Friday, 20 July 2012

Red Paper Packages

The Edinburgh Cooperative of Creative Writers launched our anthology, Edinburgh Shorts on Tuesday night amidst much wine and applause. It was great to gather writers and readers together to mark the occasion and there were some great readings and musings on that tricky question of why we write.

Spoon Cafe and a loitering writer

Launching Edinburgh Shorts

words and wine to celebrate the book

I wrote a blog a few weeks back about some of the behind the scenes busy-work that was going on to get the book out there – and it is very exciting to have a stack of books (all sold) sitting next to me in a box.
Before they can go in the post I have a little more writing to do – this time in the form of thank you notes – to be sent out to all the lovely folks who pre-ordered a copy of the book.

The real live book 

Once my notes are written I am wrapping the books up in red paper and sending them off into the world. Feels a bit like Christmas – and I hope the recipients at the other end find some stories between the pages that they love.

my red paper packages

There are many tales to choose from – poems, musings, snatches of history and moments of horror. There is star gazing, an Arthur's Seat haggis hunt, a tale of what happens to pickpockets in the old town of Edinburgh and from the pen of yours truly – a story of how an unsuspecting Aussie backpacker ended up living in a medieval city.

As well as contributions from around Scotland – from writers who have resided around the world Edinburgh based crime writer Joyce Holms has written a lovely forward.

Now the party is over and I am off to the post office to send the stories out into world, and then it is back to my pen and paper and keyboard to write the next instalment. 

If you want a red paper package to find its way into your mailbox let me know – or go to holyrood book and follow the links – though I cannot guarantee the colour of Amazon’s packaging. 

Plotting the next instalment

This blog is posted in conjunction with Natural Suburbia's Creative Friday 

Monday, 9 July 2012

On loving Paul Simon's Graceland

Graceland, Memphis - Tennessee

When I was in America in 2008 I visited Graceland. I am aware of Elvis Presley and his music, but the real reason I was excited about going to Graceland was the Paul Simon song. In the hotel car park in Memphis, on the morning of our visit I put Paul Simon onto my ipod nice and loud and had a little over-excited silent dance party, because - I was going to Graceland!

Elvis image - one amongst many at Graceland

'...following the river down the highway through the cradle of the civil war. I'm going to Graceland... poor boys and pilgrims with families we are going to Graceland...'  

I have loved the Paul Simon album Graceland for as long as I can remember. The title song evokes a legend of music, it is about a journey and it literally bounces you along the road. It was released twenty five years ago – which (if my parents bought it when it was first released) means that I would have been about six years old when I first heard it. There was politics around the making of the album in South Africa and his fusion of sounds was ground breaking, but as a child I did not know a thing about any of that.

All I knew was that the loose limbed sounds were joyous and different, and there were evocative words like cinematographer, diamonds, delta, Memphis and bat-faced-girl, mingled with energetic whoooops. The music reverberated with a beat that made you want to move and then snatches of stories would burst through - conjuring up images of people and places far away from my world in regional Victoria:

'people say she's crazy she's got diamonds on the soles of her shoes...'

'there is a girl in New York city who calls herself the human trampoline...'

Of course I can only glimpse that child through the sive of my current self. But I know how the music touches me still, and I have no hesitancy saying that that little tape was from the beginning of our intimacy a precious object holding a special magical energy.   

My trip to America was not particularly a Paul Simon pilgrimage, but the man, and his music touched various legs of my trip. Early on, I had an overnight bus ride from San Fran to LA, arriving in the pale empty city very early in the morning, hassled on the bus, with no sleep, already missing my new San Fran friends and my boyfriend terribly. I sank into a rather deep hole. With four hours to kill before I could get into my room, have a wash and a sleep I turned to the only thing I could think of to lift me out of my funk- I sat down with my ipod and listened to Paul Simon – and the magic worked. He pulled me out.

There is a Graceland 25 year anniversary tour going on in Europe starting this week, and I came very close to buying myself a ticket to go and see the man, but the stars were not aligned properly for me to go on that particular journey.

New Orleans - 2008

I did see him once, not in a concert hall, or at a rock concert but in a bookstore in New York. Weeks after he helped dry out my tears in LA, and I had visited many many iconic locations (including Graceland) I was scanning the street press for New York things to do, when I saw that the man himself was speaking at a bookstore.  

Central Park and two mad hatters - 2008

I went along to the packed event and took a spot near the back. My hero talked about song writing, his long career as a performer and New York, and every now and then he sang. The legs of some must have tired, because as the evening wore on I was able to make my way closer to the man sitting on a stool with a guitar at his side. And at the close of the evening, while others had given way to the fatigues of standing upright, neck craning for a view- I did not have to crane my neck at all to be able to watch Paul Simon sing the Only living boy in New York right in front of me.

Paul Simon New York 2008

I have always felt blessed to have been lucky enough to see Paul Simon in his hometown... and although I am sad that I won't get to see him perform for the 25th anniversary of Graceland I carry the music with me in my heart nonetheless.