In the absence of anything better:

I wrote a big blog post review and then realised the book I’m reviewing isn’t published until 2011 and it seems pointlessly premature to post. So, in the absence of anything better, I have decided to do one of those hahait’ssofunnyhowpeoplefindmyblog posts. I always like them. Which sounds sarcastic but isn’t – I really always enjoy them.

So, allow me to present in random order: –
“Louise Wener naked”  no explanation necessary.
“dirty tamil stories” which regularly appears!
“utterly alone” – how heartbreaking is that?
“pumpkins jim martin” is a perennial favourite as I once wrote a blog that mentioned the ex FNM axeman’s new life growing giant pumpkins and now seem to be a favourite stop off point for those who wish to do the same – hence the many variations of “world class giant pumpkins”.
“anal bashing” !
My number one search is apparently “Sarah Crowley” not sure who she is!  (Should I be worried that Sara Crowley is about 20 in the most popular searches this last 4 weeks. Hmm.)
“anti pickel” which I have no clue about.

The rest are all fairly standard.

In other news we now have a kitty. She’s a rescue cat, two years old and her name is Princess. I have now christened her Princess Pancake and kinda dropped the Princess bit. So, looky looky here’s my cat and everyone likes cat pics right?

She’s fitting in nicely with what I do – just looking at the computer screen and not writing.

Erm, new bloggy look Part 2!

Sorry. I’ve changed again. The book spines in the background were bugging me. I’m way happier with the new design (from the delicious Yummy Lolly site.)

I’m ill, again. Still. Pyoderma Gangrenosum may be Nodular Vasculitis and I’ve been on antibiotics then steroids to try to reduce the inflammation. I have a chest infection so they have given me more antibiotics. I ache all over. One of my sons is ill too. We’ve gone to my parents to try and rest. I feel adrift in their house. My dad is in the lounge watching TV, my mum goes to bed early (and watches TV in there.) Ted is in our shared bedroom so he’s sleeping, and I perch wherever (kitchen/landing) and change my blog design, check facebook too often, and twitter, and feel weirdly alone. Then I cough. And cough. And sleep for an hour or so before I wake up coughing. It’s not so much fun.

New bloggy look

I’ve dispensed with the cocktail shakers and retro orangey stars. I’ve ditched the trim 50’s typist. False advertising and all that. (The reality is I’m a fat, fucked off, po-faced bitch.)

Thoughts on the new look? I was aiming for clear and simple. It’s the words that matter.

Blogover

I have a new blog theme and I really like it. (If you’re reading this in a reader please click thru and admire the shiny new!) Hurray. However, being a techy doofus I thought I had saved all my links but hadn’t, so if you were there and aren’t now could you let me know please? I’ve lost all my fiction links too but I think that’ll have to wait for tomorrow as I am full of Zzzz.

LitCamp = cool bananas! (Aka how many links can I fit in one post?)

LitCamp took place yesterday, and it was a really fun and buzzy day. I gave a tiny talk on the usefulness of blogging as a writer, so I figured I’d better update the blog!

It is always good to see Vanessa Gebbie, she was interesting as ever. It was the first time I have ever met Lane, who organised the whole thing, and hats off to her. It was an ambitious event, and she must have worked phenomenally hard to get it all to come together. I came home exhausted, I can’t imagine how wiped out she must be, but I’d like to offer public thanks for this fabulous unconference.

I was thrilled to meet Kellie in “real life” as we have been chatting away for years without having ever met face to face. She was even lovelier than I had imagined!

I had the pleasure of meeting Julia, Alison and Kerry who all work at The Fiction Workhouse., and were all delightful, and I hope we can get together again some time for a big old writerly natter.

I also bumped into Jacqueline Applebee. We first met a couple of years ago at the Chichester writing festival and I was pleased to hear that she is now enjoying success as an erotic fiction writer.

There were lots of different panels and talks going on: writers, agents, editors and teachers.

Stephen Moran was offering post-it note critiques of short stories, I handed one in, and he thought it was missing a story! Oops.

In the evening there were some really great readings. Jay Bernard is a poet that I was entirely unfamiliar with, but whooo, she was brilliant.

Gavin Ingliss read a very funny story that may or may not have been called “Mr Shoe.”

Farahad Zama read an extract from his debut novel “The marriage bureau for rich people” He was a cool guy with a very business like approach to his writing. He writes on his twenty minute train commute, and really makes a mockery of wafty, faffy types like me who protest that we don’t have enough time.

I was sorry that I had to leave before hearing all the readers, but travelling home took about 2 1/2 hours and I had to work today.

Apologies also for not mentioning all the people I got to meet, listen to, and see, but there were soooo many.

I came home thinking quite calmly “well, i’d better get on and write some good stuff then” which surely has to be a very positive outcome from an event like this! But before I do that…sleep!

Bitching about subs yet again

Why is it ok to say “Don’t contact us to see where we’re at with your sub until after 4 months – then feel free to query if we have misplaced it.”

What the fuck is that about?

It’s like saying, send in your writing, we may or may not read it, don’t dare bug us though until 4 months have passed. And y’know, this is a non-paying online deal. Grr.

Anyway, via Matt Bell’s blog I read this post by Blake Butler:

If you have a journal already, respond faster. Pay attention to your inbox. When someone asks a question that feels dumb or unnecessary maybe, answer it anyway. Don’t be a fuck. Yeah, we’re all busy. Yeah, things take time. Work to take less time. It’s okay to move forward at a wicked pace. (And yes, as an editor, I too struggle to adhere to this advice, but I struggle at least, everyone struggles, but you can always struggle more. I am so tired of seeing journals with 200+ days response time, why do you even exist? Does it really take that long to like something? People should stop sending to these places. Seriously. Just stop sending.

Yeah I know the flood comes strong. Stand in the flood. (Me too.))

Seriously, Conjunctions/Ninth Letter/Subtropics: these 3 journals get just as much work coming in as anybody, and they all respond often in less than a month.

To everyone: Push the fucking envelope even harder than you do. Be an open node.

BE AN OPEN NODE.

I am amazed sometimes by people who want to be writers and yet seem to know little to nothing about even the more popular journals, who don’t read that actively, who don’t buy literary magazines hardly ever but send out their own work constantly, who don’t buy even their friends work, who etc etc. Then they want to turn around and call anyone with any stripe of ‘success’ a ‘secret handshake motherfucker’ or ‘in crowd’ or anything like that.

There are people who don’t even answer their emails when they get those ‘I like your work’ mails, which really blows my mind some. You’re just typing into a keyboard like the rest of us. Don’t be Richard Ford spitting on Colson Whitehead. Don’t be a turd person.

Getting involved is being involved, and if you aren’t actively promoting others, I don’t know why in hell you’d think anyone would ever want to read or support you.

I didn’t mean to get into ranting, I really didn’t, I had no specific person in mind when I thought of all that, but I know there are tons of writers out there who don’t do even a 100th of the amount of work spreading the word as they do trying to pimp their own stuff.

I am happy to know the people I do who do so much everyday.

And yet everyone (me included, I am above none of this, though I try) can do more, and if you want to BE more yourself, you SHOULD, even if its just something tiny like a mention of work you liked, or an email, or an idea, or looking, talking, thinking, shitting, causing trouble, laughing, responding.

How cool is that? And yeah, I do try to say whoo, I liked this or that, and I do buy small lit mags, review books I read, link to peeps, but I could do more, much more, I could get more involved, absolutely.

Brilliant post by Jenn Ashworth

I read this today over at Every Day I Lie A Little. 

MA in ‘Creative’ Writing.

I am starting a MA in creative writing. You can apply for it by emailing me and if I accept you, you will be allowed to drink my tea at my house and do all the modules. It will cost £3085 and the learning will be ‘experiential’.

Module 1: Dealing with Rejection

I will lock you in my cellar and scream ‘you are crap’ at you at random intervals. Sometimes I will throw things. Every now and again I will come down into the cellar and give you a cuddle and stroke your hair. I will say, ‘such talent!’ and when you are relaxed and smiling I will quickly punch you in your stomach and say ‘but still crap!’

Module 2: Writing Process

I will tie you to my writing chair. I might let you have a cushion. You are allowed to get up to go to the bathroom and to drink water. But nothing else. Your phone will beep a lot and eventually the friends you are ignoring will get angry with you, give up, and go away. When you are trying to write I will randomly delete paragraphs of your work and whisper things like ‘all your friends think you are a pillock’ into your ears.

Module 3: Drafting

Every time you write something I will print it out and show it to all my friends. We will sit in a pub and laugh at it. We will make notes on it in coloured pens. Everything we write will be instructions on how to make it better. We will send you back the pages. You won’t be able to read our writing. You will need to implement all the suggestions into future drafts, even when they are contradictory. We will print out your future drafts and take them back to the pub. This will take a very long time.

Module 4: Publicity and Promotion

I will teach you how to Google yourself. You will do this every day, until you are banned from using the computer at work. At the end of the course you will have to drink a bottle of gin and then read your work to me. I will talk loudly and send text messages to random people while you are reading. I will ask you to sign your book and then sell it on ebay. I will send you the ebay link. No-one will buy your book even though the bidding starts at 1p and the postage is free.

There might be some more modules. I am not sure yet. For the full MA experience I will loose your final submission and give you a certificate I made on MS Word and laminated at work. I will look you up a few years later and me and all my friends will tell you you can’t write because you did my MA course and you now sound just like everyone else who has done it. Then I will ask you for some more money in return for providing ‘editorial help’ with your manuscript.


Jenn Ashworth is very funny and clever, and this sounds like an excellent course for any budding writers. 
You can also find Jenn and her lies at Sh

Simultaneous submissions

There is a post at Literary Rejections On Display regarding the policy that many literary magazines have on not accepting simultaneous submissions. It is something I have been pondering now that I’m trying to be proactive and get my fiction out into the big wide world.

I am quite obedient, so when I see the rules of subs and they state that I have to agree to give them exclusivity on viewing, well, I abide by it. I send my precious piece in, and I wait to hear if they like it or not. If so, ace, if not, then I go to my next choice. Of course this means that if they respond quickly it’s fine, but not all magazines are so swift. Elimae  ♥ responded almost immediately with a rejection, and then with an acceptance, but they are the exception. I have been waiting a few months on responses for a couple of stories, and I may well wait a few more. In that time those stories are out of action, and in  all probability they aren’t sitting in a file having been read on receipt and now being considered, they are likely to be in a huge pile that one day someone will whizz through and send form rejections back on. 
So, let’s think this through, I have spent time and care writing something that I hope will be accepted by a magazine and published. Lots of these ‘zines do not pay me a penny for my work. I am meant to be grateful that they will display my words. I am grateful. But when they “sit” on my story for ages before tossing it back to me they are disrespecting me, and every other writer that they do that too. If I know from experience that a mag is likely to take its time, is it fair enough to send my work elsewhere too?
Apparently most writers do just that.

Tagged twice in one day, so it’s mememememememe

I was tagged by Kirsty at Other Stories.

These are her rules:

  • Link to the person that tagged you – i.e. me.
  • Post the rules on your blog.
  • Write six random things about you in a blog post.
  • Tag six people in your post.
  • Let each person know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Let the tagger know your entry is up.
So, being obedient here are my six random things.
1 – The first concert I ever went to was Barry Manilow at The Royal Albert Hall. 
2 – BBQ is my favoured flavour, and at the moment I am particularly partial to BBQ Snack-a-Jacks.
3 – I saw a ghost about six weeks ago, but because I don’t believe in ghosts I am trying not to think about it.
4 – I find it hard to write random facts about myself.
5 – I recently wore a different perfume for the first time in fifteen years (I usually wear Penhaligan’s Bluebell but bought Valentino’s Rock and Rose, crap name, rather lovely scent.) 
6 – I will never drive.
Right, so I tag six people and they will be:
On to memememememe 2
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

Okay…hmm, well the nearest book is not one that I am reading as that is upstairs by my bed, and there’s another in the bathroom. Taking this incredibly literally I walk to my bookcase and pick up the book closest:

Granta – Best of British Novelists 2003 (I do have more current editions, but they aren’t so near.)

The Costa Pool Bums by Alan Warner

Page 123, fifth sentence says:

 “We leaned forward in the sky as the undercarriage and full flaps were rammed down. Our engine whined smartly and floated us briefly upwards.

The hazy air now revealed the uniform, dull sheen of the deep black Mediterranean visible between the drooped flaps; sun glazed the aluminium wing, its central wing duller and doubtless cheaper to produce than the frictionless boss of the dazzling leading edge.”


Which leads to yet more tagging.
I’m going to tag Pierre L, who doesn’t use his blog I don’t think? If he chooses he can post in the comments here (no escape!)
And

(Three K’s, has to be Kool, hahahah etc)

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