A typical skyline in downtown Dakar, Senegal. Black Kites above offices and apartment blocks.
Archives for November 2013
Quite a lot of writers I like, it turns out, did not start writing in earnest until after their fortieth year. Quite heartening.
Native of Fukuoka Prefecture and prolific writer of socially oriented detective and mystery fiction, Matsumoto debuted as a writer after reaching the age of forty with the historically based Saigo Takamori Chits, 1950 link
In early printed books the colophon, when present, was a brief description of the printing and publication of the book, giving some or all of the following data: the date of publication, the place of publication/printing (sometimes including the address as well as the city name), the name(s) of the printer(s), and the name(s) of the publisher(s), if different. Sometimes additional information, such as the name of a proof-reader or editor, or other more-or-less relevant details, might be added. The normal position for a colophon was after the explicit (the end of the text, often after any index or register). After around 1500 these data were often transferred to the title page, which sometimes existed in parallel with a colophon. In Great Britain colophons grew generally less common in the 16th century. link
This alerted the nerd gene. If I can, I will insist on the need for a colophon in my book. A tradition worth returning. 16th Century? That’s way too long to lie dormant. Like record sleeves with lists of guitar pedals, cymbal brands, recording locations, producer’s names, dates and general tittle-tattle. It’s important ephemera for some, patina behind the process. LIKE>
Photo of pavement seating in Dakar by me.
Noodlegirl occasionally asks, “So, how big is this book you’re working on?” When I reply, “It’s between eighty and ninety thousand words, give or take a similie.” She’s none the wiser. Quite right too. Other than journalists, editors and publishers, those numbers are meaningless. “How many pages is that? You know, in a book?” she asks. To which I answer, “I’ve no bloody idea.” So, I decided to show her the stack. “At the moment, it’s this big,” I told her. Taller than an R2D2 Lego mini-figure. Understandable in anyone’s language.
Editing all week. All the way to Christmas. And beyond. I reckon.
Photos by me.
I thought Kigali was possibly the only ultra-dead city in Africa come the weekend. While Dakar is not like silent, hear-a-pin-drop-Kigali, it is surprisingly dead, at least in the downtown area come Saturday. Fortunately, the printer man was open.
After installing the necessary drivers (again) we managed to churn out my 80 sheets, accounting for some 30,000 words, at the exorbitant cost of 11,400 CFA (or about €17.00). Africa can be so bloody expensive, for many reasons, but that’s a different blog post entirely…
Those 30,000 words will need a serious going over by Monday or Tuesday, if they are to result in anything remotely readable.
It is helpful to learn how very successful writers work as I try to figure out how to make it work myself. I listened to this NPR interview with Roald Dahl’s daughter in which she talked about how he worked in a shed in the garden,
“…You would walk in and the smells were so familiar — that very old paper from filing cabinets. And he sat in his mother’s old armchair and then put his feet up on an old leather trunk, and then on top of that he would get into an old down sleeping bag that he would put his legs into to keep him warm.
He then had a board that he made that he would rest on the arms of the armchair as a desk table and on top of that he had cut some billiard felt that was glued on top of it, and it was slightly carved out for where his tummy was. When he sat down … the first thing he did was get a brush and brush the felt on his lap desk so it was all clean. He always had six pencils with an electric sharpener that he would sharpen at the beginning of each session. His work sessions were very strict — he worked from 10 until 12 every day and then again from 3 until 5 every day. And that was it. Even if there was nothing to write he would still, as he would say, “put his bottom on the chair.”” link
And then there is this, in his own words, on how he wrote the classic children’s story Matilda,
The first half is great, about a small girl who can move things with her eyes and about a terrible headmistress who lifts small children up by their hair and hangs them out of upstairs windows by one ear. But I’ve got now to think of a really decent second half. The present one will all be scrapped. Three months work gone out the window, but that’s the way it is. I must have rewritten Charlie [and the Chocolate Factory] five or six times all through and no one knows it.” link
Photo from the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre.
After weeks spent scratching at pieces of paper, pen in hand and then jabbing at the keyboard. The inevitable.
That "read it all through and my, what a pile of shit that is" feeling.
— Graham Holliday (@noodlepie) November 22, 2013
As they say, “writing is in the rewriting.”
“I hate looking at what I’ve written, believe me. I resist it, even more than I resist the blank page. It makes me nuts to look at a first draft and see how bad it is. But I also know that it’s the only way that something gets better.” link
I used to eat Bún ốc riêu at this front room place in 2005/2006. I blogged about it at the time. I’m writing about it today. More accurately, I’m re-writing what I wrote back then and what I wrote when I revisited the place in October, 2013. Eight years on and restaurants change. Many shutdown, some get a lick of paint, others go from strength to strength. The woman who runs this joint used to be a lottery ticket seller before she started selling soup from a double pannier jobby way, way back.
She appears to have done rather well for herself. And expanded the length of her section of the courtyard. This is what her pad looks like today. The menu has not changed one jot. And now, she has her own website.