EDitorial ± 10-Oct-2013

Literary Ipswich

This humdrum town has held its own arts festival, Ip-art, for a good few years now. There's music, dance, film and many other categories, plus there's always been some quality book-ish stuff with author appearances (hello, Jasper Fforde) and opportunities to get creative (hi, short story competition). For 2013, though, the offerings seemed a tad sparse. Then word emerged of a spin-off. As Happy Days spawned Mork & Mindy, so Ip-art would spawn Literary Ipswich, aka Ip-lit.

Not being able to make the D.J.Taylor or Michael Morpurgo events, I made it down to the Town Hall on Friday evening for "Bright Futures" to hear a panel discussion between three debut authors, all with UEA Creative Writing qualifications:

  • Joe Dunthorne, him what wrote Submarine and who did a v. funny reading from his new Wild Abandon novel
  • be-capped Canadian D.W.Wilson, previous winner of the BBC National Short Story Award, natch
  • Sarah Ridgard, local potato lady who wrote Seldom Seen and who provided another witty reading

What could have been a dull old evening turned out to be highly amusing and insightful. Very well done to Georgina Wroe, by the way, for keeping the flow. Asked about how they write, Joe and Sarah talked about the need for daytime silence whereas call-me-Dave likes to do his stuff from 11pm onwards while listening to music. And he's got a couple of lyrics from The National stuck to his laptop to keep him going: my sort of guy.

Getting back home afterwards and once everyone had gone to bed, I sat down at the kitchen table and stared down that scary blank piece of paper. Some sort of story came together over the next few hours, though not quite the one I'd intended. In the small hours, you'd have heard the Canon printer whirring as it chugged out my single page.

Sunday evening, that same folded page was in my pocket as I cycled down to Costa Coffee for the festival's final event, another Writer's Cafe (previously), this one to be hosted by up-and-coming Emma Healey. Full of cold and powered by Lemsip, I wasn't that bothered about standing up to read, then I heard myself accepting a reading slot, number 15, the final one of the night. Great: plenty of time to revise and review my one-pager. I was scribbling on the A4 when I heard a familiar name being announced after only 10 minutes: mine. Those names are being picked out in random order. Oh well, nothing for it but to get up and do it. Which I did, getting a few laughs, most of which were in the right places. Usual eclectic selection of extracts, poems and monologues from some friendly faces. Always good to give and receive a few kind words, too.

So, let's have more of the same next year, please. Nice one, Sara Newman.