The sorcery of scribbling
In a blog, many moons ago, I wrote about the creation of The Azimuth Trilogy. I was fascinated by the act of writing myself into knowledge. Since I had placed the novel in ancient times and wasn’t a historian, everything in the books came from my imagination. When I had finished the thousand or so pages I became suddenly concerned that the work would be embarrassing. What if I got my facts wrong so badly that I would be a laughing stock? So I checked. It was amazing that my sure-footed imagination had dredged from somewhere a whole world that had truly existed. In incredible detail. You can search through the early blogs on writing to flesh it out but the basic tenet is that writers can be conduits to the shared experience of homo sapiens. Mystics call it channeling but the term may a bit too mystical for me.
Then, only two or three blogs ago, I wrote about the mysterious experience of finding myself in Ghana and how some imperative had drawn me there, despite myself. It consisted of a series of synchronous events, spread over time, strange in themselves; portents, if you will.
I am experiencing much the same again. I discovered the delights of the OCR recently. This is computer software that recognizes scans of printed pages and turns them into editable word files. Now, in my writer’s war chest, I have a number of novels. I always wrote even when leading a reasonably fulfilling academic career as a research professor. It was a necessary complement to the less glamorous life I was leading.
When I finished my novel earlier this year about a super-heroine in a dystopian future Britain, A Woman Who Kills, I turfed out one of these novels. It was typed and legible enough for the OCR. Three days later I had transcribed it into a word file. It is called Middle Ages and deals with the vicissitudes of a group of overweight women and their husbands in Norwich, England. Middle class angst. A dark comedy of manners. Coming eventually to a kindle near you. Or a shop. What is completely engrossing is that I hardly remember writing it, have no idea of the plot and find it a real revelation of life and mores in the early 1980s. It stands up as a sociological exposé of those Thatcherian days. But (segwaying back to the beginning of this blog) what is truly occult is that the names of the characters, chosen at random when I was writing, have all become key names among my friendships and associations, developed in the years long after the book was finished. Not only that but all the issues about being overweight for a woman are headlines in the media.
And, of course, those who are following these blogs would know that I married someone four years ago, Helen Teague, who designs clothes for large women and is in partnership with Dawn French the comedienne and writer. Imagine me, therefore, editing this novel, written by a former self some thirty years ago and finding in its pages, all sorts of foretellings of what has since come to pass. Creepy or what?