Friday, April 06, 2007


I shouldn’t be here. I’m working like mad on the wip, which according to my contract is “Spring Wedding” – not so much a title as what the book is about – and doing my best to keep up a brisk pace (well, brisk for me, anyway.) But Ben is too busy giving Ellie first aid to drop in – and Ellie is too busy trying not to scream – so it’s probably a good thing is I distract you for the next few minutes.

Actually the reason I’m online is that I’m looking for a pair of silk, embroidered purple shoes that exactly fit my imagination.

Why do I need to actually see a pair of shoes when I can imagine them perfectly well? It’s all to do with the “box”.

My hugely talented colleague Anne McAllister has been blogging about Twyla Tharp’s book, The Creative Habit and I’ve been so captivated by what she’s written about it that I’ve instantly ordered my own copy. That stuff about hailing a cab struck such a chord.

And then yesterday there was the box.

According to Anne, Miss Tharp says that one of the things you need if you’re going to think “out of the box” is a box to think out of. (How brilliant is that? So logical. I can’t wait for my copy of this book to turn up…) Obviously, though, it’s not going to be an empty box. For Miss Tharp it’s a box in which she collects things on a theme, which then inspires her choreography. I suppose it’s a bit like the collages that I know lots of authors do. I did try it, but it looked untidy, which just irritated me. I’ve never been good with glue.

But a box... I get boxes. I love boxes.

They sell them in Borders, in all shapes and sizes and colours and I get so tempted. But a box needs a purpose and now I have an excuse... I mean a legitimate reason... to buy one which is going to be called “Spring Wedding”. It will be a crucible in which the worlds of Sylvie Duchamp Smith and Tom McFarlane will be collected, then heated and reformed. Which makes it a business expense. Tax deductible. (Can you tell that I’m smiling?)

So that’s why I’m hunting for an illustration of the perfect purple shoes to put into the box, because that’s where it all suddenly took off. With the shoes. I had a story before then. I’d written fifty odd pages, but when, lying awake in the middle of the night I started seeing purple shoes... (No! Not a drop had touched my lips! Honestly!)

I’m also hunting for a picture of Susan Hampshire as Fleur Forsyte on her wedding day. I can see her, sort of, but it was an awfully long time ago and a picture would help. Unfortunately the web sites seem more interested in her more recent role in Monarch of the Glen.

I’ve already got the violets, which is excellent. Now I to find some narrow green velvet ribbon. And pink satin ditto. And a photograph of Elizabeth Bennett’s house – the one they used in the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice. And one of gilded youth in the summer of 1914. And a big sandalwood chest. And some glam Art Deco fashion that Sylvie’s great-grandma wore – she was very stylish. And, oh, dozens and dozens of things. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to be doing with them but once they’re in that box I’m going to be thinking out of it like mad!


Anne McAllister said...

Liz, you will LOVE the book. There is something brilliant on every page. And I don't know about you, but I am so NOT a writer of movement and gesture that I'm learning tons from a woman who makes her living from choreography.

The spine idea is excellent, too, and works right in with her dance background and yet provides a metaphor for what a book needs to keep on track -- a spine that can bend but still lend direction to the work.

I'm glad you like the "box" idea. I do, too. And I love having boxes around. (My husband would say, "Too much!")

Liz Fielding said...

Oh, oh, oh, please let it arrive today!

I'm not too hot on gesture, myself.

I tend to write dialogue, then go back and break it up with movement, gesture -- stuff that call "choreography", but I have limited vocabulary, so now I CAN'T WAIT for the book to arrive. And if it doesn't come today, it'll Tuesday because we have a public holiday on Monday.

But today is shopping day. And I get to buy a box :)

Anne McAllister said...

I do hope the book arrives. Do tell me about the box you get. I'm having 'box envy' just thinking about it!

I'll be really interested to know what you think of the book. I'm almost finished reading it -- the library's copy. My own is scheduled to arrive on Monday, and I can start to make notes in it (Tharp encourages that -- and I can certainly see it happening)

Fiona Harper said...

Oooh! I'm really excited about this discussion. I love Twyla Tharp's choreography. How can you not love a woman who titles a dance "Eight Jelly Rolls"? Despite the fact my TBR pile is teetering near the ceiling, I might just have to take a trip to Amazon as well.

Liz Fielding said...

As soon as i can figure out what i did with my camera recharger -- I put it away tidily, which is always a mistake -- I'll take a picture of the box.

Eight jelly rolls, Fiona? Now that That is something I'd love to see :)