In the first of a two-part exploration of the knotty problem of ‘Writing versus life’, Royal Literary Fund fellows discuss the ways writers try and sometimes fail to fit writing into their lives, including issues such as juggling family commitments, the importance of finding the right quality of silence and the value of a room of one's own.
'I’ve felt that not doing an English literature degree has been the making of me. Knowing how lacking in confidence I was as a young woman, it seems such great good fortune that I was nourished by so many writers outside of those parameters.'
Nick Caistor on a translating job that revealed his own family history, writing synchronicity, and how fiction and reality are intimately intertwined.
'The time I should have devoted to producing academic papers had been spent writing poetry. I managed to publish three collections alongside my academic career but had been too busy working and caring to build on my writing achievements.'
Katie Hickman on Josephine Waggoner, the first female Native American historian, and the importance of preserving the experiences and life-stories of people whose voices have been hidden.
Laura Barnett explores the fears she experienced in pregnancy and early motherhood and how she reconciled her new role, as mother to a young son, with her writer self.
Emily Berry and our host Julia Copus discuss the often overlooked poetry of Wuthering Heights author Emily Brontë, focusing on ‘I’ll Come When Thou Art Saddest’, in 'Poetry Break'.
'How will nature writing change now, along with our lives? I've been thinking about the Romantic concept of the sublime and how it connotes terror as well as beauty. I didn't understand how this combination could exist until I saw footage of a tsunami.'
'"You write about relationships. You write about love. The Romantic Novelists' Association is a broad church, and they throw fabulous parties!" So, I joined. I went to the Christmas party. It was indeed fabulous. They introduced me to three agents.'
'As poet in residence at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, I was given a bib with the word ‘observer’ on it (lest someone mistake me for a genuine member of the emergency services). I feel I am wearing that bib a lot of the time anyway, as a poet.'
Later generations think that they can judge earlier ones because we who come later must be morally superior, having greater awareness and more enlightened attitudes. That’s a delusion. I know, because, at seventy, I’m embarrassed at some of my own attitudes when young.
As a young adult I discovered the Black American women writers, like Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Terry McMillan, Alice Walker and Ntozake Shange and I followed the road of self-discovery. It was as if they knew me personally and understood me completely.