I read Orla McAlinden's book The Accidental Wife as soon as I could get my hands on it via my trusty local book supplier.
This book of interlinked stories has been published by the independent Sowilo Press of Philadelphia as the latest Eludia award winner. My own novel Inscription won the award the year before, so of course I would think the press has brilliant judgement! But honestly. Skip mine if you like (though of course I hope you won't!), but read the first Eludia winner, Sleepers Awake by Tree Riesener, and read Orla McAlinden's book, and you'll see that Sowilo is picking very talented new writers for this award.
So I thought The Accidental Wife would be good, but in fact it's even better than I expected. It has variety, and interest; I believe in its world and its people. It moved me as I read, and made me laugh, too. But you can learn more about it, and what I, and other readers, think about it, on Amazon. Go HERE (UK) or HERE (USA). (Actually, I said the same thing in both places, but if you go to the right website for your country it might be easier for you to click "buy now"! Or if you prefer, order from another online bookseller; or from your local bookshop).
On her blog ( HERE ) Orla McAlinden writes amusingly about the experience of being interviewed on television in "Fame, Shame...and One-handed Typing." She surprised herself by cleaning the kitchen for the cameras and by caring more than she ever thought she would about how things would look to the viewers. A sort of "shame," she says, an unusual feeling for her.
Like Orla, I was brought up Catholic; though I'm not a Catholic now, I am grateful for this upbringing. However, in the wrong hands—and I did encounter some of those—there was an over- emphasis on guilt, sin, and shame. But shouldn't we sometimes feel a bit ashamed? Her blog piece made me think about what I am ashamed of now.
Some things I'm ashamed of won't be mentioned here. But one of them is the disarray of my writing space. Or not-writing space, as another thing I am ashamed of is my current lack of writing discipline. Or more specifically, because I did rediscover discipline when preparing my poetry collection last month, my lack of application to my new book.
I've been reading Gordon Haight's biography of George Eliot. (This is part of my research for the new project, so it does count as work. Lots of one's work as a writer is reading, and mulling). I am encouraged to learn that even this most brilliant of novelists suffered from lack of confidence. Before each new book she felt that what she wanted to do was impossible; she would never be able to achieve it. After spending thirty-one days in Florence doing research for Daniel Deronda, she wondered if it would all be in vain. Or if, as she wrote, "it were possible that I should produce better work than I have yet done! At least there is a possibility that I may make greater efforts against indolence and the despondency that comes from too egoistic a dread of failure."
Ah, that last phrase. "Too egoistic a dread of failure." The old, impossible, balance between caring too much, for egoistic reasons, and not caring enough. The writer's struggle. The writing life. Which reminds me of Annie Dillard's wonderful book of the same title....
...but now I must go to my yoga class. "Greater efforts against indolence" are needed, both physically and mentally!