I don’t really want this summer to end, partly because soon I will have to batten down the hatches, tussle with the wood for the burner and keep warm and dry in a cottage that presents some challenges in winter. Whereas now I can happily take the Sunday papers up to the summer house and let all such cares slip away, apart from the garden, whose triffid like activity I do my best to ignore and occasionally hack away in a vague ineffectual manner. I do have a lovely neighbour, who having run out of things to do on his own property, pops over and asks if there is a project he might take on, there always is; people can be so kind.
Late July and August are full of lovely impromptu invitations to spontaneous supper parties, private views and events. Last Saturday a group of friends, having shared a pot luck supper went to listen to a Klezmer band in a beautiful church at Cley; it was a wonderful evening spent listening to Gypsy music, Balken and Jewish songs. As my most recent novel features a Gypsy wedding I shut my eyes and was transported to the camp site and was inspired to consider improving both the atmosphere and the imagery. Next weekend there is Jazz at the Harbour Rooms and I planning to get up a party to go there. You can do a lot in the country and along this coast.
Friends ask me what I miss about the city and all I can really come up with is the art house Cinema, which used to be a five minute walk from my house. The food up on the coast is exceptional and not expensive, crab and lobster in season and we have a brilliant farmers market nearby, along with Café’s and Deli’s full of locally sourced delicious foods. It is also far easier to get to London from here, a drive to the station where I can park all day for a fiver and straight in to Kings Cross on a train that never morphs into a coach, as it often does on the Norwich to London line. I think all this means that I am settling in, many of my city friends were askance at my move away from the hustle bustle and cultural melee of Norwich, but really I am a country girl at heart and even though I have taken on a property with far too much land and a lot to maintain, on sunny days like this I think it is all going to work out fine. I love the peace, the thinking space the fact that I have heard only one ambulance siren in over a year and the greenery — green I have decided is important for the soul, soothing and restful. On days like this I really don’t care that it is an eight mile round trip for a pint of milk and I daren’t run low on petrol, I have even forgiven the muscular flies who invade the kitchen and who I swat like a woman possessed. An English summer is simply bliss.
My recommended Word of Mouth book this month is a really good book on writing.
The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman.
What is so good about this book is that it is not only about the first five pages, it tackles common writing faults and I recommend it for my students. It gives really useful examples of the type of writing that does not engage the reader, for example overly academic writing, overblown flowery writing and it makes it crystal clear to the reader what the remedy is. It doesn’t rely on a lot of examples from literature — where quite often you need to have read the entire novel to understand the point being made. I have it on my Kindle, but I would recommend that you buy the actual book, because you will want to flip back and forth and make your own notes in the margins and that is not easy with an e–reader.
My next creative writing course is linked to the ‘Reality’ exhibition at the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts is now booking, it begins on Wednesday October 1st 2–4.30pm for ten weeks with a break for half-term. Booking is through the SCVA telephone 01603 –– 593199. Do book early, places are limited in number and they go very quickly. http://scva.ac.uk/whats-on/events/fictional-realities-a-creative-writing-course-session-1-of-10