Archive for the ‘trains’ Category

Edge Hill + Keswick + Wirral + Manchester

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

A mad week that started with a lovely trip over to West Lancs for a reading at Edge Hill’s Rose Theatre – where I read from A Kind of Intimacy and the first chapter of Cold Light. I don’t get nervous about A Kind of Intimacy any more, although I do still get tempted with the red pen when I open that book, but it’s a scary prospect reading Cold Light. It’s still so new and I’ve not got a thick skin about it yet.

Still, it went well and I sold all my books which would have been an excellent thing, except it meant when I ran out of diesel on the A59 and had to call a taxi, I tumbled out of my car when he arrived in a short skirt, shiny-high-heels-reading-confidence shoes, and a purse full of crumpled fivers. I may have given the wrong impression, (I am an author, honest!) but I got home okay in the end and back there safe the next morning to give two workshops to the second year undergraduates who were a lovely and well-read lot. Hooray for Edge Hill!

Next, a drive up to Keswick for the Words on the Water festival to take part in the North West Voices showcase, hosted by Ra Page of Literature Northwest and Comma Press. I got to listen to a whole afternoon of wonderful readings including a very distrurbing but brilliantly written story by Annie Clarkson. We also got our lunch in a nice upstairs room overlooking sunshine, green grass and water. It felt like the first day of spring and our small but loyal audience was very kind, even when I read the bit out of A Kind of Intimacy where Boris slags off Keswick which is actually in my top ten of nice places to visit. Naughty Boris.

The final slot of the day was a discussion session about ‘Surviving as a Writer’ – there was a nice question from an audience member about discipline and writing routines and me, with my new-found to-do-list method said I needed to treat it like a job, and do it if I felt like it or not, and Jackie Hagan, the wonderful poet and performer from Skelmersdale, said she only wrote when she felt like it – and couldn’t force herself. I wondered aloud if this was to do with form and the time it takes to write poems compared to novels, but I don’t write poems and I know they take longer than I think, so I wouldn’t like to assume. It’s a shame, but we didn’t get a chance to talk about this as much as I’d have liked to.

I can’t MAKE myself have an idea, but I can sit and force myself work on an idea I’ve already had – and generally, when I get an idea I need to make it last a few thousand words. Maybe it’s different for poets? There was a little discussion about life-style – about how chaotic, energetic, vital poetry is often fueled by a chaotic life. I certainly need order, nights in alone and a to-do-list to make my books but I don’t think my books are dull. I think my life is dull so my books don’t need to be. People have asked if children get in the way of being a writer – but actually being forced to live the house-bound, ordered existence of a mother-to-Small-Fry (tea-bath-teeth-story-bed like a metronome shaping each evening forever) has been the best thing I could have done for my writing.

Next was a day out to Liverpool, a trip across the Mersey on the ferry (yes, they did play the song…) and a walking trip around Seacombe, Birkenhead, Rock Ferry, Rock Park and Tranmere. All very interesting research for a storytelling and blogging project I’m doing over the next couple of months with Liverpool Binenial. I’m sure I’ll be blogging more about this during the weeks to come. I also have pictures and lots of ideas about tropical fish, wedding dresses and stolen mussels for outside picnics. It’s going to be brilliant.

And finally, a little reminder about the event I’m doing with the Manchester Centre for New Writing – you can catch me and Jen Hadfield reading at the Whitworth Gallery on the 22nd of this month – tickets available to book here. I’ve been reliably informed that A Kind of Intimacy is being studied at two universities in the region (god help us all) so if you’re there because you’ve got to write an essay, I’m sorry – come and say hello and I will apologise in person. 

Would you think I was mad if I told you I sketched out a possible plan for Book Three on the train back from Liverpool Lime Street yesterday night? And even though I desperately needed eats and sleeps, stayed up FAR too late last night tinkering with it?

Today, mainly inside the house at my desk quiet work and a cup of ladies’ tea this afternoon.

The image of the rascal van is supposed to represent all the driving about and travelling I’ve done recently – although I don’t actually own a rascal van, I will one day – just as soon as I can convince Himself this is an excellent idea and a vehicle I could both park AND live in, I’ll be the proud owner of one of these things.

On My Travels

Monday, August 24th, 2009

A little post before I’m off on the train tomorrow to Edinburgh to read at the Writers’ Retreat tomorrow evening, alongside Ray Robinson. I’ll be reading from and talking about A Kind of Intimacy and Ray will be reading from his second novel The Man Without. Apparently, the two of us write ‘superb and unsettling fiction about damaged individuals and their effect on others.’ So now you know.

I’m kind of excited about this one. Would you believe I’ve never been to Edinburgh before? I’m not going to have time to stay for more than a night because we’re in the getting ready for new school and uni terms frenzy here at chez Jenn, but I did manage to bob into the Debenham’s sale to get a new dress.

It is spectacular (as was the fact it cost me only 9, yes NINE of your English pounds) and will also be the outfit of choice for Word Soup #5 – not until the 22nd September but already shaping up to be a top night with another great line-up. Ace!

Something else that is exciting is the 2009 Manchester Blog Awards. Can’t believe it is that time of year already. I remember last time, short-listed for the Best Writing on a Blog Category and reading a draft extract from Cold Light that had just appeared on my blog. A Kind of Intimacy hadn’t even been published yet.

This time, I’m going back as part of the entertainment (which makes it sound like I’m dancing, or telling jokes. Neither of which I’ve been asked / am able to do.) I could read a bit of A Kind of Intimacy, but I know that lots of people in Manchester have already heard me read it, so I might opt for something different this time. I’m quite excited about Cold Light, so it might be time to give that its first proper outing.

Hmm. Thinks thinks.

Nominations for your favourite blogs can be made via this link. There are several categories, and you can nominate blogs in more than one of them. It isn’t a vote, so if your blog has already been nominated (or you’ve nominated it yourself – it is allowed) then there’s no need to get all your friends to do the same. Can’t wait to see you all there.

And no, don’t ask me about how my shiny new writing schedule is going. When my mentor comes back from her holiday, I am going to be For It. I’m sure she’ll have some crazy punishments up her sleeve, but nothing is as bad as the guilt.

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