Monday, 7 September 2009


1) Going to Anam Cara Writers and Artists's Retreat, on the Beara Peninsular, West Cork. The pic above, on their website, was taken by moi a year or so back. It shows the swing seat in the conservatory, which has a view out over the gaden then to the hills on the next headland. People ask why I need to go away when I have a perfectly good house, study, here. I tell them it is because I get work done there at a depth I rarely manage at home. I switch out of being a wife, a mother, a daughter, a housewife, a colleague, a reluctant forgetful shopper (our fridge is full of dead things) and a procrastinator, and I become nothing but a writer. Sue-Booth Forbes has created the perfect environment for working in, keeps us fed fabulously well, insists on work and not natter between 9.30 am and 5.30 pm. Books live everywhere. One gets the sense that they own the place, and graciously move back to their shelves to allow residents to share their space. It is like going to my spiritual home - I have never yet failed to write well when I am there, and wrote among other things I Can Squash the King, Tommo there (2nd, Bridport, 1st, Daily Telegraph), Silver Leaves for Judah Jones (Per Contra Grand Prize, and it provided me with so many of the images and feelings for the title story of Words from a Glass Bubble (2nd, Fish).
2)Having spent a summer holiday in Cornwall with my family. With the age gap we managed between our boys (14 years - we waited until the eldest could babysit (!))it is not often that we all get together these days - so to have them both with me was very special. Two six footers, of whom I am very proud. One established in his own business, and doing fine, married to a very special lady. The other entering his last year at school and being given many responsibilities. And thriving on it. What more can you ask of your kids than they grow up caring about others, honest, fun to be with, prepared to work hard and play hard... and far too bloody handsome for their own good.
3)I am happy that I have a mind that creates its own characters, images, connections, sparks, thunderclaps, mudpies and snowflakes. That I see things strangely. The potential in things. That my work surprises me, changes, shifts about and is not the same story repeated, clad in different rags. Someone said to me not that long ago: 'Look beneath the dressing. How many writers are actually repeating the same story like a broken record over and over again?'
4)I am happy that I find the hilarious side to things, even when they are sad. people are endlessly fascinating, funny, weird, strange. I am happy that I can stand back and see events sideways, and giggle at the absurdities of life, always. That I may get low, but it doesn't last. Did you read about the American woman who married the Eiffel Tower?
5)I am happy about creatures that seem to have no reason for being. Like wasps. They are actually stunningly beautiful. And animals we give dreadful names to. Like the dugong.
6) I am very very very happy to have discovered a software programme called Freedom, which allows me to ban myself from the internet for hours at a time on my Apple laptop.


Sophie Playle said...

Have to disagree with you about the wasps!

TOM J VOWLER said...

I hate wasps, but as my friend is always telling me when I question their raison d'etre, they're detritivores and are crucial to many ecosystems and aggriculture. I still hate them, though.


Lots to be happy about, Vanessa. Good for you!

Gay Degani said...

LOL we should all be thinking about coming up with six things to be happy about. For me!

1) Going to Banff for a week to work on my novel.
2) having spent a week in the mountains of Arizona with my friends and family. And the horse I rode in on...
3)Getting pubbed in Night Train and 3 A.M. within a couple weeks of each other.
4)I'm actually building a portfolio. However, I'm a little afraid I'm repeating myself. The body count is stacking up.
5) Happy that I can see what I need to work on to get better.
6)Happy for all my helpful and supportive friends on the internet that set examples for me to follow.

However I'm a little disturb that the word I have to type to verify I'm a living breathing humanoid is "wormato!" I wonder if that could be the result of some gene slicing experiment?

Lauri Kubuitsile said...

I think you're right about your take on parenthood. If you've managed to raise two sons with such qualities you have done your job. A+.

Now I must look for the internet stopping software....

OSLO said...

Anam Chara sounds wonderful. I understand completely how it allows you to shed temporarily all your other roles and just be a writer. I was lucky enough to experience such an amazing feeling on my first Arvon course. It was once of the best weeks of my life. Enjoy. And will look into Freedom. Sounds like something a REALLy need :)

Caroline M Davies said...

Welcome back.

Anam Cara sounds marvellous. Sometimes one does have to go away from home to get writing done.

Hurray for the nice comment about wasps. They do get a bad press and are very useful.


Vanessa Gebbie said...

Thanks for all the comments. Hope you've all had a productive few weeks while I've been away.
Tom - is the novel finished yet? (Just kidding. I was telling my better half how well I'd got on in Ireland, and he said 'Oh good, so you'll be getting it published now?')

TOM J VOWLER said...

The novel is most definitely not finished, V. Summer, pubs, cricket, moving house (currently), and life all got in the way. Mind, I didn't tell the Arts Council 'which' Christmas I'd have it finished by!

Good to hear from you.