Another Year, Some More Resolutions…

7 Jan

I’ve been away from the Internet for the past ten days or so. As is my habit, I’ve been spending time at my rural writing den. I spent more time carrying out repairs on the old place than I did on writing, but the change from townscape to countryside always does me good.

I read quite a lot too. And it was a week over which the ghost of George Orwell loomed large, even though I didn’t actually read anything by the author. After all the hype about John Williams’ fifty-year old novel, Stoner, I found it on my local library shelf. I had to read it within the three-week loan period, though, as it turned out that there was a waiting list of sixty-six readers for it. Grudgingly, I’ll admit it was very well written and rather moving. And though it was set in a Mid-Western university and concerned the life of an unsuccessful assistant professor, there was something about its style and tone that put me constantly in mind of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Having admired the idea of Julian MacLaren-Ross, I finally got around to reading Of Love and Hunger, also surprisingly sitting there in the library. Although I enjoyed it, I had serious reservations about it. The stylised dialogue was rather too much for me – I wonder if it worked even back in the 1940s – and the nihilistic, egocentric protagonist was so unsympathetic that I simply couldn’t care about his broken heart. As D J Taylor pointed out in the introduction to the edition that I read, it owed a lot to Orwell’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying and Coming Up for Air, both of which are far superior books. It strikes me as little more than an entertaining footnote to the period. The idea of MacLaren-Ross remains for me, then, more interesting than his work. And lastly, I re-read my writing friend’s recently finished novella and was once again, deeply impressed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The revitalised study space at the writing den

I did manage to get some writing done. I have some 72,000 words of my work-in-progress written now, so I suppose that’s very nearly novel length. I’m currently going through a sceptical phase with regard to it. It’s all part of the process for me (see Mari Biella’s recent post on this topic), allowing me to question my work and jettison parts that don’t seem to fit in or function. It’s always possible, of course, that my feelings towards it won’t change and that the entire concept is flawed… That’s the high-wire act that we have to perform as writers. There’s no safety net guaranteeing that several years of endeavour won’t end in spectacular failure.

I was out at the den over New Year, so I made a few resolutions. I like to do this so that I can congratulate myself on my under-achievements at the year’s end. Foremost among these was an ambition to see my work-in-progress finished before the year is out. Time will tell… Anyway, may I take this opportunity to wish a Happy New Year to my little band of readers, hoping that it will be a successful year for you all.

All text and images © PSR, 2014

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8 Responses to “Another Year, Some More Resolutions…”

  1. www.laurensapala.com January 7, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

    Happy New Year Paul!

  2. maatiigume January 8, 2014 at 1:32 am #

    Reblogged this on maatiigume and commented:
    Another Year, yes Another Year,

    • Paul Sutton Reeves January 8, 2014 at 10:48 am #

      Indeed, they pass so quickly… Thanks very much for the re-blog, Maatiigume!

  3. Mari Biella January 8, 2014 at 11:50 am #

    Happy New Year, Paul! I too “congratulate myself on my under-achievements at the year’s end”, so I can relate to that… as I can relate to feeling sceptical about one’s work. I currently have a feeling that at least one of my WIPs may end in dismal failure!

  4. Paul Sutton Reeves January 8, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    Happy New Year to you too, Mari! I’ve always been a great under-achiever… And I do have that ghastly feeling at the moment that my main WIP – a year and half into the composition process – isn’t very good! The WIP of yours that might be heading for failure can’t be the one that I’ve just re-read, though.

  5. Dimitris Manousakis January 8, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    Happy New Year 2014 Paul!

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