What a privilege it has been to be in the company of so many writers and teachers of writing at the Great Writing conference, London. As last year, I come away having learned more about this writing life that I've chosen, and where I position myself within it. This time my presentation focussed on the practice of writing, my own writing, in particular how to negotiate the use of multiple perspectives in the novel I'm working on. I don't assume that I have the answers to the challenges this faces and I suppose the verdict will come from readers when One Core Belief is released in February 2017; however, the signs are good. I read from my work in progress and was very, very encouraged by the feedback. 

I love London and its surrounds and have drawn a lot of inspiration from the evidences of its past and of its present - what a time to be there with such an historical political/social outcome of the referendum! While I pounded the pavements, buses and Underground exploring its many treasures, there are a couple of moments in particular that I'd like to share here:

Bath - When I was writing my previous novel A Single Breath (published last year)  the trip was booked to visit the city of Bath, the setting for the climax of the novel. As it happens, life got in the way and it had to be cancelled, so … research was done using information and virtual tours on the Internet. Even though the novel has been published since, I felt that something was not resolved. I needed to 'be' my character Dana and to see and feel where it was that her significant moment occurred. So this was my chance. As I entered the Baths, I could feel myself trembling with anticipation. I walked where Dana walked, and I sat where she sat - very powerful and emotional. I felt then that I could finally let it go. 

Cambridge - Already I'm thinking of the next novel! Not so unusual I believe. Despite my engagement with the current work in progress, I allow myself just little glimpses of what might come next; it's an important incubation period between now and then, as long as it doesn't undermine or interfere with the devotion to the task in hand. However, given that I had to imagine the setting for Dana (above) in the writing of that work, and thinking that some of the the next novel would be set in and around Cambridge University, and the Royal Homeopathic Hospital (former name), this  would be my opportunity to position myself where my new, unmet, unrealised people who I will come to love, will walk and talk. So … watch this space. 

British Library - Oh wow! The Treasures in the library are treasures indeed: Mozart's notebook (and those of many other musicians); Jane Austen's desk, glasses and hand written copy of Persuasion; Thomas More's Utopia … I'm not even touching the sides. I elected to not use a guide, or an audio - perhaps my loss - but what struck me about the handwritten works of such as these were the scribbles and crossings out - the deletions and replacement of words and musical notations, the raw crafting of works in progress that demonstrated uncertainty, perhaps insecurity, as well as genius. These are poignant reminders that what we are privileged to experience in the final products are the works of those who too may have struggled to find the right words or notes, to have experienced moments of low self-confidence, and whose brilliant, creative moments were composed within the joys and trials of 'ordinary' life. In the Museum of Natural History I learned that when the American naturalist John James Audubon's completed The Birds of America, publishers of his time were not interested in his work; a blow to self-esteem, but he believed in himself and self-published (as did Marcel Proust). Today Audubon's work is the most expensive book in the world. 

And my own writing? More scribbles and crossings out, deletions and additions and lots and lots of inspiration.

Bath 

Bath 

Cambridge

Cambridge

Audubon

Audubon

Happy me

Happy me

Posted
AuthorAmanda Apthorpe

It's hard to believe that it's now over four years since I made the decision to leave full-time employment to 'follow my dream' and a while since I documented its progress. In this time I have had the great blessing of seeing both my novels published by the wonderful Atlas Productions and finished my PhD. Teaching creative writing and editing, assessing manuscripts, giving papers at conferences and working alongside other writers - my tribe - confirms for me that I made the right decision and that when something calls you, you have to answer. 

So … London's calling again. Last year I attended the Great Writing conference and I'm off again in two weeks to be immersed in all things writing and an expanding tribe that represents over forty countries. The conference itself is only two days, but the rest of the time, other than wandering the streets of London in perfect bliss, I'll be conducting my own personal writing retreat. I've heard it said that a writer doesn't hit her straps until the third novel and I think it's true. My third is providing me with great joy and considerable challenges negotiating the five central characters. They need my attention and they're going to get it in the little cell in the convent that is my home in London. I'm not leaving until it's finished! And I have the extra incentive of its publication in February 2017. 

How lucky am I? Very! What a journey. 

Posted
AuthorAmanda Apthorpe

I'm not a Hindu, but have a great love of the iconography, and every other religion's iconography for that matter. This image is the last thing I see at night. It causes me to ponder the nature of the universe, of life and death … but not every night. With glasses off, and in the evening light, I can imagine Shiva whirling to his right, the forces of creation and destruction kept in check - as long as that foot's up!. The whole setting here is poignant for me. Beneath Shiva is a tapestry woven by my mother when I was a child. Its colours are still vibrant, but it will fade; I wonder about the chatter, the laughs and tears, the hum of domestic life that accompanied each stitch. She wasn't a particularly patient person, so I choose to believe that this quiet, reflective pastime saw her in a good space. Beneath the tapestry is the table around which her mother, my grandmother held seances. What or who was she looking for? The mother who died giving birth to her is my guess. The stack of yet-to-read books hover. They will be full of beautiful and not-so-beautiful words, wisdoms and hopefully some laughs. In time they will be assigned to the shelves or find their way to an op-shop, but what they gave me won't be forgotten. Shiva's face, I know, is peaceful and impassive, content in the knowledge that there is a balance of forces up and down, left and right, that life and death, grief and joy are in harmony. That's a nice thought to sleep on, as long as he doesn't put that foot down. 

Source: https://amanda-apthorpe.squarespace.com/co...
Posted
AuthorAmanda Apthorpe

Lord of the Dance

I'm not a Hindu, but I do have a weakness for the iconography - and every other religion's iconography for that matter. This image is the what I see last thing at night. It causes me to ponder the nature of the world, of life, and death - but no, not every night. With night time vision, and especially with glasses off, I can imagine Shiva whirling to his right, a circle of life with creation and destruction held in check. This is particularly poignant for me. Shiva sits on a tapestry my late mother created in my youth and I wonder about the chatter, the laughs and tears that were woven into it in that time. Beneath the cloth is the table around which her own mother, my grandmother held seances. What or who was she looking for? - the mother who died giving birth to her is my guess. The stack of yet unread books hovers. They will be full of wisdoms, beautiful and not-so-beautiful sentences, and a few laughs I hope. They'll be assigned to my shelf eventually, and might find their way to the op-shop, but what they gave me won't be forgotten. I know that Shiva's face is peaceful and impassive, the balance of forces up and down, left and right are in harmony. I just hope he doesn't put his foot down while I'm watching. 

Posted
AuthorAmanda Apthorpe