Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ice cream headaches and stumbling blocks

It was a beautiful, clear morning, so I fired up the bus and headed down the coast, laden down with all the crap I need for a day out: laptop to write, camera, surfboard, wetsuit (and gloves and boots and hood and surf wax and comb etc...), thermos full of coffee, fruitcake, dog, lead, bags for the dog's shit.  It's a wonder the thing moves.

There used to be a rule I lived my life by, when I lived in the UK.  Never, ever wait for the surf to improve, because 95% of the time it'll crap out instead.  Maybe it's something about facing east instead of west, but today I preminisced (is that a word?  Should be, dammit!) that not only would the day warm up if I waited, but the unruly , dropping swell would clean up.  So I found myself a nice place to park and write, walked the dog, took a few pictures.

Writers read, don't they?  I started rereading Robert Harris's wonderful Archangel last night, and in doing so I made at least two fatal errors: One - when creating, never read anyone who writes that bloody well!  Every sentence screams think you're this good? Still think you can do this?  And in Robert Harris's case in particular: So how are you going to research this well?

So I struggled today, toiling long and hard for a measly 700 words that seem thoroughly unsatisfying, but now, in the evening, reading them again, I can see that's thanks to the other error I made:  I let reading someone else influence how I was writing.   

So Robert's gone back on the shelf for now.  I picked it up because his knowledge and depiction of modern Russia is unrivaled, within my reading, and I wanted to bravely steal some of his detail, some of his approach.  I probably wanted to steal too much, so it's going into the after-the-first-draft research pile. 

As for the surf, it was OK. The water definitely seems to be cooling down apace - my fingers felt almost arthritic after being out for a while.  I could tell that I've had three big days of writing when I haven't made time for yoga or exercise, but made plenty for cake and biscuits.  I'm going to have to pull my focus together, on lots of different fronts to stay positive. One thing, I'm learning, does not come without at least one other...or two...or three...


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