Today is Artistic Wednesday, and this morning I finished the first draft of another ghost story. That makes seven since I began the exercises in Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. On one of my "Artist's Dates", the Inner Child and I went to our favourite bookshop, Blackwells on the South Bridge, and bought a rather pricey but utterly beautiful journal, with the understanding that I would not waste it but fill it up with stories. So far, so good.
My writing schedule is now like this:
1.Wake up as early as possible.
2. Write three pages of random thoughts, ending with affirmations about what a fantabulous writer I am, etc.
3. Write at least three pages of fiction.
4. Check Facebook and email. (Optional)
5. Blog. (But not necessarily on Sundays.)
My other artistic task for the day is to read a single page of Henryk Sienkiewicz's children's novel, "W pustyni i w puszczy" (In Desert and Wilderness), which faithful readers are possibly tired of reading about. However, if you are like me, you have spent years (possibly decades) promising yourself to get around to reading foreign language novels, and you never do. So perhaps you will inspired by your Auntie who, after not finishing a novel--or even a Tintin comic--in French, Italian and German, managed to get through Harry Potter i Kamien Filosoficzny, and most of Harry Potter i Komnata Tajemnica before becoming utterly bored with Harry's stupid crush on Tom Riddle. Now I have graduated to proper Polish book, and it is way hard.
Although I love to do (intellectual) things that people who tell me are too hard, I am a born quitter, and so I have to brainwash myself into not quitting. The way I have so far managed not to give up on super-hard Sienkiewicz is to write the date on the bottom of every page when I finish it. The threatened shame of not being able to write "8 VII" on the bottom of today's page will make me read it if the plot doesn't.
The other brainwashing device is to write "Studiuję codziennie żeby móc biegle mówić po polsku" at the end of my daily affirmations. This means, "I study everyday in order to become fluent at speaking Polish." It is not strictly true, and actually the best way to become fluent in Polish is to speak Polish, not read it, but never mind that for now. The point is that I have read 20 pages of WPIWP, so yay, brainwashing!*
Reading one page of a book a day is a rather new experience for me although I suppose when I was six or so, that would have been all I could manage. Normally my eye races over the page, and this is probably why my writing tends to be "fast-paced." I am all about plot and conversation, and not so much about description. I used to skip over whole chunks of L.M. Montgomery's effusions about apple blossoms. Snore. However, now that I am reading only one page of the equally descriptive Sienkiewicz, I am forced to contemplate his settings in detail, in part because I have to look up dozens of his words in the Polish-English half of a dictionary.
Although previously I have had no interest in what the environs around the Suez Canal looked like in 1884, I sure know now. Where no water reached, there was "wrinkled sand" which looked like the "bottom of the ocean" with all the water, fish, etc, scooped out, and where water reached, there was lush vegetation and flamingos that looked like "great pink and purple blossoms." The Arab children--according to Sienkiewicz--sucked sugarcane "from morning to night," thus attracting clouds of eye-disease carrying flies. The camel drivers whom I suspect will kidnap Staś and little Nell stood in the bright December 23 moonlight "like white columns", and their eyes glittered.
Whereas it is a discipline to read one page of real literary Polish a day, it would be a discipline also to read no more than one page of real literary English a day. I will have to try that, too, and see what I learn. But what book should I pick? What do you think? What would be a good book to study, one page a day, to learn the author's craft?
*Meanwhile, I took a vow not to quit Polish before five years are up. I am coming to the end of four, and so I have one year to go. However, I do not want to quit before I have the ability to biegle mówić , so the sooner I can do the immersion course, the better.