Sunday, 26 November 2017

portrait unveilings, wio competition winners, outrageously beautiful views























I was pleased to be invited to the unveiling of the portrait of the Bodleian's 24th librarian, Sarah Thomas. The event took place in the gorgeous, fan-vaulted Convocation House, where the Lords sat during Charles I's Oxford Parliament in 1644. The portrait was painted by New York artist Ted Minoff, who gave a speech explaining some of the techniques he used and the portrait's underlying themes.

Not having been to portrait unveilings before, this is the second in a month. At the end of October, I attended the ceremony at St Antony's at which Benjamin Sullivan's painting of Professor Margaret MacMillan, the college's fifth warden, was unveiled by Lord Patten.

A fascinating tradition, this portrait unveiling.

Meanwhile the winners of the Writers in Oxford Young Oxfordshire Writers competition are celebrated on the WiO hompage. I've been enjoying re-reading the winning stories.

More outrageously beautiful views of Oxford on my walks to work this week, which the picture above only does partial justice to.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

stupendous sunny days, tumbling bay, twenty pound meadow, monkey puzzle, wio 25th anniversary party and competition winners























There have some stupendous sunny days - in between the rainy ones - this last week.

The photo above was taken from the Thames towpath looking upriver towards the entrance to Tumbling Bay where there used to be an attended open-air swimming pool, now long gone. On the left bank are the Twenty Pound Meadow allotments, where we had a plot when we lived on Osney Island.

I remember one day at the Monkey Puzzle cider house in Worcestershire chatting to the landlady's father, who it turned out had grown up in west Oxford and used to swim at the Tumbling Bay pool. He said that as schoolboys they had crossed the railway tracks just to the north of Oxford station to get to the old chain ferry that used to cross the part of the river shown in the photo. He recalled how the drivers of the shunting engines used to open their throttles with the brakes on so that the wheels revved round menacingly, but without the engines moving forward, to give the kids a scare.

Really enjoyed the Society of Authors and Writers in Oxford party at Balliol. Lovely to see old friends and to find out the winners of the Writers in Oxford twenty-fifth anniversary Young Oxfordshire Writers competition. Will link to the competition page when the winners are posted there. I was part of the judging panel and was fascinated to learn the identities of the winners - there were no names on the stories when we read them, just numbers.

The above photo is the latest jtns photo to be posted on Instagram. See: https://instagram.com/justthoughtsnstuff.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

soaked, logs, ug diploma, ten years, wio, twenty-five years, young oxfordshire writers competition





Got soaked cycling this morning.

But at least it was going to brighten up later, I consoled myself... True, the rain stopped mid-morning but it's been dark and damp all day...

A log delivery at lunchtime. Nice to have a full store of wood.

Preparing for my Undergraduate Diploma in Creative Writing seminars. Can't believe it was ten years ago that I taught on the course for the first time.

Looking forward to the Writers in Oxford/Society of Authors party next week. It's the twenty-fifth anniversary of WiO. Can't wait to find out who has won the Young Oxfordshire Writers competition.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

mist, trust, central heating, awp writer to agent series

























Several misty walks to work this week.

The landscape is certainly autumnal now - though it has become especially so in the last couple of days.

Harvested three beetroots today. We'll have cheesy beetroot sauce with hock of ham tomorrow and J is going to experiment with freezing beetroot for our Christmas soup. We suspect that the other beetroots might not last well.

Finished rereading Trust: A family story this week. The suggestions made by colleagues and friends make sense now and I can see what needs to be cut and reworked. What was heartening was that after a nine-month gap, I felt that the story was mostly very strong. I'm looking forward to the editing and rewriting process.

Put the central heating on this evening. Partly because it was cold; bit more so because of the damp, even though we have had log fires since the middle of September. (Log delivery next week.)

Recommended an Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) 'Writer to Agent' webinar* to students today. It's from a US agencies perspective but contains much that is universally valuable about genre, character and voice, as well as about the editorial role that agents take on nowadays.

* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wkPXZqqJNsA