Sunday, October 21, 2007

"A Few Little Gems"

One of the best things about a LitFest is the gathering of the little gems; by that, I mean the gleaning of info about/from celebrities, either stuff they pass on during their events, or possibly stuff you hear from a friend or glimpse over the net before you meet them.It's the kind of stuff, the sort of information that enlivens, introduces you properly to talented and creative people.

Here then are some little gems about Rabbi Lionel Blue ( last Wednesday at the Town Hall) and best-selling writer Kate Long ( who ran a fabulous creative writing workshop at Chester Theatre Club's Little Theatre* ...see just above my PS, please...yesterday):

Lionel Blue, it seems, counts his blessings because of his Grandma...
And his mother, who he clearly adored, called him Lionel after Lionel Barrymore. Seeing Barrymore in a film at the cinema, she said, was the ONLY Good Thing that happened in the Depression of 1929; her son hit the world in 1930.
And Lionel Blue says he was a smug young man but one day, God spoke to him ( harshly!):" Look, Lionel, if you go on like this, I'll break your bloody neck!"
Lionel says he aims to give people courage to get out of bed in the mornings, but ( hmm) this doesn't work for me; I'm too busy listening to " Thought for the Day" to even THINK about putting my slippers on. And his cure for insomnia? Eating baked beans out of the tin.
Lionel reckons the world is like the departure lounge of an airport; we make ourselves comfy, get to know each other and then suddenly, we're called, our number's up, so off we go...
And another thing, Lionel reckons God's told him to stay around a bit and given him strength to do it, although he says much of his life takes place betwixt the No Man's Land of Judaism and Christianity...

Altogether an interesting and thought-provoking evening with a fascinating guy..


Kate Long**, running her workshop, sensibly advises writers to write daily, even if they're merely " tickling" their thoughts.
She obviously bursts with ideas: she says "her mind swirls with weird images like some bizarre aquarium" .
She believes creating strong characters essential to good stories; yesterday she devised fun exercises showing this clearly.
And Kate says writers should read widely, move out of their comfort zone, try new authors. She first realised she wanted to write on reading Ted Hughes' wonderful poem " Thought fox".
Kate advisers the keeping of notebooks, has one by her bed each night. She has one notebook for the plans of each of her books; she showed us her handwritten notes, her original " plottings".

Kate inspired us with her thoughts, knowledge and enthusiasm; I know we all had a lovely time!

* And thanks Little Theatre for having us; it was much appreciated!
** Look at my blog posting April 30th for more about Kate's books. Click on Archives to the right of this entry.

PS: Other Events:
Last Thursday, the Grosvenor Hotel served up a delicious lunch; there were also 4 guests speakers, Julian Clary ( recently published " Murder most fab") Jenny Colgan ( chick lit " Operation Sunshine") Kate Williams ( " England's Mistress: The Infamous Life Of Emma Hamilton") and Jane Fearnley Whittingstall ( "Good Granny Cookbook") We had an excellent time, with some good contributions from the 4 guests ( particularly Kate Williams) although a little less "reading from book to audience" from some, would have been appreciated.

On Monday, we met at the University for the launch of a collection of short-short stories ( 50-350 words ) edited by Dr Ashley Chantler. The book: "An Anatomy of Chester" contains 55 stories, written by local writers. We were made welcome with generous glasses of wine and before four of us read several stories, Dr Ash talked about the history/development of this increasingly popular story form.

9 Comments:

Blogger liz fenwick said...

I am so jealous........

6:29 am  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

All this good lit. stuff seems to be going on and on - what a fest! Lucky you! Thanks for passing on the gems.

8:48 am  
Blogger Jan said...

Thanks CB and Liz.

9:27 pm  
Blogger herhimnbryn said...

Mr Blue. I used to enjoy listening to his melliflous voice on R4.

9:21 am  
Blogger Jan said...

herhimnbryn:
Melliflous... Lovely honey word..
Thankyou.
Sounds like a lullllaby..

11:41 pm  
Blogger Lucy said...

Lionel Blue's 'My Affair with Christianity' is a really good read, worth any number of bland New Age timewasting tomes on so-called spirituality.
I also enjoyed a programme about him a few years back round about his 70th birthday I think. His partner Jim was in it and some members of his family. He seemed a bit frail then so i'm glad he still seems to be going strong.

1:01 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Lucy:
Thanks for this.
He is a thoroughly Good Guy.

10:24 am  
Anonymous Kate Long said...

It was a pleasure to be at the lit fest. We had a smashing group, and you did some brilliant writing, Jan!

3:36 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Kate:
Thanks for this and glad you enjoyed it.
The feedback's been fabulous; you gave us a really fun workshop.
Hope to see you again soon!

10:18 pm  

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