This Week: Plotting And Swearing

Rose and Pistachio cake

This week:

* I continued to read Patricia Highsmith’s Plotting And Writing Suspense Fiction, which is first-rate and should be of value to any fiction writer; just about any work of fiction needs to take into consideration pacing and suspense.

* I read Nina Stibbe’s Man At The Helm: ooooo, good. Funny yet dark, and I love her swearing. We must use all the words. (We must ditch the idea of offence.)

* I watched RuPaul in bed with Joan Rivers (again!) for further reinforcement in my belief in swearing; hear him describe his mother. (We must use all the words, etc.) (We miss you, Joan.)

* I despaired of trolls of various types. (We must learn from history, use all the words, ditch the idea of offence.) In reading discussions about Charlie Hebdo and Ron Silliman’s defence of Vanessa Place earlier this month, I found myself more passionately in favour of freedom of speech than I ever expected.

* I remember seeing Salman Rushdie speak in Boulder once. He said, ‘The right to be an asshole is part of the first amendment.’ To which I might add, thinking about conceptual writing: ‘The right to disappear up your own asshole is also part of the first amendment.’

* I contemplated the end of my Facebook holiday after reading this response from Mariella to a letter about the glossy self-editing of social media.

* I was horrified to hear how they’re teaching writing to kids in the schools! Maybe we should ditch the idea of a National Curriculum entirely, and teach kids in the manner of the school where Tilda Swinton sends hers.

* I read the #Charlestonsyllabus (though not all the books on it – yet …) and thought how history must be the most important subject to teach in schools (truths + critical thinking + writing + civics).

* I agreed that historical fiction doesn’t only have to be realist.

* I watched the pilot of The Man In The High Castle.

* I flew a rainbow flag instead of a Confederate one.

* With my American friends, I celebrated same-sex marriage finally being recognised across the USA. Not before time!

A good writing experiment: writing a syllabus for a cause of your own or a school of your own creation.

Garden inspiration of the week: pictures of this tiny but beautiful urban garden in Stoke Newington.

Earthly pleasure of the week: I followed a fantastic recipe for a yogurt and apricot loaf cake (I added half a grated Bramley apple, rose petals, chopped apricots soaked in rosewater, hazelnuts and pistachios, as well as cinnamon – and probably something else or two …). See pic above.

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