Welcome to my new website!

Yup. It’s finally up and running after years of promising myself to consolidate everything in one place. First of all, huge thanks go to Chris for all his work on the site—and patience with my endless dithering. If you want to hear some really colourful swearing, just ask him how many colour changes the headers have gone through!

Then there’s Ioan, the Welsh actor who’s taken on the enormous task of reading and recording Corvus in its entirety for the podcasts—all forty-eight chapters and 526 pages. Like Chris, he’s not earning a pence for the hours and hours (and still more hours) of work involved.

I’m continually astounded, and humbled, by the generosity of people I’ve never met, people who share a commitment to online literature. Why do we do it? Perhaps because there’s a revolution in the making. As Fabio says towards the end of Corvus:

‘… it’s a rare and wonderful privilege to witness a major paradigm shift. Believe me, right now I wouldn’t be anywhere else in the scheme of things.’

I still haven’t decided—more dithering—whether I’ll continue to blog as frequently as I used to. It’s an awful distraction, and I’m thinking of limiting myself to a monthly newsletter, with the occasional post when the urge to rant overwhelms my good sense. (What good sense? my kids are sure to ask.) On the other hand, a blog is a handy place to store all those bits of writing you come across and want to remember, and in fact ought to memorise, if only your grey cells would cooperate—a sort of commonplace book. And if you’re anything like me, that way you can actually find the passages again, thanks to the search function.

Well, we’ll have to see. At the moment I’m working on a new short story, but it’s slow going. Despite a fairly clear concept of what I’m after, and a growing sense of its overall shape and weight, I’m struggling with my technical limitations and with a tendency to rely on my old tricks.

There is great satisfaction in craft, but it can obscure a lack of what writer Tim O’Brien calls ‘gravitas or thematic weight’. Diana Athill puts it this way in Somewhere Towards the End:

It is not the artist’s skill that works the spell, charming though it is in Bouts’s case [Madonna nursing the Child] and awe-inspiring in della Francesca’s [Nativity]. It is the selflessness of such art that is magnetic, as it is in a Chinese bronze of the Buddha, a medieval wood-carving of an angel, or an African mask. The person making the object wasn’t trying to express his own personality or his own interpretation of appearances; he was trying to represent something outside himself for which he felt the utmost respect, love or dread–to show us this wonderful thing as well as he possibly could. How the purity of this intention makes itself felt in the artefact I don’t understand, but it does.