Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Some Things I Learned At The GLF

Did I already mention that I was at the Galle Literary Festival last week? Ah yes, maybe I did, in passing.

I spent most of yesterday catching up on work things, deleting all the emails that I'd already read and sifting through the mountain of rubbish that had risen from nothing. I also wrote, or mindmapped, in my journal. I touched upon this yesterday but I have been amazed by the way that mindmapping has helped me to diarise and remember the events of last week.

At this point I have a mindmap for each day of last week. The events I can remember are on each one and, as a new thing springs up in my consciousness, I can add it easily to the relevant page. Very cool. Mindmaps are one of my favourite things in life, maybe higher than Barefoot sarongs.

The bummer about these recordings of the week is that I could write a library of blog posts, so much went on. There are salient points that I might just chuck out at will in the meantime.

Reading this post by Ravana made me realise that I didn't manage to meet up with him but was probably standing yards away from the chap as he was queueing, a word I always have problems spelling, to meet Germaine Greer. But the ebb and flow of Ravana's writing reminded me of one of the overall things I came away from the GLF with; a feeling of inadequacy.

Before you ask it wasn't sexual inadequacy either, despite the conversation with Germaine Greer. No, it was a feeling of awe and respect for the writers and literati present.

I was struck by the command and control these people have over words and language. I was left feeling that the only time I can genuinely feel there's a book inside me is when I finally manage to shove a really small dictionary, or perhaps a pocket diary, up my arse.

I listened to V.V Ganeshananthan talk eloquently about some of the things she had picked up from her teachers and students. The thing about carrying rocks up a mountain, after my friend had explained it in thick person's words to me, was particularly useful. What she said was that, when one is writing a story, each thing you introduce to the story is like a rock that you're putting in a rucksack as you climb up a moutain. So the more rocks you pick up at the beginning the more you have to carry up the mountain.

A piece of literary wisdom if ever I heard one.

All these people, perhaps unsurprisingly, appeared to be as clever and sparkling with the spoken word as they are with the written one.

I didn't know much about Germaine Greer prior to the week. I knew she was a feminist of sorts, that she's Australian and that she has written the Female Eunuch, though I haven't read it. Let's just say that I'm smart enough to know a Eunuch is a Horse type of animal with one horn. I've seen her on TV programmes here and read bits and pieces. But, scary in person as she is, she's also downright funny. She sat on stage and spoke in front of a few hundred people as if she was chatting to an old best friend, making him laugh out hysterically in the process. If that were me on the stage I'd have been shitting pocket sized diaries or really small dictionaries.

Pico Iyer came across as the most affable and joyous chap one could wish to meet. And I did meet him. And he was, as the Talking Heads once said. He talked about the presence and aura of the Dalai Lama, but he seemed to have a similar thing. Maybe these auras are infectious.

Thomas Kineally was as humble as possible but verbally sparkling with it. I had a brief chat with him and only found out afterwards who he was. He sounds like he's an emotional sort of man but I reckon he can do what he wants, he's that famous.

So my days at the GLF taught me two important things;

First, how much I really have got to learn, about writing and wordy things. Any passing thoughts I had on my own ability to write were well and truly blown over the horizon after hearing the experts.

Secondly, how Dominic Sansoni makes a gin and tonic.

More on that later.


Anonymous said...

i think that's a Unicorn. A Eunuch is a critter that has been castrated

ViceUnVersa said...

Hello you, nice to see you, nice!
Bit late but GM2U.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Anon - I was doing that jokey thing, where I pretend to be a bit stupid.