Sift the flour and salt together and then blend in the warmed milk, butter, yeast and sugar and then knead for five minutes. Leave to rise, re-knead and then place in baking tins. Leave to rise and bake. Simple household bread. I have been trying to read Herman Melvilles short stories in one of those Classic Collections where an eminent scholar explains everything with the aid of footnotes and appendices. It just leaves me confused. Do I read them first or last or while I am reading. So Mellville is making a comment on the capitalist system in this story and on melancholia in the next. Why be so obtuse then? I could equally bake a very elegant poppyseed and raisin loaf but the simplicity of plain white bread cuts through the diversions of the more complex loaf. Literature should do the same. Be simple, be straight. Lots of action. Be real. The writing classes have left me, at week three, in a quandary. Most of the writers write about what I think are trite things. Eating too much, a family squabble, stupid people in situations they have vast amounts of control over but seem to flounder around in eternal angst. This sells. TV scripts are written for a 9-year-old intelligence and about issues such as boyfriends, lost love, an unfair deal. I see that Melville was never actually popular when he wrote. Moby Dick was a modest success and only became a classic long after his death.
‘Work hard’. Janet Fitch says ‘sit down and write. I hardly have any inspiration unless I am writing. Write every day of the week.’ I doubt whether I am up to it. My high school departure reference noted my inability to actually apply myself top anything though the comment that I would undoubtedly succeed if I managed to apply myself was an oasis in an otherwise very dry desert. My style is characterized by large amounts of inactivity and then a brief burst of energy which, I hope, yields gold.
Breads starting to rise. And when is it ready. My other dilemma. When is a story a story? When can 500 words convey something. Do I stop here or enlarge this character? That’s 377 words already and I haven’t said anything.
And what is I get, dare I say the word, writers block. The third week of our writing course a member of the group says she hasn’t been able to write anything all week. I laughed inwardly, then, it happened to me. A week, and every day I sit down in front of the processor-Blank.