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Letters of Ted Hughes selected and edited by Christopher Reid (thoughts while reading)

I have a cold. Poor me. It is just a cold so I am able to struggle on. It’s been a busy week, uncommonly sociable actually, which has made me realise how unsociable I usually am. I’ve been in to Brighton and up to London and have sat on trains for quite a few hours so I had extra time to read “Letters of Ted Hughes”, and wow, I am enjoying it so very much, it’s a delicious treat.
So much of what he writes in letters to Plath and other writers is incredibly relevant and familiar. He writes about things that affect me, and consequently fills me with a strange confidence. Ah, I can think to myself, it was the same even for Ted. (Yeah, we’re *that* familiar I can call him Ted.)
On not being able to write: “At present I am doing nothing – I sit for hours like a statue of a man writing, no different, except during the 3rd or 4th hour a bead of sweat moves on my temple. I have never known it so hard to write.”
On discovering he had won a prize to have his first book of poetry published: “My first reaction was a horrible feeling of guilt at what I had committed, and I went to read the poems over to see if they were really as dull as I dreded (sic) they were. I immediately saw fifty things I wanted to change and I’m appalled that I let most of the poems out in such an unfinished state.”
On rejections: “Don’t be taken back by those rejections, but don’t send them straight out…If you can keep up your writing you will see, after a few weeks, where you can improve the rejected ones, or whether they are better let lie.”
I am finding it liberating and inspirational and it seems to be feeding me creatively, to the point where I have just finished writing the first draft of one new story, am editing two other stories, and had a great idea of what to do with an old story that I like but which doesn’t quite work as is. I’m not sure what the magic of it is, but hey, it’s good!
One other thing: I always said that Matt wrote the best emails and letters ever. His were funny, clever, sarcastic, witty, intelligent and thoughtful. He had an authoritative voice which made statements; sometimes hilariously, wicked statements. Ted Hughes writes in the same way, it’s really uncanny. It’s not Matt’s voice, but they definitely shared a similar style. Matt really disliked Hughes, he was a Plath fan who blamed Hughes for her suicide. I am amused to note just how similar TH and MK seem, and would love to be able to tease Matt about it.
Anyway, available at Waterstone’s bookshops or online at Waterstone.com at the bargain price of £7.49

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5 responses »

  1. Sounds great. I think I'll get myself a copy.

    Reply
  2. A great post, thank you, Sara.

    Reply
  3. Liking his advice! Put the manuscript away – walk away from the manuscript – keep walking (or, in my case – RUN!)I believe he went fishing a lot….have you ever noticed how everyone seems to have been a friend of Ted Hughes…or know someone who was….? Intriguing.

    Reply
  4. We all make mistakes. Good to know even the greats were human. Pssst, wasn't Art a bit of a prick with his know-it-all comment regard Buk. Grrrr.

    Reply
  5. Hi McGuire – thanks for dropping by. In answer to your question, yes!; )Rachel – I hadn't noticed that actually. I think he would have made a good friend and a crappy partner maybe.Sophie – it's soo good, I'd really recommend it.Cheers Ethel!

    Reply

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