Welcome to justthoughtsnstuff

I started posting to jtns on 20 February 2010 with just one word, 'Mosaic'. This seemed an appropriate introduction to a blog that would juxtapose fragments of memoir and life-writing. Since 1996, I'd been coming to terms with the consequences of emotional and economic abuse that had begun in childhood, and which, amongst other things, had sought to stifle self-expression. While I'd explored some aspects of my life through fiction and, to a lesser extent, journalism, it was only in 2010 that I felt confident enough to write openly about myself. I believed this was an important part of the healing process. Yet within weeks, the final scenes of my family's fifty-year nightmare started to play themselves out and the purpose of the blog became one of survival through writing. Although some posts are about my family's suffering - most explicitly, Life-Writing Talk, with Reference to Trust: A family story - the majority are about happier subjects (including, Bampton in rural west Oxfordshire, where I live, Oxford, where I work, the seasons and the countryside, walking and cycling) and I hope that these, together with their accompanying photos, are enjoyable and positive. Note: In February 2020, on jtns' tenth birthday, I stopped posting to this blog. It is now a contained work of life-writing about ten years of my life. Frank, 21 February 2020.

New blog: morethoughtsnstuff.com.

Sunday 6 March 2016

vaughan williams, how novels work by john mullan, the novel: a biography by michael schmidt, more barns

Just downloaded a Vaughan Williams album, which includes The Lark Ascending and Five Variants of 'Dives and Lazarus'. Have been meaning to download the former for a while and was finally spurred into action when listening to a LSO recording of the latter on Radio 3 yesterday. Great to find them on the same album.

Am reading How Novels Work by John Mullan (OUP, 2006), which I'm enjoying immensely. It's based on his Guardian column of a decade or so ago.

Attended a talk given by Michael Schmidt about his 2014 book The Novel: A Biography (Harvard University Press) at the Kellogg College Centre for Creative Writing on Thursday evening. Fascinating to hear Schmidt - founder of Carcanet and the PN Review (just two of his many achievements) speak about his career and his views on poetry and fiction. The book is now on my reading list. It also has a terrific cover - click on the cover image on the HUP site to view it.  Schmidt ended with a quote from Ford Madox Ford, a novelist he much admires: 'So, if one can keep oneself out of it, one may present a picture of a sort of world and time.' A good maxim for creative writers - although what follows immediately after this quote will also resonate: 'I have tried to keep myself out of this work as much as I could - but try as hard as one may after self-effacement the great "I", like cheerfulness will come creeping in.' (Dedication to Dr Michael and Mrs Eileen Hall Lake, Return to Yesterday (1931 - Carcanet edition, 1999). You can hear Michael Schmidt and Michael Wood discussing The Novel: A Biography at the London Review Bookshop here.

A good walk from Buckland this afternoon. More barns. Just love the way the paint weathers sometimes.

1 comment:

  1. That question- keeping yourself out of it - or not- is the big one for me. I need to read this book and do wish I could get myself to the Kellogg talks. Thanks for the John Mullan suggestion too.