Suffering a brain haemorrhage and a head injury that leaves you with double vison and the inability to concentrate on the written word, all be it temporarily, is probably the worse things that can happen to a writer and photographer. Let’s face it here is only so much Bargain Hunt and Antiques Road Trip that one person can stand in a month.
Recovery is slow and the continuing double vision has rather stymied the photography but now the brain can handle longer sentences I am back reading again. I have recently completed the advanced creative writing module of an open university course and my final assignment was to complete the first 4000 words of a novel. During the assignment my tutor suggested that I read the first 4000 words or 20 novels; a task that slowed down the writing but hopefully improved the standard.
Occasionally I meet writers who claim not to be readers but having the completed two creative writing modules and read or spoken to a lot of writers the most common piece of advice is to read. Not just your favourite genre but everything – good and bad.
I recently watched the Bolshoi ballet’s production of A Hero of Our Time as a live broadcast in Cinema City in Norwich. This mesmerizing production led me to seek out a copy of Mikhail Lermontov’s original book (translated by Vladimir and Dimitri Nabokov).
Originally published in 1840 A Hero of Our Time recounts the adventures of a Russian military officer Pechorin as he travels through the Caucuses as told through other traveller’s notes and his personal journals. Pechorin has been described as a Byronic antihero whose cynical, nihilistic attitude manifests itself in the emotional manipulation he works on others, especially women. Thia stems from a sense of boredom and being a ‘superfluous man’ (Winter 2010). A concept that is still relevant to todays world.
You can also find the whole thing free online if you are either too mean to buy a copy and/or are able to stomach reading 100,000 words on you lap top or tablet.