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Reflections of a working writer and reader



The Doncaster Connection

Anna told me, You’re at Doncaster Central Library today, talking about books. You realise you’re in competition with Wimbledon, the world cup and a heat wave?

I said, It’s OK. Doncaster’s cool. Some people will turn out.

The train squeezed me on to the platform at Doncaster station. It had been a short but sticky journey and I felt not unlike a warm fruit sponge.

Within five minutes of arriving at the library there were two power cuts. I went outside to watch the storm. We were in the eye of it. The sky was criss-crossed with static electricity, as if there was a fire in a fireworks factory. Buildings and plate-glass windows were shaking and one woman was standing screaming on the street. For a few minutes the density of the rain brought visibility down to almost zero. The claps of thunder were so loud you might have thought god was dismantling heaven in a rage, pulling huge chunks of masonry from the sides of celestial palaces and hurling them down on the earth. People were ducking and hiding, no doubt about it. No one said much. I sent Anna a text message (I texted – is that valid?), saying: The competition has increased. What you said this morning? Add to it, power cuts, thunder storms and torrential rain.

I talked for a time about ideas. I read some extracts from my books and we had a fairly lengthy question and answer period about concentration and criticism and character. But we couldn’t reach a concensus about the publishing industry. Maybe it needs to get worse before anyone can see how it’s going to get better?
Doncaster was cool. Twenty plus people turned out despite the opposition.

4 Responses to “The Doncaster Connection”

  1. Travis says:

    A line that sticks out at me in this post is, “I felt not unlike a warm fruit sponge.” Specifically the “not unlike” portion of the sentence strikes me. Putting two negatives together to create a positive equaling “I felt like a warm fruit sponge” The “not unlike” version does more for me artistically then the common “I felt like…” simile. It may appear to be a small detail, but it is these “details” again that make all the difference as you have mentioned before in your, “Learning to Write II
    ” post. I have a suggestion if I may, in regards to these “Learning to Write” posts. I think it would be great if in each “Learning to Write” post that you could at the end of each post also include the relative links to the other “Learning to Write” posts.

    On another note, your blog side bar has the section “Your Latest Comments.” However, they are not MY latest comments, they are the latest comments in general, not only mine. That mislead me a little as a visitor to your blog. I would just like to suggest that you change it to say, “Latest Comments” instead or something like that. Anyways, back to the post at hand, the double negative “”not unlike” struck me right today as an artistic display through words.

  2. The Narrator says:

    The walk from the station to the library through a storm of such quality surely excited the literary consciousness, for you and for all those brave souls willing to put down their pints and walk away from televised sports for a moment…

  3. John Baker says:

    I don’t think I agree with you on this one, Travis. The formulation of the sentence as it stands feels a little over-laboured to me. If I had thought I could get away with ‘I felt like a warm fruit sponge,’ I would have settled for that. But in English English (I don’t know about American English or any Other English) that sentence has two meanings. The first meaning is ‘I felt like,’ referring to how I experienced the effects of the heat on my body; the second meaning is ‘I felt like,’ referring to my desire for something. In this case ‘I felt like a warm fruit sponge,’ could be taken to mean: ‘What I desired more than anything else at that moment was to taste a warm fruit sponge.’
    In my effort to avoid the second interpretation I produced a sentence which I feel is ungainly and ungramatical.
    I do, however, take your point about making the links to the other relevant posts, and I’ll do that in future.
    What you say about the ‘comments’ section on the sidebar of the blog is also a point well-taken, and I have altered it. Thank you for pointing it out. I don’t think I would have noticed it otherwise.

    And, The Narrator. As you say, there was a general excitement in the air. I was a little worried, though, for those other brave souls who had set out and decided to return home rather than sit for a couple of hours in wet clothes.

  4. Travis says:

    I see your point John. I’m smiling and nodding my head.