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Saturday, 23 April 2011

Am I cramming or in flow?

There is nothing like a deadline to get a writer into gear. Focus not Phaff (or Faff if you prefer) is the mission statement this week. I seem to have a million and one things to do before I go to Padstow, one of which is writing a couple of pieces to read out over a glass or two, we all contribute.

Let me tell you a story... Back in 2008 I decided my narrative driven cookery book which is highly stylised and has been in creation since 2005, wasn't really growing or going anywhere, after initial publisher interest the trail went cold.

Maybe it is because I did everything the wrong way around as I thought I would have to submit three chapters for the publishers to gain an overview of what it was about. I wrote the intro to the book, I had more than a few recipes mapped out, I knew what it should look like, I had done the photo shoot for the characters, I knew who my main players were, I had run the premise past a few trusted bookish folk, I knew who my audience was but I felt the actual writing content around food writing didn't quite hit the mark. Cookery writing is very different, the approach, the technique, words to avoid, writing descriptive prose needs to tease and tantalise the taste buds, yet like any good prose writing you need to breathe fire into your story and make it live.

So with the support of Creative Dorset and a mini-bursary from the Arts Council and Arvon, I went on the 'Writing for food' residential course at Totleigh run by the Arvon foundation. If you have never been on a writing course, it is worth considering one of their many programmes around the country; a four/five day residential course. I guarantee you won't regret it, I believe it is tax deductible against your CPD, they do assist with bursaries, it is industry recognised as being THE foundation to run well delivered programmes and it is great fun, you never know who'll you'll meet. Personally, I struggle to write anything mildly interesting or satisfying whilst I am there but when I come away, it is like I have been given an enema, writerly stuff pours out of me for months.

This was not the first course I attended and God willing, it certainly will not be the last. The course was run by Orlando Murrin and Tamasin Day-Lewis with guest speaker being Simon Parkes of 'The Calcutta Kitchen' fame.

Orlando and his partner Peter Steggall, have recently moved their HQ from France and after much searching found a beautiful property which they have stamped their own mark on and opened their wonderful boutique hotel in Langford Fivehead, a pile that dates back to 1453. It's hallmark carries all the grace and elegance of Orlando himself.

What I hadn't reckoned on was the bunch of foodie folk that I would meet and bond with on the week ahead. Fifteen of us, with diverse backgrounds and an age range spanning some forty years from 21 through to 65, yet we all got on like the proverbial house on fire. Our common interest was food, drink, writing and travel... so a match made in heaven was cemented and we all vowed to reunite every year at the first May BH to share our love of all things cookery, writerly and travely and we call ourselves Gathering Nuts in May. We each take it in turn to organise the long weekend and the organiser gets the Diva's bedroom, then Susan (food technologist who has seem many of your M & S delicacies through their conception to inception) and I, stay on to take advantage of the whole week. Having stayed near Ludlow 2009, Rye 2010 and this year our Sam (test kitchen chef) has booked us a pile near Padstow.

To get back to my original point of this post, as D-Day looms imminent, there is nothing like a deadline to channel your focus. At home before I leave, lists of numbers if things go right, lists of numbers if things go wrong, my annual accounts, bills, blogging, wedding outfit, shopping for the Duchess, beauty treatments and shopping for Padstow need to be done over the next four days... Oh and the piece or two I need to write for our reading night.

I am trying to utilise my time wisely, yet still managing to work on the writing of the book adaptation, plus continuing to promote the Prequel and Sequel to Cannes Feature film script through its final week of submission before it closes off on 30th April, but the housework has been pushed into the background and now resembles Munster Lodge as whispers of cobwebs coat every available surface. Oh well something has to give.

I cannot say that my time has been idle before, but I do seem to think a lot these days before writing. Previously I just had to get on and write, but now... reflection first, actual writing second.

Glorious day again, bright, bright sunshine, blue, blue skies so the garden and laptop call my office for the day.

Peace be with you and joyous writing. xxx Foxi fox...

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