Friday 30 July 2010

The Romancer

Nice to see you again. Lifetwicetasted has been a bit of a no-go area for me in recent weeks – in fact since I came back from France. I know I’ve blasted off here before, about how I don’t believe in writer’s block, but somehow my writer’s mind has a been like a ticking engine turning over but not ready to go.

Study Window 004Of course I’ve been doing some bits of writing, and I’ve been working on the Radio Programme (see sidebar) but this great surging desire to charge into the next BIG THING has been waiting in the wings, not centre stage.

I have not been unhappy but felt I’d somehow turned to a column of wax, unable to melt back into the writer I am.

But if you wait, what’s meant to happen, will happen.

The other day, for my radio programme, I had a conversation with gifted literary biographer and great blogger Kathleen Jones (see my sidebar…). We talked about her new biography of Katherine Mansfield and many aspects of the writing game but I was most intrigued by her typically erudite analysis of the academic and literary disciplines of the biographer - the symbiosis between the writer’s life and the writer’s work.

My dears, the wax started to melt! In between putting the new programme together with James at the radio station, trying to get the house back together after the big paint job and talking with A. about the meaning of life and the balance between nature and nurture, the big idea emerged.

I began to think it’s time I carried out an audit on my work. After all, I’ve been writing all sorts of things for publication for the last twenty five years. It finally dawned on me that I should write an autobiographical monograph outlining my own symbiosis - my non-parochial life here in South Durham and and the novels and stories that have been inspired by it.

Don’t get me wrong – this is not an act of pride, it’s a matter of intellectual organisation and rationalisation. It will be fun to write - in part it has been inspired By how much I love writing posts for my blogs - and will allow me properly to reflect on my life as a writer.

It will be short. I see it as fourteen essays incorporating true elements of my life and the stories that were inspired by them. The quality of the writing will be paramount. As with this blog, there will be pictures. I will publish it myself as an exercise in private publishing, to make the whole book just as I want it to be.

What a treat! Enough to melt any candle.

But first, the title!

There is this saying in County Durham. ‘Oh, him, he’s a proper romancer!’. meaning someone who lives on the borderline between truth, fantasy and lies. I wanted to call my novel about the (alleged) County Durham serial killer Mary Ann Cotton, ‘The Romancer’. My editor didn’t like it. (It became A Woman Scorned’ – a much lesser title for what was a great story.)

Now I know why it was saved. My autobiographical monograph will be my called The Romancer. Perfect! It will be launched on November 24th in the art Gallery at Bishop Auckland Town Hall, alongside an exhibition of all twenty four of my books, a timeline with all the books in and of their times, a collage of some of my articles.

They’re calling it ‘ A Retrospective’. Well, if artists can have then so can writers.

PS After all this excitement I looked up the word ‘Romancer’ (see below) and was moved to see what I came up with. So many of these words fit the way I think I am. I was called dreamer in my family from when I was very young….WX


Romancer’ :Don Quixote, Quixote, anecdotist, daydreamer, dreamer, dreamer of dreams, enthusiast, escapist, fableist, fabler, fabulist, fictionist, idealist, lotus-eater, mythmaker, mythopoet, narrator, novelettist, novelist, prophet, raconteur, reciter recounter, relator, rhapsodist, romancist, romantic, romanticist,sagaman, seer, short-story writer, spinner of yarns, storier, storyteller, taleteller, teller of tales, utopian, utopianist, ustopianizer, visionary, wishful thinker, word painter, yarn spinner reamer of dreams, enthusiast, escapist, fableist, fabler, fabulist, fictionist, idealist, lotus-eater, mythmaker, mythopoet,narrator, novelettist, novelist, prophet, raconteur, reciter, recounter, relator, rhapsodist, romancist, romantic, romanticist, sagaman, seer, short-story writer, spinner of yarns, storier,storyteller, taleteller, teller of tales, utopian, utopianist, topianizer, visionary, wishful thinker, word painter, yarn spinner

Romancer’ A mysterious or fascinating quality or appeal, as of something adventurous, heroic, or strangely beautiful: "These fine old guns often have a romance clinging to them" (Richard Jeffries).

Saturday 3 July 2010

The Sadness of Leaving.

Journey back tomorrow. I am sad. As regular visitors at Lifetwicetasted will know, I feel I have been here before and am writing my second novel springing from this place.

As well as my notebook I always have my little camera. I’m no great photographer but now my camera is my second notebook and continues to provide inspiration and sustenance in my other special place t- he moody, complex north of England. I thought I would stick my last images together for my friends – as a kind of handful of postcards from the edge, with no message.

Here , the medium is the message, perhaps:

Light and Shade

window M D'






Shades of Red  Pezenas

 Street Aesthetic

Joute boat in shadow


Always a feast for the eyes






 Last images 011








the blue blue sky

A bientot…


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