There’s a form of dance improvisation where, working with a partner, a dancer closes her eyes and moves, or dances for as long as she wants. Her partner sits quietly and witnesses. Later the witness becomes the dancer. There’s something extraordinary about this form in the way it fires the imagination, the way the dancer inhabits and embodies her interior world. It’s not at all the same without a partner – there’s something about the presence of a benign witness that creates a shared and mysterious language.
My novel, The Green Table, has now been launched, in Manchester Portico Library – a breathtakingly beautiful building, and in my movement studio in the orchard at home. The celebrations came at a time when the welfare of my aged parents was of paramount importance, and I wondered if I would find the strength to focus on anything else. But I was much encouraged, and in some sense brought back to life, by the dedication of my publisher, Jan Fortune, and the warmth of family and friends. The orchard looked beautiful in the soft September dusk, the smoking bonfire, light rain falling through apple trees lit by fairy lights. I was amazed by how many people could crowd into my studio, where I teach a maximum of five people, and what a fine venue it was for the reading.
And now The Green Table is out of my hands, and in some way I am reminded of my times dancing, eyes closed, sensing my partner watching. The characters I know so well, the world I spent hours imagining and recording, now live in my readers’ imagination. There will be people who love the book, and others who don’t – all that is beyond my control now. I’m glad to let go.
What next? I’m certain, even in the midst of family crisis, that a sequel to The Green Table waits like a kind of research project, and I’m curious, wondering what I’ll discover about post-war Europe, and what happened to my characters after 1946. It also seems important to give attention to the craft of writing, and to that end I’ll draw up a reading list later this weekend – all those classic novels I’ve never read. I’m a slow reader, and writer, and it will take a long time – years of research, reading, and writing. I’m looking forward to it all – immensely.
Photographs by George Peck - September 23rd Orchard Studio, Thorntree Cottage
Tricia Durdey dances, writes, and teaches Pilates.