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Posts Tagged ‘sharing’

I finally finished my book! which was Bodily Harm, by Margaret Atwood.

I am not sure how to discuss this one. It’s taken longer than expected to read, and the tone changed dramatically in the last 35 pages which took it into an entirely different direction to the one I had expected.

The majority of the story is about Rennie, a journalist whose life has been fundamentally changed by breast cancer.  Trying to escape from her post-surgery life, she seeks an assignment far away from the complications of her newly aware existence.  She leaves behind her old partner, an affair with her oncologist, and an invisible but frightening voyeur/predator/house-breaker who left a rope on her bed after breaking into her flat.

She arrives on the island of St Antoine ready to write a travel piece but before long she is unwittingly and unwillingly caught up in the politics of the island and its neighbour Ste Agathe.

This book is partially a reverie on body confidence and the sense of loving and trusting our bodies, even when faced with challenges.  As Rennie becomes more involved with the mysterious American Paul, she begins to accept her newly scarred body.

However, it is also a tale of corruption, violence and danger, and although there is an underlying menace throughout, this really takes hold of Rennie’s story in the last 50 or so pages, with the outcome being the main focus of the last 35.

I really enjoy ‘human condition’ stories, where the plot is about a character facing a difficulty.  Therefore all these sections worked for me.

However, the other side of the story wasn’t really to my taste. The sense of foreboding was ok but the extremity of the outcome and the last 35 pages was much less enjoyable – although oddly, much quicker to read!

I think in part my reaction to it is about style. Atwood writes in a way that perfectly suits personal reflection. She has a knack for revealing how an individual views their world and how they respond to stimuli. When that gives way to looking at what is happening to a character (rather than how the character is perceiving a situation) it is less powerful.

Add to that the fact that the end feels very rushed in comparison with the rest of the story, and I think these explain why this book is not my favourite Atwood.

I read this for fun but it has made me reflect on a writing truth: as writers, we need to know what type of storytelling works best with our voice. You can stray from the path, of course, but you need to know your way back.

Playing to our strengths is the best way to get our writing noticed.

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

 

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I haven’t finished the book yet.  I am taking a really long time over it and I don’t really know why.  It’s a good read, and when I start reading I can lose myself in it, but I don’t automatically reach for it.

I think after this one I will have a little reading break!

I promise, though, that I will give you a review next week!

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

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On Thursday I said I was writing a poem inspired by an anniversary. Specifically it was a 20th anniversary celebration for a couple in my family.

I worked on the poem for a couple of weeks, which isn’t long for me and I felt a little worried that I wouldn’t reach an end point that made me happy.

However, I knew what I wanted to say, so it was just a case of finding the right words and style.

I say ‘just’; it’s not that easy, but I had a start point which is important for these very personal pieces.

I began by writing down the concepts in verse form, each stanza 6 lines long.  As I refined and reorganised the poem it took on a new form with a distinct repetition pattern.

The final form was five couplets, and one single line to start off. I had reached that style by Thursday when I took it to my writing group, so from then onwards it was simply about refining word choice.

I gave the poem to the couple on Saturday night, and although I will always see ways I could refine my work further I was happy with the result.  I think they were too: it is now a cover photo on Facebook!

I find writing for loved ones more demanding than other work – I think because it’s so important to find the right words for them as well as me. I don’t and can’t do it for every big event or celebration; this was the fifth specifically personal poem including two for funerals and the one I wrote for my own wedding!

There have been times when I planned to write but can’t get the right words or the right feeling. It will always be an exception to write something as a gift because it will always be an exception for the writing stars to align.

But when it works, and is enjoyed, it really is a great result for me.

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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Firstly, sorry for the failure to post.  Internet issues, power cuts and early nights all got in the way.  I have yet to finish the book though, so you didn’t miss anything on Tuesday!

And although I have been slacking off here, I have been achieving in my writing.  Not only have I been working on a poem inspired by a significant anniversary (a poem I intend to pass on in due course) but I actually used my writing group support to improve and develop it.

I also put the pedal to the metal to get myself out and sharing by organising an open mike event.  I say organising, but really I just raised the idea with the right person and now it’s booked!

After a shaky writing time I am really pleased to get back on the right track.  In my writing group today I saw the payoff of a new approach and really feel positive about getting more poetry written.

Which is good, as I will need something to read at the open mike!

I am going to leave it there for today as I need to hit the hay pretty soon. Plus I still don’t trust my internet!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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I went out for a writing session today, looking for an hour of different scenery to refresh my mind.  My writing buddy unfortunately couldn’t make it so I took my husband along.  We both had projects to work on so it made sense to do it together.

But instead of writing, we started talking to people, and that talking led to more talking, and soon we were due to head back home without ever taking our notebooks out.

It could have been a wasted evening, but talking to people, learning their stories and sharing anecdotes was a joy.

Recently I sent two poems to a cousin of mine – one biographical and one autobiographical. I have been thinking about writing more in that style, as a counterpart to the more political pieces, and listening to funny stories and observations today made me decide to do it.

Everyone’s experience of life is unique and we all have a share of emotions and expectations. What better way to celebrate our shared humanity than immortalising moments in poetry, sharing them like gifts?

The next few months I just need to convince a few people to share moments that made them, them, and produce something that captures who they are.

No pressure!

Happy writing,

EJ

🙂

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I didn’t know what to read next, when I was choosing my new book.  I have piles upon piles waiting for me, including some I have borrowed and need to return.  But it’s too hot to think too much, so I finally decided on another Margaret Atwood.  It’s not a dystopian future so that’s a change, at least!

What I wanted was a holiday read: a book I knew I would enjoy reading, that I could read fairly quickly but was a bit more complex than an airport book, if you know what I mean.  This is a pick for the reader me, more than the writer me.

I will let you know how it’s worked when I finish!

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

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This week I finished Margaret Atwood’s trilogy, with MaddAddam.  I will try to be concise, but I could write about this one for a while!

MaddAddam, like Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood, tells the story of how people existed before and after the plague which wipes out most humans.  At its heart are love stories – Toby and Zeb, survivors of the God’s Gardeners; Zeb and his brother Adam, and Toby and Blackbeard, Craker and student.

I really enjoyed reading this book.  It filled in some of the blanks left earlier in the series – such as the reason Zeb was involved with the God’s Gardeners and his relationship with the Adams and Eves, how Crake got the original plague data, what happened to his parents and so on.

More importantly though, it took the story onward.  The disparate group of surviving humans started to develop a new society, with the Crakers as part of it.  People started to hope and plan again.  Toby’s friendship with the curious Craker child Blackbeard showed that however Crake had engineered the humanoids, he couldn’t remove their curiosity and desire to know and understand.

From this friendship, Toby started to believe in a future for humans, and Crakers, that would have been impossible at the start of the series.

I think that is the theme of the book: we can’t foresee the outcome of our actions.  The Crakers were specifically created not to have religious tendencies, for example, but Oryx and Crake were their deities, and the reason for their faith in the world around them.  Zeb chose how to extricate himself from his corrupt father without realising his choice would lead him to bioterrorism and into the path of the world-ending Crake.

Another important concept through the book is that of loyalty.  In a world where people have to be wary of everything, trusting someone is both extremely difficult and essential. That is juxtaposed with the Craker stance of trust by default.

The final thing I will say is that I found the ending of the book, and indeed the series, satisfying.  It wasn’t neatly tied in a bow but the story lived on and that was important to me, having invested in the world Atwood created. I also liked the lack of concrete resolution on the plague itself: we know who, and how, but we can never entirely know why – which is absolutely the way of the world.

I could say so much more but it’ll ruin the reading experience if I go any further!

Tying this back to writing, I am in awe of the complexity and breadth of the world Atwood has created. This is a world she both built up, and then destroyed, and she had to get the details right in both states.

I don’t think this is a standalone book, because even if you could read it alone you wouldn’t get the context.  However, for me, it was a great end to the trilogy.

Happy reading,

EJ

🙂

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