Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Report from London: 3

I’m into my third month on a home exchange in London and time has raced by with breathtaking speed, even during the rainiest April in 100 years. I brought a lot of work-in-progress with me, but there is too much to do here! And in the midst of new places and culture blitzes creeps the question – is there a book here?

Searching For That Next Book

I drove north to Yorkshire for a school visit at the Driffield Infant School (ages 4-7, preK-2) and met adorable children, who acted out Katje the Windmill Cat in Yorkshire accents. On the drive home, listening to BBC Radio (great stuff!) I heard a documentary about an Elizabethan composer who could possibly feature in a sequel to my Shakespeare novel…. Long shot, that.

David Hockney’s stupendous show of landscapes at the Royal Academy – what about a biography? Thankfully he’s still alive and kicking and reinventing himself every few years.  His mother lived to be 101, and so he’s a mere stripling at 75, and we’ve got time for a few more Hockney incarnations. A biography would be out of date before it was published.

Dickens is 200 this year.  I heard a wonderful lecture by his great great granddaughter and biographer, Lucinda Hawksley.  Too late for me to cash in on the bicentenary.

I’ve spent lots of time and money attending Chelsea football matches, leaving no time to research the history of women’s football. BTW, Chelsea are the Champions of Europe!

Then a holiday from my vacation. I just returned from eleven days in Turkey.  Days filled with shopping, visiting ancient mosques, one blissful evening lolling about at a hamam (traditional Turkish bath,) as well as eating three delicious vegetarian meals a day. But no story ideas until we visited the ancient ruins at Ephesus where I remembered a story I wrote many years ago…. Time for its resurrection?

Then there was a television documentary (love that BBC!), with related material seen a few days later at a nearby palace, and a library search for relevant books.  A day-trip to Oxford and lunch with a colleague who suggested a visit to the Royal Archives. And I may just have a story. An upstairs/downstairs sort of story with conflict, pathos, and humor. I’m onto it.

Meanwhile my works-in-progress are languishing over in the corner, buried in a pile of books, so I won’t hear them crying for attention.  Many writers would agree, I think, that new projects are ever-so-much more fun than old ones. This condition is called Research Rapture.

Talking About the Weather
During that rainiest-April-in-a-hundred-years, it didn’t just rain all day.  Each day began in brilliant sunshine with glorious white clouds, which grew grayer and gathered thickly as the hours passed, then emptied onto the city streets, followed by clearing skies until the sun shone brilliantly again. Then the clouds gathered again…. repeating the cycle two or three times every day!

And I thought, isn’t that just like the weather of our writing lives – from sunshine, to gloom, to downpour and back again, sometimes on a daily basis. At  the moment, the sun is shining!

PS: Here's a wall seen on a major shopping promenade in Istanbul.


Loreen Leedy said...

Any idea whose rules they want to break? Reminds me of a tourism campaign for Florida a few years ago...The Rules are Different Here...yikes!

Gretchen Woelfle said...

Nope, I don't know the rules in Turkey. But right down the street from the sign was a small plaza that had a different group of protesters each time I walked by.