I remember it was Friday the 13th.
I remember the quiet carriage.
I remember people crowding on to the train before most of us had got off.
I remember sun, and rain, and going back for an umbrella.
I remember bunting, and a loving balloon. Well, I think it was a balloon.
I remember little chunks of coffee cake. I had one with Saturday’s lunch, but two on Sunday.
I remember using Windows again. It looked different, and improved. I actually felt a little bit jealous.
I remember losing my voice.
I remember a very kind glass of water.
I remember a very nice glass of champagne.
I remember my English teacher Mrs Blakemore used to mark us down if we used the word ‘nice’ in a sentence. Yes, we have to be concrete and specific in our word choices, but sometimes an often-used word is just right.
I remember Harry (in sunglasses), and Beth and Tom (not in sunglasses). Ah!
I remember being called a recovering publisher.
I remember channelling my inner Sharon Osbourne. ‘You go, girl!’ (I wish I’d had the balls actually to say that.)
I remember, the next morning, discovering I’d left the label on the sleeve of my new jacket as I sat on a stage in front of hundreds of people. And they were writers, so they could read, and what they could read was Marks and Spencer Sartorial. (And who knew I’d end up in Marks and Spencer Blue Harbour so soon.)
I remember not remembering if I’d worn these boxer shorts before :/ Sniff, sniff.
I remember my opinion of literary agents rising.
I remember saying that ‘Opinion is the death of thinking’ is a very elegant sentence, illustrating, for any number of good reasons, how to balance noun and verb forms in your writing.
I remember saying how ‘Opinion is the death of thinking’ is an important sentiment for a divided world.
I remember being very opinionated.
I remember saying The Slap is a book that must be read; you must overcome your prejudices against its (apparent) prejudices, because the prejudices are critiquing prejudice, not prejudices in themselves. And if you can’t see that, maybe you should stick to reading the Farrow & Ball colour chart.
I remember telling any number of writers it might be best not to open their novels with that cliché of someone waking (especially from a dream).
I then remember remembering that The Slap opens with someone waking up. But at least its very first page has a fart under the sheets and some very spicy language.
I remember realising I was ranting when I was rattling on about the deficiencies of the learning and teaching of writing in British schools and universities. Oops!
I remember thinking that sometimes people’s written stories only really come to life when they are talking about them (and by that I mean talking conversationally, not delivering some worried-about pitch).
I remember repeating that mantra that you should trust your natural speaking voice. Sometimes those sentences that you speak aloud are the ones that need to go down on the page. ‘I used to work in Jarrow, and my office looked down on the street where Catherine Cookson used to live.’
I remember telling people to write I remembers.
I remember widely recommending Steering the Craft by Ursula Le Guin and Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale.
I remember telling people that their writing is an act of giving to a reader. When do you give, when do you hold back?
I remember needing extra chairs and handouts.
I remember not having time to get to the tightening and brightening exercise. One to finish at home. (No Right Answers, just variations on a theme.)
I remember knowing I must have been snoring, and hoping my neighbours never noticed. Halls of residences have very thin walls.
I remember thinking that York University students must be very thin, because their showerheads are very close to the walls (like, two inches away).
I remember porridge, and prunes.
I remember a robot, mothers, teachers, detectives, an engineer, a creepy neighbour, and an abbot who bangs his fist on the table.
I remember the Weimar Republic, Ireland, Africa, the Lebanon, the 70s, rings, sewers, a tsunami, a prison.
I remember listening with mother, great-grandchildren, dogs, teachers, divorces, a doctor, a New Zealander, the Olympic stadium in Berlin.
I remember Yorkshirewomen, more dogs, four cats and a doctor, a lorry driver, a costume shop, Australians, self-publishers, and a Black Country accent stronger than my own.
I remember even more dogs, and lovely dog-lovers, and an apparently grateful whippet (dogs really can communicate, you know – especially with their eyes).
I remember loving dog-people, and realising they’re probably even stranger than cat-people.
I remember thinking that I love the job of working with writers because you meet so many colourful, sweet, funny, crazy-assed people, and hear so many colourful, sweet, funny, crazy-assed and very moving stories.
I thank all those people for sharing so much.
I remember marking dates in my diary for 2014.
PS I will remember to post links and other info from the workshops later in the week. (Update: I did remember, eventually, but did forget some things I needed to add later. But here are my notes on York as well as notes on the book doctor one-on-ones, and here also is a Friday Writing Experiment from last year introducing variations on the idea of ‘I Remember’. And all credit to Joe Brainard and his own ‘I Remember’, now in its own very handsome UK edition.)