In October I finally went on the Arvon course that I won as part of my Waterstones Bookseller Bursary. I meant to blog about it much sooner but as time has gone on I’ve realised that I really don’t know what to say. It was an extraordinary five days. I feel I was picked up from my usual life and set down in an alternate reality. There were workshops, readings, discussions, and plenty of opportunities to talk with tutors Patrick Neate and Mark Illis. There were communal meals and lots of chatter. There was incredible scenery and lots of weather. There were bizarre moments, and hilarious ones. The strangest thing was how little reading and writing I did. I had imagined hour after hour of quietly sitting alone and pondering. Nope. It was a far more sociable experience than expected, and better for that. There were a few vital key points that I took away with me that have revealed themselves to be pretty darn important. I’m sure what resonated for me isn’t necessarily what did for others and these things may seem obvious, but sometimes one needs exactly that. For the last year or so I have pretty much been a full time carer and my writing has had to wait. I wrote some flash fiction, maybe even a short story or two, but I left my novel untouched. It is too important to me, and I couldn’t give it the attention I feel it requires. I am no longer a full time carer and the how to write a novel course was hopefully going to help me find my way back to Salted. We all know the saying writers write and I was told I simply have to write 500 words a day. Easy, huh? 500 words is incredibly manageable, I can’t be scared by that. I was also told that until I have 30,000 words I’m not allowed to think about quality or start worrying about where it’s all going. I’m obedient, sometimes, so I have come home and every weekday I have written at least 500 words. Last night I dreamt I was writing my novel which I’m guessing means my novel writing has seeped into my subconscious. Oh yeah, I am doing this thing.
Oh! And I got to visit Sylvia Plath’s grave. I am a massive Plath fan but would never have made a special visit to the cemetery, however, I was invited out for an afternoon stroll with two of my fellow Arvoners (waves virtually at lovely Paul and Lisa) and we found ourselves RIGHT THERE. I can’t quite grasp why people would leave plastic pens in a pot on her grave, I mean, I know she was a writer, but …
I look back affectionately, gratefully, on my time at Lumb Bank, and know that I will want to do more Arvon courses in the future. Thank you Waterstones and thank you to all the other writers for making it so memorable.
4 thoughts on “Lumb Bank”
Misread your tweet on this as "Avon" and was initially quite confused what mail-order cosmetics had to do with writing a novel.Sounds like a great course; 500 words shouldn't be difficult but keeping the consistency is probably the biggest challenge. I know by the time I've finished writing for work for the day, the last thing I'm in the mood for is writing some more for "pleasure"!
Hee, an Avon course to learn how to write those snappy descriptions in their catalogues, perhaps?I think the key is continuity and the discipline of writing those 500 words whether or not you feel like it. It's working at writing, giving it that importance. If I want this then I have to prioritise it, right? I notice that when I stop at the weekend it feels harder to start again on the Monday and I'm thinking I should probably try and do 500 every day but at the same time I kinda know that's not possible. Do you commute to work? I was thinking perhaps you could do some writing on the journey. 500 words don't actually take that long. (Except when I wrote mine yesterday and they took hours!)
Patrick Neate had a short story, All We Like Sheep, in the Underwords anthology (Maia Press, 2005). Liked it so much, I left a comment on his web site. Good stuff. I must check out his novels some time.
He's a good'un, Bob. And unafraid. I like that fearlessness very much.