Having a stack of books on my bedside table and time to read them (ie. no deadline looming) is my definition of riches. I can remember the same feeling of anticipation from childhood, as we returned from Gosford library with a stack of books. Back then, I read a book a day; I’d read for a couple of hours before school, I’d read at school, and then at bedtime. Glorious.
It will take me a couple of months to make my way through this lot. But what pleasure I will have doing so.
I just finished reading Hope Farm by Peggy Frew (which is shortlisted for the Stella Prize and long-listed for the Miles Franklin) and at so many points had to pause to re-read a perfect phrase. I'd read those phrases with awe and a tinge of dismay that I didn't think of it.
For example: During these transitions something would change in the way I saw the world. Everything – an unlined curtain leaking light, a dash of turmeric on a bench top, the chalky line of scalp that showed at the parting in the hair of a girl at school – seemed to become at once very clear and slightly removed, as if I was peering through a viewfinder. It was a glassy sliding feeling…
‘Flat angry phrases slid rhythmically though my head. Of course, of course. You should have known.’
When I’m copy editing (as I’ve been doing for the past few weeks) if I am not careful, I can pare my descriptions back to bare bones. Partly because I love muscular simple writing. But also because I get tired and overwhelmed by the task at hand and cutting back is easier than re-jigging. Reading a novel like Hope Farm is a good reminder not to pare back too hard.
Next stage for me is proofreading. Then my novel will go off to print to be published in late June. It has a title now: Promise. More on Promise in coming posts.