Julia’s Diary

Thursday 23rd January

—23/01/2003

January seems rather busy. I’m never sure if being busy is a good thing. I try hard to relax, and I must have tried just about every form of complimentary medicine that exists. My main form of relaxation at the moment is looking at brochures of spas and amazing hotels, though I rarely go to any of them. I have acupuncture too. I find it really works. And I have an awful lot of baths at this time of year. But I’m still too hyperactive and find it very hard to do nothing. I think it’s quite an art.

What I like best is going to places where I have no domestic responsibility. I’d be happy writing in a hotel!

This weekend I’m going to London to take part in Front Row, or maybe it’s called Saturday Review on Radio Four. I’m looking forward to opining on various films and books. I’ve been listening to Lou Reed’s latest cd, which I really like. He’s quite a role model for the older rock star I think…still very original.

Otherwise, I’m reading Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain and enjoying it immensely.

More later…

Friday 17th January

—17/01/2003

In my last entry I spelt epithany wrong…but am I spelling it right now?I am filled with that vague uneducated feeling. I’m learning how to spell all the time. This is what happens when you leave school at fifteen and think you know everything. I am always trying to catch up. I really enjoyed doing an MA because I got MARKS for writing, and this is something you never get in the real world. I also found that I could enjoy writing essays and that it wasn’t so difficult as scholary types like to make out. I am rather missing being educated, and fancy doing another course. For years I felt outside the education system. I grew up in an atmosphere of learning, in the centre of a public school where my father taught. There were boys with gowns everywhere, flapping about, knowing everything. As a teenager I slouched amongst them, chewing gum, trying to be streetwise, which I wasn’t. I went to art college in the end, where it didn’t matter if you couldn’t do joined up writing, and oddly, that’s when I started wanting to be a writer.

I’m about to do loads of readings. For the past year or two I haven’t been doing any readings at all, partly because of health and fears of having a funny turn somewhere like Barrow in Furness, and also because I’ve been doing so much theatre and actors can read my words so much better than I can. But it’s about to start all over again, as I’ve got loads of poetry gigs now I have a new collection to read from…oh eek…it’s very exposing reading poetry, like tearing oneself apart in public. And I get a bizarre stammer on words beginning with M and A…and wierdly these new poems are choc a bloc with such words. What was I thinking? I’ll probably find myself reading from the novel too later in the year..at least with prose if you see a tricky word coming you can change the sentence…but you can’t do that with poems. The answer might be to sing the poems, rather than speak them…like Gareth Gates! Oh well…if I can’t stand the heat I had better leave the kitchen.

I’m going to be on Front Row…or that other Radio Four review programme. We’re recording on 24th Jan, so it will be sometime after that. I’ll put it on the website. That will be fun..luckily I don’t stammer on the radio!

Monday 6th Jan

—06/01/2003

Epiphany. When everything comes together. In a short story it’s the most exciting bit, when all the fragments of the story come together in an electrifying blaze of ideas. Still, it’s a very hard thing to explain. I’m not sure novels have the same thing. In a novel it’s more like a slow gathering of power as events gather together into one big wave. I’m reading Anita Shreve (have I spelt that right?). It’s absolutely gripping…a novel called ‘When We Last Met.’ It’s not my usual cup of tea…a heterosexual love story…but the writing is exquisite, and like all good writing, almost invisible, so that you can really live in the book as you are reading it. It really gathers power and is immensely satisfying to read. Someone gave it to me for Christmas, and now I shall read all her books.

One of my New Year’s Res’s is to read a new poem everyday, and to listen to what poets are saying. There are so many good ideas in poetry. I’m doing it alphabetically, starting with Armitage, Abse and allnut. I am also going to stop watching crap programmes on tv about success and failure, and abandon mass culture. This year I shall do all my shopping in small independent shops, buy books from small presses, listen to music produced in back rooms, and like the novelist Toby Litt said in the guardian, always put humans before inanimate things like mobile phones, tvs, cars, even nice views.

I’m happily working on the novel, lost in the world of it. I’m also writing some song lyrics. I’m not very good at tunes, but I love working with tune writers.

Probably about 30th Dec 2002, but who knows?

—30/12/2002

After Christmas is quite a delirious time. I’m never quite sure what to do. I’ve cleared up all the Christmas cards. I would quite like to live in a white box for a while. It’s a good time for reading. This Christmas I read Jonathon Coe’s The Rotter’s Club, which I’d started before and lost interest. This time I ploughed on, and I really enjoyed it. Books are often like that I suppose. There’s a right moment for each story. Anyway the Rotter’s Club is all about the seventies and reel to reel tape recorders, and caring about politics. I was always walking about with a banner in the seventies even when I was about twelve. The only thing about it is I felt there were several unanswred questions which I think Coe intends to answer in the sequel, but which I find I can’t stop thinking about now. I don’t really like sequels.

Then I read Jackie Kay’s Straw Girl, her first book for children. I loved it. It’s full of sweet smelling cows and suffering and bravery. It’s a fantastic read, and I’m going to give it to every child I know. Then, still feeling childlike, I read The Masters of The Slavery, which is the second book in a trilogy by William Nicholson. Last Christmas I read The Wind Singer. I liked the first book better. This one is rather war like, and reminded me of Gladiator, which he also wrote. I’m not really an action/fighting-loving sort of reader. His books are full of interesting ideas though, about power and societies etc. What shall I read now? A L Kennedy perhaps. Then I think I’ll read Middlemarch. And lots of poetry.

I hope all my diary readers had a lovely time. I wonder what 2003 will bring? I’m looking forward to a peaceful writing year and hoping they’ll be no wars, internally or externally or anywhere really.

Mental Christmas Cards

—19/12/2002

This year I am sending cards telepathically to many friends….here it comes….ZIP!

I have finished everything and now I’m going off on holiday to a house by the sea. I hope everyone who visits this site has a brilliant time at Christmas, and let’s hope there’s no wars in 2003.

best wishes and glittery thoughts. Julia

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