Archive for the ‘embarrassed’ Category

Station Stories + A Plea

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

I’ve not participated in a project since, I think, Bugged. Which was back at the start of the summer. Ages and ages ago, although – so I hear – the book is still selling very briskly thanks to Jo’s efforts in planning and performing in events up and down the country.

Still, for me it is time to take on something new to run alongside the endless typing of The First Draft and the terrifying approach to Cold Light’s arrival in the world.

The something new is Station Stories – a writing project run by David Gaffney and The Hamilton Project. The other writers involved, me, Tom Fletcher, Peter Wild, Nicholas Royle and Tom Jenks will all be writing stories set in and around Manchester Picadilly train station. Once we’ve written, edited and practiced our stories we will be performing them in the station across three days in late May. And the performace will be something very special.

We’ve already met up to be given a tour of all the station’s nooks and crannies in the hope that it would get our juices flowing. Brain storming has been happening via email. This isn’t a writing collaboration – we’re all responsible for our own words, but the performance needs to work as a whole and that means working together during the planning stages to ensure there isn’t too much overlap of story or tone, that we manage to cover, somehow, the life of the train station. 

Sadly, I am stumped. I normally like a commission and don’t have any problem with coming up with new ideas. But this week and the one before – nothing. I will pull it out of the bag in the end, promise. Most of my commissions are written in a bolt of white hot panic, against a deadline.

But in the mean time. tell me your train station stories and I may steal them and recycle them. Don’t worry if your train station isn’t Picadilly. Alk donations are welcome. Sorry for the imposition but it’s hard times for all of us.

Think of it as your donation to the Big Society.

New Blog Rules

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

From now on I am only going to blog about the nightmares I am having about the publication of Cold Light. I’m having really, really detailed nightmares right now.

A special hard-backed novel-length bad review of Cold Light free to every reader of *insert your favourite broadsheet here*

For the tabloid reader, a full colour supplement, eight page spread of bad reviews..

Oh God. What have I done?

I think I might write the reviews myself, and pitch them to all the papers and blogs and amazon reviewers and good reads raters and book clubs and crazy people who like to send me facebook messages / email me in the middle of the night. It will save them time and at least then there’ll be no nasty surprises for me.

I am sure if I did this I would stop having the nightmares. Whenever I stand on a bridge I worry about falling off it. That feeling makes me want to jump down, just to get the anxiety over and done with.

Jackets for the hardback arrived yesterday for me to look at. They are perfect and brilliant. I got a hardbacked book of around the same size (it was The Tiger by John Valiant) and tried them on. Felt a bit daft. Took the dust jacket off and got John’s book dressed again. Sorry John.

Picture stolen from here.

Dippy Egg + Blog Crisis

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

I met Kate Feld in Manchester for tea and dippy eggs yesterday. Kate is the brain behind the Manchester Blog Awards, among many other things. We chatted, as you’d expect, about blogs and blogging. I’ve been working with beginner bloggers a lot more than I used to and recently taught a workshop on Blogging for Beginners to a creative writing group in Ormskirk, West Lancashire.

I said, both during this workshop and later on to Kate, that I thought the best blogs had a focus and were specialised – and that when I write my blog I try to remember that most of the people reading it are writers, or bookworms, or people who want to be writers. They don’t really care about the other stuff I get up to. So I try to stick to posts about writing and research and editing and The Writing Life (such as it is) even though there are lots of other things that I do and think about.

It’s also important to me that most of my private life is private – so I don’t blog too much about my family or the conversations I have with other people – and when I do (like now) I stick to what I say and leave out what they say. I don’t put pictures of Small Fry and Mr on here because they wouldn’t like it and I generally don’t blog too much or too specifically about my freelance work because that effects other people too.

And, of course, I make quite a lot of this up. I had a couple of questions from the students at Edge Hill about my blogging and there was an audible gasp when I ‘confessed’ to a lot of the fiction and artifice contained in these posts. Eeep. May I refer you back to the title of this blog? I’ve got a diary for when I want to do my confessional writing. I never forget that this is public.

All this has got me thinking, and I might almost be on the cusp of changing my mind. I used to blog a lot more about my not-writing life than I used to, and I think one of the reasons why I stopped was because I suddenly started getting lots more hits and didn’t feel that I was speaking to a group of people I knew anymore. Readers became audience, and this became more performed than I intended it to be. Maybe.

What do you think? Is there an ideal balance between specialism and individuality on a blog? What’s your experience about the line you draw between your public written life and your private one? I am curious if the people reading my blog have extra things they would like to find out about me and my not-writing-life (such as it is)

The New Leaf (if not new shoes)

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Thanks to the miracle of blog scheduling, when you read this, I’ll be in the process of signing paperwork and getting married!

<-- those aren't my shoes and it certainly isn't my dress. At the time I'm writing, I don't have shoes. The Mr has said so long as my novel is finished it doesn't matter what kind of shoes I wear (possibly because he hasn't got any shoes either - and Small Fry... nope, she's wearing plastic high-heels or Pepper Pig Wellies, depending on the weather). I may have swapped a shopping trip for a last minute edit of the final chapter. It's Whitby Goth Weekend. Maybe I can pick something fetching up while I'm there. I'll let you know how I get on. This blog has turned into a boring list of the promotional engagements I’ll be doing, or have done. After I get back from Whitby I promise to be more interesting, in deeply interesting ways. Or I will lie a bit more about the things I get up to. I’m hoping to spend November reading books, watching films, catching up on the hoovering, putting receipts in date order, sleeping, waiting for feedback on Cold Light, teaching some workshops, sleeping some more, worrying about Cold Light and helping the cat to forgive me after leaving her for a week… I’m sure there’ll be some interesting blog-fodder in amongst that lot.

"Click Thru"

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

I’m constantly updating the sidebar with news about readings, creative writing courses, Word Soups and bank-robberies, so for those of you who check out this blog in a reader – click through once in a while, why don’t you?

Normal Service

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Taking over the internet again with a little article on the Waterstone’s Website. This is also, I think, going to be in their print magazine next edition.

I’m going on holiday for a little bit. I am going to do Sod All.

I need a holiday, because when I get back there are going to be all kinds of really busy things happening.

Launch parties!! Hurrah!!
24th March: official Manchester Launch at No Point in Not Being Friends, The Trof.

NEW: 27th March, supporting David Ford with Sally Cook at St Philips, Salford.

28th March: unofficial Derby launch at Hello Hubmarine

4th April: unofficial Eccleston Library Launch (morning) and unofficial Chorley Library Launch (afternoon)

NEW: 5th April 1pm Preston Waterstone’s signing.

21st April: unofficial Preston Launch at Preston Writing

Network’s first live lit night: Word Soup (more about this later – it is going to be ACE)

All these pictures are the stuff of anxiety nightmares I have been having recently.

Don’t tell Jane, because she’ll have a fit, but I have got one nice dress and that is it. I will be repeating outfits.

3 for 2

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Now look at this. It isn’t supposed to be out yet! Jane told me Southport Waterstone’s have been very quick off the mark. And Chris, Sian and Socrates have just cleaned out Derby Waterstone’s.

So I suppose it’s ‘out’ now. If you aren’t sure which three books to buy for your three for two offer, just do what Jane did.


Prize winners announced tomorrow.

Quite Very Good

Friday, February 20th, 2009

There’s a thing here about the Waterstones New Voices 2009 promotion, which is quite exciting.

If you wanted, you could read a little bit about me and the book here.

The Times has also done a mini review and list of all twelve novels here. It has also posted a little extract, if you’re so inclined. The Bookseller covered it here.

If you’re new here, hello. One of the things you might want to do, is make a guess about ink. Something else you might want to look at this film here.

I’m just saying, that’s all.

Progress Report

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

The final editing of A Kind of Intimacy is nearly finished. I was fearing it, but it turned out to be only very small things – the odd word here and there. That means I can start work again on Cold Light – which, because it isn’t finished – needs a totally different kind of work. I am moving around scenes and chapters. That is leaving some parts looking a little threadbare. Scenes that I had previously only implied or imagined need to be written in. Now I’ve gone through my draft a few times I can focus on what I want to say a bit better. I’m loosing some parts, and emphasising others. It is changing.

There is going to be a little bit less squid than I thought, and a little bit more Gordon.

I’ve had courage to make these changes, partly because I’ve had conversations with my agent and a couple of friends. The best kind of conversations – where the other person doesn’t say anything, but just nods and lets you come to your own conclusions. And I’m not alone: one of the students on my creative writing course is also committing to restructure a novel that needed a little reshuffle to work in the way he wanted it to. That helps too.

The blog question for today is a plea for advice. On Friday morning I’m going to be interviewed live on the radio. I realise it is probably best not to swear, and it makes sense to chat a bit about my interesting book and my interesting job. But other than that, if anyone has any advice I want to hear it.

I’d like to avoid making a tit out of myself, if at all possible.


Friday, October 24th, 2008

Here’s an interview I did with Ryan Manning at Thunk.

If anyone else would like to interview me, I promise I can be a bigger tit than that. Tittishness is a personal speciality of mine.

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