I have had more of a chance to relax in the past few days, but I have also been lulled into a lame duck period where my head is already on vacation back in the states. Three plus weeks of thinking about literature, discussing literature and writing about literature has turned my grey matter into mush. However, I still have one last rewrite to do of my short story, and it needs to happen in the next 24 hours. Hopefully I will rise to the challenge.
I still need to recount my last week or so in London. A week ago Tuesday, we hit all the Winnie the Pooh sites and saw what inspired A.A. Milne to write his stories. Like many of the early 20th century writers, his story is not necessarily a happy one. Just as Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) was barred from having a relationship with the Liddell family after having been such a big part of their lives growing up, just as J.M. Barrie was to become sometimes too involved in the Davies boys' lives and create conflict with at least two of his adopted sons, so too did Christopher Robin, Milne's son, have issues with his father for making him famous through his works. Knowing that Peter Pan's namesake may have committed suicide as a result of a long history of depression that was partially catalyzed by his adopted father's famous story changes the work. But the work is so good; I don't want it to be marred by the truth of its writer and his family. Thus, when I'm playing poohsticks on a small bridge in the woods or watching my professor climb the famous tree in the 100 Aker Wood (sic), I tend to block out the history of the place because the power of those stories has in some ways balanced the pain and suffering that sometimes accompanied their initial publication.
On Wednesday, we went to Egmont Press and met with the heads of their editorial staff. Each year at Hollins, we have an opportunity to interact with people in the "business." My first year we met an agent at HarperCollins, the next we met a literary agent, and now we have actually visited a publishing company itself. This company happens to publish my creative writing teacher's work, so she hooked us up with a great afternoon of lectures and discussion on the children's publishing industry. I always find these meet-ups a little soul crushing because you do start to realize how slim your chances are of becoming published, but they are very nice about it and still try to encourage you to keep at it and see if you have what it takes.
Our last major event last week was to see Rowan Atkinson in a production of Oliver! (exclamation mark is in the title). For those of you who don't recognize the name, you may know him as Mr. Bean. Funny, funny stuff. Not exactly Charles Dicken's Fagin, but he kept us in stitches, and the whole production was a great example of well-executed set design. The pieces flowed so well together, and the kids were adorable. Some of my classmates have been living in the theatre while we've been here. One classmate has seen three plays on top of the three we've gone to for class. I would love to see a performance at the Globe or see an original musical on the London stage, but the tickets are incredibly expensive and there are some things I would like to wait and experience with Bryan.
Technically we had a free weekend after the Oliver! performance. I did enjoy myself on Saturday, but the other two days were a mixture of work and play. I have visited the National Portrait Gallery and Harrods, so I have done some Londony things on my own. Harrods is a frightening place. It's beautiful but I have never been in the vicinity of luxury clothing before. There are some worlds where I will never belong and I can add that department store to the list. I'll stick with Macy's.
The one thing that was on my mind all day today was the fact that Franklin Academy opened its doors to its students this morning. If any of my new students have ventured this way, hello! I will definitely be back on Monday, and I will try to refrain from showing you all 1000 pictures of countryside and ancient buildings. Maybe just 800 or so....
The Sacred Spot in the 100 Aker Wood