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Talking the Talk

Right, taking a deep breath, and….

Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.
There I go again, verbal diarrhoea taking over, talking for Britain and boring everyone silly. But is that necessarily a bad thing? (Unless you’re either married to me or we’re stuck in a lift together, of course.)
Last week I spent an entire day at the Leicester Tigers’ rugby ground – no, not doing research into my next testosterone-filled, massive-thighed, rippling-muscled hero, but on a training course called ‘Talk for Writing’. It was presented by Pie Corbett, children’s poet and ex-teacher – and anyone who has the word ‘Pie’ in their name is going to be a winner in my book. Or ‘Cake’, obviously.


Anyway, Pie said, amongst other things, that the way that we talk and the quality of our dialogue with each other underpins all our writing. The art of conversation is dying a horrible death, apparently. I won’t bore you with all the child-based stuff, fascinating as it is, as I’m sure the ones of you bothering to read this are the ones who chat away endlessly to their children and don’t shut them away in a dungeon for hours with only a PS2 for company. What it boils down to is that the hours we spend talking to each other about anything and everything add much of the spice, the fizz, the ooomph, whatever you want to call it, to our writing. I know from experience that the time I spend chatting on-line, especially with the like-minded Romaniacs, makes my writing much more three dimensional and gives me masses of ideas. It also means I eat more Walkers’ Lite crisps and don’t do the cleaning, but that’s another issue.


The other presenter on the course was Anne Fine – one of my all-time favourite authors. I mention this because she talked for one and a half hours without stopping and no-one fidgeted. This was not because someone had thoughtfully drugged the coffee, but because the quality of her talk was so amazing that we were riveted from start to finish. Now, I’m very much aware that listening to me for that long would cause you all to fall on your swords, but the point is that even the everyday burbling and thinking aloud-type talk we do is valuable. We can’t all orate like Ms Fine, but we can use our talk time to bounce ideas off each other, explore new avenues and generally fire up our brains.

Even if you sometimes feel, as with Liz’s ‘writing like a butterfly’, that your talk is butterflying around, getting nowhere – think for a minute. It’s no bad thing to cover a wide range of ideas all in one conversation and eventually some of those ideas will stick and become stories. And listening to other people’s flitting and waffling conversations is one of my greatest pleasures in life – trains, buses, queues; bliss!


So, who are  your favourite talking partners? My message of the day is don’t feel guilty about wasting time – get out there,  find them, and get talking!

Celia x

P.S. And if you happen to see me at the RNA Summer party next week,  I’ll be the one either sitting in a corner  earwigging, or surrounded by a group of people with very glazed expressions.

Very sad extra postscript: Since drafting out this blog, my all time favourite talking partner, my lovely 90 year old Dad, has taken himself off to the great chat room in the sky. Dad talked to me from the moment I was born, and always, always listened. Talking about the funny and poignant memories he left behind with my friends and family is getting us all through these sad days, and one day soon I’ll write these precious memories down. The picture below shows him victorious after a hard-fought croquet tournament. Please feel free to imagine your own speech bubbles…

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18 thoughts on “Talking the Talk

  1. First of all, I am very sad to hear about your dad and sending you big hugs. 🙂 Secondly, love your post! I’m the great chatsby and ‘butterfly talk’ is a perfect label for the way I converse these days. I didn’t used to be like this, you understand, this is all post children and it’s driving my husband insane. I will flit from subject to subject as the ideas come into my head because I know I will forget if I don’t say it out loud. It’s given rise to a few comical misunderstandings, a number of inspired plans (and the odd argument here or there). But it’s all good. Great post, wish I could have been there to hear the talks…

    • Thanks for your lovely comments, Nicky, and for the very welcome hugs. The more the merrier this week. Like you, having children did something very weird to my briain! Butterfly talk sems to go well with child-rearing…

      Lots of love

      Celia xxx

  2. Oh Ce. Respect for going ahead with your post. Tough times.
    I’m usually a talker and so are my children – they can hold a proper conversation. From an early age, my son would instigate conversations at the dinner table. The subjects are not always appropriate for meal times, but I cannot fault his enthusiasm. My daughter (first born) talks in fits and spurts, but she enjoys her quiet times when she can be in her room and read. Her fits and spurts can last days. When she was a new born, I remember my all-time favourite talking partner, my mum, saying the best way for a child to learn to communicate was by listening and watching their family. Her advice was to give a running commentary of everything I was doing. It made for some fairly dull one-way conversations – ‘I’m taking the peeler out of the draw, I’m walking to the sink and now I’m running water into it’ – but I have two lovely children who have a great vocabulary and can express themselves succinctly. (It’s the price you pay…)
    On a personal note, Celia, the conversations we Romaniacs have are simply cracking and when I was unable to or didn’t feel like communicating, you all kept the channels open so I could tune in and simply listen.
    Getting stuck in a lift with you, Celia, would be an honour and the best way to pass the time 🙂
    Think of the books we’d write after that.
    Take care, my lovely friend.
    Laura xx

    • Laura – can’t think how to reply to this at the moment without howling (not like a wolf, you understand). Your fabulous support, along with all the others, will make life bearable. Great advice from your favourite talking partner too! Much love

      Celia xxx

  3. Oh Celia, you’re here, very brave {{{more hugs}}}.

    I know some of you probably won’t believe me, but I am actually a bit shy at times. Stop laughing, it’s true. I’m all right once I’ve met someone, but that first meeting I find myself quite often just talking about nothing, just to fill the space and if I’m not talking I’ll be laughing. That nervous laugh just pops up from nowhere, often at completely the wrong time. Second meeting and I’m fine, much more relaxed – I can usually hold a decent conversation at that point.
    Like Laura, I love our Romaniac conversations and just wondering what it would be like with all nine of us stuck in a lift together.

    Sending you and your family lots of love, Celia.
    Sue xx

    • Receiving the love with many thanks, just about to put a post on f/b to say thanks for the beautiful flowers, plus vase! How cool is that? Off to practice own nervous giggle for next week as the family think I should still go to the party. Seems wrong somehow but really want to see you all,

      Love
      Celia xxx

      • Oh Celia, we would of course love you to still come. We can have real life hugs then. What do you think you Dad would say? Maybe that might help you come to a decision.
        Glad the flowers arrived and vase in tact too – excellent!
        xx

  4. Celia, what a lovely post and a fitting tribute to your equally lovely Dad. I think it’s so important to talk things through and to also be a good, attentive listener. I often say things aloud when I’m writing to make sense of the mish-mash of dialogue running through my brain. Many a time I’ve startled poor Mr B by rushing into the lounge and asking him to be my sounding board. As for us Romaniacs all getting stuck in a lift together, well can you imagine? Chats, laughter and hugs aplenty, I think 🙂 I too, would love to see you next week but whatever you decide to do, just know that we’re all here for you.

    So pleased you love the flowers. Much love to you & to all your family.

    Jan x x

    • Flowers now in place of honour next to photo of dad holding a sparkler and grinning a manic grin. Stuck in a lift may be our next group blog – who, when and why?

      Thanks, lovely Jan

      Celia xxx

  5. What a lovely way to remember your dad – as your ‘favourite talking partner’. I’m so sorry for your loss, but smiling too because a lot of how you described your dad fitted mine as well! He could talk for Britain and it’s a talent I am glad I inherited, because I think talking is a great way of bonding with others, sharing experiences as you just have, with us. Thinking of you in this sad time.

    • Thank you Jane – really appreciate your kind words – hope to meet you in the flesh (always soundss so dodgy) next week,

      Celia xxx

  6. Celia, I have just read through your comments and just have to let you know how you have made me appreciate my lovely dad. He unfortunately talks at you rather than with you so we find ourselves having to just listen to the same old stories, told in the same old way,( I am sure we are all guilty of this at times) but I am so appreciating having him to listen to, having read your post. At the other end of the family my chatterbox three year old grandson has just departed leaving me feeling I have gone deaf. Family are such a joy whatever their age. My, you have inspired me to write too XX

    • Good for you, go for it, Jill! Hope to see you and the lovely small person around Morrisons’ soon!

      Celia xxx

      • Celia,
        I am sorry to hear about your dad. But think of all those lovely memories you have of the fun and conversations you had with him.
        I can be quite shy when first meeting people, so tend to talk to much. I know I have said to much when the glazed look starts to appear in a persons eyes.
        My friend has a brilliant sense of fun and we can talk for ages over a coffee. Talking can really help in all different areas of our lives. If I am stressed about something I talk to friends about it.
        Sometimes just writing it down can help. I remember when I was about ten years old, I had a black rabbit. His name was Thumper, sadly he died. I also had a dog, I think you can guess what happened! someone left the garden gate open. I just sat and cried, then wrote it all down, I felt as though it helped me. Also didn’t speak to the dog for about a week, but soon forgave him.
        So, yes talking is a must for me. Put it this way I could never take a vow of silence!
        Enjoyed your blog, thanks for writng.
        Lorraine

  7. Hello Lorraine – glad you enjoyed the blog. I really appreciated your comment; shame about Thumper though! Good point about getting things down on paper straight away, am hoping to do just that later this weeekend,

    Many thanks

    Celia x

  8. Oh Ce
    You’re an inspiration, you have been through so much in the last few years and yet you still find the strength to write something so brilliant. You inspire everyone who works with you and those you teach. It has been great working with you this year and you’ve made my start into ‘proper’ teaching soooooo worth it, I have always been a bit of a listener rather than a talker, but you have helped me develop my teaching in a way I could only dream about (not too gushing I hope, but that’s how I feel).
    You are a true trooper and your dad was too, the wonderful stories he told, the children he helped and the way he obviously loved you is testament to you as a family.
    Thank you for being you!
    Love you loads
    Sara xx

  9. Oh Ce, you have been through so much over the last few years and yet here you are with a fantastic and beautifully written blog, I wish I had a quarter of your talent to write such a brilliant piece.
    You’re an inspiration to so many, especially those you work with and the kids you teach. I have really enjoyed working with you this year and you’ve made my start to ‘proper’ teaching a real adventure.
    Your dad obviously had a big part of making you who you are and you’ve passed this on to your two beautiful daughters.
    I can honestly say you will always be someone I can talk to and share some fabulous times with; thank you for being you.
    Thinking of you
    Sara xx

    • Sara – this is lovely. I’m lost for words…honestly! Thank you, have loved every minute of working with you too xx

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