Thursday, 9 July 2015

If only...

I have been enjoying the brilliance, clarity and sheer genius of Dr Philip Ball. The Doctor is 'a freelance science writer, broadcaster and lecturer who's particularly interested in the interactions of the sciences, the arts, and the wider culture.' That sounds somewhat abstruse. In fact Ball makes it all so fascinating I'm in despair.

In May he was one of the guests invited to New Zealand for the Auckland Writers Festival. He gave two talks - the first 'Bright Earth: the Invention of Colour' was recorded at Te Papa in Wellington. The second ‘Invisibility: A Cultural History’ was recorded at St Margaret’s College in Christchurch and both were gobsmackingly brilliant and utterly depressed me. He is one of those incredible people who can link unlikely things and make connections which pull parts together and give the listener a great Eureka moment.

I'm hoping to buy his latest book: 'Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Colour', published by the University of Chicago Press, ISBN: 9780226036281. I learnt so much not only about colour and art but about people, history and chemistry. But it was his talk, ‘Invisibility: A Cultural History’ which has had me going back to Radio New Zealand to listen and I still haven't got half of it sorted in my head.

What I wonder about is where Dr Philip Ball got the ideas and how he could see that they stretched across all the things he linked so sensibly? This kind of intelligence and ability to see beyond surfaces and basic ideas stuns me. I do not feel capable of doing this myself and know that I need to do it in order to write the things I want to write. Hence the depression and frustration as the novel refuses to make sense and won't go where it ought to in order for me to finish it. Listening to the talks simply leaves me feeling perhaps I should not waste my time trying to write because I won't be able to write anything worth much anyway.

This is mid-novel blues and time to call on the strength of my colleagues in Writer's Choice and get mutual support, sympathetic groans and some bracing advice. It seems to me that writers on their own need to make sure they have a support system for those agonising days, weeks and even months. I wonder what Dr Philip Ball could make of this creative depression and what he might connect it to. I would love to know in the hope of preventing the dread depression next time I hit the mid-novel blues.

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