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April 27, 2020


Beth, I can't see the video. A message comes up saying: This video is private.

I think you have to click on the option to make it public. Are you using Vimeo or uploading toYouTube? Either way, there will be options to check in the settings.
The drawing is lovely and it would be great to watch the video.

I see it now, thanks! Lovely to watch the lines gradually advancing over the paper, like a living plant. Your hand remains quite still, even with the speeded up video. The pen looks like a good one, does it use ink cartridges?
I have too many drawing pens, end up using none.

Takes me into a dream world. The video would be rather dull but I'm imagining fiction-writing speeded up to this degree. In fact as you were engineering this post I was experiencing my own accelerando.

My latest novel, Rictangular Lenses, started in 2016 bogged down for at least two years at about 30,000 words. Unheard-of. Especially at my age, I can't be playing around, wasting time. Previously I'd managed to write almost two novels in a similar period. It wasn't that I couldn't add a single word, I couldn't bring myself to open up the file which contained the MS.

For reasons I cannot explain the blockage lifted mid-2019 and within two months I'd written 11,000 words. After which, the plot, from being the barest of skeletons, stretched ahead in much greater detail.

The Plague doesn't encourage writing fiction - perhaps because reality is too stark - but during the last fortnight I found myself at the end of a longish scene and engaged in the most delicate of minuets around the beginning of the next scene. I moved Lindsay down from north-east England to London, always the most fruitful of seed beds. Had her moving rather slowly towards a Caribbean restaurant in Brixton (an inner suburb I doubt you have visited) and then an avalanche, a new character, a new development for Lindsay's friend - best of all 5000 words of clarity, waiting, ready to be mined with ease.

As I watched your incredibly precise hand, the pen held almost always at the same angle, I became transfixed with the fantasy of your mind moving at the same speed. Such that present and future were hardly separate. That the drawing had, in some sense, been completed within your artist's mental ante-chamber and simply needed only to be rendered, not created. An idea further enhanced by the delicious rightness I had felt as dialogue developed puckishly and unexpectedly in Brixton. Pure fantasy and perhaps not of any great interest to you. But for me a fleeting duality which leaves me changed.

One non-fantastical detail. The drawing is created from right to left, yet you are right-handed. I'm sure in primary school interfering teachers probably tried to correct this. Saying you'd smudge what you'd done. Happily you've followed your instincts. The video, an artificial construct, nevertheless managed to suggest the happiness waiting to be uncovered in the creative act. A great idea.

ah. so completely lovely.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.