Spring in the air, spring in the step

Last Saturday’s trip to the Droylsden Library for an Open Mic session proved fruitful. There were some good contributions from the usual residents, but the two little Peak District stories I told (it was my first visit there) led to two separate invitations for one-hour storytelling gigs later in the year. If only I could find someone to make the desired CDs for me, I’d be able to take them and sell them! All my attempts so far have been thwarted one way or the other; the recording studio I contacted most recently has ceased to function – telephone number not recognized, e-mails bouncing… Anyway, the folktale book seems to be available for purchase again, not only in hard copy but also on Kindle – just go to Amberley Publishing’s website if you want to take a look.

Storytelling in Buxton last Sunday was less productive in terms of gig invitations but it was very enjoyable. A young couple appeared with a five year old daughter called Gaia, whose company prompted me to tell one of the few Peak District folktales that’s suitable for very young people (“Kitty Green”, the story of a Castleton girl who goes for a walk instead of going to church and is seized by the giant who lives under the hill…). Is there anything to compare with the round wondering eyes of a child caught up in a story?

Tomorrow I’ll drive the fifty miles to Quarndon, near Derby, for another of Sophie Snell’s storytelling workshops. Knowing this was imminent I’ve tried to turn the tale of the murders in the Winnats Pass into a tellable story so I can work on it tomorrow. I’ve spent much of today rehearsing a possible structure but I can’t get it to less than twelve minutes. Perhaps Sophie will be able to help me cut it down to 9 or 10, which would be a sensible target. Here’s hoping.

Meanwhile, my recovery from the protracted indisposition has been much helped by the gradual advance of spring. Every year we see the same quiet revolution and it never ceases to surprise and delight. Buds on trees start to swell, and suddenly there are fresh green leaves. One day the cherry trees and magnolias are bare, the next they’re covered with flowers. The lesser celandines and dog’s mercury are blooming, along with wood anemones and the inevitable dandelions and shepherd’s purse. And the birdsong verges upon cacophony. There’s that moment when you see the year’s first swallows skimming the lake, when you see the lapwings displaying and hear the curlews calling across the moors, and around the garden are the finches and tits, the thrushes and blackbirds, nuthatches and blackcaps and redstarts, and further up the valley the glorious colours of goldfinches and kingfishers… And you come back home with a smile running right through you. Rain or shine, it’s a joy to be outside at this time of year. It isn’t conducive to writing, but who cares? The unfinished manuscripts can wait!


  • I salute your energy and dedication!

    I am a big slacker, so I have to forego spring… else be trapped inside with mine unfinished manuscript the summer through–alas, alack, forsoothly, anon…

    Oh, Well!

    Happy writing–and/or spring enjoying!~

    • Mark Henderson

      I ought to be writing more, too, but the fair weather tempts me to walk the countryside. However, the advanced play-writing course starts on Thursday so I’ll be forced to work more on the drama script if not the novel!

      Good to hear from you as always, Mishka.

  • I decided to follow your lead–and went for a walk… fortunately AFTER I worked on my novel.

    I’ve written a few plays (not sure any of them are presentable; really just glorified dialogues), and the first one–a parody of Shakespeare–ended with a sword fight. I gave it to a friend to read (he was much more involved with theatre than I), and he pointed out the climax of the duel (a beheading) is rather difficult to play out on stage… vivisection is much easier to fake for an audience. (Don’t know if that helps with your endeavors at all…)

    • Mark Henderson

      I don’t think I’ll need to go for on-screen beheading, or even evisceration; I can see such events might be challenging for a director. Nevertheless, I’m told that action (rather than mere dialogue) is essential for drama, and it’s hard to think of anything more action-packed than a dual terminating in a beheading, so your first play at least was more than just glorified dialogue!

  • Ah-ha! True enough… if only that wee bit at the end…

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