Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On bulls and not trusting writers....

So, this weekend I'm going back to Edinburgh, my almost home. Two exciting events planned, as well as seeing my more than spectacular god-children.

The first is proving harder to explain that I thought. I tried in an email to the normally reliable Garden Monkey. 'Last year I brought some bull semen at an auction,' I wrote, to which s/he suggested that wasn't the best opening line, before offering me a bench book if I did actually dare to try it with strangers. I haven't yet - not even for a book about benches - but if I tell you guys the story, then maybe it will become easier.

So last year, I brought some bull semen at an auction. Along with it I got the loan of a cow and bovine maternity care. So now, on my way up to Edinburgh I'm stopping off at Gretna Green to see my bull (now born). It will look just like one of these - look...

(I'm not sounding peculiar btw, am I? You would let me know.)

And then after lunch with the bull daddy himself I'm hopping back on the train (sans bull which will be sold for charity but I'll take some pics to show you) and on Saturday, I'm reading for the Stolen Stories anthology.

I LOVE the idea behind this anthology. Here's the publicity blurb:

Never, ever trust a writer. They cluck and nod and listen and then three months later they splash your tragedy/foolishness/very embarrassing incident involving a raspberry jelly and a pair of warm curling tongs over the tawdry pages of a literary quarterly. We feel there is no shame in this. Quite the opposite: we believe this ugly fact deserves to be celebrated with all the pomp and hullaballoo we can possibly muster. Therefore we are compiled an anthology of the finest stolen stories, the anecdotes and overheard conversations that simply demand to be told. We feel that it is time to be honest. This is where our ideas come from.

Every story in the book will have a little introduction from the writer about how it first came about. It's going to be so good for teaching - seeing just how different writers gets ideas, and then how they explore them further in the actual stories. My contribution, 'I Would Never Eat a Tapir', felt to me very stolen. I wrote it for Caroline, who was then running Borders books (no pressure then) after Scott gave me five words or phrases I had to include - tapir, tutu, Stockholm, 'look at the sky' and sushi (hmmm....easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. Absolutely no pressure then). It was strange to write because these words obviously had meaning for her, but none for me. That was probably why it started off feeling very 'stolen' as I wondered if I was using them in the right context, but eventually the story took over. What was amazing was how those words ended up fitting in, taking the story to new places, but never, hopefully, sticking out. You will see how cleverly I inserted one into the title, for example.

I'm a great believer in limits for writers - Twyla Tharp says 'Whom the Gods wish to destroy, they give unlimited resources'. It's an interesting idea.

Anyway, if you are in Edinburgh, do come and see me ...

Saturday November 15th:

Elvis and Shakespeare - 2pm
347 Leith Walk, Edinburgh

Lindsay Bower - frequent contributor to many magazines.
Sarah Salway - novelist with Random House.
Jo Swingler - longlisted for the Bridport Prize and Cinnamon Press First Collection Award.
Nick Holdstock - his work has recently appeared in Stand and the Edinburgh Review.

* live music from Withered Hand – honest, intense, eccentric, bittersweet and very wry anti-folk.
Complimentary Exploading Car Beer!

(I'm particularly liking the idea of 'Withered Hand')

or you can buy the book here.

And if you want some bull semen, er, perhaps don't get in touch... oh no, I'm imagining the google searches already.


Alex said...

I think we need a little more info on the whole bull story really.

Tania Hershman said...

I agree with Alex, you can't just slip bull's semen into a blog post and then... well, my metaphors are inadequate!

The anthology sounds great. I was concerned at the title of your post, I thought you'd been stabbed in the back by a writer, ... but this is a far better situation. Gotta get me a copy of the book.

Also: "Whom the Gods wish to destroy, they give unlimited resources" - so true! Here I am, all this time on my hands, and I am twiddling, twiddling, twiddling. Ach. Have a great trip. Cute bulls.

Sarah Salway said...

It's really just that. I went to a farming ball in Dumfries and one of the things being auctioned for charity was some bull semen. So I got it (with some other people). But then we needed to do something with it, so we negotiated the loan of a cow and maternity care. And now we have a little bull! Living at Gretna Green!
See, simple really. I will report back after the weekend.
Yes, Tania, I can't wait to read the other stories in the book - such a great idea.

Alex said...

Whoah, slow down there... you went to an auction and bid for bull semen? It just doesn't seem quite the kind of thing one tends to pick up at a charity auction. Or even usually one of the lots.

Sarah Salway said...

Well, I just wonder what kind of auctions you might be going to, Alex...

Debi said...

Things you never expect to read ...

"I went to a farming ball in Dumfries and one of the things being auctioned for charity was some bull semen."

As you do ...