Thursday, August 26, 2010

Latest on Memoirs

I'm far too immersed in my own novel to be able to begin to comment on this Guardian Books blog article by Charlotte Higgins about the issues raised by Candia McWilliam's recent memoir and AS Byatt's comments thereon, but since the issues of memoir/autobiography/fiction have been such a preoccupation of this blog, I direct you towards it.

(If you want to read some of my comments on the issues, click the MEMOIRS V NOVELS label)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Silence and the Writer

Tucked away at the moment up a mountain with my writing and without good internet access, I'm not having many thoughts beyond the images and ideas of my WIP. It's interesting that, in these days when an author's job increasingly involves promotion, I feel a certain guilt about this, rather than the immense satisfaction I'd probably have felt once upon a time at being fortunate enough to have a solid period of concentration. Actually, no, I think, once a upon a time - even, or maybe especially, when I had small children - I thought it my duty to my art (if that doesn't sound too pretentious) to bend over backwards to carve the time and peace to give it proper attention.

And isn't that what true art needs? Not that I'm claiming to be producing the greatest art here or anything, but here in the mountains, where there is only the sound of the wind and the stream and the buzzards calling overhead, I am sinking into my work in a way I haven't managed for a good while, seeing the scenes with new richness and clarity and making new connections, the latter often coming to me in the evenings when I'm walking by the sea (and when in Manchester I'd be catching up on internet stuff). Silence and peace. Isn't that what we need for deep thought? And isn't that why libraries were always places of silence?

But don't we now despise libraries as places of silence, and fill them instead with activities? Aren't we now, via the internet, developing a culture of buzz and quick response which militate against deep contemplation? And what will this do to our literature?

A poet I know lives permanently in mountains where he can't get broadband. He is one of the most thoughtful and talented poets I know. But will his work get lost because he can't - or chooses not to - gain visibility for his work via the web? Will all such writers be silenced? And what kind of literature will we have then?

Friday, August 13, 2010

The New Conundrum for Authors

At the moment this blog feels like a house plant that's not being watered while I'm off on my travels. Well, here I am popping back home from the geographies of my novel to give it a quick splash - inspired by a relevant article in the Guardian today.

Ray Conolly writes about the fact that he is publishing his latest novel, The Sandman, in serial form online and for free, although it will be possible in the meantime to buy a download of the entire manuscript, and later a printed form will be available from Amazon. His enthusiasm is catching, and his argument that publishing is changing in such a way that, contrary to predictions, the web is returning power to authors, seems persuasive.

I wonder, though. Power always comes with responsibility, and in this case the responsibility for marketing. Connolly talks about the fact that there will be Facebook and Twitter links (not to mention the ipod audio version he'll be preparing). And we all know how much time Facebook and Twitter can take up... One can't help asking the question: where will he get the time to write his next book? It's not only my blogs that have been suffering recently from the fact that my novel has been absorbing all my time, attention and creativity, but my Facebook and Twitter accounts via which I should be doing the marketing for my published books, necessarily required by my small publisher.

The old (new) conundrum, eh?