Sunday, May 23, 2010

Things I've learnt this week

A sweltering Sunday, and I need to stay indoors a bit just to catch up on various domestic chores, as I'm away a lot in the next month.

Had a couple of interesting weeks - almost back to normal activity following the op, and finally off the meds this weekend - though I go back in a month.

Manchester is busily vibrant at this time of year particularly if, like me, you get involved in different things. There are launches, workshops, conferences, festivals, as well as regular networking meetings, irregular art launches. In the bigger world there's signature TV shows like Dr. Who and Ashes to Ashes - though if the sun keeps shining I won't even watch them on iPlayer till the Autumn - new films ("Four Lions"), new books (David Mitchell). Someone somewhere is ordering their iPad. The festival season is coming up and and and and and...

Guess it makes us lucky. Yet all this frantic activity isn't necessarily that conducive to creative work. I've said it before, that the irony about literary fame and success is that the good work happens in the shadows, in the private time. Whereas sportsman have their greatest moments in front of the cameras, and despite all the hard work that goes into it, actors and musicians require the spotlight; writers only come blinking into the sunlight when the work is all done, when the good things have happened.

I've been putting together a short collection of poems, and though it took a week of intense re-reading to choose the line-up and the order, the hard work happened at other times. Pleasingly, there are three recent poems in the selection - and hopefully these are as good as ones I've had a longer time to consider. More of this later.

I'm going to be looking at my web presence shortly as well - as turning things on their head a bit - I realise that a writer has to do more than just write new stuff, good as it is. Readers, if there are still such things, want the full experience - a fulfilling finished work, nicely packaged, and with something of a backstory. What would you say when reading a poem out loud for instance?

Maybe the whirlpool of activity I get sucked into every spring and autumn will subside a bit under a new government - certainly I've drank my fair share of wine and ate my fair share of canapes and small dishes over the years - all paid for by some project somewhere. I have a horribly sneaking suspicion that the one area of cuts that the government will find it obstinately difficult to cut is the money paid out to consultants, particularly the big boys, who will surely bring in their restructuring expertise to replace their special advice departments.

Manchester's great virtues remains its underground, get-up-and-go side. Most of the gems in the year's creative cycle have come from individuals and groups of people getting together and just doing something. It may, in fact, turn out to be easier to do this in a harsher economic climate, though anyone who has ever run a volunteer programme knows that a little bit of funding goes further here than almost anywhere else.

Lots to do, lots to think about. Football season is over, but the World Cup will inevitably take over for a month or so. At Futureeverything this year one of the themes was serendipity city - and as a phrase to describe Manchester its ideal.

Forgot to mention that the BBC's adaption of "Money" is on tonight. I've often wondered why the BBC doesn't adapt more contemporary novels - though this is quarter of a century old now, so doesn't even count as that. Amis's novel has been referred to as unfilmable, which always seemed a little ridiculous, given its settings. I've some apprehension, given the way the BBC usually films the 80s (e.g. as costume drama) but was given hope by both the way they've done last week's Boy George drama "Worried about the Boy" (though that was Manchester's excellent Red Productions - home of Queer as Folk  - who clearly know what they're doing with pop culture) and by the presence of Nick Frost, who seems big and loud enough to play John Self. There's an interview with Martin Amis afterwards on BBC4 as well.

1 comment:

Jim Murdoch said...

Thank you for the reminder about Money. I went through the paper yesterday highlighting the few things I didn't want to miss and missed that completely. I'd usually expect to have seen an ad by now but nothing.