Two books out this year; one more being read in a revised version, one rejected and put to one side for now and another under consideration. I long to be able to tell you all about my novel The Zebra and Lord Jones, but all in good time. While I wait, I am pondering, reading and enjoying working on other things. I had initially thought I might only read for leisure during a waiting period and with the two books out, but then things catch my eye and I want to get going. I am doing that gently.
So…I had been wanting to write something set in the Medieval period for some time; more specifically, on female mystics. I am thinking about that at the moment, so I am reading Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism and re-reading both Revelations of Divine Love from Julian of Norwich and also The Book of Margery Kempe. It is immersive and, as I said, gentle.
However, I have also started writing something else, which I have had on my mind for some time and for which I collated a number of photographs. Here is one: a deserted manse in a village in Carmarthenshire. I have a working title for this and it comes from Emerson (it may change) – The Ornament of the House. I had originally envisaged this as a collection of short stories – and it may still be that – or may evolve into a novella or shorter novel. Imagine that every room of a house – perhaps this house – tells a story and is inhabited by different people, whether alive or dead. Imagine, also, that the fabric of the house is alive and that those in the house are all from different time periods. I love lush historical detail; let me take you back to 1790, for example. The house itself, I suppose, like Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House or, if I may, ‘Feasting;Fasting’, in my own Famished, from September this year. is alive, respiring and intent on things. Also, those who enter the house are all connected with what is in it and with each other – though they do not know it yet.
Often, for me, a book begins with an image. Here is one.
There is something I wanted to say. I have felt truly crushed by many elements of this year and I am pretty sure you have too. In terms of writing – which seems simultaneously trivial and the most important thing in the world – it has been incredibly disappointing to have two books out and not to be able to do events or share things with you, but hopefully that will come, perhaps alongside other future books, if necessary. One thing I have learned, though, is that I have to be true to the way in which I work and to who I am. The first: I always want to be writing a book. I have been roundly criticized for working too quickly or for diluting what I am doing, but this is how I do things. I waited so long, it is coming out in a torrent and I want to keep going. The second (who I am) is that I am very open about myself, the problems I have had and had, a difficult past, trauma and so on. Part of that is sharing my work with you as I go. I hope you like the sound of this new book.
Stay well and keep writing – in whatever form that is for you and by whatever method.