It seems I have not been doing my weekly updates for you. Oh dear. Isn’t that shit. For the most part though – I don’t care. You don’t really need to know my opinions of films that are so old they’re already on Netflix (though Wolf of Wall Street is vg, if you’re interested) or see a photo of the charming hat I knitted my friend’s baby – not in any urgent manner, at least. But I really did miss telling you about what I’d been doing in terms of writing. It keeps me accountable, and it’s nice to look back on. So here’s what I got up to during March –
I Didn’t Win The Exeter Novel Prize (but it was still great)
Early in March I went to Exeter to find out if I had won the Exeter Novel Prize I had not. But I still got shortlisted, got some great feedback, met some brilliant people and did Real Life Networking. This was a bit of a boost to me to be honest – it’s very difficult, plugging away at the same project month in month out until you’re so close to it you have no idea whether it’s good or shit or what and even if you show it to someone else and they like it there’s a voice in the back of your head going “You have to be nice about this you’re my DAD”. So having impartial strangers say, actually, we liked this one of the best, out of hundreds, and here’s why – that really meant a lot. And they gave me this brilliant paperweight.
I’ve Written (most of) A New Poetry Show
I spend all of March writing a 40 minute version of High On The Storm Torn Coast, a poetry/music show exploring the notion of tragedy. I scratched it in London a couple of weeks ago, and played it at the Oxford Playhouse on Friday. And it went well! People enjoyed it, I think. Oxford got a significantly better reaction then London (partly because the London one was cut down, partly because of some poor editing decisions I made then reversed) but I’m left feeling hopeful and excited about performing the full version in late Jun (also in Oxford, as part of Offbeat Festival). This show features three (at the moment) traditional folk songs. I haven’t really sung that much on stage in my poetry gigs, but I think I will from now on – it was the form of storytelling I first did as performance, and the audience really seemed to like it. There’s a special kind of magic to singing unaccompanied on stage – a kind of thrilling tightrope feeling that I don’t get through anything else.
From THIS WEEK I am only working three days at an office, leaving the rest of the time to Be A Proper Writer. Hurray! Fire off the eight unicorn salute and all that. This is obviously good new, but has also spiked my anxiety about procrastination and generally not being good enough. The challenge in this is making the absolute most of this opportunity and building a really sustainable, productive writing practice, rather than playing Civilisation in my pants for eight hours a day twice a week. I think I can do it! Wish me luck.
I Got One Day Into NaNoWriMo
I wrote the following poem –
Today, a haiku.
Sorry. Shit to do.
And then stopped. And you know what? I don’t give the tiniest little toss. These kinds of challenges are only ever meant to be a bit of fun, or a kick up the bum if you’re out of the habit of creating. They’re not meant for beating yourself up over. I’ve got too much on, and pointless high volume poetry just isn’t a priority at the moment. Which neatly brings me on to…
I’m Finishing A New Draft Of My Novel This Month
So. This novel I’ve been quacking on about for the last year. I really believe in it, and I reckon I can sell it. I think you guys would like it, and I’m proud of the writing and plot. I can’t wait to introduce you to Dani, my protagonist. And I’m neeeeeeeearly there, but not quite – I’ve had some sensible feedback from various sources, which all pretty much boiled down to – ramp up the tension throughout. I’m giving myself a month to go through the manuscript, have a proper reread and make any changes I can. Then I’m going to write some cracking query letters, totally redo my crappy synopsis, and send it out to Agents Across the Land. That’s this month’s goal. I’ll let you know how I get on – and that’s a promise this time.