March 22, 2010

Writers and Readers Week, Writing, Editing

As I expected, I loved Writers and Readers week at the International Arts Festival in Wellington. Highlights? Kamila Shamsi, for one. She's Pakistani and writes about wars on terror as an ongoing historical phenomenon, and how fear leads to accepting anything in the name of safety and security. Her novel Burnt Shadows is stunning. Also Neil Gaiman and Margo Lanahan both of whose books have large fantasy elements which I have enjoyed a lot. Audrey Niffenegger was fun, too, talking about Highgate Cemetery and her latest book. Geoff Dyer said he can’t think of stories so his books don’t behave the way readers expect. He admires Allan Hollinghurst, who does tell stories. Dyer looks for “unmediated experience” and tries to reduce the the distance between what he is writing and how he is writing it. I do love listening to writers talking about writing, even if I don’t always understand everything they say. I take notes. Another highlight was Philip Hoare, historian of the decadence of the nineteen twenties and, more lately, his current passion, whales. A very entertaining eccentric.

On my daily tasks I am doing better on writing 250 words a day than I am on editing my book. The latter needs longer periods of time I think, and my days have been very full lately. I am surprising myself with what comes out of my mind in the daily writing. At the end of March, I have decided, I will print all to date - about 40 beginnings - and read them and see what I want to add to and what I can mine for other purposes and review the whole exercise. I’ll keep doing it, might just change the parameters. Or not. Will report.

I’m changing my editing plan to available half days, of which my diary indicates there are some ahead. Interesting how recording these activities makes them concrete.

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