Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Anakana Schofield: Sledging Sentences

Today over at the Afterword (National Post Book Blog) is my final post as Guest Editor. Click on the extract below to read the whole piece.

I have recently commenced learning to play sledge hockey and am curious to see whether this additional sport in my sporting arsenal will influence my prose.

Several writers come to mind for whom sport plays or played a significant part in their lives: Angie Abdou about to run from Montreal to New York, Michael Collins and his arctic marathon running, Haruki Murakami and what he knows about running, Albert Camus and his goalkeeping, George Bowering and baseball, Helen Potrebenko and her gold medal win at the Senior Games for softball, Lori Emerson e-lit expert and competitive amateur cyclist. (Expand this list by all means in the comments section.)

My other weekly sporting indulgence is adult gymnastics (I should admit to a stagnant level of progress over the past two years and a great deal of chatting). I had not practised gymnastics for 25 years when I recommenced the sport on a Wednesday night several years ago. But as a child it was the single most important thing I did.

I returned to it because I considered that within it lay the foundations of my beginnings as a writer. The repetition, the lines, the discipline, the pain and despair. I think I returned because I couldn’t find that same satisfaction in any other form of exercise and was equally frustrated and dwindling on the page.

No bingo

The sun is up.

Today is the day of the adult gymnastics meet I had to pull out of because of some misbehaving nephrology and all round lack of verve. Humph.

I will attempt to replace it with written labour today, and tonight will maybe go and admire those who were able to participate.  I’ve been watching some aerial hoop (trapeze) work on youtube for a treat from time to time, just mesmerizing.

Plants vs…

It is the time of year when people start to think about and plan their gardens, or garden plots. I love to read about them thumbing through the seed catalogues and visualizing how and where the plants may sit in relation to the weather, light and so on.

In contrast I don’t feel the same buzz when I read the endless articles and interviews with writers on “why or how they write…” What they write concerns me, the ideas around what they write perhaps, the research, in someways what they fail to write or don’t write concerns me more than why they write.

The diminished amount of literary criticism and the increased emphasis on book as singular act, marketing and hussling outsourced to writer (pimping also recommended, judging by current Canada Reads nonsense)  results in the wondering of whether fiction writers are no longer seeing their work as part of a continuum.  That something came before it and something will follow it and along this continuum the interrelation of other work might be a valid considering and that your book has a life beyond your creation of it. (and the reckoning on whether you did a good job or not)

Reviews are deemed good or bad based on some misconception that their only purpose is to sell books. Reviews are not intended to be the decision maker of whether someone should buy and read the book, (eg NP buy it or skip it daftness) they’re a piece of writing in their own right, in relation to a considering of the book.  A consider of and along, within and out from the book. They are not the bloody hammer at an auction.

I could read criticism that some may consider harsh on a novel I appreciate, it does not detract from my experience of the particular novel, it merely gives me other considerings on that novel, which I welcome. It enriches my experience with the book. I welcome anyone thinking intelligently about literature because in reading people who probe intelligently on literature I also learn to be a better writer.

I’ve gotten some helpful perspectives on Cabbagetown from other writers. I haven’t asked permission to quote them, so I’ll leave their names out for now. One explained fans of the work were “in awe of his daring in describing sexual violence, the nobility of poverty, the depravity of men, and savagery of casual misfortune.” Another writer  suggested to visit some other texts of that time and to look up the back catalogues of Press Gang. I am glad for these exchanges because it gives me other ingredients to consider when I am reading, so thank you to those writers.

To read out is something I find satisfying, more so than writing out. I suppose I prefer to have whole units from which as reader I can inter-relate or read in opposition. Personally I don’t want to write to or from other writers, I want to write into whatever I am writing, a pneumnatic “into” that might shift or throw it’s own debris up. It’s also perhaps challenging for the reader because it insists on a claustrophobia, but I enjoy challenge as a reader and have incredible faith in readers (over publishers who make decisions about what we read, hark the digital age and the end of such limits!)