After the Interlude: Reflecting on the Poetry Project

New Year’s is done and dusted and the first part of the poetry project is done. For those of you who need context, here is the post explaining what I’m doing.

I wanted to take stock of the scope of the project and reflect on its progress.

From a technical standpoint, I am quite impressed with what I’ve achieved. I’m past the one year point of writing poetry so my newness is not so much of an accolade, however I will say that I have more of an affinity for poetry than I could have possibly imagined before. In poem 1 for example, I think it blends the various themes well and represents the ambitions of the project well: poetry that had a sense of narrative with pictures that supplement that narrative. I quite like the sense of journey you get from the photographs. For those who don’t know, it’s quite a linear journey from the centre to a bit just on the outskirts of the city centre. I wanted to highlight the difference between the glass and smooth walkways of the centre to the brick locations that were a  bit rough around the edges but full of life and character.

Poem 2, on the other hand, is technically good, and while it’s right on theme doesn’t quite make reach the heights of the others. But it’s a learning process, I suppose.

Speaking of photographs, I would have liked more photographs. I found myself surprisingly strapped for photos when I was going through things week to week. More front-end photographs will be needed next time, I think. For some reason I forgot about the fact that 80% of my 1000+ photos are research. I have an idea of the next part’s subjects so I will know what to capture and that will help with the assembly of the posts.

As for the actual posts themselves, as I said above, I enjoy the techincal skill of them but they’re not as emotional as they could be. I realised this when I went to poetry meet-ups that poems usually come from a very personal place. I touch on it but I want to lean more into it. I don’t think it will cheapen the project at large. One of the stories is about heartbreak and I’ve barely scratched the surface of the rending and transformative aspects of that experience. I’m good at writing about things from a historical perspective but hide from the more piercing emotional aspects of such a situation. More emotion! More personal! More upsetting for the reader! These are my vows!

Here is a contents page for the project so far—for easy navigation!

Part 1: The City of a Thousand Trades

1.) Forward! To The City of a Thousand Trades, and, A City of Colour

2.) The Brotherhood’s Teachings in Four Parts

3.) 16

4.) Big City Plan

5.) William Caxton Fan Club

6.) Meditations on a Modern Person, or, the Many Masks of a Mortal

7.) Yet Another Derivation of Ozymandias

Interlude: Hollow City

Part 2 will be called The Imperial Dream, after an info card that I saw for Joseph Chamberlin, a prominent politician who was responsible for many things, one of the most notable is he contributed to splitting the Liberal (which would later go on to form part of the Liberal Democrats) and Conservative parties.

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Here is a little tease for what’s to come:

It’s like a metaphor for life, really: you try to move on your path, stay out of people’s way, but some dull-eyed fucker’s got to have their say.

I make no promises for when it’s going to get started again but I hope it’ll be early Feb. Take it easy.

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2018: Failure and Growth

This will likely be a two-parter with the 2019 New Year’s post.

So let’s talk about failure!

I experienced a lot of growth in 2018 that I hadn’t paid attention to because a good deal happened through successive failures. On the other side of them, they’re kind of funny and instrumental in a way, but when I was going through them, there was not a hint of joy or wisdom I could extract from them. The reality that all creative people come to understand eventually is that being creative requires one to fail. It involves suffering: for your art and because of it. This is true about life as much as it is about art, though.

I have failed a lot in 2018, personally and professionally. Take my career ambitions, for example. I have failed interviews in a lot of ways this year for avoidable reasons. That’s another pain of hindsight: that the mistakes you made were ultimately avoidable with the correct information. Worse, if that correct information was in reach. When you were in the situation, you appeared to act as best you could given the context.

The pain of my financial non-existence has forced me into sitations I was not fully prepared for. I have been in situations where I felt I did my best, where I was not up to par, when I felt I was up to par but got sloppy with the specifics. These are but three interviews and I’ve learnt a lot because of them. I wish I had more opportunity to practise but I will take them as necessary fuel* to progress. It hurts like hell when you get those rejection emails, or worse in my opinion, when you see yourself failing during the interview—you’re drowning and you can’t do anything.

The last interview I had, for example, was promising because now I have necessary affirmation of my abilities and desirability. Before, I thought I was just an upjumped nobody punching well above his weight, but now I know that I have qualities that employers would see as both desirable and useful. That’s a big thing for me that I cannot overstate.

It’s hard to not get frustrated by the inefficient and obtuse welfare system, which has only done more to add to my sense of failure. The problem of having little money is the feeling of shame. Shame that you were not better. See, if you were better then you would not be in economic straits in the first place, so you would not have to feel shame: you would not be in a shameful situation. It’s something we don’t speak enough about. But normative values have a stronger hold on you than truth does, unfortunately. I’ve said many times before but pain gives the sufferer tunnel vision, and the narrowness of that vision is typically proportionate to the amount of pain experienced.

Shame is a cruel presence. I’m going to say this even if it’s overused: Your ability to secure employment is not representative of your ability to do those jobs, and most certainly not representative of whether you deserve them. I had become slothful through dejection, not willing to try because what’s the point. I felt like I “knew” the road ahead (see: full of failure) so why try?

To say that I didn’t expect to be going into my third year of unemployment is an understatement. Like many my age, I had anticipated potential financial difficulty—if not working towards my dream career, then with a minimum wage job, making the most out of what little I got by hanging with my friends and writing lots when I could. But when even that didn’t seem attainable, I was lost in the swamp. I was falling well short of my ideal and that was sapping my spirit. Having little money takes a heavy blow to my emotional state. I did not realise how heavy until last year. But I am over the worst of it now, I think.

I know I am because I am able to see what I did do which were no small feats. Like the first post, I felt that these accomplishments were forcing positivity in an erstwhile unpleasant situation. My intention was honesty. An honest post on balance needs to acknowledge everything, not just the good or bad individually. So, I should look at stuff that was good as well, which was numerous. For example, in the latter half of the year, I did some charity! Me and three others raised a grand (there were cash donations as well as the money we raised on the fundraiser). I think because it was another set of tasks coming at a time when I was knackered meant that I didn’t enjoy it much. I am trying to appreciate what I helped bring into reality. I actually put something into the world. Maybe it’s small in the long run but I helped people.

Poetry: I began the poetry project! Not long after the last post, I sort of experienced a mad rush and finished the first part. I’m enjoying what I’ve got so far. I will be getting back to that hopefully by February. I am working on a review post of the project so far (more to follow, hopefully sometime next week).

Beyond that, I have joined an informal poetry group that meets fortnightly! Getting to meet other poets and workshopping some of my own has been beneficial to developing my craft. I’ve also been to poetry events (when I can!) and have performed just once. The poem was very average and my performance was worse but, hey, I’ve performed my poetry. It’s the first step in many, I hope. My ambitions for this are to have a smooth translation from the feelings in me flowing to the page and then conveyed to others through my voice.

Essays: I burned out. I am not going to make concessions, I am just going to try harder. They will be done when they are done.

Writing: As I said before, I am not ready to submit short stories. But in better news: I have finished my manuscript! I wanted it done by my birthday in summer but I finished in November instead. No wonder it took me so long: it was 195,000 words. 1-9-5. THOUSAND. I started this book in 2015, stopped, wrote a different book in 2016, then started this one anew in 2017. I did it!

Not only this book but the series that it was part of. Admittedly it was a two-book series but the series began in its current iteration in 2013 so it’s been a 5 year battle. Latter versions will not take so long, I hope but I’m quite pleased with the overall product. It’s a bit hefty at nearly 400,000 words in total but especially the latter half of the sequel feels representative of my current writing skill. Now, as a result, I have millions of ideas for other books set in the same world so this is overall a great thing. I’m very excited again for my fictional world.

As of the new year, I’ve started redraft that 2016 novel I mentioned above. Looking back there are admirable qualities but it’s actually quite cringey so I’m revamping old scenes and creating anew other scenes.

Music: My guitar strings broke which killed my urges to play, even after buying a replacement set. Regularity is my primary ambition. Nothing more.

Drawing: I think part of my arc will be decided what sort of art I want to be doing. I’ll think about that long-term but in the short term, pencil just needs to go on the page.

Keep in contact with friends: I think I’ve been okay with it. But some of my friendships are not well-adapted to conversation over the internet. I think I’m coming into money so I would like to try to reinvigorate ones that are waning and need that physical presence to maintain that longevitiy.

The flip side is the friendships I have had that have deepened immensely due to, hilariously, my unemployment. Not having cash and limited autonomy sucks but I’ve grown in other ways: found the poetry stuff and people, developed my friendships that I likely would not have been able to if I wasn’t unemployed in virtue of having little social mobility.

The lesson here is that there are gifts in life that are there if I am willing to look for them. I will try to relax more, enjoy things around me instead of focusing on being unmoored. Nick Drake had it right: our ocean will find its shore.

Hope you are all well.

 

*I have realised that simulated interviews do nothing for me because I normally know the paramaters or the person and there are no stakes. Trust me, the interview is basically a whole different thing when you have to make an impression on people you’ve met moments ago and your livelihood is at stake.

December Reviews

My final two reads of 2018 were not the cheeriest, I must admit, but still great. Have a peak.

 

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin [4/5 stars]

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It’s hard to put into words my exact feelings. The short answer is that I enjoyed it. In equal parts bleak and brilliant, vague and original, you have a very intriguing world and premise.

Told across three perspectives (one in the uncommon second-person) the story unfolds steadily, if a little slowly at points.

This is a character-led story but worldbuilding is front and centre here. Set likely tens of thousands of years into the future, the themes of oppression, discrimination, people’s hubris and cruelty, were so culturally significant.

As I mentioned, there are three POVs but they are not all created the same. Essun “you” starts out well but loses steam a little in the middle, Damaya starts out slow but gains traction, while Syenite’s is the consistent height of the book, with my favourite parts involving her and her companion Alabaster. One other criticism is that it is I think needlessly vague in points. There is a lure early on, a mystery about the world and characters that cleverly unravels but there is a lot that is revealed to you strangely, especially towards the end.

I understand that this likely means that I will have my answers in the following books and hopefully they are negated as we expand on the mysteries of the Stillness.

But boy, what an intriguing book.

We Were Eight Years In Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates [5/5 stars]

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There are times when you read a book at precisely the right time. This book is a mix of memoir and collection of essays. Set over the Obama presidency, Coates selected eight of his articles, one for each year, that represents issues surrounding race and how Obama casts light (and shadow) on them, with an Epilogue in the form of an article about Trump, the “First White President”.

The book begins “as all writing must” in failure, unemployed and down on his luck. This is the first of eight Notes of where he was in life between writing the various pieces. While his articles are engaging, where this book soars are in the personal medidations between them. The one thing I love about Coates is the fluidity of his writing, how easily he can put down complicated ideas it would take me four or five times the amount of time to put down, things like the complexities of race and bundling that up with being a black writer, or Obama embodying that common adage of blackness: to gain respect one must be twice as good, but half as black.

He is at his best when he intermingles the reporting and the essay. He admitted it himself about “The Case For Reparations” and achieves it to a lesser extent with “My President Was Black” (again, at his admittance), easily his two strongest articles, but I was fond of them all, like the profile of Michelle Obama.

As you can expect, the difficulties surrounding attitudes about race are upsetting and genuinely surprising. Coates is a cool and even hand but his anger is unmistakable. The salient issue that runs through this book is that America has a race issue but it’s not prepared to even acknowledge it, let alone deal with it. The only way it can improve is if it does. That is the seed of hope after all the horror inside. That it can get better. But we cannot wait. To quote Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: now is the time to talk about what we are actually talking about. Excuses won’t cut it any longer.


By the end of the year, I had pretty much burntout so my reading for 2018 petered out. But I read past my goal of 35 books! As a quick post-script, I was intrigued by the fact I  have not read any 5-star fiction that wasn’t re-read titles. Non-fiction were the 5-stars for me. I hope 2019 brings me some great fiction.

Thank you for following along! I have been bad at updating but sooner or later I have to reckon with how much 2018 took from me. I feel much better, more energetic and optimistic. Here’s hoping you’re having a good time—or that you will.

November Reviews

Yes I am still playing catch up … Last month’s reviews are coming up next week.

Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace [4/5 stars]

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I have reneged on my resolution to write an extended essay on Wallace’s divise epic because the internet doesn’t need more pieces on it, I don’t think. I also have a mountain of other essays I’m more interested in writing more immediately.

What I do have is Thoughts.

Infinite Jest is sometimes described as a comedy and it is hilarious in places but by far the funnest thing about IJ is that it took me three years to read.

Strip away the immense size, the fragmented narrative, the sometimes several-page sentences (yes) of small type, the fact that there are endnotes that are sometimes a narrative onto themselves, the technical jargon, and you have a very humane story.

I think that’s the heart that Wallace wants to convey but boy does he fucking make you work for it. The core narratives all display many different ways in which humans are vulnerable. I’m told (and John Green confirms) that the nuances of mental illness are well-conveyed by Wallace. I think I can understand that on a conceptual level and is what I understand from how authentic the depictions of addiction are as well: there are some horrifying passages about addicts that have a level of authenticity that supersedes the technical brilliance.

The narrative structure is interesting. Set in a near-future, the story unfolds through three core perspectives: a tennis academy, a recovery house, and Canadian separatists. The themes of entertainment, passivity in the face of entertainment, and isolation ring across all three. They loosely are all joined by a film of the book’s title that is supposedly so entertaining that people want to do nothing else but watch it until they die.

The reason I gave it four stars even after 3 often frustrating and laboured years is that you cannot come out of this unchnaged. Love or hate, you will have Thoughts. I think that was the purpose of the book: to be intentional content. I’ve mentioned before that Wallace had an addiction to television and the book seems to be a reaction to that. Instead of losing yourself mindlessly to TV (in our age, social media and our phones), he’s clubbing us in the head with this intentional content. And I mean clubbing. Weird that I enjoyed getting clubbed.

My life has changed around the book more than because of it but it’s been an almost prop throughout the latter half of my university years and beyond. The project to make a work that engages to not just think but to be more empathetic and not become passive agents to our vice is in his heavy-handed way kind of noble.

So with all of this, I think that the script would seem largely superfluous. Interesting, but superfluous. I say this having read a fair portion of his short stories and essays. I know the syntax’s complexity is superfluous because the latter third pares down the pages-long sentences but still maintains that Wallace-like maximalism. Another way I’ve come to look at it is that it reads like thought than specifically to be read aloud, which makes the elliptical structure of scenes and phrases understandable. It’s like you’re being invited into someone’s head for all it’s horrors and wonders. For that, Infinite Jest is a book that will have a lasting effect on me.

It is sui generis in the weirdest way that shouldn’t work. It’s way Too Much but I guess so is life.

Now, I say all this with the caveat that my admiration of his work does not give a pass to the ways in which he was abusive. How one will engage with his work going ahead is contested. I unfortunately don’t have an answer. It’s difficult and a decision you as a reader will have to make. I have yet to make mine. I’ve read his work and drawn value from them. Knowing more about him as I got to the end of the book definitely sours what his work added to my life up until that point. My frustration and confusion I suppose is small price to pay for wrongdoing coming to light.

People are so complex, wonderful, and awful.

number9dream by David Mitchell [9/9 stars]

“Life is the pen, reality is the page.” 

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This is an almost companion piece to one of my favourite all time novels, Norwegian Wood. The comparisons are not made emptily: Eiji is a 19-year-old adrift, just like Murakami’s Toru. Both of them turn 20 throughout their coming-of-age tales, and both books are named after Beatles songs. But to say that number9dream is a copy of Norwegian Wood would be a disservice to the skill and originality of Mitchell’s second book. Eiji, for example, is a much more active protagonist, although Tokyo and its inhabitants are larger than life and drag him along quite a bit.

I would say that this book can be summarised as a meditation on life and stories. Eiji, an imaginative youth, is in Tokyo in search of his father and gets mixed up in all sorts of madness, partly his imagination, most of it true. The book weaves through 9 different parts with as many flavours, from Blade Runner-esque cyberpunk to metafiction (which is the weakest part of the book. I understand the Message but it’s still the worst part for me).

Over the course of the book, he becomes more grounded and finds a purpose beyond the grand narratives of stories and fancies of imagination: he reckons with his past and his reality. He must write his own narrative by living his life, an important lesson: you can’t do it all in your head. It’s a whirlwind of imagination and of brilliant sentences: “The sun steam-irons the street through its rain-washed lens”, “A single night is stuffed with minutes, but they leak out, one by one.” Conveying being broke in a big city is hilariously on point as well. Longing for betterment and your goals and constantly falling short is well-realised.  I am glutton for these kinds of stories.

Like John Lennon, Eiji is haunted by the number 9 that recurrs in various ways: the numbers of the time adding up to nine, for example, the place he is from has nine letters, the area is from is called Kyushu (Nine Provinces), etc. On my inital read-through I thought there was a significance to the nines but it’s more a motif that pays homage to Lennon and I suppose I did get feverish trying to spot all the different instances across the book.

A wonderful, touching, transformative novel.

Minsk by Lavinia Greenlaw [2/5 stars]

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Abstraction in the first 2/3rds or so notwithstanding, there are some lovely poems in this collection. Not all for me, unfortunately, but good enough.

Argh, it’s a shame! Greenlaw interviews so well! I’m sure there’s stuff of hers that I’ll really engage with.

 

 

#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 52

Full list of questions here; last question here.

Week 52 | Happily Ever After… Is it possible for every character to get what they want?

So this is relevant as I finished my book—the sequel, and in turn the series—recently and the ending is … bittersweet. Some, in fact most, endings are pretty good, I would say. But not everyone gets what they want because that’s kind of the point of the conflict in the first place. I feel like it would strain believability to give everyone a happy ending, you know? But I’m not averse to giving a little. 

I think a good ending is one that doesn’t give everyone everything. I feel like I followed along with some people instead of it all neatly tying up. Maybe “neatly tying up” is misleading. I don’t mean that there are no endings, just if there is a sudden inversion of someone’s philosophy and worldview without exploration, you’re going to unmoor your audience.


 

And we are at last done! It has been much longer coming than I would have liked (you know, finishing it in the 52 weeks of 2018?) but ah well. I found a lot of the answers instructive in thinking deeply about the world and components of my book. It’s a useful, if stressful exercise, especially with all the other pressures of 2018. While I enjoyed it, I am pleased to be done. I was so swamped with other things that missing a week would make me stress and I’d fall behind …

Anyway! On to other things. As always, links are above and you can revisit every answer to the questions. Hope you have enjoyed following along.

#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 51

Full list of questions here; last question here.

Week 51 | Your villain was born a different sex. Does your story change?

Like the protagonist question, no it does not. The changes are so miniscule that’s it negligible. Again, the Goddesses are women so there might be more of a motif thing than anything more significant.

It does pose the question of if it’s not super significant then why not? My gut says that in short I just want it to be so. But I wonder if I have a deity of one gender, does that mean that the societies at large have different views of women (regarded in higher esteem, for example)? A worthy philosophical question to think more on.

#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 50

Full list of questions here; last question here

I won’t let it beat me!

Week 50 | The character you’d least like to meet in a dark alley

Huh, well. Most of them are pretty dangerous people and a snap judgement could lead me to belive the worst in them. I would say the worst is a character called the Necromancer. Tiny bit of spoilers here but it’s not major because she technically appears but ah … blahblah. I mean, come on, think about it: someone with “Necromancer” as their name is not someone you want to be messing with, huh?

She could take me over or-or summon an army of the dead to take me out.

See, unfortunately, there’s not much to say for this one!

#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 49

Full list of questions here; last question here.

Week 49 | Tell us about… Crime and punishment in your novel

Okay, so the Three Kingdoms are going through significant change, moving away from royalty and diarchs (two rulers working in tandem) to republics. The changes are not uniform but there are things that are different in the republics than under the diarchy.

So under the various Crowns, there are laws that are active and passive. Killing someone for no good reason is a punishable crime while being critical of royalty in modernity while actually punishable (by death!) is not actively enforced. The end punishment is still the same: death. Hanging often suffices but more noted criminals are gathered in a public execution and put to the sword. This is common in places like Hallius in the Middle Belt, centre of the Kingdoms, and Liax, capital of Onzaria. In Liax in particular, the current  king Nole Sovaleur is someone who sees enemies everywhere. He has been killing anyone he suspects of being a threat to his kingdom but of course what he means is a threat to himself. His royal council have tried to maintain control over his decisions. When he makes a decree, his council must vote on it if it is ever enacted. He has veto power—he has absolute power so can overrule any council decision—which he doesn’t do all the time so he can cement his power.

Contrast this with Tymbroia, where the rulers of the country are preparing to secede from control and engage in democratically elected governance. They are resisting having to execute people that aren’t committing treason, for example. The point is that they don’t want to appear as tyrants, as they put it.

A Kingdoms-wide law is that any citizen with Umbral magic or an Anzori citizen are illegal. Governments across the continent are very much within their rights to execute any citizens with those identities but they tend to just simply restrict movements and abilities in society. Remember that this a post-slavery world, the prosecuted being magi. This means that often people will enact protections for Umbral magi under the laws that prevent people from executing magi in general: an argument based upon anti-discrimination.

I haven’t thought much further than that but it’s definitely something worth expanding upon at a later date.

 

Black History Month (October Reviews)

I know, I know. I am so behind! NaNo took it out of me quite a bit and the excitement of finishing my novel has not worn off yet. (More on that soon.)

In Britain, Black History Month falls in October. For then, I made myself the challenge of reading books by black authors only throughout the month of October, with the stipulation of black-focused stories being eligible in the absence of black authorship (in the case of Miles Morales Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli, for example).

I did not get through all my intended titles but this is a reading challenge that I want to take forward with me.

Here are the four books I managed to read.

The Colossus of New York by Colson Whitehead [3.5/5 stars]

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The city wakes as you do. Breathe it in. Its morning breath is urgent, its streets sag with commuters who have forgotten to eat breakfast in their rush to work. Time collapses to a singular point: getting there on time, others be damned.

The prose reads as above. (This an imitation, not actual examples.)

I swing between three and four stars. At once insightful, hilarious, universal, and impersonal. This is a mediation of modern life which, as much as his various insights are both unique to New York, these are recognisable as situations of anyone who has lived in a big city. I recognise the insights from when I’ve lived and worked in London, such is the brilliance of his observation.

The reason I swing between is that there is very little of Whitehead himself. I wish he himself would explore this city that he loves. He took so much time and energy to explore the city he was noticeably missing. The first part, “City Limits”, offers that insight and it’s great. Still has that universality, but has that personal flavour to it as well.

The prose poetry/creative non-fiction has some flourishes at points but does weary in time. Fortunately it’s a short read so it’s not too much in the way. By no means an awful read, just not what I expected. I’m excited to check out his novels.

Non-fiction becomes poetry as we move along to Maya Angelou:

Celebrations by Maya Angelou [4/5 stars]

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There isn’t much to be said about this collection: uplifiting and inspiring, Angelou is calling for change now. The language is simple, the message clear and touching.

Too Black, Too Strong by Benjamin Zephaniah [4/5 stars]

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The best thing about this collection is the most chilling: the social issues that Zephaniah (racism, prejudice, war, etc.) distill our reality. If you presented this to someone and did not tell them when it was published and asked them when these poems were written they’d likely say in the last few years, not 2001.

What Zephaniah lacks in the elaborate metres and metaphorical trappings of the poetry priesthood, he makes up for an impassioned punk-like honesty, so brutal you cannot turn away. It will have echoes on how I think about poetry going forward.

Recommended for the beginner and experienced reader alike. You’ll likely feel something new.

On Beauty by Zadie Smith [4/5 stars]

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I have to say that I absolutely adore Zadie Smith. She’s so intelligent and insightful and one of my favourite authors to watch interviews of. I think she’s great. Her fiction is a representation of her best qualities.

There’s a literary polish to Smith’s writing which makes it clear to me why she’s a darling in the literary world (specifically the “literary fiction” world). I enjoyed White Teeth and loved NW but in terms of world building I would put this at the very top. The tone seems detached at first but the core of the story is very humane.

Smith is a master of character and dialogue. Her cast, even minor characters, seem rounded and lifelike, adding to the detail of the world. While there is an overarching plot, events happen as they would in real life: messily, without announcement and embroidery. This is helped by the omniscient third-person that can shift perspectives in a matter of sentences and keep a scene flowing smoothly, one of my favourite aspects once I got used to it.

Also, damn is this book hilarious. More than once would I say I found myself grinning along and sniggering at the brilliantly observed and sometimes absurd things characters would think and do!

I would say the major criticism are its slow start and threads left hanging: there is a character introduced midway through and dropped with no reason. It was a strange choice that I was reminded of by another reviewer. The themes and topics are wide-ranging and complex: love and marriage, beauty, race, politics, university campuses. These are all dealt with in a subtle hand and on reflection reveal the ambition of the novel.

All in all, Smith proves why she is a deft writer. I cannot wait to read more.

 

 

#AcresofInk Writing Challenge: Week 48

Full list of  questions here; last question here.

Week 48 | What are your goals as a writer?

So I would say primarily my goal as a writer is taken from the famous advice from Neil Gaiman: make good art. But mostly my interest is making other people feel something, to be engaged like how I was engaged. I’ve written before that I wasn’t an eager reader until I read the Harry Potter books. I much preferred TV and video games but the power of words were revealed to me. To immerse someone in my world, to connect my characters’ experiences to their own … I think in some ways that is the goal of any writer. I don’t really care so much about acclaim as much as connection, meaning. Speaking with people about their favourite books and what they mean to them is amazing to me. That’s part of why I’m a writer, why I’m interested in joining the publishing industry.

I want to give people hope. That might be too much of a reach but at the very least I want to convey that imagination is a wonderful thing. Simple but, er, big.

I hope this doesn’t sound super arrogant.