Anakana Schofield – Award Winning Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

Up the pole with Dickens

This is one you’ll enjoy. Simon Gray describes his dementing Tango dance trying to write a play, then film, the radio play, then play about the life of Dickens:

Bernard Shaw said that writing a play was either easy or impossible. My play wasn’t impossible: I’d been at it too long and spent too much of my best blood on it to allow it to be impossible. I reverted to the old tactic of stealing up on it when it wasn’t looking, and then batter, batter, batter: “Come out you bastard, and fight!” etc. But of course I was nearly 40 years older than the last time I’d attempted it, overweight and short of breath, so I gave that up and tried cheating – by putting what I thought to be my best draft on the computer. From it I extracted drafts galore, draft on draft on draft, sometimes attaching the top half of one to the bottom half of another. This is the great thing about the computer, at least for someone of my generation, with my sort of temperament: it gives you the illusion of work. You go to bed at five in the morning with squinty eyes, a befuddled head and an unnatural but satisfied sense of having cut, copied and pasted yourself to well-earned oblivion.,,1969190,00.html

I have to confess I loved the batter, batter, batter idea. It’s the closest description I’ve read to the level of loathing one can muster for one’s pet project that continues to evade as the Christmas’s tick by.

I foolishly keep telling myself that there’s method in the madness of continuing to fight for evasive characters in an evasive novel.  Then I read a random novel, that in my humble opinion, might have benefitted from another year or two of ruminating and recommit myself to the task. Batter, batter, batter.

This is especially pertinent for my generation, some of whom appear more concerned about producing a stack of books, than actually taking the time to cultivate something deserving of the readers time and attention. This desperate notion of career instead of work is redolent of these by-pass roads. As my mother always says off them “we go onto it from a boreen and we come off the other end into a boreen”. I sometimes think of the novel (from the pov of the writer trying to write one, not as the reader of one) as a pugnacious, drunken git, who for some perplexing reason no matter how poorly he sings, you cannot give up on him/it.

 You can hear the results of Gray’s batter, batter, batter on Radio 4 ( on Saturday. I think Little Nell might be the title.

Leave a Reply