I'm pleased to welcome to my blog today Anne Forrest, whom we have published on CafeLit. Look out for her story on 28 March 2020 set in Bodnant Gardens North Wales. Anne and I share Bangor University. For the best part of four years I commuted between Southampton and Bangor as I studied for my PhD. When I reached Penmaenmawr I knew I was almost at one of my homes. I really cherish my time in North Wales, a place I also loved as a young child when we used to holiday there. So it's great to have this connection with Anne.
I love putting words down; arranging, rearranging the syntax and making the text sing. Studying for a Masters in ‘Writing and Publishing Fiction’ at the University of Chester, I write according to our class projects and assignments which include flashes, short stories, and the novel.
Re-writing a 120,000-word novel, I’m using the skills I’ve learned since writing it, to edit and amend; even having the courage to cut out a subplot which I realise didn’t belong (and putting it away for another piece of writing). I used to be comma-happy, now 75% of commas and many exclamation marks have gone. Set in two places, North Wales and Cornwall, and two timescales, the 1960s and present day, I can’t describe how much pleasure I’m getting from re-visiting this novel and the people I’ve created, making it a tighter read.
Being lovingly obsessed with the place in which I grew up (a small quarrying village called Penmaenmawr, in North Wales), I decided to write about my upbringing there; it is identified as a common-folk biography and was published in 2000 by Old Bakehouse in Abertillery. The ‘sense of place’ of my childhood creeps into my writing today. It was written on a typewriter (before cut and paste) and took ten years in all. I thank Old Bakehouse for taking a chance on me; they gave ‘My Whole World, Penmaenmawr’, a second print. So far, this is my most proud achievement.
I’m fortunate enough to have a designated room in which to write but have commandeered the kitchen table with my printer alongside. This is in a kitchen extension. My books and everything else to do with my work is in the old kitchen. My writing-room upstairs is also full of reference books, boxes full of ideas, and files from my MArts course which include notes from my favourite modules, ‘Welsh Writing in English’, and the ‘Gothic’. Happy to stay at home and write I also love writing in a University atmosphere, especially in Bangor where the silent libraries are conducive to work; here I can work for seven hours without getting up to wash a few dishes, make a cup of tea, or look at the dust-covered things in my house.
Having had one book published and some short stories, I still hesitate to call myself a writer; I usually manage to say, ‘I write’, and then expand.
Writing is a lonely occupation, and while my family and friends ask how I’m doing at Uni, I only have one friend who is interested enough to ask to read anything I write. She is supportive and enthusiastic about my progress, which is much appreciated. Also, a fellow student and I exchange work and have built up a trust and confidence to critique each other’s assignments. When we talk about writing we bounce ideas off each other and she never fails to inspire and excite me with her thoughts, sending me straight to my laptop. I feel very blessed to have such a ‘writing buddy’.
I put my eclectic taste in reading down to my childhood love of Enid Blyton (atmosphere by the bucket load) and Cormac McCarthy (where his beautifully written prose transcends the darkest of happenings). The writing of McCarthy inspires me hugely and I can re-read his words over again.
Once I’ve finished editing my (still untitled) novel, I’m sending it out into the world of competitions, submissions, agents and publishers.