Month: July 2021

Tamar Valley Storyteller

I’ll admit to some trepidation and hesitation in taking up the Tamar Valley Writers’ Festival invitation to be a storyteller in its Q&A feature. It’s fantastic idea to promote the talents of so many of the writers living in the valley, but I’m not given to self-promotion – as those who know me will attest – so I felt a bit uncomfortable about outing myself, as it were.

Anyway, it’s out there now in cyberspace and Facebook land, sloshing away among all the other assorted articles, photos, comments, memes etc and will doubtless be quickly subsumed among the avalanche of links that will have already followed its publication a couple of days ago.

Hats off to the Festival though – because it’s a great idea.

Photo credit to Tim Walker. I prefer to be behind the camera rather than in front of it so not many photos of me exist. This one it has to be said, although recent, was taken for another situation entirely. I’ve just borrowed it.

Tamar Valley Storytellers: Anne Layton-Bennett


First Base . . .

. . . . At least so far as reaching the first word count target goes, and the goal I had to achieve before taking the draft to my mentor for her first proper review.

I feel fortunate in securing Robyn’s mentoring skills. As I know from others who’ve benefited from her editing criticism and advice she’ll pull no punches, but many of her writing class students over the years have gone on to find serious publishing success with their novels and memoirs. And all of them credit her mentorship in achieving that success. But for all kinds of reasons she chose to hang up her red editing pens a couple of years ago, and was therefore ambivalent about my request to consider steering me along my book-writing adventure. My initial approach was at a Schools4Climate rally we both attended. Robyn said she would think about it, but it was several months later, at a subsequent climate rally that she came across and said yes, she would do it. Phew.

It could be the subject matter that swung things in my favour – Robyn was among the thousands who campaigned against the pulp mill – but her agreement certainly galvanised me into more serious action. At that point, it has to be said, I’d not actually written a great deal but I duly took the few thousand words I had completed for her to read through. She made no comment but she still probably gave me the best advice I could have after reading them and learning how I envisaged the book developing. ‘Just get it down’ she said. ‘Don’t worry about how the stories fit together at this point, just write it down. And don’t come back to me until you have at least 15,000 words.’

Well, I’ve reached that magic number, so now it’s time to see what she thinks. By the end of next week I’ll feel either elated, enthused, and raring to write the next 20,000 words, or despondent at the thought of all the potential changes. Fingers crossed it will be the former.