Obviously, the best way to bring The Canterbury Tales back to life would be to travel from London to Canterbury. No argument about that.
But I’m excited about doing a walk from Aldgate, where Chaucer lived, to Westminster Abbey, where he’s buried.
It takes about an hour to walk, but I plan to be slower, and take a few detours. Specifically, I’d like to visit sites relating to some of the following (in approximately the order I’d stumble on them):
Sir Thomas More
Thomas a Becket (buried in Canterbury, but born on Cheapside)
Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke
Naturally, being a journalist, I’d walk along Fleet Street – reaching the end of the City of London to enter Westminster.
In Westminster, the walk to the Abbey could easily take in the following:
Jane Austen (finally, another woman!)
Rudyard Kipling, and / or
Then again, I could cross the river and walk through Southwark, where The Canterbury Tales starts.
Southwark was home to:
Mary Wollstonecraft (another!)
Naturally, I wouldn’t stop for ALL these literary superheroes on a single pilgrimage. Can you imagine!
But choosing one or two for each pilgrimage would allow me (and others with me) to think about very different kinds of storytelling as we spin tales…
I can’t wait.
Note: I love Dead White Men, and intend to be one myself one day. But there are perhaps a few too many in this list. Can you suggest anybody else I might include, to fix that…?
Recently, for reasons outside my control, I was unable to make it to an event where I was scheduled to speak.
My daughter was taken ill. If you’re a parent, you know how that feels. If you’re not, I hope you can imagine my feelings…
… as I mopped her brow in London while contemplating the 200 or so design students expecting to hear me speak about How To Be More Creative, a couple of hours later, in a lecture theatre 150 miles away, in Bournemouth.
When she finally fell asleep, I phoned my host in Bournemouth, senior lecturer Alice Stevens, to ask it might be possible to deliver my interactive talk using some kind of online conferencing tool.
You know, Skype or something…
Alice was not ecstatic, because she’d not done anything like it before, and the time was tight. But seeing little alternative, and being fundamentally an adventurous type, she agreed.
And so the talk went ahead. For myself, I found it a little disorienting, because when I started doing the audience interactions I’m so fond of, Alice kindly walked the laptop around so I could see people…
… and this made me slightly seasick.
But when I said that out loud, it went down very well indeed: audiences seem to quite like it when speakers admit to some kind of wobble. (This speaker, anyway.)
I was happy to learn afterwards that, despite everything, the motivational theme of my talk came through loud and clear.
Here’s what Alice wrote in an email the following day:
Speaking for myself, I had a lot of fun. It was a bit wobbly, and I couldn’t read people’s faces at all, but Alice looked after me very well, and taught me that it’s possible to do more events than I previously managed – because it turns out that I might not always have to travel.
When I’m writing a book, I hate to read it on loose sheets of paper. I want to read it as a book.
For that reason, I often use Lulu.com to print my books on demand while I’m writing them. Sew Your Own went through several versions before it was ready to print “properly”. What If The Queen Should Die? is no different, and I thought it might be helpful to explain how I work with Lulu.
Very simply, I save my OpenOffice (or Word) document as a PDF, having first checked the dimensions of the page. (Lulu offers a huge range of sizes, but for simplicity I choose to print my book at A5, because it’s less complicated.)
I design covers for the book using an app on my iPhone, trying a variety to see what works best for the book as it currently stands. Here’s the latest, which I sent for printing today.
Lulu asks me to upload the image, and the PDF containing the interior of the book, and that’s that.
It’s also possible, on Lulu, to set prices on the book, and possibly even to open some kind of virtual online shop. I’m pretty sure that Lulu will sell you an ISBN number, so you can sell the book through other retailers too. But that’s not what I want it for. I just use Lulu as a private space, for printing one-off copies of my own book to send to me as books.
I hope this might inspire you to try doing it yourself. There’s nothing like getting your hands on your own book.
Note: This post first appeared on flintoff.org, 19 May 2015