The wind from the north, channeled by the valley’s sides, funnels into a gale and rips the leaves from the trees. The leaf litter swirls like torn betting slips on a deserted racecourse until a shower matts it into clumps. Then the frosts come and the clumps sparkle as the moonshine breaks between the scudding clouds. Surely, autumn is the cruellest season to be put out on the streets.
But this is what has happened to Severn Valley Authors. The advent of a weekly Tuesday night quiz at the Arches means we are to be evicted from our meeting room. Commerce trumps art.
So in our final Arches meeting it was fitting that our very own master of ‘wistful’, Tony Gillam, was reading the second extract from his three-part work, The Softness of Heads. In this part the hero graduates to junior school, goes to a Hallowe’en ghost reading, has a bath and discusses with his older brother the merits of watching the Lunar landing on their Gran’s colour television.
Not the most gripping material, you may think, but in Tony’s confident hands the accuracy of the reminiscence and the way he prompts sparks of recognition to flash in the reader’s mind made this an enthralling follow-up to part one. How about this for a heart-tug: ‘At playtime I stood in the playground and ate the Lincoln biscuits which Mum had wrapped in a piece of wax paper torn from the loaf of Mother’s Pride. She worried that, on these cold days, I might get hungry before lunchtime. I felt the crumbs in my pocket, crumbs of mother’s love, wrapped in mother’s pride …’
We all congratulated the Garrison Keillor of Kidderminster on this one.
Chris was absent with man-flu (Get Well Soon, mate) so Tony was spared a forensic examination of his comma-splices and on this occasion the discussion focused on the subject of ‘voice’. On the one extreme Linda feels that it is impossible not to inject hindsight and experience into the supposed voice of a seven-year-old and that a reader would be foolish to expect the voice to be 'authentic'. On the other, Rob thinks that the writer needs to be consistent and if the piece starts in the naïve voice this should apply all the way through unless the writer signifies he is breaking out of it. Tony remained tight-lipped on whose advice he will take when he looks at The Softness of Heads again.
In other news: Linda and Tony reported on a writers’ networking event in Worcester they had attended with Chris on the previous Saturday. Annie is awaiting news of a recent submission to Mslexia and Tony circulated a copy of his article, Time to Write the Next Book which appeared in the British Journal of Wellbeing.
Severn Valley Author's is thriving now but, after an Autumn on the streets, who knows what may become of us.