Mann: I was really just wondering if you knew any books–any books at all–I could gorge on this summer related to the topic… I am, yes, just trying to exploit your bibliomaniac tendencies, I apologise.

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              • don’t apologise- my bibliomaniac tendencies appreciate the chance to flex their muscles.

                hmmm. there’s ‘the hill of dreams’, arthur machen- about a young writer who has a weirdy occult experience as a boy and spends the rest of his life in solitude, trying to recover that ecstasy. then there’s pessoa’s ‘the book of disquiet’, which is the lonely wonderful semi-philosophical thoughts of one of his writer-personas. maybe maggie nelson’s ‘bluets’, which is actually a hundred-page meditation on heartbreak and obsession with the colour blue, but i think you can definitely trace those themes there. & i haven’t read it but from what i’ve heard, somerset maugham’s ‘the moon & sixpence’ might fit the bill- apparently it’s about the solitariness of creativity.

                oh, & plenty of keats’ poems are about the solitary-artist process. &- another one i haven’t read yet- mann’s ‘death in venice’ might fit the bill.

                not much non-fiction there, i’m afraid, but i don’t read an awful lot of it.


              • Pessoa I read on the back of school buses (“life is an experimental journey undertaken involuntarily”); but Machen, Nelson, Maugham, and of course Keats & Mann, will supersede the names of the week days come Machday. Thanks for the suggestions 🙂

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                • yes! i also read pessoa on a bus, incidentally- one going to heathrow at three a.m for a trip to dublin.

                  do tell me how you get on! i’ll admit i list machen & keats among my favourites.


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