The desolation of words
The last four months have been difficult, to say the least. Not difficult in the struggling to make a living sense of the term, but in the where is this life leading me sense. I have lived through a period of constant doubt and almost despair, rewriting one book, thinking of another, and plagued by a dearth of words.
Although many people mock those of us who have pets, the death of a pet strikes at the very heart of us. Just after Christmas, just after we had all spent all our emotions on making a nest of an already cold home, Zebedee, our 3 and a half year-old rescue cat, died of kidney failure. I had just bought one of my daughters an illustrated copy of T. S. Eliot’s Book of Magical Cats because she got on with Z so well. What can you say or feel or do when life deviates from its course so suddenly abruptly? Nothing. The grief of others is often more striking than your own. I am very grateful to Steve (you know who you are) for providing us with a beautiful spot in your pet cemetery for Zeb’s final bed, and for consoling my daughters where I could not. Zeb’s sister, Florence, still roams the house, confused.
Rewriting Bee Bones has been a trial in many ways. The original was flawed if the reader could not suspend disbelief, if events more believable than any episode of CSI didn’t ring true. These weaknesses were ones I myself had thought of, but which I had ignored because of the emotional strength of the piece. I believe both versions are valid, although I do believe that the second, most current (completed on 4th February) version is more rounded, more mature. And caters to those who are addicts for an absolute reality. I am on tenterhooks to see how agents will react to it.
My thanks to all my friends from authonomy and facebook who have kept me going with encouragement, bullying and taunting over these past months. It would have been impossible to complete this journey without you.
The cold has not helped, this invidious East of England cold. The house I live in has no protection against the damp this land produces, and the only time I have been warm has been when it’s been minus 7 outside and there has been a foot of snow on the ground. Working and writing when you’re shivering within walls is not pleasant.
This inarticulate, incoherent, fragmented post has to conclude with how bereft and desolate I feel now, after deciding to take two weeks off from writing, before I start on rewriting the first draft of Too Far For Dead Men To Walk. The writer is incomplete without the characters he has created, and, who, after their creation, talk back to him.
That is the desolation of words the title of this post refers to. The desolation of the writer when he denies himself his craft.
PDAllen9th February 2010 at 00:07
Sorry to hear about the cat. I know how painful the death of a pet can be.
And I can fully sympathize about the cold house. Our last two houses have been poorly insulated. Up in Michigan they built houses with the northern winters in mind. But not in Kentucky or Southern Indiana. When we lived in Eastern Kentucky for 2 years, we had to shut up the lower floor in the winter and set the thermostat to 55 F. And even then our winter heating bills were $700.00/month.
Anyway, glad to see you are done with rewrites on Bee Bones.
rps9th February 2010 at 07:52
Thanks, PDA. I did wonder if I was being self-indulgent. R
PDAllen10th February 2010 at 00:25
Thought I responded to this already. I don't think it was self-indulgent. And even if it was, a little self-indulgence is good now and again.
Lexi23rd February 2010 at 10:38
Hi Richard, I've just found your blog via the interesting post on the London Book Fair.
Sorry about Zebedee. And I can relate to the desolation of the writer when he denies himself his craft. Which is why we do it, I suppose, in spite of its many frustrations.
rps23rd February 2010 at 11:01
How kind of you to come across to this blog, and thanks for your comment. I will stop denying myself my craft soon. I have another book to edit.
I must learn to blog more frequently and regularly.
Thanks again. One day, when I have more time, I will make myself a list of blogs to follow.