Monday, 20 May 2013

Greenacre Writers Literary Festival: A personal perspective.

My day's itinerary for preparations for the Greenacre Writers Literary Festival was worked out to the minute. Boxes were lined up for transportation, lists were written and laminated so what could possibly go wrong? Waking up on Friday morning with a violent headache and the room spinning - that's what! I'll spare you details but it wasn't anything catching.

But somehow I managed the shopping with the help and support of staff at Finchley's Waitrose, printed the signs (in a bit of a haze) and helpers stepped into the breach while I had a bit of down-time so co-organizer, Rosie Canning, was able to get the second Greenacre Literary Festival off to a great start.

By the time I arrived at Friern Barnet Community Library on Friday 17th, pale but not very interesting, Miriam Halahmy's writing workshop was closing and the tables and chairs were being re-organized ready for the Open Mic.

Allen Ashley did a great job in hosting a variety of writers from all over London, one from Bristol and one from USA who read poems, flash fiction, non-fiction and extracts from novels. Lyrical, stark, humorous and serious, different styles and all sorts of themes. I loved the sheer variety - our readers ranged from those in their 20s to 70s, from writers who have lived all their lives in Finchley to those who have fled their countries of origin to avoid persecution. We all had our stories. And we all listened and learned.

And just for the record, I had gone an entire day without coffee.

Saturday dawned and I felt a little more human, as today's headache was of a lesser variety and no doubt mostly because of caffeine withdrawal and enforced starvation. By eleven o'clock Trinity Church Centre was transformed into a venue fit to host our second workshop led by Dr Josie Pearse, and the Main Event. Two hours later, with help from our Greenacre members and supporters, Rosie and I were ready to welcome our four guest authors.

CJ Flood, Gina Blaxill, Leigh Russell and Sarah Harrison fulfilled all our hopes and expectations by being entertaining and informative speakers. They all wove the festival's theme of truth and fiction into their talks and readings.

Reading about my heroine's opinion
 of scary stomach-squashing-in pants.
Photo: Emily Benet.
I was one of seven Greenacre Writers to read. There is always the dilemma of what to read. At the open Mic I'd read  a serious flash fiction relating to Mental Health Awareness week so I decided it should be '...and now for completely different...' and read the opening paragraphs of my WIP 'Do Not Exceed Fifty' chick-lit for the older woman, OK, the menopausal woman.

To my relief it went down well. As for the lady who asked, 'can I buy your book here?' it was all I could do not to fling my arms around her and have 'Lindsay's No 1 fan' tattooed on her forehead. For a few minutes I felt just a little bit famous.

But mine was only one of many readings. Rosie Canning, Liz Goes, Linda Louisa Dell, Mark Kitchenham, Mumpuni Murniati and Wendy Shillam showcased their work too, which, as at the Open Mic, explored a variety of styles and subjects. We may not yet be the million-book bestsellers that our invited guests are, but just watch this space.

The day rounded off with a panel, facilitated by Allen Ashley with Sarah Harrison, Leigh Russell, Dr Josie Pearse and Alex Wheatle, one of our fantastic speakers from last year's festival, exploring further the theme of truth and fiction. Whether a reader or a reader/writer, much was to be learned from those who have spent many years writing and perfecting their writing.

As I gave the final thanks, I felt very proud of Greenacre Writers - not only are we developing our writing skills, we have a huge talent for inviting wonderful authors who have been very generous in their support of a small festival. (Two other speakers from last year were in the audience: Emily Benet and Andrew Bradford.) But it was co-organiser Rosie Canning who got in the last word and presented me with a lovely surprise of a beautiful bouquet of flowers. And of course our GWs hadn't forgotten one for Rosie too.

Now I'm enjoying a couple of days off and guess what, I'm reading four books at once as inevitably I've started Sarah Harrison's The Flowers of the Field, Leigh Russell's Cut Short. CJ Flood's Infinite Sky and Gina Blaxill's Pretty Twisted. Oh, and yes I must re-read fellow writers' excerpts for this evening's Finish That Novel 2 meeting. And note to self  'I must Finish That Novel.'

The official and more objective account with lots more pictures can be found at

For a really detailed account, read Morgen Bailey