Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Sparrow

As many of you will be aware, I celebrated my birthday over the last year.

My favourite gift so far was this.

It’s a while since I’ve been really gripped by a book. There’s nothing quite like a good old fashioned page-turner that leaves you dreaming up ways to get out of work early or avoid your family so you can devour a few more pages.

If you’re considering taking a holiday or even just pulling a sickie, I heartily recommend picking this up first.

It explores faith, linguistics, mental illness and a man with funny hands, all wrapped up in sci-fi (a genre I try to be snobbish about but can’t). And its characters are more complete and human than anyone you’ll ever meet in an agency.

Here's the blurby bit:
After the first exquisite songs were intercepted by radio telescope, UN diplomats debated long and hard whether and why human resources should be expended in an attempt to reach the world that would become known as Rakhat. In the Rome offices of the Society of Jesus, the questions were not whether or why but how soon the mission could be attempted and whom to send. The Jesuit scientists went to Rakhat to learn, not to proselytize. They went so that they might come to know and love God's other children. They went for the reason Jesuits have always gone to the farthest frontiers of human exploration. They went for the greater glory of God. They meant no harm.

I dunno if you picked it up but that 'They meant no harm' line is actually rather ominous, if you know what I'm saying. As in, it all goes a bit wrong. What I'm suggesting is that they do harm. Anyway.

I’m about 3/4s of the way through. I’ll let you know if the ending turns out to be a massive disappointment. Otherwise, get it.

Here’s to page-turners.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Running on empty

I enjoyed Tim Lott’s bit in The Guardian today on How I write.

I identified not just with finding it hard to knuckle down, which is par for the course, but also the way his digestive system dictates his working day.
Come around 2pm I have an energy slump – especially if I have had a glass of wine. This has been happening to me since I was a teenager, but in those days at school I was in no position to do anything about it. Now I have a bed in my room, I take a nap. I never wake later than 45 minutes on. 
It seems that God has seen fit to give me a tiny stomach, like that of a sparrow. Which means I share the same post-lunch slump (but not the bed in the office, sadly).

My solution is to eat such a paltry lunch (e.g. a one-slice tuna sandwich) that I’m still gnawing my desk with hunger by 2. At which point I have another cup of tea and this keeps me going and a bit on edge until around 4, when I have lunch part two (e.g. a second sandwich).

In this way my little body stutters along throughout the week. I've been creatively running on empty, so to speak, for most of my career and it certainly works for me.

Does anyone else have a staying-fairly-productive strategy to share? Other than the simple fear of being found out for the talentless hack you clearly are, of course?

Btw, the rest of the How I write bits are very good too. Although the Lionel Shriver one has a picture of a woman at the top. Oops!