Reading Out Loud

Yesterday afternoon I read out loud to, well…. no-one in particular, really. I am participating in Newcastle Library’s program Out Loud as part of the National Year of Reading 2012. I even had a fancy chair to sit on. My timeslot was the last of the day, so with Crossing Paths marked with post-it notes I climbed up on the swish chair and began to read.

This was only my third reading of Crossing Paths, my first was last year at Sunset Books and ABC http://www.facebook.com/#!/sunsetbooks and immediately I realised what an easy book  it is to read from, mainly because of the Bookcrossing www.bookcrossing.com journal entries at the end of each chapter. Like mini reviews – these are perfect to dip into and were what I mainly read from at Sunset Books, Raymond Terrace.

My second reading, at Wangi Library’s Books and Biccies in January this year was really more of a booktalk. I spent most of the half hour or so explaining bookcrossing itself and how I used it as the framework of the book. The whole world of bookcrossing forms the structure linking the eight main characters together.

Today was quite different in many ways. It wasn’t so much about discussing the book as about reading out loud. At first I found it a little odd that most people were just walking past – choosing books and borrowing books and looking a little askance at me on the white chair but after a while I just forgot about everything but the words on the page. My timeslot was from  4.30pm to 5.00pm. After about ten minutes I began to read as a reader rather than an author and the experience was comforting somehow.

At some point I heard the Newcastle Town Hall clock strike but decided it must be the quarter hour. A little later one of the librarians came over to me and said: ‘You can stop now, you know.’
I said, ‘Oh, can I?’
She said, ‘It’s a quarter past five.’
I asked, ‘Really?’ and she told me that a lot of the authors reading out loud during the day had been surprised how quickly the time passed. She also commented on the wonderful atmosphere the readings created in the library. It was the first time I think I’ve read aloud without fear of judgement. There was instead the rhythm of my words and the joy of reading.

Virginia Woolf and I

We go back years! I first came to her writing because of A Room of One’s Own. I read it (like most women do) when embarking on my writing career. It was actually very sound advice and when I came to buy my first home as a single woman I was going to have that study if it killed me! I got the study at Eleebana and I now have one in my new home but not enough bookshelves I’m afraid. I now have boxes and boxes of books in the garage but I have somewhere to write besides my favourite cafe.

Last week I discovered that Virginia Woolf not only gives good advice but can be relied on in regards to the weather. A few weeks ago I started writing a new chapter entitled The News (all of my chapters have titles instead of numbers) and when describing the weather wrote: “It was cold but sunny.”  A very hopeful statement on my part I thought having lived through a London winter so I made a mental note to somehow check the actual weather for the 15 December 1917 later on. A few days after this I discovered there were actually two bombing raids in London that month which had me reeling in a orgy of research; as you do when an unexpected real life event turns up that puts a new twist on your writing.

After finding a marvellous book on the WWI blitz by Ian Castle http://books.google.com.au/books/about/London_1917_18.html?id=siHifpXFa6kC&redir_esc=y I looked up which library held the first volume of Virginia’s diaries (not for loan) and at Newcastle Library I sat and read her first words for the 15 December 1917: “A cold but sunny day.” Thank you Virginia!

And another thank you for an account of the first of the bombing raids on 6th December which helped me to bring my character’s account to life. According to Virginia’s diaries she was awakened by L to a most instant sense of guns. “As if one’s faculties jumped up fully dressed.” She goes on with a very vivid diary entry for the morning’s events.

As I said, Virginia and I go way back and I’ve now gone back further with her as I have begun to read her very first novel Melymbrosia written in 1912. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/741136.Melymbrosia