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Living the Literary Lifestyle

August 10th, 2015

life-in-squares-blogFirst, thanks to Vincent for last Friday’s blog. It’s always good to see how authors from different countries approach their writing – but I suspect the sentiments he expressed are pretty universal!

Have you been watching the BBC drama Life in Squares? I must admit that I saw the first episode and then started to find it rather tedious. That’s possibly because when forced to read and analyse copious amounts of Virginia Woolf’s work for my degree I found it something of a chore. ‘Stream of consciousness’, and the Bloomsbury set in general, aren’t really my cup of tea.

But I was interested in the fact that Charleston, the home of Vanessa Bell (Virginia’s sister) and her lover, Duncan Grant, was actually used for filming in the first episode. It’s a beautiful garden and it’s also the venue for literary festivals that are held in May and September each year. ‘Small Wonders’ , a short story festival will be held there from 23 to 27 September this year. There will be readings, discussions, workshops and performances – and it sounds as though some well-known names will be making an appearance. So, if you fancy a beautiful garden, a taste of the Bloomsbury literary lifestyle and you’re a fan of the short story genre, this might be just what you’re looking for.

Moving on, The National Association for the Teaching of English and the TES magazine have just released their list of ‘must reads’ for children. In the top ten there are five books aimed at nursery aged children: The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson; The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle; We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen; Dogger by Shirley Hughes and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. They’re all classics and enjoyed by children and adults alike.

But a point worth noting about all these authors is the number of books they’ve written and the fact that their interests and output are wide ranging – books for children, school books, poetry, songs, collaborations with other writers… Julia Donaldson and Michael Rosen have written in excess of 140 books each and Eric Carle had produced 65 at the last count. It confirms two things. These days publishers don’t want ‘one hit wonders’. They want to take on writers that they feel confident will keep on turning out good books – after all promoting an author and getting them on the first rung to success isn’t cheap. And, on the plus side, once you’ve become a success you can really spread your wings and let your talent take you in any direction you please. So why not keep this at the back of your mind when you’re trying to find a publisher or agent for your work.

Phil’s having a well-earned break, so my guest next week will appear on Monday rather than Friday. It’s Writers Bureau student, Helen Griffiths, who’ll be sharing with you the ten things she’s learned as a novice writer.

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