Friday, August 28, 2009

" good fragment for every 500 nails..."

Andrew Brown on becoming an English writer while living in Sweden:

In the busy banging solitude of the factory I taught myself to write English. I hardly spoke it to anybody then. I worked in Swedish, I was married in Swedish; I thought and dreamed in Swedish too: it's still the language in which I think of fishing technicalities. But I still read mostly English books, and I wanted to become an English writer. The first thing I bought when we got married was an ancient office typewriter, with its base machined from solid brass, which went on an old desk borrowed from Anita's younger sister. I knew nothing about myself and very little about the world so it was hard to find a subject. But as I worked with the planks, hauling and banging and building the boxes, phrases would appear to me. If they were good, I grabbed the thick pencil used for marking wood and scribbled them on the cardboard dividers from the cases of nails. This allowed me one good fragment for every 500 nails I fired in. When I came home, the breast pocket of my overalls might have half a dozen of these bits inside it: sawdust would fall from the seams as I pulled out the cardboard strips and placed them beside the typewriter.

From Andrew Brown, Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future that Disappeared (2008).

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