Friday, March 13, 2009

What next?

If I was to ask you when it was you realised that you had a flair for writing, what would you say? I bet most people discovered a burgeoning talent when they were at school. Perhaps theirs was the essay which always got read out in class or during assembly. Your pieces were probably published in the school magazine and printed in the yearbook.

Quite often the distractions of those heady teenage years mean that writing gets put on the back burner. After all it’s not considered particularly cool to be hunched over a piece of paper with pen in hand while the rest of your mates are out doing what mates do best – having a good time!

The explosion in blogging has no doubt brought many a decent scribe out into the open. It offers a chance to show off your skills to a usually appreciative whilst invisible audience. Certainly it’s less daunting than sitting in a circle at a writing club facing the direct criticism of your fellow struggling authors.

I’ve often been asked when I started and I can remember quite clearly. Not for me back in school. In fact I didn’t exactly shine in things literary back then. I failed my final English exam with aplomb! It wasn’t that I couldn’t get to grips with grammar and Shakespeare, I simply wasn’t interested. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I never read a book from cover to cover until I was in my forties.

I can pretty well put a date on when I found words tumbling from my head. It was one day in August 2002!

At that time I had my pub, the Brewers Arms in remote farming village miles from any main road in the deepest Sussex countryside. Our community and that from the next village had a joint Village Diary which was published monthly and popped through the door of every house in our area – about 160 in all. I used to advertise each month, and gradually my copy was becoming more and more wordy.

It was suggested that I take a whole page each month and use it as a pub newsletter, and that’s what I did. Virtually everything that happened in the village took place or started in the pub. We had no village hall, my public bar doubled as that. We had committee meetings for this, annual general meetings for that, never a dull moment. We were always putting on some function or other and now I had the perfect place to shout about it.

Suddenly the Village Diary was eagerly awaited each month. Not for the date of the mobile library visit or the neighbourhood watch report, but for the account of the goings on at the Brewers Arms!

It scrutinised very closely too. One month I mentioned that the pub would have been serving beer for 250 years without missing a single day since July 5th 1753. I got a call telling me I was wrong. It actually opened on July 6th 1753!

So much for the past. Where will we all go with our writing in the future? Who knows? For my part, I hope I will still have my enthusiasm for scribbling for as long as I can string a few words together. If I could just get one small piece published without having to fund it myself it would at least be a form of ratification, proof that I have not been suffering some form of self delusion over my writing ability. I the meantime I’ll carry on spending far too much time here with my keyboard, and of course with you dear friends!
I’ve just been reading back though a few issues of the Village Diary, and much of what I’d written back then I’d forgotten about. I’ll finish with a few entries from all that time back.

August was a fantastic month for the Brewers with record beer sales and enough food cooked to feed one of the smaller nations! Thank you to all who visited this strange hostelry with its wacky staff and fine upstanding landlord

Another said

A For Sale board will shortly appear at the Brewers (who cheered?) No, I’m selling up and leaving (who groaned?) It’s simply a board on which you can advertise your unwanted items (no husbands please) and the best bit – it’s free to use!
I also used my page to publicly tease my wonderful staff and I’ve just found this
My bar and kitchen slaves have been somewhat critical of remarks I’ve been making about them in my previous jottings, I can’t think why. They were offered a Right to Reply but nothing was forthcoming thereby leaving me an open goal! I will however moderate my remarks lest militancy sets in.
And finally
I’m a little aggrieved that so many of you where heard to cheer and applaud when I recently tripped on the stairs and landed on my derry-aire on the floor of the bar. Remember – I know who you are and I pour your drinks. There’s nothing more dangerous than a landlord scorned!

Click on picture to enlarge - and read!


  1. im interested in how writing is part of your past as i have only been blogging a short while.
    Many more happy writing years to you!

  2. I loved every word of this, and especially the enlarged specimen of the goings-on at your pub. Now I'm hungry for curry!

  3. I actually have a friend who asks me 'why I bother'!!!! She doesn't realise what it is to NEED to write!

  4. Thank goodness for the pub news letter. I love the way you write.

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  6. this was cool. i'm glad you took up writing again. i used to get into trouble in school since my essays were always critisized for being in poem format, go figure, hee hee heee

  7. What a fun way to begin writing - much more interesting than all those awful college essays most of us had to write!

  8. Just keep on keepin' on...glad you're here to read - you're like a light in the window.

  9. Wow that was a nice write....
    And yes i wrote my first poetry when i was in school....and also won the first place!
    But i never cared to write about anything only until recently....well m glad that i started writing again.
    Keep Blogging buddy!!

  10. Ah the gossip that goes on in a village pub!

  11. you have dealt with the prompt brilliantly. i dunno if you have seen my contribution but i think it stands nothin to the way you have made a come back :)

    you'll find mine at

  12. I wonder if you would ever have had the confidence to become a writer if you hadn't been offered the chance to do that newsletter?

    It's funny how we rise to a challenge, isn't it? And we often find resources and skills inside ourselves that we never suspected!

    Nice one! :)

  13. I was a late starter too Kieth. I think your pub writing was fun. Can't wait to read more. Lucy speaks highly of you.

  14. the village diaries snippets were a alugh riot!

    and its hard to believ you were a late bloomer as far as writing is seems so well ingrained in you...and aren't we lucky that you blog!


  15. Can relate to this post a lot. I still grapple with grammar. I was very bad with languages in school and present I wouldnt know.

  16. I would never have believed you hadn't been writing continually all your life. My favorite post from the pub letter was the For Sale one (who cheered? who groaned?).
    I think any one of the stories you have on this blog is publish-worthy. Especially that Stranger one. And even if you get rejected at first, just remember that J K Rowling got a lot of rejections before she found someone to publish Harry Potter (and don't you know all THOSE people are kicking themselves!)

  17. Keep rambling, Keith. Your newsletter photo of clips was funny and heartwarming. I really liked how it brought a sense of community and wonder if the bar is still open. No wonder the newsletter was so eagerly awaited. But what's the rest of the story? Bring it on! Tell more! I bet it's publishable. . . A great post that reminded me how I decided writing was important.

  18. G'Day, i didn't participate last week so am catching up now. Writing for me though, is a way of sorting and expressing my thoughts and sometimes getting a message to somebody when I feel strongly and can't say what I need to orally. I write most strongly when i am upset.



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