Count Down


I’m a bit poorly at the moment. Possibly, I’ve overworked myself. I know for certain that I’ve over-trained myself. I mean trains like the carpet-smelling sardine tins that take you to other places, not the thing that Rocky does.

At the end of last month, I took my trip to Norwich to do readings with Chris and new friend Joe Dunthorne. The reading was good: I think I’m getting better at them – I try and do voices a bit now. The high-lights were: pretending to be an indie band for the photographer, getting taken for a nice tea out and a fire-engine arriving at the Arts Centre in order to curtail our drinking (that may not have been the real reason).

After Norwich, I had another little event at Blackburn library – a reading and Q and A, and a week after that met a reading group in Preston who’d just finished A Kind of Intimacy. I like meeting with reading groups – readings with microphones and theatre-style seating do not hold the terror that they used to (as Annie would say, a person can get used to anything) but what I really like is eavesdropping on conversations about why Boris’ parents suddenly moved away, just what happened to that baby, and what colour the house-warming party dress was. I never find them boring – and it makes me laugh when the readers ask me for the definitive answer, ‘so, why did Will’s first wife run away to Hungary with their baby? What, exactly, did he do to her?’ or ‘what is that thing at the end with Cliff?’ and all I can do is shrug. Sorry reading group folk. I just made it up.

Interviews are another Q and A, although it is kind of against the rules to ask questions back – which is a shame, because I always want to. Here and here are parts one and two of an interview that I did a while ago with The View From Here, which is a print and web-based magazine all about books and reading and writing. I think I mainly behaved myself during the answers, although it makes me smile when I read an opinion I’ve given as if I’m certain about it – as if of course this is what I think, this is what I’ve always thought, there isn’t really any other way to think, is there? When actual fact I try very hard not to make my mind up about anything, most of the time. Or so I like to think. Sometimes.

Last, but not least, I’ve been programming and doing a bit of publicity (with help from Mel, Viv and Ed) for Word Soup #4. We’ve got an excellent line-up, as always – and this Word Soup is a bit special, as we’re holding it as part of the Preston Tringe Festival – which means we’re probably going to be broadcast on a couple of community radio stations too. Great opportunity for open mikers to get a bit more coverage, if you’re so inclined. If you’re interested in getting more involved with the Preston Writing Network (we have excellent plans afoot) then email me and we can chat. I’ll get out the best tea-pot.

The title of this post: Count Down. It’s only two weeks now (and it will feel like less if the doctor signs me off sick with the pig thing – although I don’t think my temperature is high enough – and if I can type, I can work) until I finish my job in the prison library and start my job as a full time freelance writing person.

I’m hoping to spend three days a week working on Cold Light, and the other two days a week doing other writing type jobs, and teaching, and planning things like Word Soup, and doing editing. I’ve prepared for this very carefully, by buying a small plastic box with twelve compartments to put my receipts and invoices and remittances in. There’s only one receipt in it right now, and that’s for the box itself. I hope this isn’t the shape of things to come.

In Norwich, after the reading, but before the fire-engine, a nice man offered to pay me money if I read the rest of the book out to him in ‘my accent.’ Now, I don’t have an accent – you Southerners do, but I’ve got to pay my council tax today and when I look at my tiny plastic receipt box I kind of wish I’d taken him up on the offer. 

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