Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Poetry Thursday 36 - Ian Rankin - the fear of page 65!


I learned the other day that Ian Rankin, the author of the Rebus novels for which he became famous, was being featured in a BBC documentary. I have read the Rebus series and although not that impressed with the early books came to enjoy the later ones. I can't say that Inspector Rebus is my sort of character but that is probably an indication of the skill of Ian Rankin. Some of what he had to say about writing was fascinating but he was quite scathing about his early ambition to be a poet  and even ridiculed, with the help of a friend one of his early attempts. I was disappointed to say the least.
One of the things that was really interesting was the fear of page 65! The extract is below:-

Britain's most successful crime writer, Ian Rankin, let the BBC follow him from the beginning as he put together his latest novel. Rankin, the creator of the phenomenally successful Edinburgh detective Rebus, writes one book a year - starting the process by looking for ideas in a green folder full of scraps of paper.
By the end of the first month "the fear" has arrived.
It is hard to believe that an author who has topped the bestsellers' list for the past 15 years would have concerns but Ian Rankin worries that what he has written so far is "not very good".
His wife Miranda Harvey, who says she knows to keep out of Rankin's way when he is writing, takes this opportunity to remind him that this happens every time.
She says: "We always talk about the 65-page pause, where he has poured on to the page all of the things he has thought about and rehearsed.
"All his ideas are down in black and white and then he runs out of steam and he's always saying 'it's going really badly'.
"I say: 'oh, yes, page 65'."
Interesting - and he did talk a great deal about fear when writing. He repeatedly said that he quite often didn't know where his books were going until he'd completed a section and I can empathise with that but back to poetry. In spite of a rather negative attitude on the axing of a BBC Scotland programme and his favourite presenter he penned the following poem:-
Twas in the Year of Our Lord Two-Zero-One-Two
That the numpties of BBC Radio Scotland decided to pu’
The Janice Forsyth Show from its regular slot,
Thus enraging the populace with this terribly thought-out plot.
For those not acquainted, Janice was akin to a goddess,
While coming across to her listeners as really quite modest.
She would mix music with interviews with the stars of the day-o,
And in this respect could be said to resemble Simon Mayo.
From The Vaselines to Edwyn Collins, and Elbow to Bert Jansch,
Her choices made her fan-base smile (and might also make them dance).
And in between songs by the likes of The Blue Nile and Roddy Hart,
She would take the celebrity interview and make of it an art:
Decide for yourselves! Perhaps something I wrote a couple of months ago with its mention of adrenaline can explain the feeling of 'fear' that Rankin experiences.
Writing

There is a dynamism related to writing
An addiction
Like the drive experienced from repeated adrenaline rushes
Demanding
Takes over your life and pleads for attention

It’s ok really not threatening in any way
Satisfying
The result of countless previous encounters
Happy to revisit
I can maintain the balance – I can

There have been no ill side effects so far
It’s safe
I don’t know what the future will bring
Scary
There it is again – the adrenaline
©David L Atkinson August 2012


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