Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Lizard and the Lion

One of those strange weeks.

There have been a lot of blogs lately about the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and with good reason. It's a festival within a festival, in a city that goes ever so slightly bonkers every August. Charlotte Square, where the book events are held, has a special feeling to it, a particular excitement/flavour/buzz. The yurt, the food, the famous faces, the oft-times frantic networking ... I'm always really chuffed to get to be a part of it all. (This year I did an Amnesty reading, an Outreach event, and a Schools Programme event - the last two were Slightly Jones Mysteries talks, including a sneak preview snippet from the upcoming Case of the Cambridge Mummy). It's a) fun b) exhilarating c) anxiety-inducing d) exhausting ... It's the Jesus Lizard side of being a writer. The beast may be running for its life in that photo, but you can't tell me the bubbles aren't pretty!

Part way through, I took time out and went along Princes Street, through the crowds of gawkers and Fringe event hawkers and die-hard shoppers, to the Durer exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery, mainly to see this:

I've blogged over on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure about it and now I was in a dimly-lit room with the original (okay, it's an etching, so it's not the original, but it was a lot more original than my long-owned, well-loved postcard version). People didn't hang around - and not that many people had found the exhibit anyway - so I had the saint and the lion pretty much to myself. It was exquisite. I kept fogging up the glass trying to get as close as possible. See every detail. I wasn't thinking about anything except IT. The thing itself. But afterwards I realised it was a reminder and a help as well. This is the other bit about being a writer. The essential bit. Solitude and focus. Concentration and contentment. Stillness.

Here's to having them both - the lizard and the lion - and an infusion of art from time to time to help keep the balance.

Cheers, Joan.


At 7:06 AM, Blogger Maureen said...

I love the lizard, and the dozing lion, and your whole wonderful jam-packed post.

You are a superb writer and giver of gifts to your readers! Thanks.

At 3:56 AM, Blogger Franzeska said...

It reminds me of a young teacher who, commenting on my 'job' as a writer (which I'd told her was a bit frenetic at the time) said ...'Oh ... I always think all you do is sit at your window with your cat on your lap, looking out at the sea ...'
Aye, right.


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