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From bear to books: Keith Gray at FLY

Keith Gray started his humorous talk outlining the irony of his childhood background: he was reluctant to read. The award winning author avoided books as he regarded them as something to be studied, not enjoyed. He then led on to discuss how this all changed when he realised the pure entertainment of books.

After being given ‘The Machine Gunners’ as a gift from a friend he wished to impress, Gray’s attitude was completely switched. Books are objects to be enjoyed, to lose yourself within and, by the end,  have gained something new you can take away with you (if the author was any good!). This spurred his determination to become a writer, as well as introducing him into a whole new concept of adventure: imagination.

Gray’s talk was not only hilarious, truly reflective of his style of writing, but was also inspiring. His sheer determination to write was not hindered by the several jobs, some of which were verging on humiliating (dressing up as a giant teddy bear and parading down the beach), which left the clear message that hard work can truly able you to reach any dream. This message was exemplified by the three attempts it took for Gray to get a book published, yet rejection did not stop him, if not gave him more inspiration to continue to pursue his aim to be published. 

This passion translated clearly through the true sincerity of the talk; something which can be easily lost through public speaking, enhancing the genuine love of writing demonstrated by Gray. He maintained the interest of everyone in the lecture hall through is comedic character and the hour talk came to an end far too quickly, feeling like only a fraction of the time.

Another interesting topic discussed by Gray was how imagination can almost translate into inanimate objects. Holding a rock and explaining the story behind how it was a holiday, at least through the memories it held to him, Gray depicted an interesting perspective on how to engage creativity, despite thinking you may not be able to. Everyone holds sentiment in objects which have little connection to the personal association behind them, and this in itself is imagination. 

Gray then went on to expand upon how this is the beauty of writing; there is no definite answer, no definite meaning and everyone interprets the same ink on paper completely differently. The simplicity of imagination is what makes books ever more powerful. This is what resonated the most with me after this talk; Gray’s focus upon how writing is accessible to anyone, even those who hadn’t even really read before, left an essence of inspiration among the audience.

To conclude, Keith Gray’s talk was an inspirational one and a joy to be part of; his interesting perspective on the power of imagination was not only though provoking but is something which is achievable by anyone. 

Esme Lucas