Tuesday, 21 April 2020
Unwinding in the age of uncertainty
Today The Unwinding goes to press.
Soon it will be printed, bound, boxed and shipped. Soon there will be signing, packing and posting. Soon.
In these uncertain times it is difficult to fix on precise dates. But we have plans.
In these uncertain times, these times of bee-quiet and birdsong, I have discovered that I am blessed to live in a place of peace and space where I can walk from my door to sit on the hilltop, watch birds and think. But they are days of struggle, sometimes bliss-filled to a point of ecstacy, sometimes dark, deep dark, nightmarish, where I feel I have wires threaded through my veins, taught, sharp, hot. Some days pass in peace, and others I need to move slowly from a breath to a breath as grief engulfs. But this is how it should be, what makes life the sweeter.
Yesterday I took my teapot for a walk, to the top of the hill. The wonderful Sherston Tea had sent me a package, a box of tea and a card to say how sorry they were to hear about my pa, and how touched I was by this is hard to say, and the tea is just wonderful, especially the Wuyi Rock Oolong, with a scent a bit like chocolate and a smooth taste. This is what was in the pot yesterday. I took The House Without Windows too. Books are curious things. When you are working on them you are so deeply into their world that you live the pages. Then you move on, and its months, sometimes a year before they are published. The House Without Windows is a miracle of a book, written by a child, published when she was twelve. It really LIVES in the open air. And now there is an audio book version. If you can download it and get yourself outside in safety, in a garden, on a balcony, in a park, then do. If you can't then this, a book about a child who goes out and doesn't come back ( in the best of possible ways) might be just what you need. She wrote it in her small bedroom, inside, day after day, but it is all about escape, and even better, self escape, and who doesn't need that now?
This week I also took part in a livestream chat for The Listening Club with Hudson Records. It was just wonderful ( you will have to spool back to the beginning of the film if you click the link and wish to hear it all.) All through the listen through I was knitting away. There's something quite theraputic about the repetative nature of knitting. Gives me time to think. I stock-piled wool a few years back, when I was working on The Wild Swans, taking my knitting for walks, so I have a glorious pallette of Rowan Tweed and Rowan Felted Tweed. There was talk of Lost Words Spellsongs tanktops, but I think the band are just dreaming on really. I've painting to do, of birds, can't be spending my time knitting goldfinch tanktops for Kris Drever and co.
I've been playing with pages of The Silent Unwinding today, cheating a bit as this is an unbound set of proofs, no pun intended. You know when people say, in a spiteful way, 'well, you've had a taste of your own medicine now'? Well, it was a bit like that, but without the spite.... and it works to settle the head, settle the heart.
So, I drew:
and I wrote, in both pen ( drawing words)
and with my typewriter- this first one is for Sam Read's Bookshop, who supported the Unwinding during the crowdfunding stage and will have copies to sell. The tea in my pot today is lavender tea, from the Himalayas, via Faeryland in Grasmere. Calming, it enhances dreams and visions. They also have pre-orders for Mrs Noah's Garden, also publishing in May.
And there is this quiet in-between, which I think is for Number Seven, Dulverton:
These are small added fragments of stories and questions, just for you, to give you ideas of how to use The Silent Unwinding when it arrives, words typed into the pages ( and I know this isn't possible once the book is bound, but you could type, cut and paste in a physical way, or simply, write. Handwriting is such a wonderful thing.)
A meeting with John from Unbound happened. I was supposed to have one yesterday, but I wandered off to the beach instead and sent him a picture of the sea, saying, sorry.
Meanwhile, something unusual had happened with the funding for The Unwinding. In the years I have worked, and there are many, many years, my main supporters in the bookselling world have been a handful of galleries, Solva Woollen Mill and independent bookshops. They have kept my books in print by handselling to readers. Many of these indies came on board and pledged for the special edition of The Unwinding. It won't be available through Amazon. Only the cheaper version is. But you will be able to get copies either by pledging here, on the Unbound site, or from this list of wonderful publishers. Please note there is only ONE shop in USA and that is Point Reyes Books and I think they only have ten, maybe twenty copies, so if you want/need one best be swift. If you click on the image it will enlarge.
If you want to support indie publishing, indie bookshops, then you can order direct from them, help keep bookshops alive for the times that are to come. I feel that we will need books more than ever.
I've been reading The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, author of the wonderful, magical The Night Circus. It's such a gem of an escapist book. Beautiful to hold, beautiful to read and astonishingly well matched colourwise with my knitting. Davina at Number Seven Dulverton advised me not to read it before The Unwinding had gone to press. I see why now. It has curious echoes, we have curious echoes, of our visions. In the way that Max Porter's Lanny somehow feels like the brother of The House Without Windows, so this feels like close kin, though more richly woven in word, to The Unwinding.
In the meantime there's a symphony of birdsong outside my windows including many goldfinches. When you are outside remember you can't catch Corona Virus by meeting someone's eye and smiling at them.
I'm away to draw for a while.
Thank you for reading this.
Today I asked on twitter:
Tell me, in this strange and curious time, when the world of humans is restricted, but the wild world thrives, bees abundant, birds singing, the flit of wings in the world heard as traffic stills to silence, how are you? Because I would like to know you fare.
I also found this, which looks curiously like one of my paintings, whilst 'tidying up'. I didn't get far with my tidying.
So, I am asking here, now, and wondering. Let me know, how do you fare? It's always good to hear from you.
The Unwinding hardback
- Narrated by Bethany Porter
- Music by The Bookshop Band
- 18 tracks (including two new songs)