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Reflections of a working writer and reader



An Evening with Murdersquad


Tonight the two authors read from their works and share fascinating insights into their lives.

This is taken from the programme of The Terry O’Toole Theatre for tomorrow evening when Margaret Murphy and myself are booked to entertain the residents of North Hykeham, in Lincolnshire.

I suppose I do this kind of thing about once a month. I’ve been doing it for several years now and I’m still not entirely clear what I think about it. I don’t like the idea. And I don’t like the build-up, getting to the theatre, wondering how I can possibly live up to the hype – fascinating insights? But I usually enjoy the event, once it’s started.

There is no real, immediate, connection between readers and writers. If I read a passage from my work and the people in the audience want to comment on it, tell me how much they loved or hated it, that’s fine but that is as far as it goes. It’s probably new to them, but to me it is something I worked on a year ago, maybe longer. Essentially, I’m finished with it. I might have written another novel since then, or be contemplating the theme of something entirely different.

They drag me back, a live audience, into a period of my life which is, for me, essentially finished. This is not, of course, an entirely uncomfortable experience. It revives memory, allows me to relive experiences and thoughts that I may have forgotten. It takes me back to a place which I know, where I have lived before and where I feel comfortable. This is in direct contrast to the place in which I live when I’m writing. That is a dangerous place, somewhere I have not ventured before and which is full of traps and hazards as well as sweetness and light.

Generally, writers are loners. To be a writer you have to enjoy, or to somehow derive pleasure from sitting alone in a room for hours and hours with nothing but idiosyncratic arrangements in horizontal lines of twenty-six phonetic symbols, ten numbers and maybe seven or eight punctuation marks.

And to take that writer out of his or her room into the light of day and place them in front of an articulate audience and expect them to perform, sounds like a kind of cruelty. And I’m sure it is; though it might also represent some kind of vacation.

Anyway, that’s what’s going to happen to me tomorrow. I volunteered for it.

One Response to “An Evening with Murdersquad”

  1. Steven List says:

    Fascinating insights into your thinking! As both a writer and a professional speaker, I feel somewhat differently. But I understand perfectly.

    Especially the bit about

    It’s probably new to them, but to me it is something I worked on a year ago, maybe longer. Essentially, I’m finished with it.

    That part I get. Doing the same talk over and over again has the same effect on me. At least I can change it up for different audiences. But you can’t change up what you wrote.

    Lovely stuff – thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Steven List
    Co-Founder, Back of the Room


    (Thanks for the comment, Steven. But just to clarify . . . it’s the published novel I’ve finished with, not talking about it. For public speaking I suppose I use the same material two or three times before it begins to choke me and I have to ditch it and write something else. John Baker.)