As a writer and an avid reader, I obviously love words, but I find some art forms without words wonderfully expressive. I’ve been reminded of this by seeing the film Pina directed by Wim Wenders.
I’m ashamed to say that before this I didn’t know anything about the dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch. I’m really glad that this moving film has given me a chance to experience her work.
The film almost didn’t happen. Planned with Pina herself, it was cancelled when she died shockingly suddenly two days before shooting was to begin. After a time her dancers from the Tanztheater Wuppertal approached Wenders and asked him to film them dancing her pieces so that instead of a film about Pina it became a film for Pina.
She had an original creative method: she asked the dancers questions and they answered with movement and from their movements she created the works, pieces that ‘talk with the language of movement’ as Wim Wenders puts it.
I found some of the pieces disturbing, but also saw humour and tenderness in Pina’s work.
There’s something about simple repetitive movements performed by everyone together that really gets me. This piece of Pina’s makes me smile.
Check it out. You might like it too!
I have heard back from my lovely editor who has read the first draft of my latest project. Her response wasn’t, ‘Thanks , but no thanks,’ as I’d feared it might be. It was more, ‘Hmm, yes, well…’ and the hint that what I’ve written is…well… not really novel- shaped yet, but more a series of episodes. I knew it, really. But was hoping that a series of episodes might be acceptably post-modern and cool. It turns out that it’s not…acceptable that is…so more thinking is required.
So I must turn my attention away from house décor and back to the WorkInProgress.
Which is, actually, something of a relief. Because choosing colours is proving a headache. Not that it should be difficult. Here, the colour of choice is neutral, unadventurous, bland even. Basically, it’s cream. But how can shades of cream be so different from each other?
And how is it that those little rectangles of paint on paint charts no way resemble the colour when you try it out on paper and in turn neither of these shades resemble the actual colour of the paint once you’ve forked out a large sum of money and bought a big tin of the stuff and started daubing it on the walls?
It’s a mystery. And while I’m scratching my head over this and also over the question of What To Do With My Novel, the estimable Bookwitch has found this lovely idea.
What a marvellous distraction. I’m now busy pondering which books I would choose for my staircase. And what an opportunity for bold and cheery colours…
Hah! As if…
I guess many people at this point are focusing on preparations for Christmas – shopping, wrapping gifts, stressing, shopping etc….
I’m celebrating the season in a novel way this year: stripping and rubbing down…
Before you get the wrong idea, I’m talking about removing paint!
Having got the first draft of the latest book finished and sent off – hurrah! – I can now start thinking about the house. Since workmen are arriving very early in the new year to instal a new bathroom, it seems a good idea to get the messy preparations, like stripping door frames, done now.
Sandpapering is tedious but I’ve discovered a helpful tool: a heat gun. The only drawback is that it’s pretty dangerous. There’s nothing like the thrill of wielding something that shoots out 650° of heat (it warns you not to use it to dry your hair…).
It’s not so bad while it’s directed at the paint, which bubbles up very satisfactorily, but while you’re scraping, you can’t keep an eye on your other hand which can’t help waving the gun around…
I’m hoping we don’t have the added excitement of a visit from the fire brigade.
A very merry (and flame-free) festive season to you all!
The traditional image of a writer is someone fuelled by opium – Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, or alcohol – Dylan Thomas, Ernest Hemingway, or tobacco – Oscar Wilde, Beryl Bainbridge…
Such grown-up addictions! Mine, I have to confess is far more childish – it’s sugar.
I’m prompted to own up to this having watched Nigel Slater’s programme Life is Sweets. (Last Monday BBC4) If you didn’t see it, he explored the emotional resonance of sweets in relation to his childhood; he also touched on the history of confectionery and there were some entertaining examples of old tv adverts for sweets.
It brought back memories for me: of going to Thompson’s sweet shop after school with a threepenny bit to spend – that’s three old pence – and dithering for ages between a Lucky Bag or a Palm toffee bar (a thin toffee bar with a yellow strip of banana through the middle) or liquorice bootlaces. I remember dreaming of the day when I’d have sixpence (ie 2 ½ p) and be able to buy a whole bar of Cadbury’s chocolate…
Obviously this early immersion created a habit I now find impossible to kick especially when I’m stuck at my desk, writing or more often not-writing. Quite honestly I like everything but my staple flavours of choice are mint – glaciers mints and butter mintoes – and aniseed – Black Jacks and aniseed balls, but they’ve got to be the right sort – the old-fashioned ones with the seed in the centre. With the odd foray into lemony sherbet for a real kick….
I felt ashamed of the childishness of my craving until I discovered that Jack London, that apparently ‘tough guy’, felt the same: “All the time I was striving to be a man amongst men and all the time I nursed a secret and shameful desire for candy.”
So that’s all right then. Pass the pear drops…
If anyone is wondering about the long night of silence that has befallen this blog, I’m still here! But during these past few months two demanding and not-very-compatible experiences have coincided: the deadline for the novel I am currently writing is approaching and I have moved house.
I prefer not to say much about the novel as yet because it’s in such a very raw state, I’m afraid that, like opening the oven door too soon on a soufflé, if I reveal too much about it at this stage, it might flop. By the end of November I have to present my publisher with a decent first draft and given event number two my main thought at the moment is: AAGH!
The move has eaten up two months writing time and while I do have a spacious new study, I haven’t been able to use it very much. The new house needs quite a bit of work doing to it and men have been on the roof, up at the windows and under the floorboards. For the last two weeks my study has looked like this:
Luckily a kind friend has lent me her house during the day when she’s not in it and every morning I’ve been ‘going off to work’. And without distractions such as the internet and with nothing else to do but write and eat the odd French Fancy my friend thoughtfully provided, I have got on so much faster than I do at home.
But, alas, phase one of the work is complete and I’m back at my desk and what happens? Instead of Getting On, I find myself diverted by questions about shower enclosures and floor tiles. Hopeless!
Will we ever reach the stage of having floorboards that don’t squeak? Will I get the book finished in time?
Watch this space!