Saturday, 15 November 2014

She Who Dares Writes: Rage against the dying of the light Clive james

She Who Dares Writes: Rage against the dying of the light Clive james: I was about twelve when I filched my dad's copy of Clive James's Unreliable Memoirs and took it back to my bedroom to read. It tol...

Rage against the dying of the light Clive james



I was about twelve when I filched my dad's copy of Clive James's Unreliable Memoirs and took it back to my bedroom to read. It told of another life beyond my small town, a life of adventure and travel, told in the voice of a consummate storyteller. I didn't think I would ever get to see Clive James in the flesh, but in the hallowed surroundings of the Cambridge Union Chamber I wait with anticipation and many others. We're lucky, Clive may not be making many more public appearances. Clive is dying, shuffling off his mortal coil, battling Leukaemia and emphysema with the assistance of the Addenbrookes staff and a raft of meds. There is a hush in the chamber, Clive shuffles in. A smaller man than I imagined or remembered from the television appearances, bent by time and illness, but with an impish grin that widens as the crowd breaks into spontaneous rapturous applause. He welcomes the applause like an opera singer on their seventh encore, it feeds him, feeds an unashamed ego. Yet there's no pomposity, he accepts the praise with kindness and humility, and a knowing smile. He's enjoying this last kick at life,

Mr. James has a voice made to recite poetry and a perfect voice for broadcasting, deep and sonorous and full of wit. He recounts how at school they were made to recite a poem by heart, standing by their desks at the end of the day, until the teacher released them home. Some of his classmates are still there. He treasures the value of learning poems for recital, although his impromptu performances to female undergraduates in his youth met with disinterest. To the consternation of his family, his home has grown into a library and he brings books home as waifs and strays, nurturing them to health, many from his favourite place in Cambridge, the book stall in the market square. Words are his life, without them, he says, he was a faithless creature, a liar, a lost soul who may well have ended up in jail in his native Australia. If he wasn't a writer, he says, he doesn't know where he would have been, except maybe in jail.

Reciting poems interspersed with anecdotes, he reaches Auden. It's so important that he says if he gets it wrong he might as well drop dead on the stage then and there. He launches forth, the words flow, then there is a pause, a long pause. The audience holds it's breath, willing him to breathe, listening to the effort of his breath from emphysema crushed lungs, hoping that he will not fall, he will not stumble. Looking at the scuffed floor, the worn leather of many benches gripped by urgent hands. He moved on, leaving a gap. The lines returned near the end of the evening, coming to him in a burst which he shouted with a flourish, with a new energy. In true poet style, raging against the dying of the light, to rapturous applause.

Thank you Clive James.

Friday, 26 September 2014

She Who Dares Writes: November Novel

She Who Dares Writes: November Novel: Yes, I know it's not even October, but I've decided to give myself the proverbial kick up the backside and enter NaNoWriMo, write ...

November Novel



Yes, I know it's not even October, but I've decided to give myself the proverbial kick up the backside and enter NaNoWriMo, write a novel in a month. Easy, if I didn't need to work, eat or sleep.

So why do it? Well, I finished Girl In The Box and sent it off to suggested agents, only two were kind but not interested, one was very enthusiastic and interested, but couldn't represent me due to a conflict of interest (maybe that is agent speak for 'I'm not interested'?) and one is pending.
That's life after a writing MA - Pending.
You have to move on, hence the short story workshops, the social media connections with other writers and the idea to write a novel in a month. I've got the setting, I've got the main character, now I need to do some hasty research and just write. Anyone out there care to join me?

I'll let you know how I get on!

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

She Who Dares Writes: Paddling downstream

She Who Dares Writes: Paddling downstream: Summer brings a chaos of work like the swarm of black winged damselflies that danced about our boats this weekend. Time to take a break, pa...

Paddling downstream


Summer brings a chaos of work like the swarm of black winged damselflies that danced about our boats this weekend. Time to take a break, paddle Sudbury to the sea, well, halfway for me - Sudbury Quay to a campsite by Nayland. The river Stour flows like molten glass over shallow shale and luminous green weeds, it cuts through bamboo in jungle mimicry, widens below rope swings and winds between overgrown banks. A true Wind in The Willows river. The tranquility makes the aching arms worthwhile, the company and camaraderie of the She Who Dares girls cancels out weekday stress and strain.
It was a wonderful weekend, meandering along the water, wrapped in the warmth of a June day. The leaden sky above finally broke and laced us with cold rain at one point and the waterproofs were unpacked for a short time. Reaching the campsite it was warm enough to swim in the Stour as children hung on a rope swing above.
I was heaved out, pants full of mud, grateful that we stayed in Carters Corner Bed and Breakfast, with comfy beds, hot showers and a feast of breakfast. The others feasted on pots of chilli cooked over the campfire and toasted marshmallows on the embers before completing their journey the next day, while I went home to sleep.

Thank you girls

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

She Who Dares Writes: Dolly mixtures or Allsorts

She Who Dares Writes: Dolly mixtures or Allsorts: What a mixed bag the last few months have been. I miss the literary circles and study in London, this time last year I was preparing my dis...