Thursday, 20 October 2011

Camping in the graveyard

It was surely the quickest hour and a half of the week in the company of Carol Birch and Jo Baker at Lancaster Litfest last night.  The two writers read from their latest books, Jamrach's Menagerie and The Picture Book, and chatted like old friends.  I'd not come across Jo Baker before, but I was impressed.  Both writers have degrees in English Literature, yet neither could say that this had helped them in their writing.  They agreed that they couldn't imagine writers not being readers but Baker, who read 'from Beowulf to Virginia Woolf' at Oxford, said that for several years she felt like a writer 'trying to pitch a tent in a graveyard full of monuments to dead people.'  It took her a long time to 'get over' her studies before she could settle down to serious writing.  As an aspiring writer in my final year of an English Literature degree, I know exactly how she feels.  By the end of the year I will have slaked my thirst for great writers and literary analysis.  The thought of reading on a whim and finding my own voice...  I can hardly wait.

In the meantime, I shall squeeze in Julian Barnes' Booker Prize winner between Middlemarch and Dombey and Son and look forward to the light at the end of the tunnel.

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