Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Fabulous Bafta speeches and a writer's stream of consciousness as confidence crashes

If you love good writing, you love it wherever it occurs, and I was hugely impressed by some of the speeches at the Baftas this week, most notably from Alfonso Cuaron, whose heavily accented English put many speechwriters to shame as he accepted the Best Director award, saying: ‘I consider myself part of the British Film Industry. I guess I make a good case for curbing immigration’; and commenting on ‘the upstairs/downstairs distinctions in which some categories are defined as artistic and others are defined as technical. I want to share this award with those artists who live downstairs.’ 

Helen Mirren’s speech was also a delight, beginning with a call for the roomful of sparkling high achievers to acknowledge the inspiration they received from teachers, and ending hauntingly with Shakespeare.

You won’t be surprised that Stephen Fry’s hilarious digs at those accepting writing awards with poor grammar gave me moments of pure editorial glee.

Meanwhile as replies, even negative ones, slow to nothing, motivation lags and lapses, consciousness streams. My writing, prized and preened, pored over, even lately prioritised – the writing that got teachers excited, garnered prizes, puffed me up into something better than ordinary; the same writing that pulled me through early motherhood, the last shred of confidence to clutch at and cling to, that writing, lately revived, treasured and even spoken of in the world, is no good. After all that, no good. That must be it, no good. No prizes come my way, no one is excited, many don’t even reply. Fish is in an ocean now, and the other fish swim overhead, enormous. I cringe in their shadows. The white screen seems too much effort; why torture myself. Try. Keep going. They all say that is the difference, the way to succeed. I cross out the phrases that come first to mind: not good enough. Find better ones, odd ones, fresh, striking and strangely apt. Put those in. Keep doing that. One word in front of another; footsteps on a page. Write on.

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