1. Ahoy, matey
On Thursday, on using one of the City Library’s self-check-out machines I discovered that its instructions were conveyed in pirate. None of the others were like this. I didn’t think to take a photo and the next day, it no longer being Talk like a Pirate Day, all was back to normal.
I’m in the thick of beginning (and wanting to dedicate all my waking hours to) a new project and maybe that’s why Eleanor Catton’s recent move has resonated. If you haven’t heard, she has established a prize for NZ writers to read, nothing more. It’s such a superb statement, putting paid to the idea, as it does, that to write is an act of production, not consumption. As a friend said to me recently, it’s unfortunate that ‘to write’ is verb.
So much of what I’m doing right now, in this incubation period, is reading. When I’m not reading, it must look like I’m not doing anything — I’m staring out the window at the nectarine blossom, taking in the rattle of the train, the dove calls, the play of light and shadow, and all of it is helping, is moving my thoughts somewhere. It’s via a nebulous route that isn’t clear until, from out of the emptying that happens when you are alone and doing nothing else, the clues emerge.
Now that I really would benefit from more time to dedicate to this project — am practically itching for it — I’ve started looking at grant application processes. How the heart drops. It’s hard to decide whether the time away from your project to articulate it to a grant committee is worth the tiny chance at convincing them. Which is why Catton’s words on other grants seem so unfortunately right:
[they] require the writer to have a good idea about what they want to write, and how, before they apply. I think that this often doesn’t understand or serve the creative process, which is organic and dialectic; I also think it tends to reward people who are good at writing applications rather than, necessarily, people who are curious about and ambitious for the form in which they are writing.
I’m also uncomfortable with the focus that it places on writing as production, with publication as the end goal, rather than on writing as enlightenment, with the reading as the first step.
3. A film about time
I saw Richard Linklater’s Boyhood last night. Wow. If you get a chance, spare the three hours to catch it at cinemas before it’s gone.