Friday, 26 October 2012

Poeta, no cantes de la lluvia: haz llover

I have a new publisher in The Netherlands, Keff & Dessing: they are small but perfectly formed and they are passionate about what they do, which is just what I need.

One of the drawbacks of living in the bush is having to let some things go. In my case, that was the whole literary scene, contacts with publishers, and keeping my beady eye on things. Having said that, I should add that I have kept on writing (and writing).

Now I am back to where I started, turning up in Europe with a bundle of books to find homes for. Back in 1979 when I returned to Europe from the Venezuelan Andes, I was reluctant to let go of my mss because writing my early books had sustained me for years as a secret source of pleasure. I wrote in English surrounded by non-English speakers then; so I had no readers apart from my rather partisan mother to whom I would send snippets by post in letters that rarely arrived.

Email has changed all that, but I still write in English, in a village of mostly Portuguese and Macua speakers, which tends to keep my writing very private. And once again, whether through vanity or dotage, I am reluctant to send my new books out. In an ideal world, publishers will emerge miraculously (like Floortje Dessing did last July) and find me by the beach in Mossuril. And they'll take care of my new books while understanding how fragile and bereaved some writers feel during the transition from manuscript to going into print.

Once a book is published, I'm tough. I can bear the most heinous and personally mean reviews without flinching. But in that interrim stage, I cannot bear to equate writing with business or indifference.

Thus, I am delighted with both Keff & Dessing.

I am less than delighted with my laptop which has developed a mind of its own and seems to need a check-up with the PC Doctor. However, the idea of being separated  from it for 24 hours while I am still editing is too grim. It is the first time that I have an elderly laptop to work with. Most others get lost, stolen, sat on, or otherwise disabled long before this delinquent phase. There is a lot to be said for the portable 1948 Olivetti that kept me company for thirty years, and I wish I still had it.

Now that I have started writing in this birthday present blog, I have been wondering how best to use it. On the one hand, it seems to invite daily or weekly thoughts and ideas; but it is not a 'Dear Diary' type of vessel. one cannot confide (to the four walls of this world) as to a private diary. Nor can it be a coded notebook like, say, the notebooks that some writers keep. I hardly ever make notes, but I notice things and sometimes jot down cryptic messages to myself.

That wouldn't work here. Bruce Chatwin had some notebooks, for instance, from a trip to Brazil, with a mass of cyphers which he and only he could understand. Even when he spent hours going over the entries with me: they made no sense except to him, to jog his memory, not mine. I suppose the obvious conclusion must be that a blog is about sharing: it seems to be personal, but it isn't. So when something captures my imagination, inspires, pleases, or tickles me, this is the place to share it.

If I had a motto, it would be this:

"Poeta, no cantes de la lluvia: haz llover"

Which (translated from Aymaran) roughly translates from the Spanish as

'Poet, don't describe the rain: make it happen!' [make it rain]

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