Sunday, 4 October 2009

deep breath (get ready for all this...)

A list of what has happened recently, what I am trying to do now, and what might happen soon (missing out the things you already know about:

1. October Boot Camp - I have joined up to Alex Keegan's October Blast, 28 days of writing every day. He is posting prompts simultaneously on his blog, facebook and bootcamp sites, and you have to commit to writing every day. In his words "PLEASE do not join unless you promise to write a piece of day, or leave if you fall even one day behind. If you are going to take a day out then write two pieces the day before. And "a piece" doesn't mean a 5-minute "poem". Tough stuff, but I'm taking the challenge. I started yesterday and wrote 1300 words, a first draft of a short story. Today I am writing about 'Black Rain' and have been doing some research. I hope I can keep going during the week. Weekends are easy, but on work nights, I often want to slip into a TV coma as soon as I come home. Hoping this will spur me on.

2. Didsbury Arts Festival finished yesterday, a great success I thought from the events I went to. Last Saturday I went to a reading at the Northern Lawn Tennis Club in West Didsbury. I went to see Elizabeth Baines read from her new novel Too Many Magpies, I love her short fiction, and wanted a snippet of her novel writing... as it's a treat to hear people read their own writing. It was a good event (despite the noise competition from the Ladies Hockey Team Annual Dinner in the adjoining room... raucous ladies!). Cath Staincliffe read from one of her Manchester based lady detective novels, and Carl Tighe read a graphic scene from his latest novel. I thought the Q&A was a little odd... I'm undecided about Q&A at readings, I rather like the informal chatter afterwards, as sometimes people ask weird questions that the writers must struggle to answer, and other times (like this event) it seems a little staged.

Last Sunday, I headed to Fletcher Moss Park to hear Nick Royle read bird stories. A real treat actually (although a little shivery, sat outside in this lovely brisk Autumn weather we have in Manchester). There was a real crowd and Nick read some of his sinister stories about birds, which I love, there is always an edge of something quite disturbing in his stories, and he reads well, hikes up the tension. Also entertaining, were the bemused cyclists, walkers and familys in the park who stumbled across the reading, and in good spirits sat down to listen with their cup of tea and thick slice of chocolate cake.

The event I perhaps most enjoyed was Nick Royle and Tom Fletcher's Fright Night, also at the Lawn Tennis Club. They set the tables out like lounge bar style (or posh working men's club, depending on your viewpoint). They dimmed the lights, lit candles, and hung various scary and weird objects aound the room including a stuffed fox's head. Their stories were scary, but not in a horror sense, more macabre, disturbing, creepy. Nick read a story about a man/owl who regurgitates 'owl pellets' that was funny, as well as weirdly horrible. Tom read a number of stories that were quite odd, in a good way. He has a really slow, lilting style of reading that makes the tension all the more eeksome. More than once during the reading, I turned to my friend Ray and pulled a ugh face or laughed uncomfortably, a sign of good fright writing, I would say.

3. Loving Sujan Stevens at the moment. This song is the subject of my latest short short.

4. I'm still working with artist Gemma Lacey on our collaborative project that has been on and off for the past couple of years now. We have had a bit of a lull with various changes in our lives, but we reviewed where we are up to, and I felt excited about it again. Our current work is around photographs of words, and we are exploring where we are heading next. Everything we tend to do is a conversation or a recycling of our work and in that sense it has a never-ending quality to it. It is more about inspiration than end result. Plus, it was lovely to meet her in Jam Street cafe for a big bowl of stew (as usual, everything with me includes food)

5. Just to bring the tone down a little, I thought I'd confess how much I'm loving X-factor (shame on me). There's something about all the drama, the tears, the awful sense of voyeurism, the judges caustic comments, ha, oh yes and the singing. My money is on Miss Frank, Treyc, and Stacey Solomon!

6. Vintage fashion and dinosaur bones, Charleston dancing and taxidermy animals. I had a brilliant night at Manchester museum for a fundraiser organised by Rags to Bitches and Barnardo's. Everything from colouring, guess the name of the taxidermy polar bear, treasure hunts, gramophone DJ-ing. I was very happy to part with my cash and flash my legs in a dress and heels. Hurray for imaginative and quirky fundraisers.

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