Saturday, 10 September 2011

Words, Cake and Champagne

The white butterfly is dancing madly outside the newly painted display windows of the Cambridge Writing Salon. The other women writers hunch over laptops around the edges of the room, cups of tea, water, cupcakes strewn in friendly careless clusters. I am sitting in the centre of it all. Aside from a creator of speech bubbles for illustrations, I am the only one old-fashioned enough for pens and notebook. (Fortunately no one has had a look at my notebook; it is perkily titled Silly Old Bear and each page has craftily woven images of Eeyore, Tigger and Pooh...).
Pooh and the butterfly notwithstanding, I still feel very Bloomsbury. A rather terrifying mannequin in the picture window, faceless in black velvet and mock Tudor ruff, maintains our dignity to the curious passers-by. How diligent we must all look!

Before the diligence, we were given a talk by the charming, effusive and gallant Tim Hayward, Guardian food critic, editor of Food and Knives - an incredibly literary food magazine, new owner of Fitzbillies Café in Cambridge, and father of delightful curly mopped Liberty (who I sweet talked into signing my Pooh notebook. Well, why should her father do all the autographing?).

According to Tim, the creative life of a writer unfurls most gloriously when we are open, flexible to changing our minds, and able to maintain some kind of balance between pride and humility. The humility lies in this: as an artist, what you are about to create does not yet exist. All that exists are the possibilities.

Pride came in spades at the end, when, sans Tim, we were all women again, and champagne was uncorked, more cupcakes (provided by Miss Sue Flay) were untidily scoffed, and a chummy sort of camaraderie sprang up, neither competitive nor wall flowerish. We were equals, the nine of us, and it was quite perfect.


oceangirl said...

The picture is so lovely Shaista. I carry my computer, my ipad, my iphone and I cannot leave home without my black notebook. I doodle my mind into it.

Shaista said...

That's a lot of choices of objects to write your thoughts into!! I just carry a journal or use random paper... of course sometimes I lose said random paper ;) so maybe your way is better - more back up!!

SG said...

The champagne is inviting :)

Andrew said...

You are such a gift to the world Shaista. All the very best to you.

Amélie said...

I'm so touched and happy you visited my blog and left a comment. I've been following yours in silence, from time to time. "Lupus in flight" is a precious place,for me... your poems, the spirit around here, grace and delicacy.

SARAH said...

Very poignantly and elegantly captured. A balance between pride and humility, for sure.

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