Forgive me for misquoting the bard.  Tis proof that I need to refresh/read up on my classics and something that I will now do, having attended Andy Miller’s motivational crash course in literary appreciation.  It was the opening event of Ayewrite 2015 and, as we walked into the Burns library, we found Miller (henceforth known as Mr Motivator) leading by example, reading Malcolm Lowry’s Ultramarine. (Brave man.)

Before the fitness class proper began, there was a gentle opening exercise.  Each member of the audience was asked to nominate a book that they have always wanted to read and to sign the slip. Then to prove we were all awake, we had to wave the slips vigourously …. (That’s me, beige cardi, 1st row on the left.)

All slips were then put into a hat and placed on the stage until later ….

We then launched into the main routine as Mr Motivator led us through his 10 step plan to Read Y’self Fitter.  He did warn us that we would boo in places as his plan is somewhat controversial, but it’s highly amusing and entertaining too.  (If only all exercise were this much fun …)

I have copious notes – As you can see I waved my slip with so much vigour, my wrist was well warmed-up for the main  routine. I won’t detail the full plan here – just advise you to get yourself to a class at first opportunity – or to read The Year of Reading Dangerously, the reading for which gave birth to the plan.  Some highlights, however:

Mr Motivator’s credentials: He can only relax in libraries or book shops.  He believes that books are the best human beings are capable of and calls himself a bibliofundamentalist.

Key points:

1. We don’t all need to talk about “We need to talk about Kevin” to have a good time.  i.e variety is the key and it’s not necessary to follow the crowd.

3.  We are not as clever as Dan Brown – this followed #2, we are not as clever as George Eliot. i.e accept that stuff will go over our heads. There followed a brilliant explanation of why The Da Vinci Code has more in common with that classic Moby Dick than you can imagine .. Multiple reasons actually and it was very convincing on the night.

7.  The controversial one – get ready to boo – if you start a book, (try to) finish it.  If you don’t, you will never get the final payback from the last 30 pages of The Goldfinch, you’re not really engaging with the book on its own terms (rule 9)  and your opinion isn’t worth the same as that of someone who has read it cover to cover.  (I can hear the boos in the blogosphere from here.)  Once finished your opinion may not be right but at least it is an opinion you have earned and can hold with authority.

So to test it out – what do you think of Mr Motivator’s opinion of 100 Years of Solitude?  No, I can’t quote it – it was rude and designed to wind up the Marquez devotees in the audience. I thought it was brilliant – the opinion coincides with my own – the opinion that’s not worth much because I couldn’t finish it.  And – note to Mr Motivator – I’m not ever going to try.

Which brings us to the final exercise.  3 slips were pulled from the hat and the writers were asked to stand and publicly commit to reading the titles they had chosen.  John and Christine are now probably regretting signing up to Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time”, while June will have a much easier time with Blackmore’s Lorna Doone.  As for myself, I’ve committed to a book that I’m rather wary of ..

I hope it is as extraordinary to me as it is to others – although I suspect I may need the entire 10 point plan to motivate me through to the final page.  Time will tell.

This was a 5-star start to the 10th Ayewrite.  Follow that if you can ….