process, Procrastinate, research, Uncategorized, Walk
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Windows, Light, Memory #1

Tonight I was supposed to be spending time with the third project but I could only think of the novel-in-progress, of one character in particular who keeps reinventing himself every time I want to write something new. All his ways of speaking, his voice the only thing I’m capable of writing at the moment. He never leaves me.

Better to leave words before they get you down. There was only one thing to do: I went into the night, went to find the things the corner of my eye might hold onto the longest, hoped some pattern would emerge so I could find my way back to the project/task at hand, tune into a voice I hadn’t been able to find for a few weeks.

After 30 minutes, a pattern: light and window, people living just beyond eyesight. The way dark leads you to memory and repetition. That’s when I heard the woman’s voice, the character that has evaded me for weeks. She was back. And she was thinking in memory, was living in them, had been lost in them. She was in the dark. It’s where she had been all along: I just hadn’t thought to look for her there. I realised in that moment that I don’t know this character half as well as I thought I did. My reasoning: if I did, I would’ve known where she’d been hiding…

I think about memory a lot, all the preoccupations I have with it when it comes to my own work. Always memory: either the loss of it or the repetition of one signifying moment over and over. Lately I have been trying to remember certain moments of my life but here’s nothing but blank space. Why is this? Why can’t I remember half my life at age sixteen but remember age five vividly?

Is there something about the third project that will help me unlock those blank spaces? Or am I just creatively tired and need a day off from writing? Sometimes I suspect I should only work on one project at a time…

The walk didn’t bring me any closer to a resolution for these question but a new path for the third project became clearer. And when I came home I reached for three books, opened pages randomly and somehow found passages that fit the pattern I’m trying to make:

“Often he would lie there the long night through, sleeping not a wink and just scrabbling for hours on the sofa. Or he would embark on the strenuous task of pushing an armchair over to the window and then crawling up to the sill, where propped on the chair he would lean against the window-panes, evidently inspired by some recollection of that sense of freedom that looking out of the window used to give him.”

The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka

I slid into my memories. Or rather, the memories (at least so it seemed to me) rose higher and higher in some space outside myself, until, having reached a certain level, they overflowed from that space into me, like water over the top of a weir.

Vertigo, W.G. Sebald

“Time,” says Jorge Luis Borges, “is the substance I am made of. Time is a river that carries me away, but I am the river.” Our movements, our actions, are extended in time, as are our perceptions, our thoughts, the contents of consciousness. We live in time, we organise time, we are time creatures through and through. But is the time we live in, or live by, continuous like Borge’s river? Or is it more comparable to a succession of discrete moments, like beads on a string?

The River of Consciousness, Oliver Sacks

This entry was posted in: process, Procrastinate, research, Uncategorized, Walk

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writer, observer, reader, procrastinator. My debut novel, See What I Have Done, published by Hachette (ANZ), Tinder Press (UK), Grove Atlantic (US), Piper Verlag (German), Editions Payot & Rivages (French), Hollands Diep (Dutch), Edizioni Piemme (Italian), GW Foksal (Polish), Palto Publishing (Turkish), MunhakDongne (Korean) SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE (Awards and Some Praise) WINNER OF THE ABIA LITERARY FICTION OF THE YEAR 2018 WINNER OF THE MUD LITERARY AWARD 2018 Longlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2018 Shortlisted for the Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction 2018 Shortlisted for the Strand Critics Awards for Best First Novel Longlisted for the ABIA Matt Richell Award for New Writers 2018 For the originality of its voice and the power of its language and imagery, See What I Have Done deserves to be considered a Gothic classic - THE SATURDAY PAPER See What I Have Done is a meticulously researched and boldly imagined book that crackles with tension throughout. Schmidt's portrayal of Lizzie is haunting and complex, a deeply psychological portrait that forces the reader to question their preconceptions about what women are capable of - for better and worse. Both disturbing and gripping, it is an outstanding debut novel about love, death and the lifelong repercussions of unresolved grief. - The Observer Schmidt is a consummate storyteller whose account of the Borden murders is utterly compelling. - Australian Book Review Schmidt's writing is rich and confident, painting a vivid portrait of a household with something rotten at its core. It's a strong debut that promises much from an original and compelling new voice in Australian literature. - The Guardian There are books about murder and there are books about imploding families; this is the rare novel that seamlessly weaves the two together, asking as many questions as it answers. - Kirkus Reviews [An] unforgettable debut ... Equally compelling as a whodunit, 'whydunit,' and historical novel. - Publishers Weekly Heralds the arrival of a major new talent ... Nail-biting horror mixes with a quiet, unforgettable power to create a novel readers will stay up all night finishing. - Booklist This novel is like a crazy murdery fever dream, swirling around the day of the murders. Schmidt has written not just a tale of a crime, but a novel of the senses. There is hardly a sentence that goes by without mention of some sensation, whether it’s a smell or a sound or a taste, and it is this complete saturation of the senses that enables the novel to soak into your brain and envelope you in creepy uncomfortableness. It’s a fabulous, unsettling book. —Book Riot Eerie and compelling, Sarah Schmidt breathes such life into the terrible, twisted tale of Lizzie Borden and her family, she makes it impossible to look away. —Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train

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