This afternoon I finished working through all of the edits I made over the past week or more. I plan to add more finesse, colour, facts and faces to these pages over the coming weeks. After that, I’d say the first half of the book will be ready for the editor to rattle her sabre at. I used a Rotring Tikky Graphic Fineliner 0.5 pigmented black ink pen.
Archives for September 2013
With humidity approaching Turkish wrestler’s jockstrap levels, I retreated to the only room with a (barely) functioning air conditioner yesterday morning. I managed to type up the edits on the first 38 pages, before a power cut, and more mundane duties (bank, shopping, lunch) got in the way. I used a Rotring Tikky 3 in 1.
Had a bash at working downtown in Time’s Café this morning. It’s an attempt at an American diner, only a bit Lebanese and a bit Senegalese, with France24 news on TV, movie posters on the walls and Yassa and Shawarma on the menu. I edited my way through some tricky wee sections trying to improve the flow. Not sure how successful I was on that front yet. However, I’m quite pleased with the description I wrote of a former boss. This is tempered with the fact that, more often than not, the bits you really like one day are the ones you chop the next. I also added pointers to whole sections I need to slot in, I used a black biro ‘borrowed’ from Citadines Toison d’or in Brussels and I drank a pot of Jasmine tea. It cost 1,400 CFA.
Photo by me on EyeEm
This week I’ve been working on this extremely chipped dining table. There’s more space than the, equally chipped, bedroom desk. It forms part of the furniture provided in our “temporary” flat in Dakar. The place is pretty run down, but I like it for one main reason. It reminds me of when I first lived in Hanoi. The slightly musty air, the all enveloping cloak of humidity, the broken aircon, the wonky fan, crappy tables and chairs.
It’s not pretty. It has all the joy of a Stasi interview room. But the minimal, knackered look does get me into a certain frame of mind. I’ve only been working with pen and paper so far in Dakar, but I plan to type up all my changes by the middle of next week. I better not lose my papers… I now have an editor and I plan to send her 40-50,000 words – or the first half of my book – by mid-October.
It’s not a large collection, but it is select. Moving abroad, without a vast NGO ‘ship everything and the kitchen sink’ shipping allowance, necessarily means you must trim. Over the summer I went through five or six boxes of books. I put them on shelves and slowly browsed their spines over the next two months. I took a few off the shelf and snuck them away in a suitcase to bring south to Dakar. These are they. The select few.
Why these books?
Vietnam on a plate – don’t know how I came to possess this. Don’t think I’ve ever read it. The pictures look nice, it’s about Vietnam. It’s from 1996, around about when I first moved to Vietnam. I’ll take a look.
Catfish & Mandala – the best book on Vietnam I’ve ever read. Not browsed it since I lived in Hanoi, I want to re-read this. Plus, the author has offered to review my book. Eeek…
The Outsider – a book I read when I was 18 years old. Something I think I’ll understand better now that I’m older.
Heart of Darkness – Another book I read when I was 18 and didn’t really like. Having lived in that part of the world for the past four years, it’s time to read it again.
The Quiet American – Greene is a master with words. I bought this counterfeit, photocopied copy on Trang Tien street, near the Opera House in Hanoi in 1997. It cost me a dollar or two. I was surprised to find it still intact. I’m amazed it has survived.
Paris Review Interviews vol. 1 – Fantastic interviews. I prefer reading them in a book to online. Plus, I can make notes in the margin. This volume was edited by a friend. The Paris Review has since launched an excellent app with the interviews on, but I still prefer print. I read half of these interviews over the summer.
Scoop – It’s light, it’s funny, it’s about journalism, it’s set in an imaginary African country. It’s incredibly well-written. I want to re-read it. Plus, it sparks ideas.
Down and out in Paris and London – Have never read this Orwell book, so I need to. He is just about the greatest writer of the last century, after all. I borrowed this from my Dad.
Birds of Senegal and Gambia – Live in Africa for any length of time and you will become a bird watcher. This is an essential text.
Kitchen Confidential – I was given this by a friend in Saigon. I read a bit, liked it, but mislaid it. I was surprised to re-discover it in one of the boxes in France this summer. Bourdain is my editor, I feel I should know him a little better. My brother-in-law, a chef, had his nose in it throughout the summer. I saw him nodding and I heard him sniggering. A lot.
Interestingly, the friend who gave this copy to me picked it up in Zanzibar (see above).
World Food Vietnam – A good little reference book I thought would be useful to have on my desk. This was also purchased in Vietnam. I think I found this in Saigon. It’s photocopied, faded and barely holds together.
This is an Internet cafe in downtown Dakar. The sand and dust covered tech may look modern, but sitting under the hood of this “Intel Inside” machine is pure ZX81 power. Listening carefully, through the clatter of the rusty dusty fan above my left ear, I could clearly make out the slow click-clack of binary code assembling between screen freeze after screen freeze. I printed some 112 pages of my book here this yesterday. It took time.
— Graham Holliday (@noodlepie) September 11, 2013
In addition, there were three non-powercut related computer re-boots. However, the printer, when it wasn’t mangling paper, was lightning quick. I’m not sure I’ll be back here any time soon. Having said that, I’m not sure I have any alternative. At least not nearby.
Photo: By me on my phone on Flickr
We moved to Dakar, Senegal. We’re currently staying in a ‘temporary flat’, between homes, until a more permanent abode has been found. This will be my desk for the next few weeks. It’s a rather chipped, peeling, wooden number. It has a single drawer. Inside is a pritt stick and a plastic bag full of keys, presumably left by whoever was here before us.
I have a fan to one side, a view of at least ten apartment blocks out of the window in front of me and, if I crane my neck, I can see the Atlantic Ocean. I don’t have a printer. However, a man in a cafe over the road does. I’m going there to print stuff which I’ll edit here this week.
This is a table in an office in the town of Lombez in Gers, south-west France. It’s part of an EU funded project called Soho Solo Gers. It allows people who work from home, or who labour mostly ‘on the move’, to meet and discuss working life as freelancers in a rural part of the world. The project has a series of eight ‘telecentres’ around Gers and, if you join up, you can pop in to check email, print stuff, work, hold meetings, run training sessions etc. It’s incredibly handy for folk like myself who do not want to be connected at home, but need access every now and then.
I didn’t do an awful lot of writing on the book in this room. However, over a two month period, I stopped by three or four times to catch up on email with my agent and, on occasion, to edit that pile sitting next to my laptop.