Showing posts with label Bookaboo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bookaboo. Show all posts

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Something for the weekend ...




I first heard the Bee Gees one hot summer night when I was about the same age as my daughter at the house of my 'cool' uncle and aunt. They were the kind of relatives who never remembered your birthday but she was petite and blonde and had a 'fro Shaft would have been proud of, he was training to be an osteopath and was so ridiculously good looking with long 70s blonde hair (not unlike Barry Gibb), that on their honeymoon a Greek ferryman was so overcome he kissed him full on the lips as they disembarked at their island. They had a full skeleton in the corner of the living room, 'Saturday Night Fever' on the turntable and to a 7 year old in Devon it all seems gloriously exotic.

Saturday nights in Hampshire are rather less funky these days. Sometimes I miss that 'end of week' excitement. With the pilot's schedule there is no regular shape to our weeks - I miss meeting friends on a Friday or Saturday night in London for a meal, club or theatre. In fact I should be in London today - at the Book Fair, but the pilot is somewhere (he left at 4am he did say where he was going -Cyprus? - but it was a bit of a blur), my babysitter is awol, the 7 year old is on a sleepover, so I am here with the hound and a sleeping toddler. My visit to the Book Fair was something I'd been looking forward to for weeks, hoping to report back from the 'How to Get Published' masterclass with all kinds of inside tips for us all. Best laid plans and all that. Still, I've contacted lovely Danuta Keen who was chairing the event and hope to chat to her about all the latest news so watch this space.

Meanwhile I ended up spending the day yomping through bluebell woods with several kids, lovely friends, the hound and her paramour the Glaswegian labradoodle. It was idyllic - and if you can't be where you wanted to be it certainly made up for missing the Book Fair. The woods around here a blaze of colour - it's like patches of clear sky have fallen to earth. The smell is intoxicating too - bluebells mingling with wild garlic. I don't quite know what is going on with life at the moment - none of my great plans are working out (even the simplest ones), but I've come to the conclusion the only way to 'stay alive' in the sense of today's video clip is to roll with it and make the best of things. I'm not giving up, but in the words of John and Son the other day I'm 'letting be' which is a first.

'Mojo' is one of my favourite words, first equal with 'boondoggling'. Getting your mojo back has become something of a joke post Austin Powers, (or indeed 'bojo' thanks to our book reading hound on children's TV, Bookaboo). I don't quite know what the definition of mojo is, but you know it when you see it whether it is John Travolta strutting down the street or a couple of dogs pronking through bluebells. You also know when it's missing. Rather like Bookaboo, as a reader and writer I always turn to books first for solutions rather than burdening other people - maybe you're the same? I recently read this passage at the end of Estes: 'Let life happen to you. Work with these stories - your life - not someone else's. Water them with blood and tears and laughter until they bloom. That is the work. The only work.'

TODAY'S PROMPT: Which books have helped you through periods of change, times when you have lost your way or 'mojo' for that matter? As we walked this afternoon, a friend talked about how old trees tend to fall inexplicably only for new trees to grow from the roots, and bush/forest fires are natures way of clearing a new path for stronger, fresh growth. Maybe it's all part of the circle - whether in terms of life or creativity. Estes talks about how your 'ego plans' slip from your grasp, how change is inevitable and you need to clear the ground to learn your real life and work. Instead of sinking into cold bitterness, you can come back stronger than before, revivified and reborn.

I was thinking about that this afternoon - after the freezing winter, the seemingly endless months of dark and cold, the spring flowers are more beautiful than I have ever seen. Do you think that is all part of the great plan - the harder the tough times are personally or in terms of writing, the greater the opportunity for flowering and growth? Today, why not have a think about some of the things that support you in your life and writing - the things that you love to do. When was the last time you did them? For anyone feeling a little more Austin Powers than John Travolta, here's the greatest example of getting your groove back known to man (union jack y-fronts optional). Have a great weekend.


Thursday, 26 March 2009

Speak to Me


Do you think parents don't read to their kids anymore? It was interesting to see on Bookseller this morning that the titles chosen by Bookaboo have seen a rise in sales. Bookaboo is like a rock'n'roll Jackanory - celebrities reading picture books for children, but this time there's a sad puppy drummer who won't play without a story. He's lost his 'bojo' but books get it back.

As a parent you're glad for anything watchable - it's been rather funny watching Meatloaf cosying up to a depressed canine Axl Rose lookalike. I still associate him with 'Bat Out of Hell' - ever present in Dad's thundering old Cherokee in the 80's, but apparently he's a big advocate of reading to kids.

Maybe the household of a writer isn't typical but ours are read to - and read - every day. Sharing stories is one of the great pleasures - our little one still has a bedtime story and there is nothing like that combination of clean baby smell, glowstars and a quiet book to melt your heart. It's not going to last long, and I'm making the most of every moment. Maybe you remember being read to as a child? I recall winter evenings curled up on the floor of the library at school being read the Hobbit by our English teacher as completely spellbinding. Maybe it was that sense of magic - realising how much pleasure books can bring people, that made me want to be a writer.

A few of you have done book readings of your own work recently, and it would be interesting to hear more about how they went. Hearing prose or poetry read by the author is maybe the adult equivalent of Jackanory? Audio tapes, recitals, Radio 4 book readings - without distracting imagery all of these bring an extra dimension to the enjoyment of the written word. The amount of time I spend on the road ferrying the children around is made bearable by Stephen Fry's recording of Winnie the Pooh and a near worn-out copy of The Little Prince. To be honest, I don't know who enjoys them more ...

TODAY'S PROMPT: What are your memories of being read to? Which are your favourite books to share with your children? Is there really a problem with children not being read to enough? Storytelling is where writing and acting cross over. I remember a great poetry reading in the old gothic library at school during a power cut - the candlelight only added to the drama. Perhaps you read to your wife/husband/partner? Wouldn't that be a treat. Reading any work aloud changes it - have you tried reciting what you are working on at the moment? If not, why don't you try that today - you'll pick up glitches in rhythm, improved phrases will jump out at you. Reading books aloud is a pleasure that's not only for the kids.
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