Saturday, 19 December 2009

Following on...

We gathered again, in festive mood, on 15 December for the SVA's Christmas meeting. The focus was on Linda's work - a revised opening chapter called Elderberry Wine. There was a great deal to admire in this and the consensus was that it made for an enticing, warm and gently comic opening to what promises to be a wonderful novel.
There was some discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of disguising place names. On the one hand, many readers are drawn to books set in real locations and an identifiable setting can make books more attractive and more marketable. On the other hand, if situations and characters are based partly on reality, disguising the setting can help avoid embarrassment and libel! As the old saying goes, "the names of people and places have been changed to protect the innocent."
Speaking of innocents, I innocently forgot how to access this blog and accidentally became a follower as well as a contributor. This caused some consternation as other members of the group got very excited, thinking someone in the wider world had cottoned on to us, only to find it was just me! It could seem the height of vanity to become one of my own followers but it was all down to blogging incompetence on my part. If anyone knows how to cease being a follower please let me know because, having become one by accident, I have no idea how to un-become one. Perhaps this is how we become and remain followers of most things in life.
Chris and Linda supplied hot mince pies and real wine (not just fictitious elderberry wine) and then we adjourned to a local pub where, it was suggested, we should hold our next meeting. It reminded me that, as a younger man, I had been a follower (again) of a group called The Anglo-Welsh Poetry Society who used to meet at the splendidly named Loggerheads pub in my home town of Shrewsbury. Hardly a poet myself, instead I would take along my guitar and perform some of my songs as a kind of musical interlude in the poetry readings. This seemed to go down well with the poets who were tolerant enough of a singer-songwriter in their midst. I'm not sure how I feel about reading aloud my short stories in a public house but Rob assures me we will have a (fairly) private alcove, and we will be cordoned off from the non-literary pubgoers. Perhaps, though, we will get some accidental followers?
Anthony Gillam

Monday, 14 December 2009

Karl Marx and Careful Driving

Apologies to my fellow SVAers for the lateness of this contribution.

At our last meeting we looked at an extract from 'Karl Marx and Careful Driving'. We can now see the enormous dedication that Chris has shown for this incredible work really coming to fruition. The journey, history, philosophy and Chris's personal history are intricately woven together to form a really fascinating and entertaining book.

It was said at at our last meeting that more information and storyline about Chris himself was needed to hold the attention of the reader. I agree, but I also know that there is more of this to follow.

I would like to see more colourful descriptions of the places and events that Chris witnessed on his journey when everything was a source of wonder and adventure for him. The readers are new to this experience too and would like to feel the thrill that Chris felt when he first opened 'The Children's Picture Atlas in Colour'.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Will Self and speaking without being interrupted

The author Will Self, in an interview he gave to Word Magazine in July 2003, made the following comments about writing: "What writers like myself have is that we're free of the constraints of a capitalist society in a way. We're liberated from the hierarchy. We don't have bosses. We're like coalminers. We produce a product - 'self-coal' - that no other mine can produce. We have our own stock, we mine it, we ship it, we flog it and nobody can f**k with it. And I think that idea of writers being an owner/proprietor/operator in a way is very appealing to people...."
No doubt many writers aspire to be free in this way but the reality is most of us fit writing in around the day job. Perhaps this kind of freedom is only available to the lucky few successful, published writers, but we can all at least take comfort in the words of Jules Renard who said of writing, "Ecrire, c'est une façon de parler sans être interrompu - Writing is a way of speaking without being interrupted." In the hubbub of the daily grind, that sounds like a good enough reason to write for me.
Anthony Gillam