Elizabeth Jane Corbett

writing her way home

Blog twenty-eight o Gymru – looking back and looking forward

I have three days left in Wales. I am walking around with the same wide-eyed wonder with which I started my time here – trying to soak it all in, aware of the fierce beauty of Snowdonia, grasping every opportunity to speak Welsh, to browse Welsh book shops, listen to people taking in the streets, trying to sink it deep into my soul, not knowing when I will return. Only that I will, absolutely, definitely.

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I came here with three distinct goals:

  • Improve my Welsh
  • Make a positive contribution to Stiwdio Maelor
  • Finish my manuscript

As I walk around the streets trying to etch sights and sounds into my soul, I am also assessing what I have achieved.

Am I fluent yet? I guess you’d have to define fluent. If you mean speak and write Welsh as well as I do English, then, no, not even close. If you mean able to participate in Welsh language events, laugh at (some) of the jokes, ask questions, conduct day-to-day conversations, well, I’m getting close. There is an elusiveness to fluency in Welsh, due to the strength of the English language neighbours, the relentlessness of the holiday cottage movement and the inability, unwillingness, did-my-best-but-failed attitudes of the incomers. Learners are constantly forced to swap to English. It is not only the newcomers who are at fault. Many Welsh speakers are too shy, impatient, this-is-all-too-hard about the situation. I don’t know what the answer is. But I suspect people need to re-discover a sense of playfulness towards the Welsh language. To learn to use a little more and a little more and a little more – perhaps with simple courses like how to order a bus ticket (for both drivers, learners and local Welsh speakers). It seems to me that the three groups aren’t talking, that it is not only the language learners who need educating. 🙂

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Stiwdio Maelor? A wonderful initiative, the inspiration of Australian artist Veronica Calarco. I wasn’t sure how I would go living in what is effectively a shared house – not to mention a grassroots organisation run on a shoestring, without WIFI! But I have enjoyed the experience and the too-short friendships formed with the various artists who have passed through Maelor’s doors. I have loved living next door to the pub, not having too many choices about what to do on a Saturday evening, knowing everyone in the village. I have also enjoyed introducing people from around the world to Wales. I have felt buoyed by every positive response, personally affronted by every negative reaction. I have talked about Wales’ history, it’s language, and its right to self-determination. I have been told my enthusiasm for Wales is infectious. I hope so, that my contribution to Maelor has also been a positive contribution to Wales. That I have in fact started a plague.

The manuscript? It’s finished! Yes, truly.

‘You know a manuscript is never truly finished,’ someone warned me. ‘Not until it is published.’

I know this. I also know that if my novel is ever picked up by a publisher they will want to make changes. However, I’m talking about an emotional line in the sand here. I have given this book everything — all I can possibly give. Of course, it could be written differently. Trust me, I have considered every possibility. But this is the story I wanted to write, this is the way I have chosen to tell it. If there is no market for this book, then that is my future. But I am not going back. I am ready to start writing and researching another novel.

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We will have drinks in the Slaters Arms on Saturday night to celebrate the above areas of achievement – and to welcome Veronica back to Wales. If you are free, I hope you will join us. Apparently, it is considered appropriate for me to read a piece from my manuscript. I will do so. If only to reinforce the line in the sand.

Hwyl Fawr am y tro…

 

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14 Comments

  1. Carine

    That’s beautiful. Soak in the last few days and safe travels back to Australia. From experience, it will take some time to give all your experiences in another land and language a place once you’re back in your ‘old life’. Good luck readjusting. xx

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Thanks Carine, I know from my years with AFS students that the next few months will be a bit tough. But I’ve got a good life to go back to. I’m looking forward to that. 🙂

  2. Iesgob, pryd ti’n mynd? A fydd cyfle i ni weld chdi cyn i ti fynd? Mae arna i ofn nad oes modd i ni wneud dydd Sadwrn – mae genod teulu Catrin i gyd yn treulio’r diwrnod efo’i gilydd ar gyfer Sul y Mamau (am fod ei mam hi yn methu bod yno ar y dydd Sul).

    Oes dan ni wedi methu’r cyfle, bydd rhaid i ni alw heibio i dy weld di yn Awstralia blwyddyn nesaf…:-)

    Llongyfarchiadau gwresog iawn ar dy Gymraeg ac ar orffen dy lyfr – gwych.

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Haia Aran,

      Dw i’n gadael Cymru y 7fed. Mae fy mab wedi symud i Loegr. Dw i’n mynd i dreulio cwpl o ddiwrnod gyda ei deulu e cyn hedfan adref. Paid â becso am nos Sadwrn. O’n i isio ‘ch gwahoddi chi dim gwneud i chi deimlo yn euog. Mwynheuwch Sul y Mamau gyda eich teulu.

      • Paid poeni – dim euog ydi o, jesd byddwn ni’n falch iawn i gael dy weld di eto cyn i ti fynd…:-)

        Dydd Llun ydi’r 7fed, ia? Ai ai ai. Efallai mai yn Awstralia bydd hi nesaf wedi’r cyfan…

        • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

          Wyt ti’n dod i Awstralia? Mae’n groeso yn ein ty ni os ti’n dod. Hoffe
          n ni ddangos tipyn bach o letygarwch Awstralian i ti ac eich teulu. 🙂

          • Dan ni’n gobeithio yn fawr iawn bydd modd i ni flwyddyn nesaf (ac yn meddwl byddai’n braf trefnu rhyw fath o Bootcamp, efallai!) – mae Angharad Lliar yn awyddus iawn i weld y cwningod sydd gen Louis yn ei gartref newydd… 🙂 🙂

          • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

            Gobeithio bydd modd i chi ddod!

  3. What an amazing journey for you, Liz, in so many regards. Enjoy every last minute as you prepare to travel home. I’m so thrilled for you that you have achieved all your goals while away. And congratulations on finishing your novel. Wow and wonderful.
    We look forward to having you back in Oz and writing group very soon. Travel safe. Hold all those memories close as you can.
    xx Chris

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Thanks Chris, It’s nice to know I have a tribe to go back to. 🙂

  4. Congrats on all you’ve achieved, Liz. You are truly a marvel. The time has been both slow and fast while you’ve been gone. We have missed your immediate presence in our little group (even with the odd Skype drop ins (and outs! ;)) and are probably longing to have you back far more than you are longing to be back.
    Well done on finishing the novel. I am so pleased and proud of and for you. Can’t wait to see what happends next and to be able to lift a glass of bubbly to you and your achievements on your return.

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Thanks Leisl, It’s been a long journey and you’ve been around for most of it. I’ve appreciated your support. See you at writing group in March.

  5. Oh – so sad that I won’t meet you! But – congratulations on all your achievements and contributions 🙂 Pob lwc 🙂

    • Elizabeth Jane Corbett

      Yes, I have taken applications and set up web pages and now I’m going to miss out on all the fun of meeting people. 🙁 But Veronica will be around and she’s great fun too.

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