Thursday, 25 September 2014

Silk Bedding and Outdoor Kitchens

After what seemed like quite a lengthy summer recess, the Severn Valley Authors reconvened at Izzie's house to catch up on news and hear a reading by Linda.  It was good to see a complete set of SVA-ers looking, if not refreshed and rejuvenated, at least eager to talk writing. 

Rob reported that Bewdley Book Week 2014 had been a success and his thoughts were now turning back to his novel.  Out of Such Darkness is scheduled for publication in February 2015.  He had also managed to squeeze in a talk to the Halesowen U3A group over the summer. 

Not a Welsh mistranslation
Annie had joined The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and , as a result, had met a couple of agents and had some interest in her works for children. For the uninitiated, SCBWI  is not a Welsh mistranslation of Scooby Doo but is, it seems a  'professional organisation dedicated to serving the people who write, illustrate, or share a vital interest in children's literature.' Annie plans to attend to the SCBWI conference in November.

Reviewing silk bedding, SVA-style 
Izzie has been busy with her blog which seems, for some reason, more popular in the US than in the UK.  What's the old saying about a prophet never being recognised in their own land? When she's not busy blogging, Izzie has been doing product reviews on silk bedding.  I'm not sure if that means she lies upon silk bedding while writing her reviews or whether she is simply writing on the subject of silk bedding but, either way, it sounds pretty luxurious for a Severn Valley Author. 

Chris is still working on his book Karl Marx and Careful Driving at weekends. It was lovely to see him after a long absence from meeting due to work commitments. As for me, I'm starting work on a dissertation, still flinging out a few short stories and articles and persevering with my novel. 

Linda's submission this week was a piece of short fiction called The Trouble with Pins.  Izzie and Annie both admired the fabulous descriptive writing -

...We stood around her easel to watch the magic seep across the spongy white board ...

- and how small details like the yellow headscarf defined the  era so vividly.
Rob also found the writing 'quite exceptional'  and liked the image of an 'outdoor kitchen'  (... a kitchen in every respect except for the starry sky above us and the old range that blew out smoke in gusts ...) But Rob disliked the authorial intrusions (although Linda told us later she was deliberately experimenting with this technique). 
Chris noted the narrator's voice sounds like that of an excited child, with the repetition of  'and':
...and night and day the gulls wheeled above us and the sweet seaweed smell was all around us and the loose-limbed freedom of the dunes and scrub we played in was the small world we inhabited...

For me, this lyrical prose style reminded me of Dylan Thomas's eulogy to childhood Fern Hill, while there were echoes of Under Milk Wood in
... The sound of breaking waves filled our bedroom ears and was the rhythm of our sleep...
but the setting of Linda's story was not South Wales but that other strange coastline around Rye and Winchelsea which I have also written about here and there. (See:

Chris summarised Linda's piece well: 'a description of an idyllic, unconventional childhood with a sense of encroaching sadness...'  Like me, Chris felt it had the feel of a chapter of a longer work of fiction rather than a self-contained short story.  While Izzie liked the ending, Annie also sensed that it was 'not quite complete'.  Although Linda pulled a face at the suggestion, several of us thought this might be the starting point for a novel with engaging characters and a very atmospheric setting. 

The next meeting will be at Rob's on October 14th, when I'm supposed to be submitting for scrutiny another chapter of my novel.  As Scooby Doo might say, 'Yikes!' Better get writing!