Death of a Bookman – a series of essays/rants/exposes from a writer/translator/publisher who wants to burn bridges, dig up corpses and dissect done deals, all in the name of books for the 21st century.
Guest post from Kamila Pawluś, a poet / writer / translator, as part of the Writing Process Tour project:
I have barely began to blog, and already I’m invited to take part in the project Writing Process Tour, a sort of travelling magic circus which intends to reveal the secrets of the writers’ trade, by asking the sort of uncomfortable questions only a writer can ask of a colleague, or perhaps a publisher. The tour takes place across blogs, in many languages. Once I have exposed my self, laying bare the secrets of my own writing process, I will have to then point to three other magicians and their blogs. Oh yes!
What am I working on?
Most recently, I’ve mostly been working on trying to help tetra and paraplegics rise in the mornings, and then get back into bed at night. When I do manage to find some time for myself after work, I make notes for my blog, which helps me keep a record of the wild journey I am on at the moment. I am also translating a story by Marek Kazmierski, “Losing Light”, into Polish. The story is divided into hourly segments, covering just one day of its protagonist’s life, which is really helpful, as at the moment I find it hard to concentrate for any longer than an hour or so at a time. I am also writing new poems (strangely enough, in English!), am getting ready for academic sessions in June and am wondering how to find time to write two collections of short stories. One has already been started, rifled through and abandoned, something in the spirit of “Guguły” by Wioletta Grzegorzewska, just the setting different, Sanok in the 1980’s. And the second about the little disabled birds I am tending to here in the UK.
How Does My Work Differ From Others in its Genre?
In the past, when I used to write more poetry, and less prose, I would sweat myself silly trying to answer this. That it’s this, not that, that this line or influence in place of another. Now, I don’t see much sense in such digressions. For ages people have been telling each other stories, in all languages, in dance, in images. In this way they tame and overcome their own private experiences. Abandon childish egoism and enter the giant book co-written by runners and jabberers. Language is only a wave generated by Solaris. That which remains transmuted into colourful apparitions, that is my experience, observations, narratives. This is what I work with, but it is in no way unique.
Why do I write what I do?
There is a fairytale by the Brothers Grimm about a poor girl who is taken to heaven by Holy Mary, otherwise she’d die of hunger. Mary then fed, clothed, taught the girl. And when she was setting off for a journey, she left the keys to 77 doors in the heavenly palace. And she told the girl that she can open all of them, admiring the motions and harmonies of heavenly places, angels showing her round, all – except the 77th door. And how can I say this? I couldn’t stop myself. I opened the first 76, but my curiosity was too great to stop me there. Holy Mary didn’t have punishment waiting when she got back, she only sighed heavily and sent me back down to Earth mute, without a penny in my bank account, without a debit card or overdraft even. But because she is merciful, she let me keep my laptop, so that I could keep typing my little prayers out.
How does my writing process work?
It requires solitude, a separate room, a computer, internet access, a decent night’s sleep beforehand, and a few hours of peace the following day. It’s good to also experience something, see something, read or think about something else. It’s a furnace constantly demanding fuel, with me the stoker who can’t always afford more coal. It sometimes goes into a huff – recently, it’s turned its back on the Polish language, and only once we were the other side of the border did it forgive it. It sometimes dies down – I keep on knocking on its door, but there’s no one in. That’s when I feel truly lonely. Then it comes back, but it is never repentant. It’s a bit like a thoroughbred horse, which I keep in a neighbouring farm, because I can’t afford to do so on my own plot of land, constantly driving me into debts, both in terms of time and life.
DISCLAIMER: These texts are intended to stir up debate about some complex topics which are very important to us, not to stir up conflicts which are very displeasing to us. We know publishing won’t be revolutionised overnight, that change is a very slow process, but that instigating it sometimes demands a little radical thinking. Everything with a pinch of salt and a dollop of ice-cool calm, por favor.