Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Unicorn’s Great Dream

What do authors do on their days off? I followed mine when she sneaked away from her computer last weekend and tracked her down at Interrogate! the UK’s first ever festival of social justice, held at the lovely Dartington Hall.



This festival used a mixture of debate, dance, and drawing (the artistic kind, not the “hung, drawn and quartered” kind) to interrogate income inequality, which is something Katherine has blogged about, but occurs in all sections of society and not just among authors. Wherever there’s income inequality, they tell us, there’s unhappiness… things got quite heated, and bankers were mentioned a few times (in “hung, drawn and quartered” terms, I have to admit).

At this point, judging the audience to be a rather miserable crowd and not noticing my glittery horn at the back, the new Minister for Happiness told us all the secret of being happy… apparently, all you need is a GREAT DREAM.

Janet Street-Porter (famous on TV for being a Grumpy Old Woman) has already tried it with mixed success, so the unicorn thought he’d give it a go, too:

G is for giving. I give unicorn glitter to people on Twitter (follow me @reclusivemuse and you might get some, too!)
R is for relating. I relate online, since that’s the best place to find a unicorn these days.
E is for exercising. My author diligently exercises me every day.
A is for appreciating. I do appreciate a nice review.
T is for trying out. Authors are always trying new things - it’s called research and is tax-deductible… assuming your author earns enough to pay tax in the first place, of course.

Not bad so far. What about the dream part?

D is for direction. I have plenty of goals (write a best-seller, net a 7-figure advance for my author, get a Hollywood film deal and retire in enchanted clover, that sort of thing), but have trouble is finding the right road to take me there.
R is for resilience. I have to admit my author doesn’t bounce quite so well these days if she falls off me.
E is for emotion. As you know, I’m a very emo-unicorn.
A is for acceptance. I accept I only have one horn (a shame, because you’d get double glitter if I had two!)
M is for meaning. My author’s got me on a quest for the Grail while she’s writing her new Pendragon series… does that count?

Of course, Katherine did not take a complete day off in the end, because I found her sitting in the sunny Dartington gardens at lunchtime writing this poem:

Let’s interrogate society
in the great Dartington Hall
with its fireplace big enough for a banker
and an audience held in thrall.
The nice lady from the Guardian
wants schools open to all
and the man in charge of happiness
is setting himself up for a fall.
The second speaker bored us
with statistics upon the wall
and everyone ran over time
so the last man caught the ball.
Questions from the audience
raised transport issues for the poor,
asked where transition happens most,
and why generations shut the door.
But our allocated hour was up
so answers never reached the floor,
and a hundred people headed home
wishing there had been time for more.

So how happy are you? And how do you score on the Great Dream?

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