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I’m not listening!

I went to the Small Wonder short story festival on Sunday. I had my first internet meet too! Vanessa Gebbie (whose on-line writing forum I am a member of) and Elizabeth (another forum member) picked me up at Lewes station and we returned to Vanessa’s for lunch. I have to admit I was nervous about meeting for the first time but Vanessa made me feel so welcome and was even lovelier than I had imagined she would be, somehow softer and warmer. She really is all kinds of ace…thanks Vanessa.

On to the festival where we saw Will Hodgkinson speaking about his books Guitar Man and Song Man and how a song can be a short story. He was joined in conversation by a singer/songwriter called Mara Carlyle, and she sung a song in a voice so wonderful, clear, sparkling and gorgeous that I promptly forgot everything else!

Fay Weldon was up next, a grande dame full of wit and experience. She was followed by Yiyun Li, who seemed immensely likeable and interesting. My problem came when they read from their books. I listened for a bit and then my mind began a drift away from what they were saying, the words washing over me as I mused on gawd knows what and then pulled myself back into focus. I thought about this afterwards, trying to recall other readings I have been present at.

When I have seen poets speak their own words they have brought sense and meaning with them (Les Murray reading his poetry illuminates in such a stunning way it really is akin to a translation). However this magic hasn’t occurred when listening to writers of prose. My light bulb moment is in realising that I simply like my words to be on a page. I want to see them, and when I can’t some concentration is lost.
I don’t like reading prose aloud either, although I know that as a writer I am supposed to. in order to check for rhythm and such.
Erm, that’s it actually, not sure why.

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2 responses »

  1. Ha! Softer and warmer? Nah. I bite people’s ankles for a living.Just goes to show what a skew-worthy place the internet is…. !!It was really lovely to meet you, and spend time with you. FW’s reading grabbed me, but then I lost her when she interrupted her own reading to ask the audience if she ought to read something less challenging. (‘a nice character, or story’, was how I think she put it) I loved Yiyun Lis reading. I was mesmerised.But I know what you mean., There’s a very different experience got from curling up with a written piece. You can take your time, and form a personal relationship with it.kind of.Nice to see you got home OK!V

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  2. I have enjoyed listening to some of my favourite bloggers being interviewed on the radio (and some like The Girl with a One-Track Mind have read brief extracts from their books, and I enjoyed that. I cannot comment on the ones you heard, but I can see how one might need acting or voice-over skills to read a book successfully; my wife used to borrow lots of audio books from the library, and few, if any, were read by the authors (assuming the author was alive, of course). This may not be all that different from the way people who’ve listened to The Archers for decades don’t like meeting the actors because they have a view of what the character looks like. To me, as long as the woman who plays Shula sounds like Shula, I don’t mind what she looks like (but I haven’t listened for years).

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