Thursday, November 08, 2007

Short stories seemed to be flavour of the week. In the post, a classy compilation of stories from the Santiago Writers group I worked with earlier this year - I hope the "In Transit" team submit this anthology for the award it deserves. In the air, Frome FM has renewed its broadcasting licence and the indefatigable Mike-the-mic donned his hunting pink in chase of local writers for the story slot. I managed to record my festive offerings without breaking any equipment. And at the end of a thoroughly enjoyable story-writing day at Sherbourne, I'm alerted by a participant to a reflection on the craft in The Guardian. Richard Ford identifies a quality he calls audacity, which he finds 'whether or not something far-fetched is "fetched" by a writer's imaginative muscle. Sometimes that happens... sometimes not.' It's true. There's always a journey at the heart of a short story, but sometimes the shift in understanding is the reader's not the character's. Story formulas, like recipes, are great to give initial confidence; once you've got the ingredients you can do what you want. Thanks too, Jonathan, for your feedback on the session - glad to know your 'flickering pilot light' is burning strongly.

Dark evenings, cold nights - could this be the reason I'm watching more telly these days? This week's thought-provoker was 'A Room with a View', re-adapted after the Merchant Ivory romance by Andrew Davies to a more edgily class-conscious film undoubtedly closer to EM Forster's intention. The author's interest in 'the love that dares not speak its name' - homosexuality would remain illegal for another 50 years - is highlighted too, with the character of Mr Beebe alternately farcically comedic and piercingly sad. More audacious than scripting a clergyman as a tragic buffoon is the altered ending: First World War carnage is dragooned, Flanders poppies, trench death and all, into that idyllic Italian field where Miss Honeychurch fell in love below her station and ran off with a railway clerk. I'm not sure what I think about this. I guess it's likely young George would have fought, and maybe fallen, a decade later - but all heroes die in the end. Is there a justification in extending the author's time-scale to delete his optimism with post-modern hindsight? Answers on a postcard please. More about the programme here.

Breathing deeply and practising constantly were key tips on public reading at the 'Frome self-help writers' meeting at the library, ably and charmingly led this this month by Helena Drysdale. The Fromesbury Group met on Monday too: the big news is that Debby ("witty wise and wicked") Holt's new novel 'The Trouble with Marriage' is out in January. Ardent fans can prebook here.

As this posting's been a bit wordy I'll endpiece with a few sparklers: November 5th outside my house, Annabelle and Peter's wonderful 25th anniversary party, and the Frome Drama Club tapping sensationally on the first night of Stepping Out at the Merlin Theatre.
November needs a bit of fizz, doesn't it.

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