Novel nights - Find your voice

In my efforts to stave off the January blues, I've been looking for new things to do that aren't just trips to local bars with a couple of mates. Wanting something different, I was told about 'novel nights' by a friend.

As an aspiring writer why not go out and actually see what the city's writing scene is like and be in the presence of actual writers and those who've attained that all sought after status of 'published'?

The front room of the quaint Strawberry Thief bar was packed out as we listened to four readings from local published authors. Extracts of their works read to us; the words given more definition as their true intentions and meaning came from the voices of those who penned them. It was more personal than theatre and as atmospheric. The place has cosy curtains as well, think that added to the experience.

Mimi Thebo was the main name on the programme, an accomplished writer and lecturer at Bath university.

With an extremely croaky voice I originally thought was a nasty cold and quickly realised was something way more serious, Mimi talked about many things including the benefits of writing, as in actual psychological benefits that have been identified, finding your voice which was the theme of this evening and then read from one of her own books.

Her wonderful Kansas accent and the way she truly feels the words from her story took things to a new level and it was so easy to be in the scene she wanted to take us to; finding ourselves up on a snowy mountain feeling sympathetic to a sick girl's miserable trek that will find her inside a grizzly bear's cave caressing a bear's head through fear, the mother bear still mourning the loss of her children.

Mimi had some wonderful stories to tell including a time when she herself stood on a sleeping grizzly bear's ear while out in Yellowstone Park. Having lived in the UK for so long, her reaction was to do something very British, backing away as anyone would while apologizing profusely.

I don't want to repeat anymore of her stories or wisdom because I will either misquote or do her words injustice. But she really had such a warm aura around her. I genuinely wanted to listen to her for hours.

Mentioning her croaky voice might have seemed quite rude but I wanted to record something. When Mimi talks her breathing can sound affected and I remembered thinking how sad it would be if she was seriously ill. Later on in her talk she mentioned how she had actually died for eight minutes as a teenager having been in a serious car accident which is why she sounds like she does. Have you ever experienced that moment in life when you think "Oh that's a relief she isn't seriously ill, she just died for a bit"?

Afterward I got to speak to a few members and they all seemed really rather pleasant especially the night's organisers who were very friendly.

I walked away with some tips , knowing full well I need to read more if I want to write more and improve my intended craft. Who better to learn from than those who have walked the path you wish to tread?

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