Life Cycle of a Writer: Seven things I found out in That Big London

This usually Midlands-based Romaniac was out and about recently – seven days in the big city with RNA meetings and the summer party thrown in. Pretty exciting for a person who normally lives mainly in the thick of charity shops and card emporiums, you might say. But not only was it fun – the week away was a timely means of stepping out of my comfort zone and getting ready for the next writing chapter. A kick start was needed, in a very big way. Here are seven things I noticed, visiting the hub:

  • The RNA Summer Party is still a brilliant place to catch up with old friends and make new ones, and the committee meetings and AGM  are NOT ONE BIT SCARY AT ALL. The welcome is warm, the Joan Hessayon Award is always a lovely tribute from a caring husband to a lady who believed strongly  in the NWS and the short listed books are of a very high quality. Choosing a winner must be hellish. Dr Hessayon buys fizz too, every year. Congratulations to Kate Field – a worthy winner – The Magic of Ramblings is fab.

STAIRS                      INDIA

  • Sometimes, if you’re patient, surprising things happen. Tower Bridge opened for us (I’m assuming that was the reason) and I saw Stephen Fry in the very flesh (Yes, the real live Stephen Fry) just being his normal lovely self in Waterstones. I’d like to say I rushed up and wowed him with my witty banter but actually it wasn’t quite like that. Anyway, nobody fell over or burped or anything.

waterst                  open

  • I CAN wear big shoes. It’s just…not for long.


  • Visiting places you’ve mostly seen on a Monopoly board is never going to get boring.


  • Maps are amazing – tube plans, guide books about Hidden London, street signs. I love them all. You have to have them the right way up though. Just saying.


  • A foxy new note book and pen is often all you need to spark off a brand new book. Or two in this case. #worryingbrainoverload



  • Going home is sad, but coming back is even more fun. In fact,  I’ll be in the big city very soon. So all good. Just hope Stephen gets the memo.


So, what does London mean to you?




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…