ASTON. You said you wanted me to get you up. DAVIES. What for? ASTON. You said you were thinking of going to Sidcup. DAVIES. Ay, that'd be a good thing, if I got there. ASTON. Doesn't look much of a day. DAVIES. Ay, well, that's shot it, en't it?
— The Caretaker, Harold Pinter
Sometimes when you’re writing there is an exhaustive, ever-growing list of options to take. There is the desire to write a quiet suburban tale of divorce and failed life while another passion, say writing about criminals organising a heist, also burns. On the same day, there is the search to go down one road, unfamiliar and strange, another hunt arises to go down the road wholly known. I believe with this wealth of options, which rides with one of the great democratisations of writing being its cost (if you have a piece of paper and pen, you can write), is the closest a lot of us come to writer’s block. It’s not that we don’t have things to write about, it’s that we have too much to write about. So, with that in place, here is a list of things this blog was going to be about this week:
- Sex. No, I haven’t made a video that’s about to go viral but I wanted to write a blog about sex and writing. This week, I was in a great class with Leone Ross, hosted by Spread The Word, where the topic was writing love/sex scenes. If you’re looking for some modern writing beyond Miller and Nin, I’d recommend Ross’ own short story collection Come Let Us Sing Anyway and Monsieur by Emma Becker. The latter has a paragraph of four words which beckons an entire city to be involved in the love affair: Paris held its breath. For this blog, I was also going to write about artist Jack Vettriano. In the documentary series What Do Artists Do All Day? he made an astute point about sex and it being taken seriously in this country: “If I were to paint industrial decline or inner-city drug abuse you can’t help but think, That might be taken quite seriously. But a woman painting her toenails for her lover, that’s just Benny Hill.” You can see more of Vettriano here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=902K9eWfNX0&ab_channel=ArtDocumentaries
- Acceptance. Stick with me on this one, I’m still trying to figure it out. If there was a terrible “culture death ray” out there and this ray could wipe your mind of all your cultural knowledge and leave just one cultural icon then for me it would be Leonard Cohen. Because of my preference and time, there will be many musicians, writers, artists whose work I’ll never listen to, read, look at. But does this mean the converse should rear its head? Does it mean that they should be left out of the buffet of art? Of course not. If it did, this blog would certainly be scraped in the bin long ago.
- Frédéric Dard. I’m four books into the six translated works of this great crime writer. Despite writing over 300 books, the translations mentioned above are relatively recent. I highly recommend him and will write more in a post in the future. For now, head over to Pushkin Press for more (https://pushkinpress.com/our-authors/frederic-dard/).
- Going back to sex and acceptance, it seems a real waste of time for something as well-known and contributed to as the Bad Sex in Fiction Award. Like a lot of criticism, it seems to fall into that hinterland of lambasting others’ attempts rather than praising those who get it right and those who try against the culture of such awards. As McMurphy said in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, “But I tried though…I sure as hell did that much, didn’t I?”
And these are just some of the things I didn’t write about this week.