What no one tells you about writing is how utterly frustrating it can be. Who am I kidding. How utterly frustrating it is. Today, I have mainly wanted to throw the laptop out of the window and I have not done so, otherwise, I would not sit down here and bore you with meaningless thoughts, but I wish I had. Instead I am here, grumpy, total written word count 50 words, total deleted word count 500. One does not need to be an accountant to realise that this is an awful balance sheet. I tried to read the “Writing Down the Books” last week and I found it so annoying that I stuffed it into the charity bag and took it away. Maybe I should have read it.
You see the thing is, that the characters in my book are really annoying me today. The woman insists on doing things that I believe she wouldn’t do. And then when I change it, she does not sound like the person she ought to be. Does that sound like a mad couple of sentences? I am not sure. I am also not sure if the male character is too butch. I don’t want him too butch, but then he threatens to get into a fight and there we are, I feel like I am writing male stereotype no. 1008, right out of the character stereotype manual. Hurumpf.
The Walter Scott shortlist has been announced. Feeling so-so about the shortlist, but that is nothing new, plus I only read 3 of the 6 books so far. I was so certain Dark Water would be on there, but alas, no. Still Ondaatje is on there and it is my personal favourite, but alas I think Western Wind will win it. Books with interesting structure seem to always win Walter Scott. Went to the library as my hold for another of the now shortlisted books came in “The Long Take”, it has pictures, interesting. It is also very thin. I am probably the only person on booktube who has the compulsion to not trust a book that has less than 340 pages. I know naturally many novels that do brilliant things in very little space (hello Elizabeth Taylor) but sadly I know more novels where I felt that they could have fleshed things out a bit. The argument “… but at least it was short” never really worked for me. If you read 10 novels of 150 pages and they are all disappointing that’s a lot of disappointment. I rather read 3 500 page novels and they are all brilliant. But I guess, us readers are a demanding lot, always wanting brilliant books when everyone knows that books are not diamonds, there is no universal value that can be measured and traded against. Beauty is after all something that is totally in the eye of the beholder.
Part of the morning was spent hunting for a white blouse for the child’s spring concert tonight, so she can conform with the black and white dress code. She was nice enough to inform me last night at 7 pm that she has outgrown the previous blouse (and about another bin bag full of clothes). She is 12 and nearly as tall as me. So blouse hunting I went. I have lots to do, translation work, trying to write (and failing), there is never ending stream of laundry, but here I was at 9.30 hunting down a white blouse the child would wear. Mission accomplished, hope someone sends me that mother of the month medal in the post. I still have the pleasure to come tomorrow afternoon of going clothes shopping with her. This is sending shivers down my spine. Did I say pleasure, no, want I meant is horror. Clothes shopping is torture at the best of times, clothes shopping with a 12 year old who has a clear sense of what she will wear and what not but will not articulate it but just quietly reject proffered items with “too itchy”, “too clingy”, “too <<insert any word here that makes no sense>>” and you are destined for an argument with aforementioned tweenager. I shall try my utmost tomorrow to not go into argument mode. I shall think of cake. Wish me luck.
Oh, I have not mentioned Brexit in a while. So yes, we still don’t know what’s going on. At this point, I don’t feel I can say anything anymore other than shake my head. I feel like Yoda. “Heading for doom, we do. Stone like hurtling, we do.” He never said this, but he would have, had he lived in Brexit Britain.
On a cheerier note, I am about to finish a rather brilliant German crime novel and it has been translated into English, you lucky ducks. Set in 1947 Hamburg, coldest winter in memory and amongst the bombed out city a serial killer is on the loose. The English Title is the Murderer in Ruins by Cay Rademacher and the translation has been done by Peter Millar and is published by Arcadia Books. I think, I may immediately pick up book 2 (there is currently 3) and read on, Rademacher depicts what a bombed Hamburg must have been like so well. A bonus if you know Hamburg and are able pick out the place names, but if you don’t it does not matter, the place will become alive in your head anyway. A brilliant Schmöker.