Lots of well-deserved plaudits around the blogosphere for the Vintage Classics Day held at Foyles in London last Saturday, so there must have been lots of bloggers in the room and I only managed to catch up properly with Kimbofo which could mean I really am way out of the blogosphere literary loop these days. And whilst I was doing that Bookhound was out and about doing cultural London and making friends with stray cats in Covent Garden... this one quite mistook him for 'that bloke out of Abba' and they did a little rendition of Money, Money.
I don't have the time or the inclination to get navel-gazey or uber-analytical about blogging, nor am I prone to blog-introspection or stats-anxiety. Feeling detached isn't about being haughty either (it has been suggested) it's about time (not enough) and distance (too far) and the day job (too busy) I suppose, but writing this is as normal as eating porridge (practice nurse please note) for breakfast in my life, ploughing my own furrow down here in Devon and more importantly than anything else, carrying on loving the reading.
It was good to meet up for tea and cake (practice nurse please ignore) with the Vintage team the day before and talk through some books that I am really looking forward to later this year especially Bird Brain by Guy Kennaway, man gets shot and is reincarnated as pheasant with added bonus of more brain than the average game fowl... what's not to love for this hunting, shooting, gamekeeper's household. We also talked around the ethos of reading for pleasure that still pervades chez dovegrey and always will. Sorry still no plans to waste time looking for what I don't like about a book when writing about what I do makes me want to sing, and for that be thankful there is no 'sound' on here. I sometimes close a book and realise that I just can't wait to write about it once my thinking week is up.
So apart from the pure pleasure of some literary talk in Foyles and the aroma of freshly printed books wafting around, who'd have thought that one of the outcomes of the day would have me pondering why I am suddenly doing all this at this time in my life. It was something that Rose Tremain said as she talked about Eugenie Grandet, by Balzac, her choice of novel for the Orange Inheritance series, and as luck would have it, the only Balzac I have read, and also her most recent novel Trespass, which as more luck would have it, I have also read.
Rose Tremain talked with sincerity about that moment that may or may not happen in your life, when you properly come of age, perhaps in your fifties or early sixties when you suddenly see the shape of your life sufficiently well to be able to frame it and reframe it. Time to make assessments, transform, make reparations, value what you have, change directions, perhaps do those things you always meant to have done, and most of me had a very hard job to stop the rest of me leaping to my feet and declaring to the affirmative that I knew and had experienced my own version of that very self-same moment.
I probably should have just knuckled down and written a novel five years ago when it happened and then spent the last five years trying to get it published before shoving it in the loft for the mice, but that takes a certain confidence in your own abilities which I didn't possess, and though we have the mice I started dovegreyreader scribbles instead, sensing that I had suddenly had more pieces of the lifetime of reading and experience jigsaw in place than ever before. Asked why she wrote, Rose Tremain replied that despite knowing that it may be an honourable but doomed profession to embark on, she would be insane if she couldn't write and perhaps writing is also a way of living life twice over.
A little later in the day Sebastian Faulks recounted his arrival at the 50th birthday and the sudden realisation that is was time to play a few shots, to worry less about the snark and just get on with it all. He also made a very sobering observation, that in twenty years it may not be possible for people to make a living solely out of writing, adding that no one has a God-given right to make a living from writing books.
I suddenly realised that I'd go barking (more so than usual) if I couldn't come here and write too, and though that may not make me a 'writer' in the true sense of published author, it feels like enough of one to be going on with...30,000 words a month has to be called something. Blogging gives those of us who have always wanted to write, but never entertained the idea of being paid for it, the platform to do that, and with the added bonus of that immediacy and instant two-way dialogue with all of you. The process still comes in for an awful lot of flack and criticism with added sniping, along with accusations of social inadequacy and a friendless lives etc but most of us are certainly moving in the real world too, so no pretensions or delusions of grandeur (I have children who make that an impossibility) and I'll keep the day job too, because I have a funny feeling the two are mutually compatible, if not essential in maintaining that balance and informing each other.
So my thanks again to Vintage for the day and Rose Tremain for that insight, and if you are coming to the du Maurier literary festival in Fowey, and perhaps stopping by at my event there...dovegreyreader in conversation on Friday May 20th at 2.15pm, perhaps we can talk some more about it all there.