December 22, 2010

About reading

I like it when one thing leads to another. For example, Lorna Sage’s Moments of Truth, which was recommended to me by a friend, reminded me of Angela Carter. I have a couple of her books from the eighties, so I reread the collection of her reviews, Expletives Deleted.  Here's a great sentence about American folktale collector Henry Glassie of whom I had  not previously heard: “He is grievously afflicted with fine writing.”

I’ve also got her book The Sadeian Woman which I remember being bewildered by back then. I know more about the surrealists now, who Carter was interested in/ influenced by. Until, that is, as she says in Expletives Deleted,

… I realised that surrealist art did not recognise I had my own rights to liberty and love and vision as an autonomous being, not as a projected image, [so] I got bored and wandered away.

Another connection is with the novel-known-as-Ann where the idea of folktales comes up and it is useful to be reminded of Carter’s interest in them.  While I didn’t know all of the writers she reviewed, I enjoyed Carter’s writing so much I’ve put her on my list of novelists to seek out at the Wellington Public Library.

 Some time ago I became aware of recurring mentions of the essays of Montaigne. I’ve forgotten where, but I picked up an Everyman edition of them in three volumes from a second-hand bookshop and have delved in here and there. Then I noticed reviews of a book by Sarah Bakewell, How To Live, or A Life of Montaigne in one question and twenty attempts at an answer. Thanks to my good friend, the Wellington Public Library, I have a copy to read over the holidays. Three chapters in and I’m fascinated.

One of Montaigne's answers to the question, "How to live?" is, "Read a lot, forget most of what you read and be slow witted." I haven't read that chapter in Bakewell's book yet, but I think I'll like it.

My other reading just now is Peter Hessler’s Country Driving, his latest about China. More on that when I’ve read more. And then there’s Barbara Kingsolver’s Lacuna  to re-read for our January reading group session.

December 17, 2010

Re-writes & Wrestling with commas

The novel-known-as-Ann has been revised/rewritten over and over. Most people reading it wouldn’t notice much of a difference between versions because the revisions are usually at the sentence level - this word here, that one there, out with that phrase - so the story itself hasn’t changed except in a few places and then not the major plot.

I’m trying for a tone, a point of view, a development in the character that is inherent in the story, not stated. Who knows whether I am succeeding, but I have certainly worked more on this novel than earlier ones. Part of the rewriting involves close attention to punctuation, including commas. (The New Zealand Style Book has a good section on commas.)

Whose hands? Not mine.
When my partner and first reader read my most recently published novel  we had some brisk conversations about commas. Since then, I’ve given commas more attention and now I use them more — and I hope more consistently — while not as much as she would (probably, how do you know what someone else would do?). I like dashes instead sometimes. 

(Last published  novel, Take It Easy, 2008. Email me at pat dot rosier at xtra dot co cot nz if you'd like a copy.)

Today, I am resolved to finish this rewrite of the final chapter, which involves adding a small amount of new material. So, onwards!