Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Reading from a Chesterfield with Lister looking on...

Last week, I read at the Dissecting Edinburgh 'Writing Medicine' event in Surgeons' Hall, alongside Alison Summers and Tracey Rosenberg (their websites are listed in the previous link). Alison is writing a novel about Pick's disease, and Tracey, a novelist, has also published poetry about cancer. The venue was changed from the pathology museum to the library and what a gorgeous library those surgeons have!  I had a wonderful Chesterfield armchair and  Lister looked down from his painting behind me  - I felt protected. I should say I was not on my best form, I was wrecked  even before the reading - I was in bed until four o'clock -  but that lends to the authenticity, I guess. Alison and Tracey are both great performers, I loved their energy. This is only the second time I have read from The State of Me in public - though I did read a short extract on the BBC Alba documentary 'Toxic Tiredness' in 2011, but that felt different, the audience was not yet present, I read to a camera man at my kitchen table (you can be more sassy in your kitchen). I was saying to friends, after Surgeons' Hall, that at my Waterstone's launch in  2008 - it still had an apostrophe then! -  it felt very much like I was reading fiction aloud,  my precious novel out at last, after all the hype and craziness before publication. This time though, I felt almost tearful when I was practising the extracts beforehand - it felt like I was reading about my life - Helen Feet's plasma exchange in the eighties, and  I felt sad.  But what a treat to have read in Surgeons' Hall. And lovely to see some of my friends there and new faces too, though it is a big tangle of colour when everyone is focused on you. My head gets that inflated/pumped up feeling and I have to take myself away and untangle the threads.

* Delighted to hear from Alison that she loved The State of Me, which she has just finished reading.


carole said...

I think you were brilliant to go when feeling rough, great courage. To be honest I haven't yet had said courage to read your book yet, I will, I will, but with over 20 years of bed living with m.e and a daughter in the same predicament, I don't want to become even more emotional than I am already. So pleased that you wrote it, and that the dear defunked Friday Project published it too. I hope many people have not only been educated but enjoyed it too. Hope you are feeling better now.

nmj said...

I am sorry that you are so severely ill, and your daughter too. You should not read the book if you think it will make you upset, but it is a funny book, as well as getting the hell of the illness across, and I think it conveys some kind of hope. Happily, The Friday Project was revived - and is alive and kicking - as an imprint of HarperCollins, but yes, am forever grateful to Clare (founder of TFP) for taking the book on.