Friday, October 27, 2006

Wuthering Heights

No, you're not getting the text of Wuthering Heights. Well, certainly not for free. Not here. If that's the sort of thing you want, then go to Project Gutenberg. You'll find Wuthering Heights and any number of other out-of-copyright books available to download. Yes. That's right. No longer do you have any excuse for not being well-read. Well, unless you have kids and demanding jobs and that kind of thing. Or, like me, you have an exceedingly temperamental printer and hate reading anything very long on a computer screen. Instead, what you will be getting here is a brief and almost wholly uninformed ramble about the first third of the book.

I was expecting a florid, excess of words, describing in overly great detail the sensitivities and sentiments of the over-sensitive and over-sentimental. I was therefore rather disappointed to find out that it's actually quite readable and hasn't made me shout "Get over yourselves!" even once so far. Still, it's early days. And I'm sure Lockwood will annoy me deeply if he features too often as anything other than a listening ear. But for now, though, yep, I'm really quite liking it. And actually looking forward to picking up the book again. Even though that will require me to bend over. Yes, that's how much I'm liking it.

I'm going to end up hating Heathcliff, though, apparently, or so the current bar talk would have me believe. But at the moment I can't help sympathising with him. He's certainly not had the best start in life, and now he's just disappeared from the house having overheard part of Cathy's chat with Nelly, or Ellen, or whoever she is, about marrying that dull, one-dimensional Edgar person (to be fair, he might be quite fun, but has been badly served by selective editing, like all the most ghastly Big Brother contestants claim; after all if the readers had any real sympathy for him, the thing would be thrown somewhat out of whack); the bit where she says that Heathcliff is beneath her (he adds after an altogether too long and rambling aside). So I'm currently rather intrigued to see how he ends up owning both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange and gets his not entirely undeserved revenge (on the other characters, I mean, rather than Cathy). Hopefully not as easily or conveniently as the way Brontë bumps off Edgar's parents. Although, obviously, that's part of it.

But I'm supposed to be looking at this as a writer, rather than just a reader. So, what are my observations? Well, if you can get away with it, having a character accidentally kill off her future parents-in-law by giving them flu, and devoting no more than a couple of lines to it, might be fun. I mean, surely it would have been in character for Cathy to go through absolute paroxyms of guilt, but apparently not. Apparently she simply returns to Wuthering Heights totally unaffected. Not that it was really her fault, I suppose, but still - plenty of people blame themeselves for things like that. Oh, if only I hadn't been driving instead of in the passenger seat. That sort of thing. But not a bit of it.

That aside, the usual thing of giving away enough information to generate interest, without giving away too much has been done well so far. Plenty of mysterious foreshadowings of later events. And all the characters seem to be pretty believable (the parents-in-law thing aside) and change in a fashion that seems consistent with their characters. Joseph's dialect is a touch impenetrable, though. Not that it really matters. Mind you, I like his dour, religious, you're-all-going-to-Hell character. But, as someone who has the verbal skills of a particularly reclusive wooden post, I find it difficult to accept that even a conveniently gossipy serving woman like Nelly, would rabbit on for that long with barely a pause or interruption. But that might just be me. I mean she's quite engaging, and it's certainly better than having to read any more of Lockwood. Which it looks like I'm going to have to do when I pick the thing up again in a few minutes. I'll probably find myself scan reading his bits again. Or shouting. Or falling asleep. Which, in the latter case, will at least mean I've found something to assist me with the insomnia.

Right, I'm bored of wittering about Wuthering Heights, so I'm off to bed; satisfied in the knowledge that I've succeeded in mentioning Wuthering Heights in the same fetid breath as Big Brother (twice now). Which is a dubious and pointless achievement, I grant you. And nothing to be proud of, perhaps. But, hey - [shrugs] an achievement's an achievement. Such things are not to be sniffed at. Largely, in this case, because of the fetid breath thing, but... hey, whatever.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Insomnia as occupational hazard

There are stirrings inside my head. Vague, muffled sounds. Yawning, maybe. Stretching. The rustle of a duvet. A creaking bed. A voice cursing the alarm clock. Mutterings about having overslept. [Sighs] Wonderful. My brain has woken up.

Blasted thing.

For so long now I've had it under some kind of control. Not that I've had it doing anything very useful. Just sort of behaving itself. Not being too destructive. Generally, keeping itself to itself, and only disturbing me when absolutely necessary. But I suppose I should have known this kind of thing would happen, all the use it's been getting lately. [Sighs] And maybe it's a good thing. You know, what with the whole doing an MA thing. A brain could be useful. Ordinarily. But still, my feelings are decidedly mixed. Granted, it has it's uses, but...

I mean, there's a good reason I've kept the thing sedated for the past five or six years. It doesn't bloody well shut up. Unlike me, of course, who can barely utter a whole sentence half the time. Or even a monosyllable the other half. Even when the silence becomes so achingly awkward that it's practically crying out for me to say something, anything, just so I don't seem like quite such a hopelessly introverted weirdo. But my startling lack of social skills are another matter for another time. If I can be arsed. Here and now, unfortunately, we're talking about that inescapable, chattering nuisance that passes for my brain.

We have a love-hate relationship, my brain and I. Yes, I will admit, grudgingly, that now and again it does deign to help me out. Just now and again. And only when it feels like it. But the rest of the time... gah! Jibber, jabber, jibber, jabber, blah, blah, blah; endlessly, with absolutely no care for consistency, contradiction, accuracy, relevance, or whether anyone's even asked it for it's goddamn opinion. On and on. Argh!

And the damn thing's no respecter of time of day either. Oh no. And that is where my biggest quarrel with it lies. Sure, I can cope with the thinking one thing, only to - within the very same second - decide the exact opposite, before deciding it's still wrong and scuttling off at more tangents, simultaneously, than I have the slightest hope of making sense of. I mean, that drives me absolutely bloody crazy, but I can just about cope with it. Most of the time. But what I cannot be doing with is, when it's been coaxed, bribed, threatened, dragged and cajoled into eventually, painfully slowly, producing some vaguely acceptable bit of writing by about 4:30am the next morning, whining, whinging, kicking and screaming the whole way; for it then, the second I finally give in and allow it a few hours sleep, to spring instantly to life, gleefully running amuck like some hyperactive toddler that's chanced upon the sugar bowl it's long suffering and now silently cursing mother forgot to hide. I really thought - hoped - I'd got it out of that habit. (I said "allow" back there; that wasn't strictly accurate. That would imply that I have some control over the monster).

There'd been signs, sure - a creeping, unsettling sense of something good beginning to happen had slithered it's way into my consciousness; a sense that perhaps with a little of that dreaded "hard work" type stuff I, perhaps, really can actually get somewhere in life. And I've been noticing too that my brain has been receiving visitors again, not that they've done more than nod to me as they leave. Unsavoury sorts, mostly: that treacherous impostor, Optimism; his flighty consort, Excitement; and that lapdancer of the emotional world, Fulfillment - so seductive, so tantalising, so close you can almost taste her, but always just out of reach. Still, the full picture wasn't yet clear; a veil of fog still draped over the mental landscape.

But last night, I knew for sure. The brain is not going to be silenced. Truly, it has awoken.

Monday night, I didn't sleep, even for a second. Still, maybe it was a one-off. Surely I'd sleep like a dead man on Tuesday. But no. A couple of hours in the evening. Then nothing. 6am and there I am, teeth clenched, clawing at the sheets, still listening to the wretched thing prattle away to itself. Oh, not about anything useful. Or even anything interesting. God, no. Some chance of that. But I think I caught another hour or so. It at least allowed me that. Just to taunt me.

Which brings us to now. It's 2am on Thursday morning. Earlier, I was granted a two hour nap. I suspect I should have refused it - let the tiredness build to the point of irresistibility. And beside me now is my bed. A double. All to myself. All the sprawling space I could wish for. The firm mattress, the plump pillows, the soft all-enveloping duvet. It certainly looks inviting. God, yes. But... but...

Is this what it's going to be like now? Every time I write? That lazy, recalcitrant brain of mine, leaping into life just as I finish, just to spite me, to punish me for making it do some work? Perhaps this is a hazard of the profession, being unable to turn off when you go to bed - ideas, hopes, dreams, constantly invading your mind; what should have been your sleep. I wonder. [Wanders off to consult a search engine] Google seems to be saying, yes, many writers are insomniacs. In which case...

Woo hoo! I'm making progress. In your face, sleep!

Monday, October 23, 2006

I just read the best Bush quote ever

I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.
-- George W. Bush

Saginaw, MI

Right, now back to work.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

About as far off the ground as a Japanese table

And answer my own questions, evidently. Well they are my questions, I suppose, so that probably makes sense. Or it would do if there was more than one of them. Um...

Ok, I admit it - I can't think what to write about. Maybe I should just wander over to my other blog. I know what I'm doing there. Sort of. Talking of Not 4'33", I found out today that apparently the odd person from the course has read it now. Which is perhaps an unfair way to describe Duncan, especially as he was quite complimentary. Sorry. Cheap joke. But what other kind of joke do you have a right to expect from something that's free? Probably best make some kind of comment at my own expense now, just to show I wasn't being serious; you know, balance things up:

What's with the beard? Come on now, seriously. Do you think it lends you gravitas, or something? It doesn't. You're too short to have gravitas.

There. I charged myself 10p for that one. Cheap, but sadly not much of a joke. Still, at least the proceeds go to me. God, I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel here... Maybe I should do this again when I'm in a state more closely resembling "awake".


Oh right. That means I have to write something, doesn't it?

Getting this thing off the ground

I suppose it's about time I got this thing off the ground.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Three's a crowd

I appear to have another blog to neglect. I don't know what I'll be writing on it yet, but probably more conventional stuff than on the other two. What I do know, though, is that there'll be no more of that troublesome posting-in-the-future malarkey (see my other blog). It was a pain. Or perhaps will be a pain? Well, let's not get into that. Anyway, I suppose it was about time I started living in the present. At least this is a better one than that one where I was listening to people complain all day. I didn't much like that present. This one's much better. Here, I'm doing a Professional Writing MA. Incidentally, they don't seem to have spotted that I'm not much good at that kind of thing yet.