The day started pretty stressfully when I foolishly accepted the Google Maps assurance that Bantry Community College is a 40-minute walk from where I’m staying. It isn’t, certainly not for someone in my embarrassing state of fitness, puffing uphill for the last leg, toting a laptop full of hopes and dreams.
So I arrived hot, flustered and about as cross as a person can be who has had to forego their first cup of tea of the day. Regular readers will appreciate the danger level here to others around me.
There may also have been a smidgen of anxiety as I was one of the first novel workshop participants scheduled to have their work critiqued. We will each get a turn to have our work looked at by one another, and I opted to go early on so I won’t have the worry of it hanging over me for the week. As it turned out, I really enjoyed the workshopping of my submitted piece, which is at a very early stage and so not that dear to my heart. It was a project I worked on years ago and lost control of after about 20,000 words, with no idea how to proceed. Because so much time has elapsed, I can barely remember the finer details and so was quite happy to take onboard any suggestions and to jettison anything that needed to go. I think this would be much harder to do if you have already invested a lot of time and emotion into a novel. The book I worked on more recently is about 70,000 words in, and I probably would have been more deflated to discover that needed a major overhaul (though that is certainly a possibility I’ll face if I ever get to the end of the first draft).
The discussion was structured very positively, with the emphasis on what might be interesting to explore rather than what was ‘wrong’. I’ve come away from the day with lots of ideas to throw around, and a newfound interest in telling my characters’ stories. Incidentally, one of the many memorable points workshop tutor Dean Bakopoulos made today is that main characters should convey a sense that this is the only story they want to tell you. There has to be an urgency and a need to tell. Otherwise why should the reader care?
In other news, the weather was less glorious today but still very pleasant. I’m down for the week with my husband and daughter, who have launched what they’re calling West Cork Cake Festival (#Cakefest 2017). So far, they report that the crepes from De Barra’s are excellent, as is the banoffee pie in Box of Frogs. My own contribution is to add that the apple tart in the Floury Hands cafe is almost as good as my mother’s – and that’s saying something.
Husband and daughter have also been inspired by the all literary vibes bouncing around the town to embark on an impromptu book collaboration, which requires them to sit in every food establishment in Bantry in order to brainstorm. This is them deep in discussion, with banoffee mid-test:
I decided against going to any talks today as I had a lot of reading to do for the next few days’ workshops, but am hoping to catch Billy O’Callaghan and Neil Hegarty at the library tomorrow afternoon, and Colm Tóibín in the Maritime Hotel in the evening.