Sometimes when you write you come up with a really great sentence, which sums up what maybe you’ve written in the last five chapters and stuns you by its simplicity, elegance and quality. At the last Renegades Writers meeting I was so pleased when Misha pointed one out of mine (I had hoped someone would notice as I thought it rather good!). At the moment it is placed about a quarter way through the book, but it is so fine (self-praise is not appreciated Tim!) that it may end up the final line in the book. It is simple but sort of sums up the whole story in ten words.
A whole book of great sentences would be almost unreadable, such things need to stand out. It would be like eating the finest steak and drinking best champagne and port every day, you’d be aching for a sausage sandwich and a pint of dark after a while.
Where on earth do these lines come from? Well I suppose our virtuosity that makes us writers or artists or whatever. In the early 1970’s I read Evelyn Waugh’s books. He was a brilliant writer of English. His subjects and stories are of course a sharp critique of the upper classes, his sympathies were certainly not mine. But he was a great story teller, and I would urge you to read his books if for nothing else to appreciate and learn from his style. It is so simple that it must have taken many edits and revisions!
In last Saturday’s blog I had thought up a phrase/line as I walked up Bond Street (two streets away), which is peppered with empty houses, many boarded up. Some look like no-one could possibly live in them, then at night you can see the lights on and people do. It is some of the most deprived housing in the city. The picture I put on the blog was actually a house which a woman lived in until recently; opposite to her was another woman whose window was always boarded up. I thought they were empty so did not deliver stuff there. Then I was told that they had a feud going on and as soon as one had new windows the other would smash them again; the feud was of course over a man, who had left the women a few years ago, but they carried on regardless.
A story I am sure Waugh would have handled beautifully, though the wrong class of people. Barry from Renegades said he may use the phrase – ‘a street with more empty houses than diamonds’ – alluding of course to Bond Street in London, the home of some of the most exclusive jewellers in the World, in one of his pieces, that would please me greatly. That quite nice little line just came to me as I was in the environment. The ‘genius’ of the writer? I don’t know, but the more we use words and read words and work with words, the more these sort of things just pop up in the brain.
Today’s photograph taken at 10.30am is of my dog Oskar, named after Oskar Mazareth, the character in The Tin Drum who through drumming remains at the age of 3, and tells the history of Danzig and his family just before and during the Second World War, through the eyes of a rather anarchic child even though by the end he is well into his teens. When his father dies he chooses to lose his power, and grows hideously. The story is told by Oskar while living in some sort of institution. It was the first book of Gunter Grass that I read and I have read most of his since then. Gunter Grass and Evelyn Waugh, two writers who have so little in common, except they both explore the history of the Twentieth Century through their characters and both are brilliant at using words.