Ipswich Arts Festival 2015: Writer’s Cafe Event

I had the pleasure of attending my first event within the Ipswich Arts Festival, supported by the Writer’s Cafe (a platform for new writing), and hosted by local independent Coffeelink. It is set in a setting new to me from when I lived in the area twenty-five plus years ago, it has become a trendy marina and an attractive area.

113

114 111

The reading slots are for five minutes and I had no intention of reading. I did have a copy of Maggie’s Child in my bag but decided to sit back and relax after a busy, hot day and enjoy the hard work of others. My crime-writing friend Dave Evans, popped his name down on the list, as did several other writers. After a discussion (think persuasion of the forceful kind) with him, I put my name on the  list. I sat back in preparation to get a feel of what other writers were about to say, found a quick passage to read and hoped it was short enough.

118

Andy

Our hosts for the evening were,  writer, rapper and musician, Andy Craven-Griffiths, and short story writer and blogger, Ed Broom.

119

Ed

Their friendly, easy-going personalities put me at ease – until …

They decided to not go down the list in order but to see who had the neatest handwriting. As I have such an odd name and always write it out in capitals, (to save embarrassment of spelling it all out), GLYNIS SMY jumped out at them and I had the privilege of opening the evening.

I say privilege when I actually mean terrifying, stress-creating, palm-sweaty and altogether horrifying realisation I was to be first up at the mike. I’d never been to one of these types of event so didn’t know what was expected of me, and now I’d have no comparisons to make; no guidelines!

My butt had been in the chair for no more than fifteen minutes and in that time I’d glanced at the small piece to read, plus Maggie’s poem (I was a way down the list remember, thought I’d got time), now I scanned in the desperate attempt to find something else. Maggie’s Child is set close to the town where the event is held and I thought it would be the ideal book to read from but wasn’t sure opening an event with a woman giving birth was ideal. While standing in front of the microphone I cut the opening chapter down in my mind, swiftly glanced down to the passage I felt more comfortable with and stammered my way through my introduction of me, mumbled a rough outline of Maggie and shoved my head into the book. I could hear the words (and the silence), and could feel the evening sun streaming on my face through large glass windows adding to the sweaty palms and now over-perspiring forehead!

I did not wait to hear the ping of the five minute kitchen timer, I was done. The final words stood out and Maggie whispered, ‘end here. Finish where love no longer lives’. So I did. The polite listeners applauded and I went in search of my bag for something to pat down my forehead, upper lip and to gulp down the cool water awaiting. It was over. My turn was over, I could sit back and enjoy the evening without wondering about my turn to come, and enjoy I did! My goodness did I have writing envy! Such talent from the quiet, the confident, the flamboyant and the shy.

David grinned like a Cheshire cat and sat back smugly – until …

david readingYes! Mr. Smug, you also have neat handwriting and your name stood out on the list!

I loved it, he shared his story and it was disappointing when it finished, as were all the readings and just as you got hooked the kitchen timer pinged out its message.

121Andy and Ed shared their work and the evening came to a close. Andy’s poem Granddad was one I’d heard before and it made me cry the first time. I held back the tears last night and thought to my dad and of how proud of me he would have been. The poem highlighted the loss of a person’s character through Alzheimer’s and as you know, I lost my father to that dreadful disease two years ago.

Maggie’s Prayer
I have never seen your eyes-
nor looked into your heart-
it beats deep within-
the rhythm of life-
tick- tiny- tick tock-
timing is crucial-
days are long-
waiting-
hoping-
for a
breath of life.

The passage I read from Maggie’s Child

His tiny fists punched the air. Maggie drew him close and held her cheek against his downy head. ‘Hush, little one, all is well—you survived. God be praised! Know this, I will always love you. My heart will always hold you close. It is torn in two as I look down upon your beauty. Forgive me, but I cannot burden you with my life. When I next hold you, it will be in Heaven when we are reunited in the afterworld. I cannot let you live in my world on earth. You deserve better, and my husband does not deserve you. He is not your blood, and I cannot bring myself to inflict him upon you. Your true father will never know you exist. He made his choices in life, as I have to make mine.’ Her voice was soft and tender as she crooned the only words she would ever say to her child.
Maggie wiped away the tears and gathered her belongings. The little boy lay in a wicker basket she had woven from soft wood. She had made a quilt in secret, from rags and old clothing casual farm workers had left lying around over the past six months. From the moment she realised her pregnancy, she had prepared for this day. Each item had to be anonymous—there could be no connection to her or the farm.
She tied a rag around her waist and wedged it between her legs to absorb any blood. It chafed as she moved. She was sticky and sore, and the walk across the field to the roadside was a long and painful one. Each bump of the basket tugged her insides. Now was not a good time to stop and adjust the rag for comfort.
Maggie reached the long main road leading into the centre of Redgrave village. It was tree-lined with large horse chestnut and sycamore trees. A russet carpet of leaves lay across the pathways, and the white tower of St Mary’s church was to her left. It indicated the south side of the village and marked approximately one mile away from where she stood.
Maggie turned her back to the majestic building and looked to the distance at a lone, large shape on the brow of a hill. Dark and dismal against the powder blue skyline was the outline of her home. It sat central to smaller buildings and appeared forlorn among the furrowed lines of grey, brown fields and dilapidated fencing. The north side; the side that love forgot.

Redgrave Village

Update on Maggie’s Child Amazon Ranking:

This week made me smile! Maggie knocked Thomas Hardy down a notch, she stepped on D. H. Lawrence’s head, and sat beside Danielle Steel.

th magg dh law dsteele

3rd July 2015

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About Glynis Smy

I live in the UK, in the seaside town of, Dovercourt~Harwich, where I enjoy writing novels. I've written historical romance/suspense, Medical romance and my latest WIP is in the crime genre. The Victorian era fascinates me and the best part of writing a novel is often the research. Proud writing moments in my life: Shortlisted for Festival of Romance Fiction 2014 New Talent Award Reaching second round of Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2014 Maggie's Child: reached #1 Amazon best-seller: Historical Romance Victorian /February 2014/ebook & book paid list. May 2014 #3 Historical Romance Victorian, and #25 in Historical Romance paid top 100 best-seller list. Top 100 in three categories on Amazon UK best-seller listings in 2015. Seeing my books in a Suffolk (UK), library. Over the years I've written short stories in a variety of genres. I've also won a few poetry contests, my first was at the age of twelve, (a poem about the Bangladeshi war). I also won a children's short story competition where the prize was a first-aid box, I was so proud but my husband found it amusing because we owned two pharmacies. My articles have been published in magazines both in the UK and Cyprus. I am also featured in various places on-line. When I am not writing, I enjoy making greetings cards, Cross Stitch, fishing and the company of my little granddaughters.
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4 Responses to Ipswich Arts Festival 2015: Writer’s Cafe Event

  1. Sounds lovely, Glynis! So glad you had a good experience!

  2. Quite a way to get some exposure- without a proverbial net!

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