All it took was one late afternoon and an evening. Firstly, I met up with a great friend from Australia and we talked and laughed and drank herbal tea (in my case, latte in hers) then we talked and laughed a bit more over a couple of glasses of Prosecco. It was refreshing and uplifting - the talking not the Prosecco. We are both writers and we understand the dilemma as we are both academics too. I felt soothed and encouraged by the encounter. It was ok to feel the way I did. I was still a writer.
We then trundled up to an event at the University where Patricia Duncker, who is Professor of Contemporary Literature at the University of Manchester and a wonderful writer, was going to give a lecture entitled 'Choosing English.' She also happens to be a good friend of said Australian. It was thrilling to watch them both physically bounce at seeing each other again.
What a wonderful and inspiring lecture it was too. She gave a truly engaging lecture full of anecdotes that just lifted the spirits even further. Patricia spoke of how, when at school in Jamaica, she was told 'women don't write' despite being asked to write compositions and that poetry was more important than prose. The former of which she was expected to memorise reams of. There was a great tale of how she had no idea what a daffodil was or how amazing 'a host, of golden daffodils' could possibly look like. It was only when she came to school in the UK that she understood. Her enthusiasm about her subject was infectious and my love of words continued to be re-ignited.
I read, and loved, Patricia's book Hallucinating Foucault in the summer. Her latest book, The Strange Case of the Composer and his Judge was shortlisted for The CWA Gold Dagger Award 2010 and The Green Carnation Prize 2011, and is currently on my 'to read' pile. The picture above was painted by Alessandra Pirovano and were inspired by Patricia Duncker's novel James Miranda Barry. Creativity breeds creativity.
This perfect evening was rounded off by the showing of a short film entitled Love at First Sight, which was in part funded by the Wellcome Trust People Award. The film stars John Hurt and Phyllida Law and was written by Julian Unthank (who just happens to lecture at the University of Winchester!). It was an outstanding piece of work and so moving. I could fully understand why it was Oscar short listed and BAFTA long listed plus winning numerous other prizes. It was so powerful because of its simplicity. But we all know the more simple something looks the harder it is to achieve.
What I took from this evening was the need to take time to reconnect with your creative side and to remember why you do what you do. You are a writer after all...
JW and I parted with songs and bubbles of happiness in our hearts as we headed back from a delightful evening to the reality of academe but with a promise to ourselves to keep finding the time to write, which is where I am off to now, whilst listening to a bit of Ed Sheeran