Tuesday, 9 July 2019
A Pillow Book
I've been blogging for years. Maybe before blogs were called blogs? I had a diary on my website, then a cat blog, called WeThreeCats . It was how I practiced writing, or rather, one of the ways.
One day I was emailed by a woman in America who said my writing reminded her of The Pillowbook of Sei Shonagan. I was intrigued. I bought the book and in its pages found such a beautiful thing. It's a thousand years old and a world away. No one knows her real name. It may have been Nagiko. She lived in the imperial palace, and she wrote, and her words were written in a small book, made from wood, that she kept beneath her pillow.
Just lines sometimes, and lists, which I think is what reminded the person of my work. My voice will be lost in a thousand years from now. But I love that I can look at blossom, a moon, a sky, through the eyes of a woman who lived another life a thousand years away.
And someone on facebook said was I aware that pillow books were used to lure people into romantic embraces. Well, they may have been. But mostly they were private diaries, places to 'hold that thought'. And if you wish to use The Unwinding as a lure for romance then believe me when I say it would delight me. Often I write for my words to be shared, read aloud, tasted by the ears.
And if you wish to keep it tucked beneath your pillow, so that when you wake in the night with troubled thoughts, instead of looking at your phone you can open a page and find a catalyst for dreaming, then that too is fine.
I really hope that we can make also a limited edition book that carries with it just and only the images, and space to write. A kind of illustrated notebook, that you can make into your own pillow book. It could be the writer's equivalent of all those colouring in books that were so in demand not long ago, but where the colouring is done and words await to alight in the spaces between dreams.
The Pillowbook of Sei Shonagan is beautiful. I know this is supposed to be the place where I write about The Unwinding, but Nicola Davies once called me a 'book pedlar' and I do love to share such beauty, so get a copy, from the library, a shop, have a read, rest in its pages. Here is a taste of it. And now, I need to write. I've an Unwinding to ravel up.
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- Narrated by Bethany Porter
- Music by The Bookshop Band
- 18 tracks (including two new songs)
The Unwinding hardback