The blog will be taking a complete break in the next few days as we go to Cornwall for a well-earned respite from meat work. We will also be there to welcome in the Teenies, as I suppose we'll be calling them.
The more observant of you may have noticed my posts have been a little shorter over the last couple of weeks. This is because I've been beavering away on the novel: a little over 43,000 words so far.
I think I'm going to struggle to get it over 60,000 words and wonder whether this will do. At a shortish 250 to 300 words per page this is 200 to 240 pages. So a short novel but not so short it's actually a novella.
I've read that a minimum of about 80,000 words is required for a thriller. Perhaps I'll bulk it up if I'm lucky enough for this to made a condition of publication. If it's of no interest to a publisher, I'll leave it as it is and self-publish it on Lulu or suchlike.
When it's in reasonable shape - probably by the end of January - I may put it up on its own blog so as to elicit some commentary and criticism, if people would be so kind.
I happen to have been re-reading Thomas Hardy's poems and, without really meaning to, have ended up with a Hardy-related theme running through the novel, perhaps incongruously as it's otherwise about Russia, the City of London and terrorism.
Reading them is a reminder that Hardy was certainly prolific, having written at some point about almost everything. 'The Darkling Thrush' was written on December 30th 1900 as the new century dawned. So perhaps an appropriate one for now. It exhibits his usual strangely comforting miserabilism (poetry only: his novels surely possess few consolations if, indeed, any).
In the event that I don't post between now and then, do have a very happy New Year!
The Darkling Thrush
I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter's dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.
The land's sharp features seemed to be
The Century's corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.