The Girl Who Went Up…

… Is the title of one of the short stories I’m playing around with at the moment.

For some, utterly bizarre reason I haven’t yet identified and for years didn’t even particularly notice, I have traditionally oscillated between writing poetry and writing novels. (No mid-way; mid-way has been for losers; I’m all about the full-way. Or something.) Many authors, probably quite reasonably and intelligently, recommend building up to writing novels via short stories, as though they are mainly instrumental spurts of intent and skill (maybe pain-staked, maybe accidental), a bit like lifting weights before lifting a car (terrible analogy, sorry; and people don’t generally lift cars*). But I never really bothered.** Continue reading

On taking off clothes in front of friends

(Or: why I almost never agree to send my manuscript to my friends.)

It’s a bit like offering to take your clothes off and wait, naked, while they smile – politely – having spurred you on with nods and enthusiasm as though nothing else could be more usual for an innocent afternoon.

There are hundreds of books whose first pages I’ve read, or whose first paragraphs I’ve skimmed, before promptly dismissing them for some arguably flippant reason. Maybe I didn’t like the style, or the person in which it’s written. Maybe it was written in the present tense. Continue reading

Rain, Doors, Beaus (or Beaux)

I have absolutely no idea how time whizzes by so fast; it’s quite dizzying, but I suppose I have been quite busy since opening the door of novel-land and looking outwards, letting the light gradually eke in and, symbolically speaking (because, in reality, there is always more facebook to check, more articles to read, more emails emails emails to reply to), closing the laptop (on my novel) for the final-ish time before creeping gingerly out of the room. Continue reading

Another thing*

I never had an imaginary friend growing up (two brothers; too busy beating each other up**), but I imagine that chuckling quietly to oneself at one’s character’s remarks isn’t too dissimilar to laughing at one’s own jokes, and that constructing entire conversations as a way of recording the voices in one’s head (each with their surprising insights) has got to represent at least a mild foray into a dance with psychosis***. Continue reading

Ray Bradbury: Advice to Writers

I absolutely love this talk, given by Ray Bradbury, as the the keynote address of The Sixth Annual Writer’s Symposium by the Sea at Point Loma Nazarene University in 2001.

I’m attaching it to my blog here as a sort of reminder to come back and watch it again sometime; there’s so much goodness in it.

It also reminds me how much I used to love reading short stories; snippets of life and metaphor (and ideas!) that get into your head before you sleep, making everything whir overnight. Continue reading

Doing interesting things with my time. (What is success anyway?)

On Friday I travelled to Leicester to stay with a good friend for the night and travelled home on Saturday. I spent the train journeys (each punctuated by a jaunt to the horrific metropolis of Birmingham New Street Station – soundtrack: ‘we are sorry to announce…’, whose policy of charging 30 pence and a spin of a turn-stile to use the loo haunts me as possibly one of the most basic acts of inhospitality conceivable*, but there we go…) reading an engrossing book written by a friend of mine I haven’t seen in a little while – I read the first half on the way and finished on the return ride: ‘F**k The Radio, We’ve Got Apple Juice‘, by Miranda Ward.

I’d downloaded it to my kindle a long time ago, then stopped using my kindle, then rediscovered it and found the title pinging up on the home screen, like an idea presenting itself from the depths of my to do list. Continue reading

Reign Beau & The After Man – a poem on the novel (how meta!)

I find it very difficult to describe my current project. Last night was a prime example; it’s not easy to shout coherently to a new acquaintance across the noise of an East Oxford bar about philosophies, humanity, and a character who is ‘a bit unusual, metaphysically’ but ‘not really an angel’, or about how I think my novel is ‘sort of melancholic but also quite funny’. I need to equip myself with the classic elevator speech for such emergencies, instead of resorting to ‘themes’, buzzwords and the wonderful armour of a mysterious smile.

I hope I might be exquisitely talented at describing what I’m doing once it’s actually… you know… done.

In the meantime, I wrote a poem: Continue reading