I went to one festival talk on my own entitled: A Space to Write. There is a book of the same name which inspired the talk and was already known to me. It had caught my eye in the Sunday supplements a while back and made my way onto the “books to read one day” list, but it’s too costly to buy new and doesn’t seem available as used. Perhaps I could ask for it as a birthday or Christmas present. Anyway: a book in which writers talk about their respective writing spaces and discuss their approach to their craft – wonderful! And the talk was wonderful. I loved it!
Of the four writers in the panel I only knew of one. (I have one of his books unread on my shelves. I can’t remember why I bought it, only that I’ve never been inspired to open it.) But it was a varied panel – a well-known published novelist; a part-time performance poet; a singer/author; and a writer/painter/director. At least three had wonderful speaking voices which is not something I would consider to be necessary for a writer but certainly added to their performances today. And they all read from their own work. Such a variety of readings: the beginning of the book I have unread on my shelf (which still didn’t inspire me to read it); a performance poem (due to be performed that evening); a very funny and slightly risqué short story, and the early draft of a non-fiction piece on the history of New Zealand. The readings and the speakers came across with varying degrees of success but that of course is subjective, and as a group each added something valuable to the mix. But what stood out for me was the confidence with which each proclaimed – not explicitly, but so evidently in deed and in word – “I am creative. I am a writer: this is what I do and this is who I am”.
And yet what they do is not so very different to what I do. Much of what they talked about in how they approach their work and the types of person they see themselves as parallels my experience. Of course, they are published – or asked to perform, and they earn money from their labours. But is that what determines that they are writers and I am not? I felt a common bond with these strangers on the stage. I felt my heart dance a little jig as I listened to them, in the way that it dances when I meet someone by chance and have that instinctive sense that we are kindred spirits. I felt it too when a favourite quote from Daphne was used to finish the Du Maurier walk that we attended yesterday.
I have no expectations of becoming known to any of the people on the stage that afternoon, indeed of becoming known to any of the people in the room; of becoming known to anyone as a writer. But I left that room standing a little bit taller and feeling a little more confident and a little more convinced that I am a Writer. I may never be a published writer, but then one of the panel is self-published and has yet to be taken up by a recognized publishing house. And if I turn this on its head: I never shall be a published writer unless I start to think of myself as a writer in the first place.
At the moment I have three projects underway: this blog; the footnotes, and the stories I’m writing for my grandsons. And today I make a commitment:
To write every day, and to think of myself As. A. Writer.
There’s no need to commit to anything more to fulfill that brief.
6 thoughts on “Final Festival Talk: A Space to Write”
Interesting. It made me wonder if I too am a writer. I’m certainly not a professional writer – I don’t get paid for my writing (at the moment my writing is confined to my blog which I don’t get paid for). I looked at A Space to Write on Amazon – which didn’t tell me much about the book. There are 2 secondhand copies available from £24.08 – seems very dear just for 180 pages of a secondhand book!
Thanks for visiting my blog and I’ll look out for your Classics Club list.
Yes; it is expensive isn’t it, Margaret! And thanks for visiting 🙂
I’ve always written, since I was very young, and like many of us I had aspirations to write a book. And it seemed to me that because that aspiration didn’t come to pass (or hasn’t yet) then I was obviously not a writer. That’s what I’m questioning now. I suppose, having recently retired, this is a time of reviewing my identity.
I meant to say that I’ve always wanted to be a writer – I did try in my twenties. And it was one of the reasons I began my blog when I retired to get into the swing of writing something other than the factual reports I wrote for work – it hasn’t happened yet 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
Well, perhaps it has, Margaret 🙂 I find your reviews clear and easy to read and interesting enough to get me hooked – even with a genre that I really don’t think of as one I enjoy. There again, if you mean that you still haven’t written that bestseller of your own – then yes, it hasn’t happened for me yet either!
(Having just read your review of Alive, Alive-Oh I think we’ve both got plenty more opportunities yet!)
I struggle with that, too – the notion of whether or not I am a writer. Which is funny because when I was a kid, that’s how I thought of myself. And now, though it’s not in my job title, I do get paid to write. But I don’t get paid for what I want to write…perhaps that’s the difference.
At any rate, I’ll try to stop qualifying it from now on. I write. I am a writer.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yay! It’s just a mindshift thing really, isn’t it? We need to start to accept ourselves as writers 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person