It has to really be with you and you need to know what it all is.
Follow. Earlier this week, I did a trio of writing workshops at a university and I think it went great: I had a tremendous time. (Quick aside? It was all for school kids who were being shown the university and I learnt afterwards that as well as the main schools I’d been told were coming, there was a small contingent from my own old one. I found out far too late to ask who was from there so it is a little bit freaky. I have this week taught Year 10 kids from my own school and I don’t know who they were.)
After all that was done, though, there was a presentation and if there had been enough time, each of us writers working there that day could’ve performed a piece of their work. I usually write books and scripts, things far too long to rattle off in a couple of minutes. But while Cat Weatherill told a story and Alan Kurly McGeachie recited a poem with verve and gusto, I searched my iPad.
I’d been asked during the presentation if I had something I could read and I did say yes.
There was no internet reception in that hall.
So even though I could see some items in Evernote, I couldn’t open them. (You can choose to make a notebook and all its contents be permanently available on your device, but you have to be connected to the internet to say you want to do that.) Pages and iCloud did better but I couldn’t easily see what I’d got because documents are shown as big icons which is great because you see the shape of page 1 and can readily know what each one is. But it’s rubbish when you’re scrolling through, searching for something short.
I found the start of a novel in Pages. It’s a bit violent but I reckoned it worked. I found a short story called Elite Death Squirrels which fit a lot of the things I’d been talking about with the kids all day.
But both were pretty long, even the excerpt from the novel was just too long. So with time pressing, I didn’t get to perform.
I would’ve liked to. But what narks me is that I wasn’t able to provide what was asked of me. It wasn’t a big deal from their point of view and it came up unexpectedly, yet that is a big deal from my point of view and I imagine I’m always ready. When you’ve done a few workshops you end up having this little mental toolbox of things you can reach for. Mine wasn’t full enough.
What narks me even more, though, is that I did have something the perfect length and which would also have spoken to the points I was making during the day. It’s a two-hander script I wrote during a young writers’ session and I rather like it.
I know I wrote it, I remember the lines, I’m wondering if I even kept it. Because it wasn’t on my iPad and even now, sitting here with full internet, I can’t track it down. That is unusual and disturbing.
But the take away from all this is that you need to keep your work with you and make sure you can actually get to t. Plus, know what you’ve got before you just say ‘yes’ to anyone who asks.