Friday, 30 January 2009

Hello Hubmarine Night

Tomorrow is the first Hello Hubmarine night at the Big Blue Coffee Co. on Sadlergate, Derby. We've merged the old Rhythm and Blue night with the Time Travel Opps nights and come up with the idea of a free monthly night of fiction, poetry, music and film.

Telling stories will be Drew Gummerson, Duncan Cheshire, Nath and myself.

In the poetry corner, we have Jo Bell, Jonezy and Joe Coghlan.

And for musical refreshment we have Luke Wynne.

There will also be some short films.

There is a much more detailed write-up on the TTO page. I am being a crap blogger of late. I promise there will be improved frequency soon.

Please pop down to Big Blue if you're in the area. It will be a splendid evening.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Back To School

I’ve been busy lately. In November, I found out I’d been accepted onto The Literary Consultancy’s Chapter and Verse mentoring scheme. Every year, the Arts Council fund ten places, and yours truly got lucky. Sara Maitland is the co-ordinator, and after reading my first chapter, she phoned me from her house in the middle of nowhere. We talked about where I was with my novel and what I needed. She then suggested three possible mentors that she felt I might have an affinity with. Sara gave me ten days to decide, but asked did I have an inkling. I did. Instinct is funny. I read work by all three, weighed up the pros and cons and asked advice of anyone who’d listen. And then I went with my first choice anyway. I waited a few days to hear if the person I’d chosen liked my writing and could see themselves working with me. Luckily, the answer was yes.

It’s meant to be a bit like doing an MA, which is the push I needed to get off my bum and go hell-for-leather with my writing. I am up to chapter nine of the first draft of this novel. I have just submitted it to my mentor, who will give me feedback on editing and everything. I need help with editing. I hear writers talking about ‘doing editing’ and it feels like a secret club I can’t figure out the knock to. I go through my work, and I swap things and cut bits out and put bits in, but is that it? I have a feeling there is more to it, and I want to learn. So over the next year, I will be doing big writing, and getting to grips with editing and learning how to take feedback. I think I’m at the point where I’m not precious about my work. A couple of years ago, I would have cried for days if anyone suggested I make any changes to anything I’d written. Now, I want to be good at what I do, I want my writing to work, and I’m ready to take on board any advice/criticism I can get that will help to make this happen.

It feels like I’m at school again, doing homework. It feels good. I have been doing writing through the night quite a bit. My best hours are between two and six a.m. That seems to be when the typing gets crazy and the ideas are all there. I read somewhere that you’re supposed to shake your writing times up. Like if you usually write in the evening, you should try setting your alarm a few hours early and get up and write then instead. I’m not a morning person. I love bed a little too much. I can’t even convey in words how much I love bed. You would have to see my heart-shaped pupils and stupid smile to fully understand. But I am not ruling out getting up early one morning, just to try it. Just don’t hold your breath.

So now I’m trying not to worry what my mentor will make of it. I am expecting them to be quite ruthless, which both terrifies and excites me. When friends read your work, they are kind and maybe not always truthful. With Biff and Nathan, doing the TTO thing, we do offer ideas and views on each others’ work, which is really beneficial, and I think we’re lucky to have that. But having an outsider, a writer, a lecturer go through what I’ve written will be a whole new kettle of fish. And I think I’ll be a better writer for it. And the best part is, I get a great excuse to buy a ton of new stationery.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Seven Things

Oh dear. I have been hiding from the internet for a long time. That flu got a hold of me on Boxing day and floored me for a good 9 days. I don’t think I’ve ever been that ill before. I spent a whole week in bed. Just in bed. And I started thinking of the internet as being the eye of Sauron, and I didn’t want to be seen. Things got a bit weird for a while there. I feel like I’ve lost a week of my life and I should still be doing Christmas-type things. But life has been going on all around me. I think I may have inadvertently sparked a dangerous new obsession for this person. Maybe after "annie book" and "fish book" we will have "hassleback book". Who knows? I think it might be on the cards.

There has been a “write seven things about yourself” meme going round, and Sally Cook has tagged me. My first thought was: Oh god, I don’t know 7 blogging people to tag. But it’s okay, because you can tag anyone and it’s up to them to (a) find out, and (b) decide to do anything or nothing about it. So...

Seven things:

1. If I could have any superpower, it would be the ability to stop and restart time. I would probably use it mostly in the mornings.

2. I’ve been obsessed with survival manuals since I was a kid. I used to get them out from the library and memorise the techniques. Maybe I shouldn’t have been allowed to watch The Blue Lagoon or read Treasure Island. To this day, I know how to get water in various environments - all that building solar stills and finding plants and checking for dead sheep in streams business. And I know how to survive in sub-zero temperatures, too. Which should come in quite handy over the next few days. I can also build rafts, bridges and dens. In theory, I am Ray Mears in a skirt. In practice, I would probably cry out more water than I would gain if I actually had to drink my own sun-filtered urine.

3. I have size 5 feet.

4. I was vegan for 13 years but stopped a few months ago. Sometimes I still feel bad about this. I try not to think about the things I didn’t have to think about. I am in love with Tiramisu. On Sunday, I rediscovered cheese. Cheese!

5. I am refusing to take the Christmas tree down, even though it is supposedly bad luck to leave it up past the 6th. I think I will leave it up for an extra week to make up for the week I missed. It will be my version of ‘stopping time’. Good plan!

6. Tomorrow I have to build lots of flat-pack furniture. And make some curtains. It is going to be a very busy day, but by the end of it, there will be order instead of chaos. Apparently.

7. I am in a mild state of panic about 68% of the time. The rest of the time I am asleep.

The seven people I tag are:

Duncan Cheshire
Drew Gummerson
Michael Frearson
Emily Josephine
Binnie Bee