John hadn’t come back before I had to leave for the Writers’ Group. I left a note at the outside door giving where I’d be.
No sooner there than John (Elliott) and Jacqui came in, shortly followed by Steve. John said congratulations were in order, over the Chomu publishing of Inception – he meant Instance…. which that day I’d emailed the publisher about not titling it. Quentin said it’d come titled. I checked. It hadn’t. The title is incorporated in the text.
After the usual time out for chat, over glasses pf Lindauer, I started a reading from ‘the book’, where Mum and Johnny enter into telepathic communication. John is sceptical of anything such. He thinks it imagined though understanding I take it as real. It could be since unconscious thinking is basically imagining as distinct from logical thinking which always ends in an absurd conclusion. Steve liked the use of fonts without realising this was indication of nonvocal communication. He, John or both questioned the reversion in the speaking bits to the lack of separate lines. I said inverted commas differentiate enough and I wanted by the compression to indicate something of the emotional intensity, Mum’s fear Johnny was open to being sexually abused through his friendship with Sheila, not realising Johnny had already solved that problem or his man had. They also wanted some explicit lead-in to the telepathy I said wasn’t possible but there had been lead-ups and Johnny had proved it to Mum previously by knowing how she felt about herself she’d divulged to nobody (incidentally a name I give my man who’s spirit). I noticed Jacqui also unwontedly said something and that it was positive but can’t recall what except she pointed a contrast between my interiorising and their externalising. They go from creating an outside to not very far in so that there’s a multiplicity of inventive incident, a successful narrator-cum-monitoring of character but lack of depth so that the characters aren’t wooden exactly but seem like puppets on strings with dialogue to match.
Jacqui read out John’s excerpt from the book he’s writing, Fake something, about the collapse of East Germany. His male character isn’t rising again to the sexual occasion and the explanation lies in a wife who’s left him for the West. He goes into reflection on her via the song Surabaya Johnnie, the title of which has no significance; it could be any song.
Steve wanted to get Margaret Thatcher into his family saga but didn’t know how. I suggested a tangential reference only like what has fucking St Francis got to do with it to obviate anything more lumpenly obtrusive and bad art. His adolescent character is embarrassed by his mother’s being sick from valium during a party but that he is has to be inferred; it’s more told than conveyed.
Jacqui’s defeated senator is returning perforce to her southern roots and picks up a dog by opening her old banger of a car’s door for the dog to jump in. It’s improbable but a little bit of unconsciously arranged magic, though the author doesn’t realise the incident she took it from would be, so it’s okay by me.
It was five to eleven and bitterly cold. The note was where I’d left it. As I recycled the two emptied wine bottles, the second Catherine’s rubbery South African left last time that Steve brought back, Yvann opened his door to ask me in to tell me he was being evicted for the second time because somebody’d reported he’d been smoking cannabis to the landlord. I couldn’t stay because I wanted to be in for John I didn’t want out in the cold. He was already in. Leslie’d let him in the front and he’d found the spare key.