I’m writing this on a train trundling to London to meet up with a couple of police officers (one serving and one newly retired). I’ve started the new book and realised that there are a bunch of things I don’t know that I think I really should. So the plan to ‘pants it’ and just write has already been slightly derailed, but you know what? It’s fine. I’m progressing. I’ve got a beginning and an endpoint and a series of hits and i’ve begun to understand what drives my protagonist, my villain and some of my characters, so the book is twisting and morphing. It’s – to quote the good Herr Doktor Frankenstein – ALIVE!
Now, if only I could carve out a nice chunk of time to actually write. The summer has been crazy busy, and the start of the autumn seems also packed. I went to Paris (France, not Texas*) last Sunday with the Lovely Husband and some friends. We went for lunch at Les Deux Magots (one of my favourite restaurants, and also a favourite of Hemmingway. When he was alive, obviously, though for all I know he’s haunting the place to this day and bitching that everyone’s gone soft).
We also went to see an exhibition at Atelier Des Lumieres. This innovative exhibition space specialises in digital exhibitions where they take Ultra HD scans of famous artworks then project them in huge scale on the walls floors and ceilings of a concrete lined former foundry building.
The result is not dissimilar to walking through the paintings, or living ‘in’ the artwork. Their previous exhibition paired the work of Gustav Klimt with a contemporary Friedensreich Hundertwasser**, and I found the experience so emotionally overpowering that I went repeatedly and cried often.
This time, the subject of focus was Van Gogh, and I was less emotionally impacted. Van Gogh’s colours are awe inspiring, but the works themselves – primarily the subjects – just left me left me a bit meh***. But you know what was interesting? The scale of the projections really exposed the actual work that had gone into the paintings, and the actual speed at which this Master worked. On some areas of pictures I’ve felt I’ve ‘known’ for years, the canvas, raw and unpainted, pokes through, on other areas the paint is so thick it’s hard to believe it didn’t fall away from the surface. And none of it’s perfect. The shaping, the application of the paint, the almost hyper-tones used are all in some way ‘wrong,’ and contributed to Van Gogh being dismissed by the Art world during his life, but are often what draws people to his work and has lead to his posthumous recognition as a Master.
And I take some comfort in that. Not the being a penniless unknown til after I’m dead. On that aspect, I’ll pass, thanks. And not on the fact that when I’m dead I’ll be spoken of in the same sentences as Vincent (nice idea, but even my ego has limits). No, I take a great degree of comfort in the idea of passion trumping perfection; on ideas exceeding form. On not giving a fuck about the exposed canvas or the too thick paint; on making the work and moving to the next. I’m very much here for that.
And on the topic of inspirational work, I Saw The Farewell this week and am still tearing up every time I think of Lulu Wang's beautiful picture about family and love and distance and culture clashes and loss. I cannot recommend it enough. The soundtrack (feat the wonderful Mykal Kilgore)is wonderful and is now my new writing music.
And so I’m back to the Novel. I’m finishing this post after my meeting with my police contacts, who spent a gleeful couple of hours explaining why everything I’ve ever seen on TV, film, or read in a book is wrong, and who only reluctantly allowed me – for the purposes of not having my narrative grind to a halt in procedure – to allow me some artistic leeway. And the novel now feels even more exciting. I’ve a whole subplot that was there all along but which they managed to tease out from the weeds it had got lost in , and a possibly major character who was a plot device until a couple of hours ago.
Amazing how these things - An artistic genius, a trip to the movies, and a pizza with people who know their job in detail – are all fuel to a fire that will push me forward into the autumn and hopefully to a brand new book.
(*Wim Wenders gag. You don’t see those very often these days)
(** The first sentence in Hunnertwasser’s Wikipedia Bio is “The Second World War was a very difficult time for Hundertwasser and his mother Elsa, who were Jewish.” I’m giving this the NoShitSHerlock award 2019.)
(*** Cue the Goghista’s on Twitter lining up to tell me why I am (a) wrong (b) a Phillistine or (c) a disgrace to humanity)
Derek Farrell is the author of 6 Danny bird mysteries. “Death of a Diva,” “Death of a Nobody,” “Death of a Devil,” and “Death of an Angel” can all be purchased from the usual e-stores or directly from the publisher here. The fifth, “Come to Dust,” is available exclusively as a free download from his website . The sixth - Death of a Sinner - is on Fahrenheit Press's fall 19 slate.
His jobs have included: Burger dresser, Bank teller, David Bowie’s paperboy, and Investment Banker on the 80th floor of the World Trade Centre.
He’s never off social media and can be found at.
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