Monday, 22 October 2007

Faster than fairies

I can't put down The Accidental by Ali Smith - what a fantastic book. Makes me (almost) want to give up writing altogether tho' - my prose seems so clunky and laboured compared to hers. Also makes me want to pledge only to read really, really good books and not settle for less - a pledge I know I would break next time I am tired or on a long train journey or both.

Talking of which, I had to go to Cardiff this weekend for work - 5½ hours on the train there and 5½ hours back the next day. I always have such high hopes about train journeys - I imagine dashing off a major part of my novel or suddenly being inspired to write poetry. The reality is that surrounded by mobile phones and chatter, legs cramping in the never quite big enough space and the apathetic tiredness that usually hits me as soon as we set off, I am more likely to just switch my brain off (see above). However this weekend was an exception. I wrote all the way there: give or take half an hour or so of refuelling on cappuccino and M&S salad. I started off jotting down snippets of chatter from the three old ladies sat across from me, and then got stuck into my children's novel. I really felt I got somewhere with it - it's flowing so much better now I know who my characters are(see previous post). I kept up the good work most of the journey back too, but then discovered The Accidental in my bag and got lost in that for the rest of the way.

So a very productive couple of days - and I even got paid for the work I did in between! Aren't trains great. I feel the need for some Robert Louis Stevenson (am I the only person in the world who used to get him confused with Robert Stephenson the train man?)

FASTER than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And there is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart run away in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone for ever!

'From a Railway Carriage' by Robert Louis Stevenson

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