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Tony Grist

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Begin Afresh, Afresh, Afresh [Apr. 28th, 2010|10:55 am]
Tony Grist

I got that feeling in my bones yesterday- that early springtime feeling- which goes (quoting Larkin) "Begin, afresh, afresh, afresh". It's nice to know it still comes to me- but hard to know what I'm supposed to be doing about it.

Once upon a time I used to go everywhere on foot. Now I'm very sedentary. But I'm trying to push the clock back by walking to the supermarket every couple of days. I don't want to turn into my grandmother- who spent her last decade, though still relatively fit, sitting in her Louis Quinze chair with her Daily Express and her cigarettes. Life is interesting, even with aching joints, and I don't ever want to get to the point where I no longer care.

Certain things have been taken away. I used to write poetry a lot. Now I rarely get the urge. I accept this. It's normal. Poetry is a young person's game. And I don't suppose I'll ever want to write fiction again. The novel is also for the young. Name me a great novel that was written by someone over 60. Bet you can't.  A novelist has to be in tune with the age- and the older person- however hard they try- no longer feels the pulse from the streets.

And that's partly because it's the work of old age to let go.  One builds up a presence in the world, one sits on one's heap, then one starts to divest. There's the art of holy living and there's the art of holy dying. Dying isn't something one only does at the end of one's life; it's something one should always be practising- and practising more assiduously as one ages. We come into the world....

Dee-dee-diddle-diddle-diddle-diddle-dee...

Sorry, I had to get up there to answer the phone. It was some chap with an Indian accent assuring me he wasn't going to offer me a loan, but merely wanted to share some information about his company's government sponsored programme.  I cut him off there. But he'd done his job; he'd stopped me from becoming maudlin and sententious.

So where was I? Yes, life goes on. It goes on until it stops.

linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: haikujaguar
2010-04-28 11:16 am (UTC)
Or perhaps life goes on until we stop. :)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-04-28 11:45 am (UTC)
That's why it's up to us to keep going as long as we can- and not (this is a line from a movie I think) encumber the earth.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2010-04-28 01:22 pm (UTC)
Life is interesting, even with aching joints, and I don't ever want to get to the point where I no longer care.


Precisely. No longer caring for me equals ready to die.

So, we'll not see more of Purchas?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-04-28 01:31 pm (UTC)
No, I don't believe we will.

However, I have revised the books and sometime soon I mean to post the revisions over at Purchas's blog. The changes aren't major- but they smooth out the plot- which I was improvising- and get rid of inconsistencies.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2010-04-28 01:47 pm (UTC)
I will read any new and improved version you post!
:)
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[User Picture]From: purchas
2010-04-28 03:34 pm (UTC)
Thanks to your prompting the work is now underway!

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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2010-04-28 08:42 pm (UTC)
Glad to be the prompter!
:)
I'll be looking forward to it.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-04-28 01:41 pm (UTC)
どうする?
翌日もコーディネーターに来てもらう?
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[User Picture]From: mummm
2010-04-28 01:58 pm (UTC)
There must be some older novelists, there MUST, though most of the greatest ones apparently died young...
Be an artist now... start painting! There is no age limit to that!
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[User Picture]From: purchas
2010-04-28 03:36 pm (UTC)
I used to paint, but then I ran out of ideas....

It's true, though, great painters seem to go on and- and get better and better. I've often wondered why that is
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From: ex_redrain
2010-04-28 05:01 pm (UTC)
Have you seen those people who do the painting a day blogs? Maybe there might be some inspiration to be found there?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-04-28 07:22 pm (UTC)
I know my limitations as a painter. To put it bluntly, I'm not very good. Besides, I don't have the urge.
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From: ex_redrain
2010-04-28 02:25 pm (UTC)
And I always thought some of the best poetry came from those in their 50s and 60s.

As for novels, maybe Vonnegut's Timequake? He was 75.
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[User Picture]From: purchas
2010-04-28 03:39 pm (UTC)
I've read a bit of Vonnegut, but not that one. I must put it on my list.
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From: ex_redrain
2010-04-28 05:03 pm (UTC)
It took me a second to realize who you are!
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[User Picture]From: purchas
2010-04-28 07:14 pm (UTC)
Whoops, yes. I've been tinkering with the Purchas books. I'd forgotten I was signed in over there.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2010-04-28 04:48 pm (UTC)
Indeed! Who was it said no one ever wrote a decent novel before the age of 40? Which strongly implies that people get better and better.

There have in fact been highly acclaimed novelists who didn't publish their first novels until quite late on in life and novelists certainly keep on going. Ah, I've finally remembered the name I was groping for -- Mary Wesley!
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From: ex_redrain
2010-04-28 05:04 pm (UTC)
Ahah! That was the quote I remembered but didn't have a source for it. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2010-04-29 08:16 am (UTC)
Well, I still can't find a source for the "over 40" quote, but there are many novelists who didn't publish their first books until they were over 50 or even 60, in the case of Daniel Defoe.

In fact writing, unlike many other careers, is one in which you are never too old to be successful because ultimately, it's the novel you're selling, not you and writing a story doesn't involve heavy lifting. :)
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2010-04-29 08:40 am (UTC)
Another writer who achieved her greatest success late in life was Edith Pargeter. She was a prolific writer, but didn't really become well known until she wrote the Brother Cadfael series (using the pen name Ellis Peters), the first of which was published when she was 64 and the final one nearly 20 years later.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2010-04-28 04:55 pm (UTC)
I feel honour bound now to find some writers who were producing their best work over 60. Give me some time to work it out!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-04-28 07:19 pm (UTC)
I'll be interested to see who you come up with.
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[User Picture]From: negothick
2010-04-28 10:00 pm (UTC)
Dostoevsky wrote The Brothers Karamazov in the last year of his life, but he died just before reaching the age of 60.
I thought Tolstoy qualified, but he did his great work in his 50s, though he lived to be 82.

Would you consider "time inflation"--many older novelists did fine work in their 50s, the equivalent of today's 60s.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-04-29 08:18 am (UTC)
I'd only accept time inflation if it could be shown that today's great novelists are doing their best work in their 60s- and I don't believe they are. :)
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From: jorrocks_j
2010-04-29 01:18 am (UTC)

What the Bird Said Early in the Year

I heard in Addison's Walk a bird sing clear
'This year the summer will come true. This year. This year.

'Winds will not strip the blossoms from the apple trees
This year, nor want of rain destroy the peas.

'This year time's nature will no more defeat you,
Nor all the promised moments in their passing cheat you.

'This year they will not lead you round and back
To Autumn, one year older, by the well-worn track.

'This year, this year, as all these flowers foretell,
We shall escape the circle and undo the spell.

'Often deceived, yet open once again your heart,
Quick, quick, quick, quick!--the gates are drawn apart.'

--C. S. Lewis
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2010-04-29 08:20 am (UTC)

Re: What the Bird Said Early in the Year

Yes, that's the feeling.
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