Sorry to have been away. Putting on this show is really exhausting. It is not exactly fun either – the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is really scarey, because with competing shows numbered in five figures, just letting people know you exist is a struggle. Actually the Edinburgh Fringe is in one sense a good example of an absolutely thriving, vibrant and creative artistic event – arguably the best in the world – in which the great majority of what is going on is nothing to do with taxpayers’ money. I am sorry to say I an almost entirely against taxpayer spending on what some officially sanctioned fool has decided constitutes worthy art.
One great pleasure of Nadira’s involvement in this project has been meeting Stella Duffy. I knew of her before, but had not read anything by her as far as I remember. Her Medea is rendered in blank verse, and both the rhythms and the imagery are absolutely fantastic.
I have been read to by Nadira many, many times – I presume this is the fate of all partners of actors – and actually I am lost in admiration of Stella’s use of words, and the sustained intensity of the evocation of emotion. Images are artfully set in clusters of words, each carefully selected and placed.
It has given me severe self doubt about my own books. I know I am not trying to write poetry, but I do tend to slap words on the page just as they enter my mind. I have actually started to revise bits of my new book to try to make the writing finer – something I have never done before. Most of Murder in Samarkand I just wrote once, and never looked at or revised. Indeed, at one point I produced over 40,000 words at a sitting, without sleep. I thought that was quite an achievement. Now I am feeling less sure.