Memos and Memes

A query, an announcement and a meme today. First the query: I am having all kinds of trouble accessing blogs from the blogroll. It’s like the site gets stuck on an old post – sometimes from weeks back – and refuses to let me access the more recent material. It seems as if the blog has been lost in a fold of cybertime, or stuck in an internet time warp. Does anyone else have this problem, and even better, know how to fix it? And if I haven’t visited you for a while, I’m so sorry, but it’s probably not for want of trying!

The announcement: Having scared myself silly with the thought of delivering a finished manuscript to the publisher in a year’s time, give or take a week or two, I recognise the necessity of posting every other day for a little bit. I’m not very happy with this decision because blogging is such good fun, but I didn’t want to change what I did, so instead I’m obliged to change the frequency with which I do it. I do hope you’ll bear with me, and keep visiting.

Finally the meme. I threatened to invent another one, and here it is. I’d be delighted if anyone else felt like having a go.

1. First book to leave a lasting impression? Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. I read it in one sitting when I was about 13 and it took about 24 hours for the imprints of the wicker chair I’d been sitting in to ease out of my flesh. I’d always loved reading, but until then I had no idea what a book could really do to you.

2. Which author would you most like to be? I always used to say Colette, until I read her biography. Now I think I’d say Ali Smith. She has the talent to write quite remarkable books, I think, genre-defying, innovative, unique books. I’m cheating somewhat here because we used to be very good friends and she happens to be the wisest person I’ve ever known. It was a shame; I moved away and had a baby, she moved house and became famous, and so we fell out of touch. I would love so much to meet up with her again and keep hoping that fate will arrange it for me.

3. Name the book that has most made you want to visit a place? As a teenager I was obsessed with the tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. So, inevitably, I was longing to visit Tintagel in Cornwall, which is reputedly the site for Camelot. We did go and, well, the fantasy was better.

4. Which contemporary author will still be read in 100 years time? I’ll play it safe and say Margaret Atwood. But I think that Kazuo Ishiguro will probably make it, and Julian Barnes, too.

5. Which book would you recommend to a teenager reluctant to try ‘literature’? John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids. Classy prose and sheer terror.

6. Name your best recent literary discovery? Richard Russo is very high up there. I have every intention of working my way through his collected works. But I suppose the best of the summer reading so far has been The Great Gatsby. Idealisation, melancholia, nostalgia – how much better could it get?

7. Which author’s fictional world would you most like to live in? Virginia Woolf’s. I love the civilised restraint and the serenity that seeps out of Woolf’s pages, even if the gender politics of the era left a little to be desired. I particularly love her descriptions of the academic world; the lone figure bent over the textbook late at night, the voices calling to one another in the courtyard below, reminding us of the other, physical world, while inside we are plunged into the fizzy mental effort of creative thought. I’m always delighted if I manage to have a ‘Woolf’ moment in my research.

8. Name your favourite poet? Of the greats, it has to be Rilke. But of the contemporary scene, I’m torn at the moment between Sophie Hannah and Wendy Cope, with Carol Ann Duffy coming up on the outskirts. Oh dear, I didn’t do very well to narrowing it down to one there, did I?

9. What’s the best non-fiction title you’ve read this year? Ian Hamilton’s Against Oblivion: Some lives of the twentieth-century poets. 45 vignettes exploring the lives and works of poets including Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Stevie Smith, ee cummings, Rupert Brooke, Elizabeth Bishop, Phillip Larkin and Ted Hughes. If I could write with this much elegance and insight, I would be one happy woman.

10. Which author do you think is much better than his/her reputation? I have to say Proust. He’s seen as being difficult and long-winded and hard to read, and he’s one of the most beautiful, joy-inducing authors I know. N’est-ce pas? all those at Involuntary Memory?


23 thoughts on “Memos and Memes

  1. What a great meme! I’ll have to ponder for a while. I completely understand about cutting back on posting; I might have to do something similar myself. I have to remember that blogging isn’t what pays the bills (alas!). As to the technical problem? I’m not much help. I use bloglines and also bookmark my favorite sites.

  2. I definately understanding the cutting back on blogging – I only post every other day, and on ‘off’ days comment on the blogs of others. This blogosphere of ours is a wonderful place to spend time, but as Dorothy notes above, it does not pay the bills and I have promised myself, freelance writing by 35, university job by 40, (or, to at least work withinn those goals, they are allowed to change, obviously, if necessary), and to reach them work besides blogging needs to happen. Unfortunately.

    I love your meme. I’ll do it tomorrow!

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  4. I’ll aim to do the meme. I’m writing new lectures at the moment so that is sucking up most of my writing energies. I’ve found blogging can be an amazingly seductive time suck. Actually I wondered if you had it in mind to write about a book about it, Litlove?

    Courtney, I like your goals and the time frame idea. I should try and come up with something specific like that too.

  5. I’m so looking forward to reading your memes! Isn’t it such a shame that you can’t litblog for a living? Although writing a book about it is a fantastic idea, Ms Make Tea! And good luck with those lectures – I always find them extremely time-consuming to prepare. Thank you for being so comforting about the cutting back, and Courtney, I think I’ll do the same and visit people one day and post the next. Seems an excellent idea.

  6. I have thought about writing a book about litblogging, but I don’t know what I would do with it. Would it be a Year In the Life of Blogger type of thing? Social-cultural analysis? Reprints of blog posts? At any rate, I will miss your daily posts, Litlove, and I again make myself available for any writing discussions. I’m off now to write a meme.

  7. Ooo I am really going to miss daily posting. I’m wondering if I’ll become bad-tempered and snack too much. Well, I’ll see how it goes, and hope that I can become efficient enough to convert back. And thank you again, Bikeprof for the offer of assistance – I’ll be needing it! I think you could write a brilliant book on blogging from a range of different perspectives, with a whole chapter for hobgoblinism!

  8. A lovely meme–I really liked thinking about what fictional world I’d like to inhabit. I’d have to say that because fiction is filled with conflict, many of the worlds strike me as no-go zones. But I wouldn’t mind living in Combray, as long as it meant I could take lovely, scented walks and be welcomed with good food and a nice relaxing bath when I returned.

    Your decision to blog every other day seems quite sound. There’s no reason really why anyone needs to post every day. A more leisurely blogging pace is sure to make you happier. And no, I can’t imagine you becoming bad tempered and snacking too much!

    By the way, that’s very odd about your blogroll. I’ve only asked the wordpress help people one question, but I got their very helpful answer in 24 hours, so you might want to give that a try.

  9. Great meme! I’m having fun with it. I’ll miss your daily posts, too. Does your blogroll only malfunction from your computer/browser? While I was away, bloglines and Blogger didn’t show updates right away, even on my own blog.

  10. I’ve grown to like Ali Smith’s novels. I read Hotel World last year, and only rated it as alright, but my bookgroup discussed it for a whole month, spotting all sorts of things going on that mean I’ll be reading it again. In the meantime, I’ve read The Accidental, and loved the way she “got” the four voices of the Smart family and used Astrid as a sort of catalyst to bring them all to life.

    To be honest, I didn’t know how you managed a daily post of such quality anyway!

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  12. I have failed miserably trying to keep up with contemporary poetry. I’ve never even heard of the poets you wrote of. But I’ll check them out now. I have to stop living 50 years in the past!

  13. Sorry to hear you won’t be posting daily, too, but your posts will always be worth the wait–so no worries about losing readers! I love the meme–must ponder those questions and I will post my answers later. As for the blog roll–I am not sure if this is the problem, but I noticed on a few of mine that I had saved the URL when I had clicked into a post. Then whenever I went back it always took me to that day rather than the newer posts–if that makes sense (I don’t think I am explaining well). Maybe just make sure it is the URL for the “homepage” of the blog (and that it doesn’t have any additional words attached that take you further into the blog). Of course maybe WordPress is just hiccuping, too. (By the way, I really loved Rebecca, too, but I was older when I read it–and too cool that you know Ali Smith!).

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  15. Great meme (which I borrowed)! I am puttng Book Meme-ing on my list of “Wish I Could Do This for a Living,” which includes: 1)naming lipsticks, 2) writing those movie encapsulations for cable TV, and 3)bartending at Cheers.

  16. Damn! I had just resigned myself to posting every 2-3 days, and now you provide me with this fabulous meme I want to immediately attack. Isn’t it funny how we’re all coming to the conclusion around the same time that we’d like to cut back on our blogging?

    Someone, other than I, could probably write an excellent fantasy novel about litblogging and the blogger being drawn into the worlds about which she/he is blogging. Anyone want to give it a go? I’d love to read it.

  17. I’ve been reading everyone’s memes and absolutely loving them – LK if you get a chance, can you link to me, as yours is one of the sites I can’t access and I’d really like to read your post. Many thanks too, for all the advice on the problem of access – it’s definitely blogger I’m having trouble with, and it does seem to get stuck at around the time when I added people to my blogroll. I’ll work through everyone’s suggestions and keep my fingers crossed. Mike – I came to poetry late and there are hundreds of poets I’ve never managed to read! And Barry – bless you.

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  20. Rebecca was THE book for me too and Tintagel was our holiday destination year after year when I was younger and long before it was commercialised, just one gift shop back then.My uncle owned a market garden there and we would spend our days on Bossinney Beach, Trebarwith and down in Merlin’s cave.The magic was most certainly there then.

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