For a poet, used to fretting over lines and images for months, writing a novel in a year is a fascinating, not to say teeny-tiny bit terrifying challenge. I am enjoying it, though, and starting to really trust the process – there’s something immensely reassuring about the way the words flow onto the page, and one chapter springboards into another. Though I do need lots of wiggle breaks, and online research time to answer questions like ‘what is artificial meat grown in?’*, ‘are otters endangered in Anatolia?’** and ‘can renewables really provide for global energy needs?’*** I’m certainly in awe of those who write a novel in a weekend!
It was also reassuring to find a good foster home for an early chapter of the book. Subsequent drafts have already wrought changes in this growing girl, but if you’re curious about Astra, and can’t wait until 2014, she makes her debut this month here in MaMSIE: Studies in the Maternal, a journal from Birkbeck College. Many thanks to the editors for selecting the excerpt ‘Or Daughter’, and to Jo Fletcher Books for permission to print. Astra’s in some wonderful company, including unsettling fiction by Véronique Olmi and a study of primal imagery in women’s art by Pamela Turton-Turner. Check out ‘Baby’ by Rona Pondick, made from milk bottles, booties and something that looks remarkably like shit. I have to say that the intense ambivalence many mothers feel toward their children is one of the reasons I prefer birthing the fictional variety . . .
**No and yes. The European otter is a Not Threatened (NT) species in Turkey, but this is not as good as it sounds. NT means the species does not meet any of the criteria that would categorise it as risking extinction but it is likely to do so in the future.
***More on that next post.