Sunday, 28 June 2009

Getting excited, keeping calm, and carrying on

Saturday was long and busy and full. I got to Lowdham early for a Megan Taylor writing workshop about childhood memories. I wrote two short pieces, one of which has already started becoming a story, and another which I think I can use as a snapshot in something, with a bit of careful editing. I like workshops. I like how they get you to think in a different way, and how trying new writing exercises seems to throw up things that you might not come by on your own. It was definitely worth the early start.

Next up was a talk about time and clocks by Geoffrey Evans, formerly of the British Horological Institute at Upton. He was ace. He had lots of facts about clockmaking and time. I think it's probably a good job Biff was too poorly to come, because he would've made a nuisance of himself and Geoffrey would have had to resort to calling the police to get him to stop hugging him. Geoffrey made the model of a special part of the clock that is halfway up Big Ben's tower. The man in front of me had a spider in his hair, which proved a bit of a distraction, but not too much. I was just VERY AWARE of the spider at all times.

We had to sneak out part-way through the questions to make it down the road to the Methodist Chapel, where there was a discussion about short stories. It was led by Frances Thimann and Roberta Dewa, and overseen by Nottingham short story publishers Pewter Rose. It was quite an interesting debate, with everyone agreeing that short stories were perfect for these busy, short-attention span, times. I was surprised that the internet as a source of/home for short stories wasn't mentioned, though. Maybe I should've piped up? Hmmm.

We ended our visit with Nicola Monaghan's reading/talk. She is great. She read briefly from her novels The Killing Jar and Starfishing, and then read a short story about maths, which I can't remember the name of, but it was brilliant.

After that, we had to catch the train back to good old Derby for Hello Hubmarine. From what started out as a quite sparse line up, it ended up being a really rich and full night. We had a film about growing up, then Callum Proctor and Elliot played some lovely twinkly acoustic songs, followed by two strange and wonderful stories from Damien G. Walter. After that our very own Jonezy treated us to a personal piece, and then we had one of the best open mic sections ever. Stevie, Nath, Abacus and Medicine, Rob Hodkinson. A guy with a video - Dan? All were top notch. Then Alex Blood accompanied by Nathan on guitar rounded off the night with lyrical waxings, MJ tributes, and a big hefty dollop of humour.

The whole night went so well it had me wondering why we were taking a hiatus. But it's only two months, and those two months off will give us a chance to get a new book done, something we haven't had the time or energy for so far this year. And it also gives us time to prepare for Derby's Feste weekender at the start of September. There's a lot happening. But I'm trying my best to 'keep calm and carry on'.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Hello Hubmarine #5

This is happening next weekend. It will be the last Hello Hub night we do for a few months, as we're taking a break for the summer. (Not really a break, as Biff, Nath and myself are writing stories for a new TTO book in September, and we also have exciting things happening on the Hello Hub front that I'll divulge when I have all the facts.)

Also happening on that day is the Lowdham Book Festival. I'm heading over there bright and early to spend a day of listening, writing, buying books and nodding very appreciatively.

It's going to be a brilliant day.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Monday, 8 June 2009

Possessed Coconut-Monkey and the Happiness of the Long Distance Runner

I wrote 2,703 words yesterday. And maybe half of them aren't even gibberish. I wrote half at my desk, then the rest downstairs, when the Mr decided it was bedtime. My new housemate has a monkey carved from a coconut that he's afraid to have in his room, so he's put it on the mantlepiece downstairs. It scares the shit out of me. It has glassy eyes that follow you wherever you are in the room. If ever anything was going to become possessed, then it's that monkey. So, under the all-seeing gaze of the coconut-monkey, I started writing again. I tried to hold out, but after about a minute I had to turn it so it faced the wall. I don't usually feel spooked in the house, despite the dead bodies next door, but this monkey gives me the creeps. I got lots of writing done eventually, though.

It feels good to get my teeth back into my novel. I've had a few short stories to write over the last month, and it's been hard switching between the two. I had to read lots of short stories to get myself out of 'novel head'. Luckily, there are some great small publishers out there putting out brilliant short story collections.

One of the stories was for Word Soup 2. The theme was 'Skin', and it was a great night. I got to meet the very lovely Annie Clarkson properly, who in her review of the night, summed things up so perfectly that I couldn't even think about writing one of my own. Although, if I was to write one, I'd change the (very kind) bit about me to "I read a story called 'Proxy' and I was really nervous", and I'd go on to say how confident and warm Annie is, and how her poems draw you in and make you feel like a trusted friend she's telling secrets to.

I wrote another story for the Myth-themed Hello Hub night at Big Blue Coffee Company. After a few false starts, I ended up with a story about a sunken village, called Behind A Wardrobe In Atlantis. It was hard not to write about the Minotaur, though. I came very close.

But now I'm out of 'short story head' and focusing on the long haul again. I like the long haul. I like the total immersion. I wish I didn't have to go to work, so I could stay up and write through the night every night. But maybe stealing the time is part of it, too. Defining every spare moment with the scribbling of pen and the tapping of keys. I love it. I hope it lasts.