Hello and welcome to a new series – a monthly round up of events. I’ve never been a big one for diaries, partly because, when I was 15 the boy I like found mine and read it out to everyone (if you’re reading this, fuck you Danny!) and partly because I’m a talker – I like that people can hear me. But we are in astonishing times, and I think perhaps it’s worth making a record of what it’s like – perhaps it will help my future grandchildren with their homework one day.
OR I’ll do it for two months and then get bored, like last time. Who can say! So. January –
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Dreamy retelling of a Russian fairytale – a wild young maiden can see demons, and a snow king wants her for his wife. I think you’d probably have to Like This Kind Of Thing to really enjoy it, but I do. Not the most satisfying management of plot, but beautiful setting and characters.
Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land
A young girl is the daughter of a serial killer. She turns in her mother and goes to live with a new family – but her past still haunts her. Ideal example of a psychological thriller.
The Wonder by Emma Donogue
Slow paced but gripping literary fiction about a young girl who insists she can survive without food. An English nurse is sent to watch the child and verify she’s not eating. I really loved this – absolutely cracking protagonist, and for a book that’s really just about sitting and watching a child not eat anything, a pacer and engaging plot.
Dragons Green by Scarlett Thomas
I can’t say too much about this one, because it’s not released for a while, but triumphant children’s debut from one of my favourite adult authors. Instant classic – full review to follow.
I am still trying to flog my beloved debut novel, but currently starting the next one. The feedback I’ve got from agents is that the writing is very good – but either it’s not quite clicking or it’s not quite pitch-able enough. I can’t really do anything about the “clickiness” but I can fix pitch-ability, so with this new book I’m spending a LOT of time on the concept and plot plan before I start so I can have a pitch that I know is exciting and workable before I even begin. When I was doing my MA I thought that pretty much the only thing you had to worry about as a writer was the quality of your writing – this is NOT TRUE, there are loads of things you have to get right – plus a healthy dose of luck.
This month I’ve been particularly struck by how much people really go out of their way to help me with my writing – friends who read plot outlines multiple times and put up with me whining and defending them, and agents who send long heartfelt emails when a simple “no thanks” is more than some of them do. It’s looking like a dispiritingly long road ahead to even getting a book published, but at least this is an industry where everyone involved seems to really love what they do.
I’ve had two gigs this month, hence the gratuitous picture of the Royal Albert Hall. One was here, at the Hammer and Tongue National Championships, where I did the team slam representing Oxford. We didn’t win. Another was the Oxford Anti-Slam, where the point is to write the worst poem possible. I thought mine was pretty terrible, but then this guy bit a can of beer open, sprayed it over the audience, and then covered the stage in meat.
I have been trying to do two new things this month – one is to get up an hour earlier every day and do a bit of writing. That’s going well and sponsors the fact this blog post is going up at all. The other is that I’m aiming for 100 rejections this year, to break my fear of failure. That is also going fine.
This month’s rejections – 5
Rejections this year – 5
BLOODY HELL. What a shit show, eh? President Trump has been in office for about 10 days now, and already done a load of egregious bullshit, included but not limited to –
- Signing orders to build That Wall
- Restricting funding to overseas organisations that even mention abortion
- Signing orders to press ahead with the Dakota Pipeline, and, most egregiously
- Working towards his stated campaign goal of banning all muslims from the entering the US – INCLUDING the ones who are already citizens.
Meanwhile in Brexitland (the shittest theme park ever) our politicians have been costing up to Trump and all even the head of the Labour party is compelling his MPs to vote in favour of Article 50.
All of this has combined to create a climate of extreme confusion and horror. Trump is acting, quite literally, like The Joker from Batman. International relations are crumbling. BUT there is also quite a lot of hope in the air. The global Women’s March on the 21st felt like a real moment of cohesion. Last night’s Anti-Muslim-Ban march was beautiful – thousands of people who thought like me, all who thought it enough to turn up on a few hours notice on a weeknight at stand in the cold for two hours. The scientists and the park rangers have started organising. And everyone’s talking about politics, for better or worse.
Not a huge amount happening, on the life front. I’m a bit obsessed with the idea of keeping chickens in the back garden, but I’m worried it’ll ruin our lives. I bought a tweed jacket in the sale. I lost half a stone. Paul and the rabbit are still alive.
My only news to report is that I have now been with my husband for FIVE YEARS. Five years since we met online and he sent me a message that contained words that indicated he had read and understood my profile, and not just a picture of his penis.
And that’s pretty much it. What have you all been upto?