Archive | September, 2011

Why it’s impossible to write immediately after a holiday

12 Sep

John Fowles once said about his immortal book The Magus that while he was in Spetse, the island which Phraxos is based on, he found it almost impossible to write about the place. The assault on the senses was too much while you were there, you needed distance to be able to use your literary imagination. At least, that’s what I think he was saying. There is something about the seductive sea, those azure skies, even the force of the North wind, that blasts you until you have time to recover, and dazed, start writing. This year, however, while on holiday in Greece I found plenty to write about: waiting for water to fill up into a tank on a hillside started me thinking and scribbling ideas. It’s really the travelling back that blanks your mind, and when you come home you’re suddenly overwhelmed by a short tiredness which is inimical to the creative impulse.

So I took a walk instead to the local butcher’s to get some karkowka, and then across a park to a local hypermarket to get some DVD Rs. Somehow this anchors me back in the reality far more than the jobs that some of my colleagues have to do while waiting for the semester truly to begin. One of them says that he is spending a lot of the time sharpening pencils. Okay, he is doing other things too, but spare us from endlessly sharpening pencils, we have our wits to sharpen, we have the cut and thrust of teaching to sharpen, and I have my writing to sharpen. It’s got rather poetic of late, but it needs trimming. Those purple passages need a bit of control.

One of the blissful things in having a little time to recover from your holiday is that this sluggishness is not unwelcome. A little bit of laziness goes a long, long,way, even if ‘being lazy’ means transferring videos.