Thursday, 15 November 2007

Anam Cara, Unwriting, Fish


Anam Cara was wonderful, as always. Even more wonderful as I has won a week here (wheee!) and added on four extra days... so had ten clear days to write.

I had been playing with one of the sections of the novel in my head, and made myself sit and write it out. Using the iconography of Judas Iscariot, this section scribbled out over a few days to 7500 words. Then I unwrote it back over the next few days to 5500 words. I read it out loud last night... I can take out another 500 at least...

(I am henceforth using ‘unwriting’ instead of ‘editing’. It’s more creative.)

I then unwrote part of the overarching story, tinkered with a few new ideas. And wrote some poetry which was dreadful!

The other residents at Anam Cara were as follows:

Jo Campbell, the extremely talented short fiction writer. (Winner, Fish Histories, Second, Fish Short Story, and Second, Fish Histories at her second attempt at winning!) We had organised to go together; she was a joy to spend time with, and a joy to work with.

Kate Beswick, who has had a career in the theatre and is now a writer. Her novel won the Lichfield/Time Warner First Novel Competition. A fascinating person, and a wonderful writer… coming to the end of another novel set in Paris in the 1920s. A salutary tale about the Lichfield prize: although she won, £5K… the publishers declined to publish her novel …wait for it.. “Because it was TOO LITERARY”.
And they declined all the placed entries and commendeds… again… TOO LITERARY.

There’s a lesson there… if you want to get anywhere… dumb down folks!

J. D. Smith, multi-talented poet, writer of short fiction, children’s fiction and hilarious erotica, was on a two week placement, courtesy of a US National Endowment for the Arts $20,000 award. A sparkling talent, this guy, and wonderfully generous with his feedback.

Link HERE to J D Smith

And finally, the novelist and poet Sue Guiney
A warm and generous person, whose debut novel is appearing in mid-2008 through Bluechrome Publishing. She read from her play in poetry, gave brilliant feedback, and it was the combination of being with her and John that spurred me to write some poetry myself.

Link HERE to Sue Guiney

As always, the place and the people conspired to work magic. Not only did I work hard, I also made a cake (haven’t done that for years!), made fires in the evenings for us to gather round (there’s nothing like the scent of a peat fire). I fed the ducks and hens, chatted to little dog Jack, visited Mary Maddison the stone lady, had a drink or two of the Murphy’s, paid my respects to the Hag of Beara, the Ogham Stone, Kilcatherine, two stone circles, the Healy Pass and gazed for hours at the view from my achingly beautiful…across Coulagh Bay to the hills.

We had a supper party with Clem Cairns and Lorraine Bacchus from Fish Publishing. Lovely to meet them properly, and only sad that Jo had gone home by this time… but we laughed, nattered, and read… John read some poetry and a comic erotica fiction piece, Sue read from her poetry, and I read the start of one of the novel sections.

Sad to relate, my genius attempt at historic fiction bombed at the Fish Historic competition. But Fish have an excellent critique service… so the story has gone off today with a wodge of euros to have some surgical intervention suggested…

More unwriting in the air!

Nice to be home.

And a quick turnaround, and off to Dorset for a prizegiving.


Charles Lambert said...

Did Kate Beswick mention that I was one of the other four Lichfield prize finalists? That novel is still on the shelf, but my fingers are crossed for its future...

This is nothing to do with the post, Vanessa, but I just gave you an award for powerful writing. You can pick it up on my blog (It's a cute little lion for your sidebar...)

TitaniaWrites said...

It sounds absolutely wonderful, very tranquil and inspiring. The company sounds great, something about Anam cara attracts the best people, eh? I like "unwriting", it is always good to come up with new, fresh terms! I have to do a little unwriting of my own in the next few days. You sound extremely productive, good on you!

bevjackson said...

sounds wonderful!! Welcome home.
(thanks for sharing the unwriting too. :-)rqxvcp

Vanessa G said...

Charles... hi!

Yes, I saw that you were one of the Lichfield/Time Warner finalists... some coincidence! There are some bloody good books in filing cabinets that we are not being allowed to read, seems to me.

I am very glad to hear that you haaaaaaaven't given up on it yet though... all strength to you!

I will investigate the little lion... Is it like one of those 'go to work on an egg' symbols? Brilliant! Thank you.


Vanessa G said...

Hi Tania and Bev

Thanks for popping by. I will at some point write a book on unwriting, ... it will be completely unwritten, so will be havily disguised as a blank notebook...


Zoe said...

Welcome back. Hope Anam Cara worked its magic for you.

Can't pretend I like 'unwriting'. It has connotations of the negative, whereas editing has positive connotations, working with what you have already produced rather than unravelling it.


Vanessa G said...

I’m not sure editing was what I was doing.

If editing is all the following:

To add and to eliminate in order to correct.

To collect and to expunge in order to correct.

None of them mean what I wanted. I am not sure when I am doing this that I am 'correcting' anything, because that assumes it is ‘wrong’.

I am adding betterness, and eliminating bits that 'feel' poor. All very woolly! But in the end it may be utterly wrong. So it is unwriting… taking out that writing which was loose. To see if it makes it a better piece!

Glyn Pope said...

I have read Kate Beswick's second novel, as yet unpublished. I don't understand why. Kate is a great writer.