Wednesday, 19 May 2010
Me and the Chaffinch
I feel so guilty at the thought of the tens of thousands of people who’ve been sitting at their computers for days now, waiting for a new blog to get posted here. They may occasionally click over to Facebook, Twitter, or their own emails just to check but they rush back here as soon as they can, desperate for more wisdom, enlightenment and the perpetual reassurance that life is worth living. (Oh, and for the occasional word to top up their vocabulary – this week it’s 'rebarbative'. I love that word – it sounds exactly right for what it means.)
What makes it worse is that, while you've all been suffering, I’ve had a few of those days which are happy, positive, life-affirming. To begin with, this week came the news from the publishers of The Figurehead that it’s just about ready. The editor and I have been proof-reading the text again and got rid of the 14 typos that were still there. (What’s the betting that plenty more turn up when it’s actually been published?) The techie people are now deciding on such arcane features as ‘spacing and drop characters’, ‘wrap adjustments’ and ‘kerning’. All of which means that I’ll soon be clutching a copy of my latest baby in my grubby palm. Not, sadly, in time for the talk/reading I’m giving about it tomorrow evening, but there’ll no doubt be compensation for that when Stephen Spielberg rings me next week to beg me for the movie rights.
Then, yesterday, an email from another publisher saying she liked a proposal about a collection of short stories which I’d sent, together with some samples. She’s asked to see the whole manuscript. This time it’s not crime but some fantasy/sci-fi type things which I wrote after spending some time looking at Second Life. They’re supposed to be funny and they’re all about the interface between reality and the virtual online worlds. The small problem is that the ones I’ve written so far add up to some 16,000 words and, while that’s fine for ebooks, a paperback needs at least 40,000. So I’ll be spending lots of spare time adding to the collection. But, once again, it’s a great feeling.
And I also need to tell you about the chaffinch.
I sit here with my view of the garden, and my carved gargoyle and eagle just outside. Most of the time, though, I’m looking at the screen or the keyboard, so it always startles me when that bloody chaffinch decides to attack the top of my window. I hear a small bang and there he is, still flying but bashing his beak against the glass. And he does it again and again. I’ve just been outside to take a photo of what he must see when he makes his assault. That's it at the top. I took it from ground level because he always flies up from there for his attack, bashing against the pane at the very top. OK, I'm not a chaffinch, but I see nothing there that would fool me into thinking it’s a good place to nest, so what’s he doing it for?
Maybe the soul of a critic has transmigrated into his body and he hates writers. Maybe he’s practising some arcane act for the next Simon Cowell show – ‘Nature’s Got Talent’ or something. Maybe he’s a chaffinch philosopher and he’s just proving that life is an illusion and ultimate satisfaction is unattainable. Whatever it is, after all his clattering against the glass, he must go home every night and say to his wife ‘My beak’s killing me’.
Anyway, my own busy-ness is likely to go on for a while so why not re-read all the previous blogs and tease out the almost infinite layers of meaning which are folded into them? Remember, feel the swan in your blood.