Archive for January 6th, 2014|Daily archive page

Swinging into action (Day 83)

the last day of christmas

allen ginsberg poet

So I’ve been sitting here all day in the back room with the sun streaming in after the morning rain and then the Christmas tree lights on once the greyness returned, the last official day of little white lights, squeezing out the last drops. And trying to counter the new term feeling that the main back to work day always brings with it.

All day was spent revising/polishing Chapter 1 and fact-checking as I go along (some points I marked up as I was writing which I didn’t want to labour over for the sake of fluency). I’m also labelling up the main points/sections as Comments so that I can double-check that the final structure is right.

I’m only doing a dozen pages a day which is probably too slow but I’m just getting back in the swing I guess. I’ll finish this chapter tomorrow.

Next step will be to insert some more material from interviews with the likes of David Amram, the musician closely associated with the Beats, and Hettie Jones, Beat publisher, the woman behind Yugen, the influential literary magazine, set up with her ex-husband LeRoi Jones (aka Amira Baraka, author of the key 60s play that is Dutchman). I also set up a couple more interviews today, one with a big counter-culture figure of 60s London which I’m really looking forward to. By my calculation he’s 70plus but his voice on the phone was amazingly strong and energetic.

Ginsberg and Dylan at Jack Kerouac's grave

Ginsberg and Dylan at Jack Kerouac’s grave

bob dylan and allen ginsberg at jack kerouac's grave

Diving back in (Day 82)

 

man_diving_into_sea colourised

Kicked off writing and work in 2014 by spending the morning at the British Library co-writing one of the spin-off projects with an old colleague/friend from Melrose days (the first production company I worked for). I came home and finished the draft we had been working on, useful but something of the displacement activity about it. The prospect of coming back to When Sparks Fly post-holidays was strangely intimidating. Finally I dived in, beginning my 2nd draft by looping back to the beginning, the Ginsberg/Literature chapter. It was better than I expected, more polished and well structured, slightly surprising only because of the non-linear and fluid way it was written. I hope the rest is up to the same standard as I revisit it.

At the end of the day I stumbled across a blog post via some random email – one of those meant to be things – which reassured me by showing how common such feelings of intimidation are. It’s by an American writer called  Caroline McGraw:

I changed my habit of working on “scary” writing projects sporadically. Now, when I’m working on a big creative writing project — a book, a proposal, a guest post, etc — I work on it every day. With the exception of 1 weekly day of rest, I make sure to do at least a little bit each morning.

I love (and often repeat) the Anthony Trollope line: “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the efforts of a spasmodic Hercules.” Committing to a daily task helps me maintain momentum, and it also helps render the task less terrifying. (If I work on it every day, it simply CAN’T be that scary — it’s just part of my routine, after all!)

I’ve also noticed that, if I skip a day, it’s that much harder to get back to the habit. And if I skip yet another day, it’s as though Mt. Everest springs up between me and getting back on track. If I write every day, though, the barrier between me and good habits is more like a pastoral English countryside hill. Like something out of a Jane Austen novel, a rise that Elizabeth Bennett could scale without breaking a sweat.

dived in submerged in bubbles

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