I’ve just read the blog I wrote earlier in the week which is not yet posted because I am still on my writing course and, as part of the isolation process, there is no internet access. If you’re reading these two blogs back to back, then you may be pleased to hear that things have moved on.
My fellow students are, as I surmised earlier in the week, terrifyingly brilliant. They are also very supportive and friendly with only one or two exceptions. I won’t write anything about the exceptions as I suspect that there will be a mass-sharing of email addresses and they might track this blog down.
Without naming names, some of them have been absolute heroes to me this week. The isolation, combined with the pressure of having to read stuff out to the assembled brains trust, creates huge pressure and earlier in the week, I cracked. I’d had a couple of occasions in the workshops where, like the Psammead in the Five Children and It, I would have dug myself a hole in the sand and disappeared without trace. Writing stuff about work is easy compared to this soul-searching process and the feeling of being judged was overwhelming. Also I blame my natural competitive instinct. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that creative writing courses are, like Pilates, not for the competitive.
I’ve also learnt - big cliche coming up, no pun intended - not to judge a book by its cover. My breakthrough moment was sharing my sense of humour with the four chairs lady. Although she had unwittingly started the downward spiral into Monty Python-esque farce (to which the rest of the room were oblivious), when I told her, she roared with laughter and she then spent the next meal-time attempting to establish whether people in HongKong like Monty Python to see how far she could wind up the lady who lived in a cubicle. We were off and Four Chairs and I have shared some very unlikely moments of sheer hysterics - laughing at things that the rest of the crew have no idea about. Naughty, naughty. But the laughter has released me and I can now look at the rest of them without terror and even contemplate my reading tonight with only a slight fluttering in the stomach.
The last two nights (last night and tonight) we each read something we have written, up to 10 minutes in length. Last night, various people read things, most of which had been written before they came and some already published. The standard is phenomenal. Tonight it is me. I am reading something which I have written here and which is a part of one of the two stories I intend to write before the Alzheimer’s sets in. My effort, which I stayed up until the small hours writing, is not just new, but scarcely off the delivery table in the entirely medical sense of the word.
Wish me luck.
Postscript: the lady from HongKong is called Doris. My brother, who is currently between marriages, refers to his prospective girlfriends as Dorises. Why I felt the need to tell the assembled group this at lunchtime I have no idea. I may have to buy Doris flowers by way of apology. (Actually she offered to go out with my brother, making her the Doris Doris but that’s way too much to consider!)