Monday, 19 March 2018
Saturday, 17 March 2018
swear words, wrong subject matter. And the really good one you wrote about your aunt’s dementia is right out when an elderly lady wanders in with a carer, and keeps asking where the changing rooms are and whether the water will be warm. This is when your Kindle can be invaluable, if you have your work on it. Remember you can import files as well as your own books. It's usually easier to find things on a Kindle than on a tablet or phone, as the font on your phone can simply be too small, even when you enlarge it. In the picture I'm reading from my poetry pamphlet, The Spirit Collection. Some people have prodigious memories, and can recite their poems from memory. I can’t. These days I have trouble remembering whether I put the car keys in the fridge or the oven. You need to hold your Kindle high enough so that your head isn’t buried in your chest, and the words have been lost down your cleavage – if you have one, of course. Humour never seems to win big poetry competitions, but it’s gold dust at an open mic session. Because you’re looking at your text rather than the audience, you have little idea how your work is being received. But raise a laugh, actually hear a positive reaction, and your confidence rises like a lark. Detecting someone snoring can have the opposite effect, of course, but you can put it down to the beer as the gathering is usually in a pub.
Friday, 16 March 2018
About the Author
Amazon Author Page
Thursday, 15 March 2018
Nobody told me that receiving a good literary education was not the slow comfortable journey I expected so much as cracking myself open over and over again. I was nineteen.
I was required to climb monumental walls of my own preconceptions only to crash-land again and again on the other side. Everything was both more beautiful and more brutal than I could ever have imagined. And me, soft-shelled and Pollyanna-like, was not ready for the truth in all its variations.
In retrospect, I only recall the little moments that pushed me over the edge. Maybe those are the important ones, after all. Here's an example of a tiny shove: I walked into a classroom late one day and there stood my Irish Canadian professor reading a poem about the seal hunt. This wasn't one of those cute-fluffy-pups-how-dare-they-slaughter-them poems but a raw bloody tale of men striving to survive doing what they'd always done. I'm sorry to say that I don't recall the name of the poem or the poet but I remember my horror and pain. I can tell you that many men died on the ice floes of northern Labrador and that poem laid bare all the raw, bloody, and painful truth of human toil pitted simultaneously against nature.
My professor cried as though he'd lost a friend among those frozen souls while I found myself crying for the whole pathos of the situation. Even more importantly for my education, that day I watched a grown man cry over a poem. I didn't realize that men could weep openly let alone weep openly over poetry. Men only wept at funerals and hockey games, right? And surely no one read poetry after high school. I grew up as a farmer's daughter who's dad "made good" as a car salesman. No men read poems in our house let alone cried over one. But those words and the way that man read it caused something massive to shift inside me, not the least of which was my admiration for men who read poetry and wept.
So when the day came for another professor to ask each student to stand and read a line from Sylvia Plath's Berc-Plage, I was ready to crack open again. I read: "This is the sea, then, this great abeyance. How the sun's poultice draws on my inflammation." And she asked me why I emphasized where I did and in doing so taught me the weight of words. Words not only have meaning, but the reader participates in the emergence of that meaning while a speaker adds cadence and significance. The writer and the reader construct meaning together. We are a team. Suddenly, being a reader took on enormous importance, and I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life: to keep on reading, yes, but also to live in and with the written word.
For days, I'd recite that poem to myself, pealing back the layers of the world I thought I knew to test it against the one emerging. Now I began to understand what it meant to feel so vividly that it was like slicing your wrists against all the sharp edges of living. But pain was so wearing. Plath eventually committed suicide as did my next muse, Virginia Wolf, and really, I began to think that dying in that manner was all a bit too self-indulgent. Reading such angst caused me to turn away towards a brighter world view, though I continued to read widely and deeply from then on. For four more years, I penned poetry and read great literature. Eventually I fell in love with the novel and began writing them in secret at the rate of roughly one a year, each shoved into a drawer and buried.
I did not show my writing to a living soul. After all, my books were not great (serious) literature, they were genre. To me, genre was the equivalent of sludge. If I were ever to bump into one of my old professors, I doubt I'd even admit that I published at all. They'd expect something different of me, something literary, but studying Sylvia and Virginia taught me that it's all right to be entertaining because to be literary meant to be depressed. In fact, maybe genre writers live longer.
I've long since learned that one can write great literature without grinding down into sorrow but I am still content to entertain for the masses. I am a light-weight. Happy endings count for something, after all.
Wednesday, 14 March 2018
Tuesday, 13 March 2018
Further info: http://www.annevansbooks.co.uk
Monday, 12 March 2018
It's time for me to say goodbye.
In brief, hear are a handful of lessons I've learned and memories I'll treasure.
--AE affords its members a rare sense of community. Most of us begin with no sense of our audience; many writers never acquire that sense. Even once we've published, it may be years between books and the loneliness of our profession may seem at times to be too much to bear. Here, once a month, we address writers we've gotten to know. Kindred souls with war stories to share.
--The blog can be a great testing ground. Which of our monthly posts strike a chord...and which fail, like my last post, to attract a single comment--or raise the hackles of colleagues, like my Jack the Ripper post. This chance to test the impact of our words can be immensely useful, fine-tuning our judgment of right words in our wirting.
--In my years on AE, I'm left with a couple of names of writers I've come to regard as real friends. But, equally important, I value the allies who've taken time to provide sound technical advice or comment on a particular post.
--Surely my top memory is becoming--thanks to John Logan--the first American member of this august group.
Now, though, the time--
Oh! Oh! Oooooo! Ahhhhhhh.................
What else is there for me to say but:
I hope it was good for you too.
All the best to everyone,
Dear Old Naughty Red MacRath