Sunday, 17 January 2010

ROSES AND THORNS, LITERARY DINNERS, TRUSTED READERS, ART

One of the first stories I ever wrote (sometime in 2003) is published on Rose and Thorn. ‘The Comeback’ is about Philip, a young artist, adopted at birth, who discovers his mother is a well-known actress. And she is coming to town, to star in a play intended to be her comeback…
Cue poignant story written by an adopted adult who was exploring her own feelings at the time. It was runner up in Good Housekeeping Magazine’s short story comp, 2003/4 judged by Alexander McCall Smith, winning me £100! Things could only go downhill, really! I thought this fiction game was a doddle – little did I know. You can read The Comeback HERE.
It is interesting, looking at this one now - can see how much I have changed as a writer. I almost don’t recognise the style, in parts. But it is lovely to have it published now. And lovely to see Anne Brooke in the same issue with a great piece.

Last night I was the guest writer at Sussex House Party, hosted by the indomitable Gilly Smith. Almost all the diners were experienced writers, mainly non-fiction. Piccie shows a writer (right) who has just landed a marvellous agent for her book, based on a fictious blog, but very based on fact. And a very successful writer, left, who has many many text books out there – and who is now writing her memoir. We nattered a lot about their work, and did some ‘intercourse’ character exercises, drank delicious wines, ate gorgeous locally-sourced food. Much interesting natter about the advisability or otherwise of making real people recogniseable in your factual work.
The third writer in the pic is Michael Gould, whose daughter Tara runs the Short Fuse spoken word event in Brighton. He held us spellbound with his memories of Mr West from Stamford Hill – a Burmese gentleman who told fortunes. Michael has self-published a novel entitled Filfy O’Durr (it’s from a dog’s perspective, ha!). I said I’d give it a plug:

And I am honoured that a writing colleague has asked me to be her ‘trusted reader’ - reading her final novel draft carefully before it is sent to the agent, feeding back any glitches. She sent a covering note with the manuscript – saying thank you – but also, saying how exposed she felt now that her work has been given to someone else to read for the first time. I understand completely, sadly. At some point I will put together a post about the dos and don’ts of selecting your trusted reader, based on my own experiences, both great and ghastly.

Lastly - final confirmation that The Return of the Baker Edwin Tregear, the story that won a prize in Fish this year, is to be included in an anthology called Art from Art, by Modernist Press, a boutique publisher from LA and New York. I recognise some of the names here, among them Elizabeth Graver whose story 'The Mourning Door' is stunningly good, if you can find it (Ploughshares), and Pedro Ponce, who was successful in The Calvino Prize last time round (I bombed this year!). Other names picked at random include John Morgan Wilson ,Anne Whitehouse,
Felice Picano, and Steve Rasnic Tem .

8 comments:

Lauri Kubuitsile said...

You look like you're having a fab time and as for your get-up, quite sexy/writerly and lovely hair-BTW. I've spent my life wishing for such hair.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi Lauri! Amd its true - whatever hair we have, we don't like it. I alwatys wanted dark curls....

Julia Bohanna said...

Ha - I have just realised that I was a runner-up in Good Housekeeping short story competition 2003. How life draws strange patterns and ultimately, circles. I can understand that oddness at looking back at earlier work but I can see Vanessaishness in that first story..now it is simply refined and tightened.

Sussex party looks so lovely.

JJ Beattie said...

You can have my dark curls!

I look forward to reading about how to choose trusted readers as I'm beginning to think about that. (I should be thinking about restructuring but that frightens me even more.)

Vanessa Gebbie said...

wow Julia how weird! I had two lots of stuff, two years running from GH - a vast box of books from Transworld, I think - and a lot of book tokens. Luvverly!

a refined and very tight Vxx

Vanessa Gebbie said...

JJB - I will try to be helpful!

Tania Hershman said...

Wow, lots of wonderful events and great news. Nice to be able to see an early story you wrote and see how far you've come, although you began a prize-winner which is not a bad beginning!

minniebeaniste said...

Starting off with a prize must have been a great morale booster. The party looks lovely. Interesting about trusted readers - must be extraordinarily difficult to find, in fact.