This week has been a vey busy one and even my juggling acts did not work miracles in that I have not been able to post as frequently as I like to. Having submitted one short story for the OU course there is now another deadline looming which is the beginning of June and this is for a 2500 word piece of writing, either a first chapter of a novel or a complete story (there are other possible permutations, such as poems, a combinatin of poetry and short story etc. but I had already decided that mine was going to be either the first chapter or a short story). I have decided to competely rewrite the first chapter of my novel, in the light of all the things I have learned this past year with respect to techniques, language, style, etc. and simply reading as a writer, which has opened my eyes to what is good writing and what is not. It means that most of the novel will have to be rewritten or at least extensively edited but that is something that needed to be done anyway.
So, during the few hours left this week I have been pre-occupied with thinking about this first chapter and spent most of yesterday, Saturday, completely refdrafting it. That’s why you have not seen that much of me lately.
But of course, the reading goes on despite all this, and there are always the trains, an hour or so before nodding off to sleep, and the Sunday afternoon and that is what this Salon is all about. So, what is there to read?
In the morning and on days that I have no external meetings, before I slump in front of my computer to work on reports and research, I go downstairs to the little iron room next to the kitchen. No, not to do some ironing but to do half an hour’s work out on my exercise bike that is stationed there, sometimes followed by some gentle weights and other beneficial exercises to keep the body from degenerating at a faster rate than necessary. I think I’ve mentioned before that there’s a window overlooking the pond and although I always arm myself with a magazine or one of the books that I am currently reading, I inevitably end up listening to Radio 4 whilst observing the busy life in and around the pond. Radio 4 keeps me up to date with what the latest and most important news item for the day is going to be. Before the horrendous events in Burma and the earth quake in China last week, Richard Dawkins had a slot with Humphreys who asked Dawkin’s what he thought about a speech given the day before by the Archbishop of Canterbury. I think the speech suggested that society nowadays is in need of God as so many people are looking for sense in their lives. Something like that. Dawkin’s reply was wonderfully sharp asking Humphreys why he did not apply the same criteria to the Archbishop’s speech as he applied to anythng said by politicians. You tear apart any politician who cannot give you proof of what he is talking about and here you are saying that the Archbishop might be right simply because he professes to talk from faith. Why, asked Dawkins, do we accord different standards of arguments simply because the Archbishop has faith? What are his exhortations based on? There is not a shred of evidence for anything he says, except that he is talking from faith.
Richard’s Dawkins book ‘The God Delusion’ is actually on my non-fiction reading pile and I also started reading Christopher Hitchens’ ‘God is not Great’ which I picked up recently on one of my ‘retail therapy’ excursions to bookshops. Dawkins is right: imposed faith can be soul destroying, I speak from experience and I am glad that there is someone out there who is actually tackling this head on.
I still have to read one or two more stories in David Malouf’s Every Move you Make and will review this probably next week. However, for lovers of short stories amongst you, go and get hold of a copy. This has some of the best.
On a much lighter note, I will be visiting granddaughter next week and this provided an excellent excuse to go and buy her some books and the one I like best is Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen: I simply cannot wait to read her the story of the lion who sneaks into a library and who loves books and helps out the librarian. The pictures are lovely, of a big cuddly lion who enjoys listening to stories and simply being amongst books and children who read books.