Sunday, 27 October 2013

Writing is a dog's life, but the only life worth living.

Gustave Flaubert

Helloooooo, how are you all getting on?

To supplement my lovely writers group, I enrolled in a writing class at Glasgow Uni, taught by Alan McMunnigall. It's great. Every Tuesday, I go along and we critique a couple of student pieces and focus on various techniques used in writing. The one I'm particularly interested in is “close narration”, which is what I use in my novel. Alan recommended this book to us:

There are two chapters on Gustave Flaubert, whom Wood thinks novelists should thank for modern narrative the way poets should thank spring! To this end, I downloaded Madame Bovary (free on the Kindle, by the way), and found it a thoroughly enjoyable read.

My novel rewrite is sitting at 67,260 words. I'm perilously close to where I want to be (compared to where I was, at least. I'm under no illusion as to how much work still needs to be done). I'm keen to impose what I've learned in class, but also hesitant in case it ends up reading like a cluster of creative writing exercises. As long as I let my characters continue to do the talking, I'm hopeful it will read well.

Meanwhile, I've been gladly, irrationally distracting myself with short stories, writing class and even my food blog, in some kind of Bampot drill in avoidance. I'm currently reading “A Disaffection”, by James Kelman and this passage sums me up to a T:

'But there was little to trust in reason. Fuck that for a racket. A method of approaching the thing, perhaps, was to say he had been subconsciously avoiding all thought on the subject because of a growing awareness that it could prove momentous, all too fucking momentous.'

In other words, I'm shiting myself about what to do with it once it's all done, dusted and wrapped up in a bow, ready to be subject to other people's scrutiny. I'm not one to take the nip at a critique, I promise you I'm not. But this... this piece on its third rewrite has been the work of many a weekend, lunch break, spare hour and post-work library trip for over a year. I'm filled with the crippling self-doubt and paranoia you'd expect any author to have at this stage.

On a lighter note, I've been obsessed with the New Yorker Fiction podcast series of late. Have you heard it? An author reads the work of another author and they discuss the work with the New Yorker fiction editor, Deborah Treisman. I thoroughly recommend the following podcasts: 
  • Roddy Doyle reading "Christmas Eve", by Maeve Brennan
  • Monica Ali reading Joshua Ferris's story "The Dinner Party"
  • David Means reading "Chef's House" by Raymond Carver

You. Are. Welcome.

So what's new with you? Give me all your gossip.

Take care
Catherine x



Anonymous said...

The new yorker is a damp squid. Try reading bukowski or fante. Everything else is just a word culture.

Catherine Noble said...

I'll seek them out, Anonymous. Haha, a damp squid! Personally, I thoroughly enjoy the short stories in the New Yorker, but each to their own!

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