Saturday, May 22, 2010

Myths and Emily Brontë

The lovely children's author Lucy Coates - with whom I spent a most pleasant summer afternoon in London a couple of years ago - has recently been running a weekly series of interviews on her blog Scribble City Central, in which she asked different writers about what myths mean to them. They're all worth reading, but I'm rather egotistically posting about it, because this week's instalment is with me. They were fun questions to answer, and interesting to think about.

On another note, a couple of weeks ago I finished the first draft of Black Spring, the novel on which I've been working since last year. That's kind of Wuthering Heights, set somewhere in an alternative 19th century Eastern Europe, with vendetta and wizards... It turned out a bit stranger than I thought, and the last month of writing was really difficult because, well, difficult things happen to the characters, as you'd know if you've read Emily Brontë's book. In a way, the book is for Emily, for whom I've always had a strong fellow feeling. One of my earliest poems, written when I was 16, is about her. Here it is:

Emily Brontë

The bell of my loneliness
Is a note so high and pure
It leaves you breathless.

These windy slopes are shorn
of the things that make life comfortable:
broad trees, broken bread, the swell

and supple curve of a lover's back.
These come only in dreams,
fade achingly before the besom dawn

sweeps away sleep's comfort. I
can sit here in my window, catch
the rough sweet scent of heather in my nostrils

and write of death and love entwined
like adders together. The poetry
lies wild in my veins, the poetry

of windy slopes stabbed by rocky outcrops,
the giving spring of turf, the taste
of solitude like aloes on my tongue,

the bare, unchanging moors, which take
my sisters and myself with mute indifference
and conquer under soil all our passion.

(From The Common Flesh, New and Selected Poems, Arc Books UK).

The novel manuscript has now been sent to my agent, which means that it's dropped out of my head. Until I have to start work again on editing, of course; but I like editing.

Right after finishing the novel, I also finished a music theatre script for young adults, Night Songs, that I've been co-writing with my husband Daniel Keene for the Bell Shakespeare Company. And after that, I had unusually busy couple of weeks of journalism - four theatre reviews and a couple of big articles for the Australian. And I've driven myself straight into the ground.

As a result, I've caught a bad cold and have been feeling a bit sorry for myself, which is never a good look. And the problem is that I can't blame anybody - it's all my own fault, dammit!