Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bits of news, interview and poetry

Quick check-in, I haven't been much in a blogging mood recently, but do have something I want to discuss, when I have mulled it over. In the meantime, some tidbits: I'm interviewed over at the excellent UK Booktrust reading and writing charity today. Their tagline is "inspiring a love of books" and they do such great work, please take a wander around their site. I'm chatting about short stories, poetry, writing. Here's a snippet;
I read everything. EVERYTHING. As a kid I read the backs of cereal packs during breakfast, I couldn't stop reading. If it is well-written, I'll read it (okay, cereal boxes not so much): fiction, poetry, non-fiction, whatever. But for me only the short story is actually capable of perfection, and I know that because I have read many stories I consider perfect. They cause me physical pain when I read them, and that's what I want from great writing. To be shaken up, to be a different person, when I finish reading a story, even if that story is half a page long. And the best short stories do that, again and again and again. Who wouldn't be addicted to that kind of experience? I tell anyone who says that short stories leave them unsatisfied, wanting more, that they clearly have never read a really great story, because they wouldn't feel like that. No way. 

 On the subject of poetry, I have two poems in the British poetry journal Tears in the Fence, which is my first appearance in a print poetry journal, I feel like it's a really momentous event for me. The poems are a sort of sequence (can two be a sequence?) which is also a first, and they are imaginatively titled "1" and "2". Must get better at titles. So, the year of poetry is going very well.

I wanted to leave you with this, which is part of what I want to talk more about, but here, watch this video for a start, maybe this will kick of a discussion:

12 delightful comments:

ShirleyWright said...

Thanks for posting this video, Tania. It was fascinating because I agree with so much of what she says (and was amused by the irony of her having to stand up there and say it in the first place!). I grew up in a world where, for example, libraries were places of silence for reading and thought, and you were told off, if not actually banned, if you dared to say a word. Today's libraries drive me mad with all the chattering and loud voices. While I agree with her that cultural heritage may account for much of our obsession with socialising and groupism, I also think modern media have a lot to answer for. Too many people today (especially younger people) spent their entire day plugged in to something - school children swear they can't do their homework without background music - and the TV, Internet, twitter and computer games account for the rest. Why are people so afraid of silence and of being alone with their own company? Are we nurturing a future generation that will suffer from extreme dependency? I do think introverts are, by and large, more self-reliant and much less needy. I suppose reading is seen as the ultimate introvert (aka anti-social) activity, and I too take suitcases full of books on holiday, though today they're all on one light-weight Kindle, my concession to modernity. But I do think children read a lot more now than they used to (the Harry Potter phenomenon), which can only be a good thing. It may even result, long-term, in a greater respect for the time and space needed to be able to enjoy a book properly. So perhaps in ten years time this particular form of introversion may be accepted as more normal.

underthebookshelf said...

Hi Tania

When my son was four, yup, four, his teacher told me he had to learn to stop sitting quietly in the corner. I knew that if I were him, I'd be doing the same. Jesus,how does any sane introvert cope with being forced to spend five days a week in a small room with two adults and twenty children, where the teacher constantly laughs at you and demands that you interact?

He didn't get praised much in class because praise went to those who talked, sang and smiled the most sweetly.

He did make incredible, complex working models and machines. They said,'Lovely, dear, but you have to tell us about it for it to count.' I know they said that because they told me, as if I'd agree.

Frankly, it's a miracle that he survived this hell in tact. I'm sure it's worse than when I was at school - I remember spending hours researching, writing and painting. Talking too, of course, and singing, and rushing around playing games with my friends. But there was plenty of time to think.

Do you think there's any chance of giving intoroverted children back their pleasure in school?

PS My biggest fear about the Arvon course was having to spend a week with fifteen people who'd want to talk all the time. I should have known - fifteen writers are probably almost all going to come from the introverted end of Susan Cain's spectrum!

Sarah B

Rachel Fenton said...

Oh, I liked this TED talk when I saw it a little while ago. I am the classic introvert. Can't even do social network very well, either, I'm afraid. Much happier in my corner, with a book, by myself...I'm having to learn from people like you how to be sociable. You're a good role model!

Congratulations on the poetry publication - that must mean so much to you!

Deb Rickard said...

I guess she's right, balance is the key, and I couldn't agree more for a push for more acceptance of the need for solitude and freedom to be private. I have a "serious streak of introvertism" in me and solitude frees my mind to let creativity in. So, yes, "solitude matters". So does the need to engage with others, but with the balance that's right for you, not the balance others think is right.

Tania Hershman said...

Shirley, I agree with you completely. I was quite confused entering a library here in England after 15 years away, everything seemed to have changed, it used to be this sacred silent space which I loved, which nurtured me as a child. It's odd, isn't it, that the whole of society seems to have shifted one way, rather than celebrating diversity of personality? Good point about the Kindle, everyone who has one says they read more on it, so we shall see!

Lauri said...

Last year 3 out of 4 people in my little family were at university and when we all got together one of the common topics was the hatred of GROUP WORK. I am so happy I was the 1/4 not at university. When I went we didn't have such things- thank god! Yes, liked this TED talk very much.

Tania Hershman said...

Sarah B - wow, 4 years old and already expected to behave a bit like he was a contestant in some kind of reality show or a charmer who has to work a room? I don't think I would have survived in school like that, at least the 70s were good for something. Surely there must be introverted teachers who empathize, or are they not allowed because of some educational targets related to personality? The more we talk about this the more it sounds Orwellian, eh? I hope your son's now found the quite places he needs, I feel for him. And - we were lucky on our Arvon course, we actually seemed to be a group of if not introverted writers then introverts and their supporters!

Tania Hershman said...

Rachel, thanks for the congrats, it really does mean a lot! And yes, I hear you about social networking, I now understand why Facebook simply makes me queasy, I can't bear it. Twitter is more manageable for this particular introvert, but I am backing off from all of it because now I know that that over-caffeinated feeling I get means I've been over-stimulated, not a good thing. Susan C talks about that in her book, that introverts are far more sensitive to stimuli, and that made sense to me. Sometimes out in the street I feel like everything is shouting at me! Thanks so much for dropping by.

Tania Hershman said...

Deb - exactly, balance. Not wholly one way or the other. But I wonder if the entire notion of balance in today's society, in the West anyway (perhaps not Finland, which Susan C mentions in the book as a nation of introverts!) has been lost. It was certainly a shock coming back to England after 15 years away, this used to be a country that respected silence, privacy, personal space. Something's definitely changed. Hmm.

Tania Hershman said...

Lauri - our messages crossed in the ether! God, the phrase "group work" sends shudders down my spine. What is it with groups? At a panel discussion I was on recently about creativity and identity someone in the audience asked us all if we'd ever collaborated and how wonderful that had been for her. And I felt I couldn't just say, No, I need to do this alone. Alone. It seemed somehow unacceptable to want to shut out the very nice people who might want to work with me. As if it was somehow personal. I hope the 3/4 of your family who have to do this stuff are dealing with it ok, then again if this is what the world of work demands these days I guess they need to if not enjoy it then at least know what they're in for. Or they can become writers ;)

Dora Dee said...

Well I've already told you how I feel about this. As I mentioned on another blog, I grew up being ashamed for wanting to be alone and being the individualist that I turned out to be. Needless to say, being alone brought on a lot of anxiety. It's what's kept me from writing for 30-odd years. I have a lot of catching up to do. Thanks for sharing.

chillcat said...

Thanks for this. So much rang true and now I don't feel so dysfunctional having spent so much of my life alone or concentrating on work. I realise that even the instrument I play is a solitary thing (piano - hours with the notes), as is the sport I prefer (diehard swimming) and then my writing - all choices of an introvert. It is so warming to have this recognised and appreciated. I'm pretty sure three out of my four kids are introverts too! Xcat