This blog contains book reviews, comments on interesting things and a smattering of self promotion. Enjoy.

Friday, 5 March 2010

My Own Personal Porlock.

When it comes to historical fiction writers differ greatly in their methods. Some research their subject and period meticulously, others prefer to trust their imaginations and, well, make it all up. Both methods are perfectly valid, although the latter relies on at least some prior knowledge and common sense. Generally I would probably fall slap bang in the middle of the two extremes, but recently, as I was working on a biographical piece on Samuel Taylor Coleridge for uni, I thought I should put a little bit more effort into research.

I was pleasantly surprised to find it actually quite interesting. Coleridge wasn't the most active of the Romantic Poets. He didn't elope to Switzerland with a young mistress, like Shelley, or have sex with almost everybody and then die in the Greek war of independence, like Byron. Hell, even Wordsworth visited revolutionary France and fathered an illegitimate child before he took to writing about daffodils. Coleridge on the other hand seemed to have spent the majority of his life talking or reading philosophy. Yes, he was addicted to opium, but so it seems was everyone else. Why then did I choose to write about him? I suppose mainly because Kublah Khan is one of my favorite poems.

Anyway, a week or so ago I was sat in the branch of Costa inside Waterstones on New Street, Birmingham. Bookshops are of course my natural habitat, and this particular one is situated in an old bank building, which makes it particularly interesting. I was quite happy, drinking my latte and making notes on William Hazlitt's My First Acquaintance with the Poets, sad as it is I could have spent the whole day in this manner. I felt like a 'real' writer. Added to that, I was actually finding some useful information, with in a couple of hours I felt as if, if I could just sit at my laptop, my work would just splurge fully formed onto the keyboard. Unfortunately it was not to be. I had to go to work.

I work at the Odeon, again on New Street. After spending the morning in the aforementioned manner, doing screen checks on the deeply irritating Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: The Squeekual comes as something as a culture shock. But more irritatingly, it meant I had to wait before I could start my work, and when I did the moment had gone, and it my splurge was, pardon the disturbing imagery, constipated. There's probably a moral in this story somewhere, but what it is remains ambiguous.

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