Welcome to Alphaday 5, Season XVII. The Alpha season continues with every one of us putting in something special for us all to share. Do we get a sense of achievement from working together to provide a worthwhile writerly experience in the course of the season? I think we do. The proof is the immense enjoyment that every Alphaday stirs up amongst our members. In this difficult time of restrictions and cancellations it is especially satisfying that we in our Alpha Group can carry on with our writerly programme undisturbed. Let’s make the most of it!
We have a rich and spicy menu served up for you in this Alphaday’s agenda; as follows:
Alphaday 5, Season XVII agenda:
- This bulletin from me
- The results of The Open Page, Edition 1, Season XVII from Ros
- The collated entries for the scenery challenge from Suzanne
- The brief for Challenge 4 from Linda
- A call for Log contributions from Phil
- A Writers’ Reads prompt from Christine
There’s plenty of substance to gorge on and nourish your writerly interests. Moderation? Who said that was good for you?
There’s no urgent Alpha News for me to announce. I hope we can take that to mean that ‘no news is good news’ and that you’re all safe and well and have managed to keep out of the main sweep of the virus.
A number of dictionaries have announced their chosen ‘word of the year’. Collins and the OED predictably made it ‘lockdown’. The OED, however, decided to nominate a whole list of words as showing up for excessive use in the past year. I think that dilutes the effect of the ‘word of the year’ title, but one word resonated with me: ‘blursday’, the merging of days, hours, weeks. Thank goodness for Alphadays again, because other than that my diary is short of markers to give a regular rhythm to the week. It’s ‘blursday’ every day.
I did follow the Booker Prize and I usually find it exciting. This year, however, I thought the atmosphere was missing because the participants were dispersed on their various screens and there was a lack of interaction. There was no party where they all sat on tenterhooks, no immediate applause when the winner was announced, no hugs and congrats to the winner. We live in a world where everything happens at several removes from reality and the immediacy is lost.
The shortlist embraced some of the important issues of the present time. Two words more or less describe it: inclusiveness and diversity. I know the Booker Prize is sometimes accused of elitism with a jury of snobbish academics. They’ve gone a long way this time to promote the modern concepts mentioned above. No sign of established mammoths like Margaret Attwood and Hilary Mantel – aged 81 and 68 respectively. Douglas Stuart won the prize for his debut novel, ‘Shuggie Bain’ and he’s only 44 and gay. Four of the shortlisted writers were women, four writers of colour, four debut novelists and only one UK writer, Douglas Stuart, the winner, who left his birthplace, Glasgow, twenty years ago and moved to New York. All the red-hot topics are featured in these books: race, gender, sexual orientation, poverty, addiction, suppression, war etc. At least three of the novels centre on a mother / child relationship to explore further existential /societal / global problems. I’m sure the vibrant excitement is in the novels, but I missed it in the zoomed prize-giving ceremony.