Friday, 13 February 2009

Flying towards the dark - Dianne Hofmeyr

illustration by Jude Daly from 'The Star-bearer'

I’m home in the dark. Yesterday I arrived, dragging my case through the sleet from South Ken tube station, clutching a skimpy cardigan, bare brown feet in their paper-thin shoes slowly going blue, and couldn’t budge the door for the mounds of post stacked up behind it. Not a single incredible book deal or film offer! So I took to my bed with coffee and some back copies of the London Review of Books [less formidable than the buff-coloured envelopes] and found this bitter-sweet poem by Francis Hope [for which I have no permission].
Goodbye to the Villa Piranha[the house I’ve left behind has no such fancy name]

Prepare the journey North,
Smothering feet in unfamiliar socks.
Sweeping the bathroom free of sand, collecting
Small change of little worth.

Make one last visit to the tip
(Did we drink all those bottles?) and throw out
The unread heavy paperback, saving
One thriller for the trip.

Chill in the morning air
Hints like a bad host that we should be going.
Time for a final swim, a walk, a last
Black coffee in the square.

If not exactly kings
We were at least francs bourgeois, [africain bourgeois?] with the right
To our own slice of time and place and pleasure,
And someone else’s things. [in this case our own]

Leaving the palace and its park [a matter of perspective when you return to a postage stamp flat]
We take our common place along the road,
As summer [a southern hemisphere summer] joins the queue of other summers,
Driving [flying] towards the dark.

Apart from the poem now here in the dark, alongside the upturned case and its contents of useless sandals and gossamer shirts, I’ve also discovered amidst the heap of post a letter that states:

‘There are holes in your plot!’ A polite way of saying – you’ve lost the plot? And references to ‘this first draft’.

What? Does she really believe this is my first draft??? Doesn’t she know how many drafts have been in my head before even committing anything to paper or how many have drafts have subsequently been written??? Hasn’t she read our latest blogs??? Doesn’t she know that no writer of any substance would ever dream of not re-writing? We just don’t like others to tell us to re-write.

So here in the dark, I’m ignoring all this. I’ve snuggled back under the duvets with these wondrous back copies of the London Review telling of writers who never have holes in their plots, with yet more coffee… and perhaps I won’t come out again until summer comes to London and things look different and I can write a blog called: Flying towards the light!


Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Forgot to give credit... that beautiful illustration is by Jude Daly from the picture book 'The Star-bearer'. It sort of sums up my mood of yearning. di

Natasha Mostert said...

"Holes" in the plot - ouch!

But take heart -- all of us who live with our egos exposed have had to deal with this kind of comment. I've had scribbled in the margins of my manuscripts: "purple prose", "overwrought", why? why?" and even "woo! woo!" One editor demanded that I delete not a chapter, but a character. I kept thinking that even if I did so, his presence would continue to linger -- like a cartoon figure who had run through a wall leaving a blank outline behind.

Here's a quotation to make you feel better. And it is by none other than the great Charles Darwin:

"I have tried lately to read Shakespeare, and found it so intolerably dull that it nauseauted me."

Eye of the beholder and all that...:)

Great blog!

Lucy Coats said...

Oh Dianne. To come back from that wonderful African sun and find slush-bound and gloomy Britain, as well as that letter. I am SO with you under that duvet, but wish you a speedy flight towards the light. Oh, and as usual, your blog is wonderful--with absolutely NO holes at all. xxL

Linda Strachan said...

Hi Dianne
I too have just returned from summer - Bay of Islands, New Zealand, and Melbourne. Returning to the frozen north I too want to 'coorie doon' under the covers and wait for summer.

But at times Melbourne was too hot for comfort and having left there two days before the worst of the fires I feel dreadfully sorry for those poor families whose homes and communities, and lives, have been lost so suddenly. Perhaps the frozen north is not quite so bad after all.

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Lucy... thanks! I heard from your nice librarian friend, Karen Yingling in Ohio re the blog. Its always a wonder to me to have this instant contact from someone on the other side of the world!

adele said...

Very good to have you back with us, Dianne! It's nearly springtime...