Updated on May 16, 2017
It’s been a little while since I wrote a proper update, and I’ll put that down to being very busy at work (which is a bit of a miracle when you’re self-employed!). Fortunately I’ve got a bit of time today to fill you in on my latest reading and writing escapades, and share a few new books with you.
First up, I went to the library … again. You’d think I’d know better by now, with my shelves groaning as they are, but no, I picked up four books: one graphic novel, two novels and one collection of short stories. I’ve already polished off the graphic novel and will be reviewing it soon, and Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller is my current read.
I’ve also had some money to spend on books this month (another miracle when you’re self-employed!), so I treated myself to the beautiful naked hardback Swimming Among the Stars by Kahishk Tharoor, which I’ve never even heard of before, and the much-praised The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, a vision in gold foiling.
As for reading, I’ve had one notable success and one notable failure recently. The failure was Helen Oyeyemi’s short story collection What is Not Yours is Not Yours, which I stopped reading about halfway through. I just couldn’t get on with it at all. Oyeyemi seems to write in tangents, so the character/plotline you start each story with gets replaced by others along the way, and you’re left wondering what the real focus is. Plus, she just doesn’t explain or describe things. I read a Guardian review which said, “It often feels … as if Oyeyemi’s flow of ideas is so protean that she finds it hard to pause to give necessary information; or as if her images are so clear for her that she feels a label will suffice for us too.” That’s exactly how I felt – like she knew what she was talking about and I simply had no idea. It all felt like a jumble of ideas and symbols, and I couldn’t uncover any meaning from them.
The success, on the other hand, was quite bittersweet. Just last night I finished Within the Sanctuary of Wings, the last book in Marie Brennan’s superb Lady Trent series, which is about a Victorian-esque world in which dragons exist, and the headstrong Lady Trent who dedicates her life to studying them. I’ll review this final instalment soon, but for now I’ll just say that I couldn’t put it down, and although I’m very sad to see the series finish, this book is an absolutely fitting end.
As for writing … I’ve got a little distracted from my grand novel plans. A chapter a week? Ha! I have discovered that I’m a perfectionist (OK, I always knew I was, but apparently I really am) and that means I simply can’t progress with a story until what I’ve already written is in decent shape. The upshot is that, while I might be able to write a crappy first draft of a short story and then go back and write it again, I just can’t do that with a whole novel. As the small errors build up I feel less and less certain and grind to a halt. Still, this is not the end – I had a good think about my plot last night and I’ve got some firm ideas now. I just have to write it gradually, and make each chapter at least halfway decent before I can move onto the next one. Oh boy.
I haven’t been entirely lazy writing-wise, though. I did manage to finish a story (yes, finish!) and submit it (yes, that too!) to Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. (I read a couple of issues too and loved them – lots of fantastic stories in there.) I haven’t heard anything about my story yet (still a bit too soon) and the admissions tracker on the website is broken, but that doesn’t really matter. Even though it probably won’t get published, I’m delighted to have actually finished something and submitted it. Plus, I have several more sci-fi short story ideas, so they’re on my To Do list too.
Anyway, that’s all from me for now! I hope you’re reading wonderful things, and if you have any good book recommendations then let me know with a comment down below.