Last month I finally got round to publishing Small Town Blues, my second and probably last novel. Each was years in the making and at 77 I’m not sure if I have the time or stamina to write another. I’ll go on writing, of course, but in shorter forms: poems, stories, possibly a novella or two. Brevity is an undervalued quality and the novella an underused form – a genre that allows for development while avoiding the ‘bagginess’ that Henry James complained of. ‘The blessed nouvelle,’ he called it.
My essay on my theory of creativity linked to sublimation and the therapeutic potential of poetry is published online in "WILD COURT", King's College magazine in the University of London. You can read my essay here.
My hybrid flash piece called "Weightlessness" has appeared as "breadcrumb no. 565" in the Flash Magazine of the same name in the USA. Enjoy!
It will not surprise you that we have had to suspend part of the arranged programme for Cambridge Writers:
Rose Foster meets Ronnie Lyndon when she begins a master's degree in Cambridge. A relationship blossoms. Rose is still reeling from the death of a beloved aunt. Is life now on the up? Just when she thinks it might be, Rose is plunged into a terrifying situation.
(3) Point of View
Is this the biggest bugbear of the lot? Are you irritated, like me, by readers who raise an eyebrow at any change of viewpoint? By those who say, “I was just getting interested in Kate when Hugh poked his nose in”? Or worse: “The whole thing should be told from Harry’s viewpoint”? Perhaps you feel like retorting, as Ian McEwan did to Philip Roth in another context, “But that’s the novel you would write; it’s not the novel I want to write.”
(2) Show don’t tell
I’ve been thoroughly irritated by this advice ever since an agent accused me of ignoring it. It seems to me a neat formula trotted out blithely. So I want to examine and challenge it. First, is the distinction between showing and telling as clear as this maxim suggests? We might concede that we see a kind of distinction here, but is it easily spotted? Showing is surely a form of telling and vice versa; the two blend almost imperceptibly. Open any piece of fiction and I guarantee you will find long passages where the line between showing and telling is blurred almost to the point of invisibility.
‘Revenge’ – our latest short story collection has been assembled by Siobhan Carew, our Secretary, and Thure Etzold, our Website Controller. It is available on Amazon as an e-book priced at £2.99 or a paperback.
(1) Write about what you know
I’ve long thought of writing a series of pieces for the newsletter on contentious issues in writing. So I’ll begin with the above. For me, the problem here is the suggestion that we should confine ourselves to writing about what we’ve actually experienced. But surely much of what we “know” comes to us through our imagination. If we were to confine ourselves to the former there would be no historical fiction, no fantasy and a huge reduction in crime fiction. The loss of the first might suit some, but would be unfair to the likes of Hilary Mantel, Marguerite Yourcenar, Guiseppe de Lampedusa, while the lopping of crime fiction, which might bring some benefits, could rob us of fine novels by P.D. James, Raymond Chandler and Dostoevsky. I’ve no idea what these writers “knew”, but I’m willing to bet that many crime novelists have never so much as seen a corpse, much less committed or investigated a murder.
Dr. Emily Bilman
I am honoured to translate a few of Neruda's poems for a magazine to be published in a special Spanish Issue in 2018. So far, I have translated poetry from French, Italian, Hebrew, and Dutch into English. These translations were published in the special Spanish issue of The High Window. What I find exciting about translatins is the transmission of a writer's perspective by another who has read and understood him/her and the personal transposition into the writer's world which is familiar and new simultaneously due to the difference in languages. The process is almost like travel and the discovery of new lands. The translator stands between the translated language with one's own perception of the language used by the author while simultaneously feeling empathetic with him/her without ever losing touch.