Friday, October 12, 2007

The Talk at the Women's Institute.

Last night I gave a talk on my book 98 Reasons For Being at a Women's Institute about 40 miles away. I'd never driven to this place before and the lanes were dark and seemed to go on for much too long. However the map I'd been given turned out to be useful and I got there with five minutes to spare.

It was in a bowling club and as there was a snooker tournament being held in their usual room this meant they had had to relocate to the downstairs bar so I gave my talk against a background of till bells and people giving orders - but they were fairly quiet so it wasn't too bad.

The organisers had worked hard: they had not only managed to borrow a digital projector but, when they had found that our new location did not have a suitable plain wall, one of them had rushed home for a screen. 'There it is,' one of them said, pointing to a couple of bags. 'I haven't touched it, I don't know anything about that sort of thing.'

I am better at keeping calm now. I help with the screen, untangle cables, plug them in and hope for the best. When it doesn't work straightaway I fiddle around with connections, turn things off and on (I have no system, I'm afraid) and generally persevere until I get a picture. It usually works in the end.

After all, I tell myself when I feel myself starting to become anxious - what does it matter? If the projector doesn't work, I could just give the talk without it. It wouldn't be anywhere near as good but it would be all right. Nothing very bad would happen.

So then, after 'the business' part of the meeting (they were an informal group - no singing of Jerusalem here) I gave my talk. They were a very attentive audience and gratifyingly asked lots of questions - a few of them even bought my book. Then, after about two hours I packed up and went home again, arriving back at 11pm. It had been an exhausting day but even so I found I was content and fairly happy.

And this happiness is staying with me. In fact I'm actively trying to keep it with me. I think of it like a film of air I have taken with me as I dive again into the next day. Just recently I've felt as if I'm in a dark watery place and I'm struggling to escape. But if I keep this silvery air with me everything will turn out well. Happiness, I know, enhances creativity. Without it there can be no fire and there has to be fire for something new to happen.


Blogger Kay Cooke said...

I agree about happiness ... but the secret is to find it and hold it despite the surroundings ... or circumstances ... isn't it?
I have had a couple of readings lately where even though there weren't too many people, at least there was an energy and some sense of support, or wonder.
I can understand and relate to your description of the 'air'conjured up at a reading, following you. I like that description very much.

Fri Oct 12, 12:12:00 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

What top banana advice from CB...
She's a very wise woman, isn't she?
How was it, Clare, with the click of the snooker balls in the background?!
I always hada cliche image of WI's; in actual fact, they vary hugely and there IS no type, is there?

Fri Oct 12, 01:47:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, CB - an excellent aspiration, to be sure - but virtually impossible for some of us to achieve in practice, I find.

And yes, there was a smallish group last night - only about 12 but like you I'd go for quality rather than quantity every time. They were great company.

And Jan, yes every WI is its own little country - with its own law, language and way of life.

Fri Oct 12, 02:38:00 pm  

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