Is writing like sex?

3 03 2009

After yesterday’s question…today I found an answer.

Writing for a living: a joy or a chore?: nine authors give their views | Books | The Guardian

“The joy of writing for a living is that you get to do it all the time. The misery is that you have to, whether you’re in the mood or not. I wouldn’t be the first writer to point out that doing something so deeply personal does become less jolly when you have to keep on at it, day after cash-generating day. To use a not ridiculous analogy: Sex = nice thing. Sex For Cash = probably less fun, perhaps morally uncomfy and psychologically unwise.”

So says AL Kennedy anyway.

For me I can see the analogy.  I lot of what I write is done furtively in my bedroom.  In secret.  When everyone else is out of the house.  I avoid talking to friends about it.  Unless they are writers too I worry they won’t understand.

My contact with publishers is often done through the internet.  I send them seedy examples of my work.  Some ask for a short bio.  Some even want a picture first.

Given that I’m not writing for money.  Not yet.  Not really.  I suppose I don’t have to worry.   That I’m like a prostitute learning her craft? Practicing on the boys at school?  For free?

I’d like to think the publications that are accepting my work so far are a little more upmarket than that.

To be honest..right now I’d be grateful if someone paid me.

I do have a paid piece in the pipeline.  A story has been accepted for publication in a notable and paying literary magazine.  Not many of them about.  And no I can’t say which it is yet.  I’m scared I might jinx it.

But when it does come out… I promise I’ll kiss and tell.

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10 02 2008

I was one of the fortunate ones in my street. Our house was full of books. I think this was the fault of my maternal Grandmother. Her house was not full of books. In fact the only book I ever remember seeing there was the Holy Bible. But I believe she may have been the first generation of her Irish Catholic family who had the luxury of free full education. The first generation from where she came from in County Cork to fully read and write. And she raised my mother to have a reverence for books and for the education possessed within them. Books=education=escape from poverty.

Without much money growing up mum spent a lot of time in the library. Of the books she acquired early in life I would guess many were either secondhand or much longed for gifts. When she met my father they discovered a shared love of Science Fiction. I can vividly remember our family bookcase at home. Full of the bright yellow spines of the genre. I can’t recall the name of the publisher. Authors like Asimov and Arthur C Clarke.

I remember too the characters on the spines of books bought for me as a child. The ladybird and later the penguin. Our family motto still looming large. Books=education=escape from poverty.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I began to realise that there are many homes where books are not treasured. A lone dictionary perhaps, or an extravagant leather bound set “for show”. Never read. In wealthy peoples homes too. It still perplexes me.

Now that I am grown and have children of my own, my own love of books is still strong. When I met and married my husband we reluctantly culled our collection for want of space. It was a torturous process, trying to decide which we could part with. Shipped off to the charity shop. In the end though we parted with many we still had to build more shelves to accommodate this shared love of reading. And I’m proud that my own children are carrying this torch, each of them, a corner of their bedroom devoted to the shrine of the written word.

My favourite friends all have large bookcases. Many joyful, wine filled nights discussing plots and characters and turns of phrase. Friendships bonded as tightly as the paper bound tomes we enjoy. Books swapped, borrowed and lent out again and again.

My bookcase holds more than just a history of what I have read. In a very personal way it is as much a history of who I am.

The Song of the Sea

29 10 2007

Her life was undulated.
In her depths she was a mermaid-ghost,
Almost never there,
Shut off from the world.
Then the waves rose and the storm force took her
Higher, higher, higher
Twelve feet tall, invincible;
A warrior princess.

If the hunters came
It could be her final night.
She didn’t care.
Fearless; unconcerned,
No vulnerability
The waves crashed in again.
Shame washed her upon the shore
Dishevelled and wanton.

She tried to dig.
To hide under the sand,
But it would not stay fixed.
Poured away, fell from her grasp
Slid off her skin as she dried out
Defilement. The shame
Pressed down like the sweltering sun
Burning her skin; making her eyes sting.

“No more!”

She looked up and saw
The horizon and the temperate ocean.
And in she waded; stepping with new cold toes.
The water grabbed;
Resisted but she continued
Once again with the sea.
Sinking deeper
Until the weight of it held her still again.

© Jenny Love
Oct 2007

Having bit of a rough time of things the past few weeks. Don’t know if it’s just post-course blues or if I’ve been burning the candle at both ends too much but writing this really helped me make sense of what I’ve been feeling. I don’t know if that’s what poetry is meant for but anyway…it helped.