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‘Once upon a time there was a little girl who wanted to be a writer. She worked very hard, scribbling lots of stories. Then, one day, a fairy godagent promised to make all her dreams come true.' Ann Morgan reconciles the myth and business of being an author.
What are we seeking when we visit writers’ homes? Richard Lambert considers literary tourism and shares observations from his own literary pilgrimages.
Alison MacLeod charts the complicated friendship between Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield and asks whether their friendly rivalry was the crucible for their literary legacies.
'As he grabbed a handful of crisps he delivered possibly one of the most insightful and concise critiques of my work I have ever received. ‘It’s alright. You know. When you’re reading it.’ (It’s possible, dear listener, I exaggerated the Birmingham accent).'
'It occurred to me to wonder, each time I signed one of these letters, how many disappointed writers would remember my name with hostility, and how many invisible enemies I had made during my tenure as queen of the slush pile. '
When Penny Hancock switched the beds in her home she didn’t expect it to cause writers’ block. Here she examines how her habit of writing under the covers has proved essential to her process and how this simple piece of furniture can be symbolic, both on and off the page.
'Seventy-four years after Dickens’ night-walk, in the year 1930, Virginia Woolf sets out from Bloomsbury to the Strand. Her object is not to get through the night but to purchase a pencil. Under cover of this, she can indulge in the pleasure of rambling.'
Jon Stock considers life as a nine-to-five novelist and finds unexpected pleasures in editing, a sometimes-overlooked part of the writing process.
'I intend to book-end my talk with a spacey slides show set to Elton John’s ‘Rocket Man’ and David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ but my version of PowerPoint is incompatible with the Festival’s. A man in the audience has a rock guitar and offers to play live. '
'Ghost-writing books and columns for celebrities; booking guests onto TV chat shows. There’s nothing wrong with those gigs – and the bills must be paid – but they won’t help you develop the skills to become a first-class screenwriter or novelist.'
Ruth Dugdall visits some famous writing spaces – from J. K. Rowling’s Edinburgh café to Dylan Thomas’s shed – and asks what a writer’s chosen workplace can reveal about their life and art.
'Writers, especially women, manage to write in all sorts of places. At the corner of the kitchen table while they knead the bread, in damp dugouts with shells raining down on their heads, in grim bedsits at the end of a long working day...'
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