Obviously I meant to resume my blog writing the first Friday after my return but the second Thursday will have to do. I have just got back from the first rehearsal of 2015 with the Bonn English Singers and, after nearly two weeks back in Bonn, it was a tremendous relief to see everybody again.
You find me now somewhat healthier than I was when I last wrote. The prophecy of the iron tablets came to pass and my energy levels are not quite back to where they should be but the cough has more or less gone and I can now teach from a standing position. So all in all, while I didn’t do much over Christmas, three weeks of complete rest – not to mention putting the half stone in weight I’d lost since moving to Germany back on – was a good call. I had intended to go up to London to see friends (and spend a couple of days in the British Library) and even up to Leamington to see my university lecturer from Warwick – now a friend and always a fan of my writing – but in the end I just didn’t have the energy.
Instead I read and reviewed a book on Conscientious Objectors during the First World War (of which more anon if the review is taken anywhere), did a lot of embroidery, a fair bit of German grammar, saw local friends, two films at the cinema, a fair bit of novel research and a very small amount of writing.
The novel – The Lost Son of Ambrose Garfield – had become a bit of a disappointment. I had been working on it and I believe I did some good work while I was staying in Konigswinter at the end of September. Latterly though it just felt like it had wandered into a dead end, felt contrived and I was losing interest in it. So, mindful of the ever-increasing weight of my return luggage, I decided to fling the novel into a theoretical corner – and leave the typescript in England. I had then attempted to throw myself into the Blake play (long awaited, especially by me!) but no dice. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Similarly, this hiatus was not an excuse to switch to the sequel of Healed that I am desperate to get on with. I was simply too tired. I decided to leave well alone and do some “stand and deliver” writing by which I mean not a return to stand up but simply writing that can be done relatively quickly (compared to a novel); monologues, articles and such. I had written the review and have a project for the Writers’ Guild to manage and write for so it’s all there.
And what, among these worthy subjects is now demanding most of my attention? Yes, that’s right, it’s the novel. It seems that nothing gets the mind running on a project quite like giving up on it. I think the space also gave me the chance to work out what was wrong with the book. I loved the beginning; the strangeness of it, the distance between the central character and the reader – I even loved the colours of the scene of his first appearance. Later on it becomes a bit too cosy, the focus is no longer on the nature of the character but on his relationship with the mistress of the house. It’s all quite sweet but it’s not the book I want to be writing, not this time anyway. So, back I go and start rewriting the offending scenes. Because I write in scenes and there is a dual narrative running through this book, this is not the slog it might otherwise sound. So, how did I re-establish the title character as a remote one? Simple, I removed his name. Of course it’s causing all sorts of problems with pronouns and how to refer to him but it’s a lot more convincing for a character who suffers permanent (partial) memory loss. I am also going to have to rethink how much memory he ultimately gets back. The ending will be positive but not too neat. I don’t want readers to don’t want readers to close the book thinking, “That’s all right then.”
So, I have been doing some writing, but I have realised just how still your mind must be I to write; chaos can reign around you but there has to be a core of stillness within. Sounds obvious now it’s typed on the screen in front of me, strange it’s taken me so long to catch on.
I other news, I am having a constant battle to get enough work from the language school. The first work schedule of the year offered me only 3 hours. I complained and got this increased to 11. The second week I was offered 9 and again, on complaining got this put up to 14. It was then also explained to me that, if I would work evenings and weekends they would give me more daytime hours. No problem with doing that, but why did it have to be a secret?
Anyway, I’m hoping to get more proof-editing work this year. I have already been asked to proof-edit a friend’s law PhD thesis for which he will pay me. This is some of the best sort of work. If I had stayed in England I would have done the CILEX exams so anything to do with law is work I want to do.
The other thing I need to do to ensure my longevity in Germany is learn the language. I am determined to get it but it’s one step forward and two back at the moment. I need to find myself some more German speakers but I’m working on it.
It is now Friday morning so we’re back to the old rhythm.
Anon my friends.