Posted by: stelladuffy | May 5, 2009

bands/Camden/du Maurier/Highsmith/goths/time-wasting-me-time

lacking time for cogent thought, so instead of saying meaningful things about writing/politics/lgbt/creativity, here’s a few random thoughts that may or may not include meaning :

Very much enjoyed seeing nephew-in-law’s band NQTS in Camden last night. I usually loathe Camden, all that faux-coolness and tourist-trap grunge/gothery, but had a remarkably enjoyable time in spite of myself. And in spite of being about twice the age of most of the audience. Tequila helped.

A prize – not sure what, but a prize – to the person who can tell me how Goth (the blonde Ostrogoth/Visigoth warrior-types of antiquity), became Gothic (dark, brooding, overblown), became Goth (too much eyeliner and black clothes). Parts 2 to 3 not so hard to see, but parts 1 to 2 all suggestions welcome.

Why are young girls wearing big t-shirts and leggings? Why did we wear big t-shirts and leggings? Who can we shoot for the leggings?

Daphne du Maurier does very good short story, doesn’t she? Am overdosing on DdM short stories prior to the panel this weekend at du Maurier Festival in Fowey and loving them. Today’s favourite – Ganymede. Oh the hidden anger, the darkness, the use of the word ‘unsavoury’. Mmmm

Has anyone written about a du Maurier/Highsmith connection? There feels like such a strong link to me,in tone, in undercurrent, in suppressed/repressed sexuality/desire. There are national differences of course, but I think the links are bigger than the gaps.

I’m getting my hair done today. I have not had my hair cut/coloured for ages. This is partly because the cost (good hairdresser, great colourist) makes me shudder, but much much more because it takes FOREVER! How on earth do those women cope who get their hair done all the time/once a week/once a month? It’s so damn boring. And there’s so much work I could be doing. When friends suggest a spa day I always find reason to decline – I love a good strong deep-tissue massage as much as the next arthritic hyper-mobile, once-was-dancer/gymnast, but after the massage, what do you DO? Read those awful magazines? Lie down in a too-warm room with strangers? Sleep? When there’s so much life to be lived? (and er … why?)

Ongoing : piece about Highsmith’s Carol for 50 recommended LGBT books anthology, Medea edit for Steam Industry production in summer, a (very) little might mentoring for a devised theatre project on Katherine Mansfield, photoshoot & interview with John Harvey for ‘How We Met’ press thing (with shiny new hair – me, not John), plus press trip to Montreal next week (My First Press Trip – yay!).

And very very ongoing – breath held for further Current Book 1 possibilities, planning to start Book 2 in June. And entirely convinced have forgotten How to Write Books. (Still feeling superstitious about discussing New Book much, which is bit crazy really as agent has sent it out all over, and it has a UK/Virago pub date for next year … but it still feels a little precious & new, and too big an idea, too big a departure, to be very public with yet. Soon.)

Plus : potatoes doing brilliantly (above ground anyway), peas, carrots and courgettes coming along nicely too. Cherry tree has lots of potential fruit, now to stop the birds/ants/anything else eating them before they ripen. Your tips for stopping black fly devouring pretty much anything (organic pest spray not particularly effective) very welcome.

That is all.


  1. 1. Can’t help you with the Goths.

    2. Big t-shirts and leggings. Currently, and probably due to Bolly Knickers and the Gene Genii in ‘Ashes to Ashes’, the 1980s are in Vogue… or should that be ‘en’ Vogue… We sell a lot of thin, loose vest tops at work in our teen section. I wore leggings in the mid-nineties and was an unfortunate chubby, mis-shapen kid – I wish I’d stayed away from them.

    3. Haircuts. I get them to cut it to make it look like I’ve had a cut and dye it myself for a fiver. Bish bosh… Although nothing like the yummy smell of hair salon products.

    4. Pre-writing jitters. I’ve found I’m slowly getting over mine with a calming dose of research and character building. Also a good stash of Milkybar buttons helps.

    5. Ants? You’ll have to sit by tree and pick them off – squash or re-home them, your choice.

  2. stella, don’t tell my girlfriend/wife (if she would agree to marry me and if it were legal in this godforsaken backwater of the antipodes …..) but I do declare I love you!🙂 …..

  3. @ Alice : character building? is that like writing lists of who they are and what they do? never done that. on a second book of 2 (or maybe it’s going the be 3) I know the characters more or less by now (and will happily go for less so can be surprised during writing) – it’s more the actual, ‘oh, you mean I have to wrte 500+ words a day now? every day? about the SAME THING???” that’s scaring me …!
    – those ants are so dying

    @ Hels xxx (don’t tell my wife either) also, keep using word wife (if that’s how you feel). Until the decision-makers/meddlers grow up and allow us to use ‘marriage’/’wife’, we will co-opt the words – which were stolen by church and religion anyway – and make them ours. Hmm, I feel a blog rant coming on …

  4. I’m just looking at this year’s fashion and wondering how I’m supposed to wear it done here in Devon , I mean what goes over or under what? I look like Max Wall in leggings so never did them, but then I just think of all that 70’s stuff I threw away and I just can’t bear to buy it all over again. I think that’s me and fashion done with, knew it would happen one day.

  5. sorry that should be ‘down here’.

  6. I saw shoulder pads today. on t-shirts. in shops where real people go to buy brand new clothes. it’s very very scary out there. needless to say, I will not be shoulder-padding it in Fowey.

  7. We used to find that a Pampers stuck in each shoulder did us proud for those NHS meetings with managers who could only just get in the door for their upholstery.

  8. Writing Character biographies – I have to know lots before I start (the research element in me, I was a History student once), I end up with a cast of 3d people (even rip out pictures from magazines so I can envisage them). I admit 80% of the info never gets used, but it doesn’t half help further down the line when you’re rewriting and need a little detail here and little detail there. I can see though that if your characters are going to appear in a sequel than, you can just sort of carry on.

    Research/ Planning takes a good couple of months, I’ve got to have a foundation before I build the house. Next month, I’m coming up to London on a research trip to get a feel for the areas where my characters live (I’ve updated on Tartcity), as I haven’t been for a while. I shall have my camera and notebook close to hand!

    Oddly enough, perhaps it’s being trapped in a shop, when I sit down to write I never say “I’m going to write X number of words” – I just write until I have to go to bed. Last novel, never counted the words as I went along, because I write by hand so I can give myself time to think (I’ve never been able to sit down at the computer and just write long pieces of prose; I’m in awe of people who can, but until then I shall continue to feed my stationery addiction). My first major type up on the computer, I was very pleasantly surprised when I hit ‘Word Count’.

    Shoulder Pads! NOOOOOOOOO…. I shall warn the ladies at work. We shall saboutage any that come our way and put an end to this crazee fashion.

  9. Wow, I’ve never really understood the planning thing – I’m sure I’d be too bored to write the book if it was all planned out. And I know the one time I did plan something, it turned into such a different book in the end. for me the first draft is that time of finding out what it is, where it goes, then the work is in the re-write.
    I do wonder if for some people it isn’t just another form of procrastination (not you of course, Alice!) I’ve lost count of the number of people who tell me (and sadly, almost always unpublished writers in workshops) that they’ve planned two or three books, but never actually finished one!

  10. I do know that ‘gothic’ was originally used as a derogatory term to describe pre-renaissance architecture (by the renaissance crowd) because the goths sacked Rome in the 5th century, and that was not deemed to be a good thing, so everything ‘gothic’ was ugly and brutish.

    I personally am a sucker for a good gargoyle, but stacker boots and felt-tip eyeliner, less so.

  11. I did a thorough job planning the last one and as I went along I knew the bits I’d planned that weren’t going to work, so just ditched them.
    I procrastinate about many things, but not when it comes to writing. I always try, as they say, “to find closure”. I finished the last novel being able to walk away whistling a breezy tune, happy and safe in the knowledge I’d given these people life and they could just carry on living without me – a sort of literary ‘Mary Poppins’ figure that’s me!

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