Celebrating The Devil's Bathtub
Biscuit Publishing launched The Devil's Bathtub - an anthology of the ten international prizewinners from the 2005 Biscuit Short Story Competition - at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
This celebratory event went off with a bang with the arrivals of winning writers from USA, Republic of Ireland, and various parts of the UK.
Elizabeth E King flew in from Los Angeles, Fiona Clark Echlin from Tipperary, Sally Zigmond detrained from Harrogate and Sue Vickerman from Aberdeen. A big fanfare goes to Dinika Amaral from New Jersey who arrived with her family; they came from as far away as California. And it has to be said, a very handsome family indeed. They were in London preparing for a family wedding that will take place in Bombay in November. Pauline Plummer came from her windswept coastal home in Cullercoats, while Celia Bryce brought her five piece band to provide the musical dimension.
Standing in for those winning writers unable to attend, were actors Kirsten McCrossan, Kathryn McLane, Kathleen McCreery and Jeff Price - Jeff performs live(ly) poetry, although I've never seen him do what you'd call "acting" but he can't half shout the lines out, so he got the part. We also had greetings messages from Paul Blaney who now lives in New Jersey — and who claims his toothpaste froze last time he was in Newcastle. And one from TP (Tim) Bragg in Somerset. Tim made extensive use of the biscuit metaphor, quoting various brands that needed to be explained to our American friends.
Jay Boyer sent a very special message. Here it is:
So sorry that I can't be with all of you at this celebration of reading and writing and those with a love of both, but perhaps you can pass along my warmest wishes to those in the room, along with the thought that I'm with you in spirit.
Listening to the stories being read tonight, you are certain to be impressed by the range of voices and talents and visions. That was the first thing to strike me as I read through the volume. And impressive it was. What you won't hear are all the re-draftings, all the revisions, the stops and wrong turns, every miscalculation - only a story's writer hears those. Or should. There will be some chat tonight I suspect about writing and its art and I sorrow to think I won't be there to hear, but what I'll miss most are the writers' tales of missed opportunities, failed scenes, lines in their heads that chirped like little crickets once they brought them to the page. There's nothing I more love than writers recounting how they couldn't get it right, try as they would. Because it seems to me that's writing, that speaks to its craft. None of us ever get it right, not really. That's part of what keeps us most writing.
The little girl in the story of mine you'll be hearing this evening says that everyone has their sad little story to tell. What separates those of us who mean to see our stories in print from the rest of the world is not that we have stories to tell - all the world has stories to tell, a lot of them better than ours; rather we have the patience to fail in their telling again and again before they are ever brought to the page. So I would hope tonight that in the midst of celebrating success someone thinks to raise a glass to disappointment, frustration, embarrassment, humiliation, and very-near defeat. For those are much more the writing experience than publication or a public embrace or a festive coming together, as this one is tonight. Think of these as the monsters that live beneath every writer's bed, that strike fear in the soul, and I say God Bless Them!
Before the event, some of us went sightseeing.
Elizabeth E King hired a bicycle and pedalled along Tyneside pathways, then she and Fiona C Echlin — and moi — took a riverboat cruise along the Tyne.
After the event — still hungry after the finger buffet — a goodly number of us visited (more 'pillaged' really) an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet restaurant and cleaned them out. They closed the doors behind us as we left.
Next day, Elizabeth E King was taken to see — at close quarters — the Angel of the North. They don't have one as big as that in America…….yet! And before Elizabeth flew out, she was taken to see — as a big finale — Durham Cathedral and Castle.
All in all — a wonderful social occasion and a great celebration of the top quality writing — and reading — that makes up The Devil's Bathtub. Copies of book and CD are still available, and can be ordered via this web site.