Monthly Archives: September 2011

A Writer Sitting in a Window Writing

Tomorrow on the 1st of October the Leicester reading festival, Everybody’s Reading, starts. Throughout the festival there will be events dedicated to poetry, children’s literature, African literature from across the continent, and all sorts of things. This year a sci-fi day on the 7th with an discussion between Peter F. Hamilton and Professor George Fraser, Director of the Space research Centre at the University of Leicester, taking place in the evening. There’s hopefully something for everyone. It’s a good festival.

As well as all that, each day of the festival there will be a different writer sitting in the window of the Highcross branch of Waterstones from 12pm until 2pm. They will be there writing. Some of the writers will be poets, some playwrights and others novelists and short story writers.

I will be sitting in that window on Thursday 6th.

I have no idea what I’ll write.

The Book of Disquiet [27]

“My soul is a hidden orchestra; I know not what instruments, what hidden fiddlestrings and harps, drums and tambours I sound and clash inside myself. All I hear is the symphony.”

Confederation of Souls

Dr Cardoso beckoned the waitress and ordered two fruit salads, no sugar or ice-cream please. Then: I have a question for you, said Dr Cardoso, and that is, are you acquainted with the medecins-philosophes? No I ‘m not, admitted Pereira, who are they? The leaders of this school of thought are Theodule Ribot and Pierre Janet, said Dr Cardoso, it was their work I studied in Paris, they are doctors and psychologists, but also philosopher, and they hold a theory I think interesting, the theory of the confederation of souls. Tell me about it, said Pereira. Well, said Dr Cardoso, it means that to believe in a ‘self’ as a distinct entity, quite distinct from the infinite variety of all the other ‘selves’ that we have within us, is a fallacy, the naive illusion of the single unique soul we inherit from Christian tradition, whereas Dr Ribot and Dr Janet see the personality as a confederation of numerous souls, because within us we each have numerous souls, don’t you think a confederation which agrees to put itself under the government of one ruling ego. Dr Cardoso made a brief pause and then continued: What we think of as ourselves, our inward being, is only an effect, not a cause, and what’s more it is subject to the control of a ruling ego which has to impose its will on the confederation of our souls, so in the case of another ego arising, one stronger and more powerful, this ego overthrows the first ruling ego, takes its place and acquires the chieftainship of the cohort of souls, or rather the confederation, and remains in power until it is in turn overthrown by yet another ruling ego, either by frontal attack or by slow nibbling away. It may be, concluded Dr Cardoso, that after slowly nibbling away in you some ruling is is gaining the chieftainship of your confederation of souls, Dr Pereira, and there’s nothing you can do about it except perhaps give it a helping hand whenever you get the chance.

Antonio Tabucchi’s Pereira Maintains. (Pages 112-113).

Walls Between Worlds


I’m terrible at self-publicity, but it is almost a week since Flurb #12 went live and I understand part of being a writer is making a lot of noise about yourself. Anyway what’s important is that I have a short story called Walls Between Worlds in Flurb #12. It’s my début story in a major publication. (Look at the other names on that table of contents. I’m still terrified and feel like the stupid kid at the back of the class.)

The only explanation of Walls Between Worlds I’m going to give is that this story is an attempt to write “The Spy Who Came in from the Multiverse” and your soundtrack for reading should be this.

Walls Between Worlds by Will Ellwood

Arkady left the Ministry of Defence building in Whitehall and encountered a demonstration outside. Most of the protesters Arkady recognized. This crowd assembled everyday on Horse Guards Avenue holding home-made signs with the names and photographs of missing loved ones. They chanted for answers. Scattered amongst the grieving protesters the expected bloc of Socialist Workers Party protesters joined in, giving the Ministry an excuse to do nothing.

From the Victoria Embankment he watched the wheel of the London Eye turning against the sky. In another London he had been responsible for the growing of a memorial garden in its place.

Arkady headed north towards Embankment underground station. A woman from the protest followed him. She pushed through the late afternoon wave of civil servants heading home. He recognized her, but not from the demonstration because that crowd of tired mothers and wives all looked the same. Her name was Rose and Arkady knew her from before he joined the Ministry. He crossed the road and sat on an iron bench next to the Thames.

She sat down next to him. She still smelled of fabric softener. “Hello Alex.”

Read more

My Dreams

My dreams mostly look like they were shot on a mobile phone camera.

A Note from Borges

‘Arthur Schopenhauer wrote that dreaming and wakefulness are the pages of a single book, and that to read them in order is to live, and to leaf through them at random, to dream. Paintings within paintings and books that branch into other books help us sense this oneness.’ Jorges Luis Borges, ‘When Fiction Lives in Fiction’ 160-162, trans. Esther Allen, in The Total Library: Non-Fiction 1922-1986, p.162

A note from Borges passed on to me via a friend. She sends me a lot of lovely quotes like this.