Fragments and Inertia (musings and mutterings)
In the ten or so years since I began blogging I’ve seen a lot written about SEO (search engine optimisation), detailing how to gain greater prominence among the various search engines. I’ve concluded that for the most part, what gives greater prominence is paying for it, whether by using a paying platform, or by plug-ins that you also pay for, or by choosing a blogging platform closely allied to the companies that run search engines. So for years I tried to use titles that might spark interest or somehow be picked up by the search engines (I’m not naming any…). But these days, finding a title for a blog post mostly involves finding something, anything, by which I might find it again amid the thousand or so articles filed away. Hence the fairly uninspiring title of THIS post.
I wanted to write a post that gives some sense of what I’ve been doing and what I have managed to do and what I have not managed to do. Oh, and why.
Good news is that I am quite close to publishing a new book.
It’s taken a lot longer than it should have done, considering, but there’s been a lot going on in the so-called real world that has made it hard to overcome my reluctance to doing anything but the simplest and most urgent of tasks. Aside from personal life, the impact of world affairs has been profound. Watching the mess my own country has got itself into, watching the horrors of the US, watching the terrifying (and largely unreported) effects of climate change, have all contributed to my deepening depression and loss of hope. April (according to T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland, anyway) is the cruellest month, something which puzzle many, because the rise of spring and the beauty thereof, is surely something not of cruelty but rather of joy. But not so, in many ways. Spring (and April) bring hope, and hope is a fragile, vulnerable thing that can be destroyed. That’s why it’s been hard to get my act together for a new book: because I know my hopes for it may well be futile. Sales of current books are flat-lined. I cannot realistically expect that a new book will change this, except for a few weeks perhaps. It’s the loss of the hope that hurts most. For those who are wagging their fingers and saying, “Oh she’s so negative. What else can she expect if she has that attitude?”, well, we are at odds. I have said before many times that I believe that confronting difficult things face to face is a better way than pretending everything is fine and dandy. In many ways, the success of a book (commercially, anyway) is beyond my control. And it’s also beyond my comprehension, because I sometimes look at successful books and am baffled about why they are successful. That aside, I have got this far, and know that the book needs to be released. I’ll tell you more about it another time, probably quite soon.
Overcoming inertia is exhausting, and I have been so unbelievably tired. Every small thing done above and beyond the daily round of things that one does to continue existing, is a triumph, though. To write, to think, to plant things, to clear out a cupboard, take energy and I have to ration what I can do. For my birthday I was given a weighted blanket; found to be helpful in dealing with chronic pain, sensory overload, insomnia, ADHD and so on, I’ve been building up the time I can spend under mine. It (supposedly) increases serotonin, and decreases cortisol. My experience so far is that it boosts my capacity to dream deeply. That’s a massive plus. Without dreams I cannot write. I have a good number of books on the go, some long abandoned, like, “The Selkie’s Song” which is around 30k words so far, and “Tabula Rasa” which is around the same length. There are several I have been picking away at now for years, one untitled sequel to Strangers and Pilgrims, and a more recent one called (provisionally) “The Bag o’ Nails” which is only in handwritten form. The most recent and promising story is called “On Hob Hill” and while originally I thought it would be a short story for Halloween, it rapidly decided it was something bigger and very different from what I had initially thought. But it’s so hard to find the mental clarity to write, to sort through the fragments of ideas, some of which are brilliant, bright and compelling yet transitory. I get this sense of incredible glow, of massive potential for beauty, and then it sort of vanishes. If you have read Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose” the narrator, Adso, returns to the scene of the tale years later, and collects fragments of parchment, of ruined books, and uses them as a sort of oracle, as a kind of inventory of all the lost books. These strange disiecta membra become for him a touchstone to all the lost works that he can never pull from shelves again and read. For me, these fragments float around at the edge of dreams and at idle moments; a scene will flash up, as vivid as if it were on a HD screen, and fill me with anticipation and excitement. They have the scent of something grander, more wonderful and more complex and amazing, than these snippets can convey. I write down what I can of them but they’re easily lost in the cold, hard logic of a notebook.
Anyway, that’s about it for now. I’ll be revealing more about the new book in due course. I’ve got a final run through of the proof copy to complete before then and then I need to decide if I am going to host a virtual party on FB this time. If anyone would like to host a blog post or do an interview with me about it, let me know. I appreciate all the help and support that people are willing to offer.