I appear to be writing another novel. I didn’t intend to start so soon but things in my personal life shifted quite abruptly so, instead of wallowing, I started a third novel. As you do. It is true that writers are lucky in this – everything is an opportunity, especially new regular wakings at 6.15. It turns out that my internal clock is even in tune with British summertime.
For the last fortnight, I’ve been making myself a cup of tea and going straight to my computer to work on the novel. I don’t even get dressed first. Clad in a red dressing gown reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale (a book I’m just finishing), I type away, hoping the garment will bring me a small portion of Atwood’s skill. This time I’m determined to research as I go and on Wednesday I visited a building site to piece together a scene or two. The staff were very helpful and I was amazed how different things are now – how much paperwork the staff have to do, how many rules there are. These details probably won’t surface but I hope the visit will give the scenes a realistic foundation that I can seed with magic. My notebook is my friend at the moment.
I’d only finished the restructure of Skybound at the end of February, inasmuch as a novel can be finished before an agent and editor enter into an agreement with you. It’s my ninth full draft (not counting my edit-as-I-go approach) and is now in the hands of three agents. I’m concluding from my experiences with my last novel that there are three tiers of responses – the standard ‘this material is not for me’, the ‘you write well and…but this is not for me’ or ‘I was tempted but you would have to change this and this and this.’ So far with Skybound, I’ve had two of the second and one of the first. The latest said ‘I think you write well but I didn’t connect with it in a way for us to work together. I’m sure other agents will feel differently.’ I hope so.
In the meantime, I’ve had some good news. An extract of my poem, Namesake was published in the ‘One That Won’ section of Mslexia Issue 61. Mslexia is my favourite magazine so this is a real coup for me. I’ve also reworked my Grief flash fiction and found an independent publisher to publish the three completed pieces. There will be some pay for this and I’m delighted that they will be placed together. I’ll reveal further details when I can.
This week I received my first ALCS payment for photocopying of anthologies my poems are feature in. It’s not much – £50.65 after deductions but great to think that around the world, people might be reading my poems.
I’m still incredibly excited about developing my poetry collection and, while I’ve been waiting for poor Caroline Davies to work her way through my 87 page manuscript, I’ve been working on some new material. Matthew Hedley-Stoppard’s Headingley Lit Fest stimulating workshop on Surviving and zeugma and a wonderful Poetry Business Writing Day in Sheffield have prompted a few drafts. As an audience member, I’ve been lucky enough to see Kate Tempest who makes highly-crafted choreography appear first nature and whose versatility of voice is inspiring and Wales Poet Laureate, Gillian Clarke, another natural reader. I found Gillian’s wise youthfulness both surprising and bewitching and am really looking forward to exploring her two collections further.
This Word Web was something Bryony Pritchard and I created for the finale of a York pop-up art space organised by Charlotte Dawson (visual design by Bryony).
Person 1) Unwrap your prompt-present, respond to it creatively and re-insert your creation in the bag. Take a poem of your choice.
Person 2) Unwrap your present-creation to keep, respond to it creatively and re-insert your creation in the bag.
For more on some of the wonderful projects Bryony and I are currently involved with, see http://www.artlinkwestyorks.org/blog/
Workshops and Courses
The last couple of months has been very rewarding in terms of workshops – from families at The Hepworth engrossed in snapshot stories of the Lorca-diCorcia photographs to adults creating their own narrative responses to the same exhibition to Leeds Writers Circle exploring magical realism to reliving rites of passage at Leeds Trinity University Writers’ Festival. And what a treat to end the Trinity sessions with a reading for the participants – I’ve really missed performing regularly this year.
Looking to the future, I am delighted that after the success of the last set of Tetley workshops, they’ve asked me to deliver another course. I’m hoping the original members will return but it would be lovely to have a few more so do book with the Tetley if you’re interested. http://thetetley.org/whats-on/events/ (details up soon)
Tetley Creative Writing Course – 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd May, 5th, 12th June, 6.30-8.00 pm
What happens when you give yourself space to write with like-minded people in a building steeped in history? What inspires your ideas? How do you move from the initial spark to a finished piece of prose, poetry or fiction that others find interesting? What is your writing voice and how is it unique?
In this creative writing course, activities will be tailored to the group and we will use a variety of stimuli to evoke creative responses within a friendly and supportive environment. There will be opportunities to develop skills in giving and receiving critical feedback and to revise your work. Whether you have been scribbling in secret for years, are already published or haven’t written anything creative since primary school, this course aims to help you take a fresh approach to your writing.
The Art of Poetry at Same But Different Festival, Temple Newsam, Saturday 12th April, 11am- 12.00
If you find visual art inspiring, don’t miss the Same But Different Festival. The price of my workshop below includes free entry to the art exhibition.
Draw inspiration from the current Rembrandt exhibition and the historic building in this fun poetry-writing workshop. All materials and equipment are provided so you can just turn up and enjoy!
Location : classroom at Temple Newsam House
Level: workshops are aimed at those with any level of experience
Cost: £15. Tickets available here:
Snapshot Stories: Creative Writing Family Drop In inspired by the photography of Philip Lorca di Corcia for ages 3-12 at The Hepworth Wakefield.
Sat 26 & Sun 27 April: 11-4 (closed for lunch 12.30-1)
Hope to see you there or, if not there, somewhere.