Illness is sooooooo boring.

I am still ill. It is so tedious and makes me a bore. Someone asked how my leg was yesterday and I began trying to race through my reply, aware of how dreary and dull my answer was. For those of you who care to know, my Pyoderma Gangrenosum is healing but very, very slowly. I saw the consultant last week and the PG has shrunk by 1 c.m. I have a deep ache in my leg which is because I have accompanying inflammation of the fatty tissue. Nice. I have been prescribed another couple of months worth of antibiotics. On top of that I have endometriosis and am always at the mercy of my cycle. Things have got increasingly weird in my body, and now when I have a period my eyesight gets fucksy and bloodshot, my back and hips ache, my feet hurt, my body bloats and swells, I get a headache that lasts for several days. The exhaustion I feel is of the put-my-face-down-on-the-floor-and-sleep-wherever-the-hell-I-am variety.

I am embarrassed and ashamed of being ill. Like I am failing in my duties as a human somehow. I vow to eat well, exercise, be a better person, as if that will become a useful bargaining tool. Actually the Pyoderma began when I was exercising daily, cycling for the first time in years, walking a lot, watching what I ate.

I haven’t been writing. It becomes impossible to as my brain becomes fudgy. I am trying very hard to shut up my customary inner voice, the one that berates me for being a lazy, fat fuck. I am telling it to sod off because actually, this isn’t procrastination, this is disease.

So. A catch up of tedium. It’s all I’ve got right now.

Nobody likes a show off!

I received my prize for winning the Bookseller’s Bursary yesterday. Wow, what a parcel! Champagne, a trophy, £’s, an Arvon gift certificate, a winner’s certificate, an Arvon Moleskine notebook. Superb. I am chuffed to bits. And I wasn’t going to say anything, because y’know, it doesn’t do to show off. Then I thought, oh hang on a minute, I’m quick enough to share things that make me miserable.

So –

It’s funny, I have an uncomfortable feeling of wanting to tell people that I have had some good news, mixing with huge embarrassment. I didn’t tell many that I was on the short list, I wasn’t going to mention it in fact. So when I won I had this conversation with my mum and a few others. “Oh, erm, there was this thing…” mumble, mumble. I was squirming, not sure why. Haven’t heard a word from my dad (who lives with my mum) and when we spoke on the phone he didn’t mention it. Both my brother’s are on facebook but they haven’t mentioned it either. My husband is pleased but hasn’t read a thing I’ve written for years. Anyway, I decided to brave this out and announce publicly that this is quite the nicest thing that has happened to me in ages.

I am thrilled with my prize. Thank you to Waterstone’s for being so incredibly supportive of the many writers it employs, and thank you to the judges from Simon & Schuster, Arvon and United Agents. I’ll shut up now and hope you can forgive the showing off.

Not writing, just being.

I haven’t written for a few weeks. I should never stop, stopping fucks me up.

It was my twins 11th birthdays so I spent time shopping, wrapping, baking a disastrous cake, and my parents stayed for a few days, then it it was half term. School started back this week but my husband has been off sick with a virus. There have been lots of family gubbins, stresses, worries, grr’s. I had this idea that if I worked my way through my list of Things To Do I would clear space for writing and get back to it. My list is never ending. I cross one thing off and add two or three. I forgot that there is no space. I have to ignore all the jobs and write, dammit. So, today I sit down to do just that, words on a screen, no big deal. Only my health issues are flaring and my head is full of fucked up fuzz and not much else.

I shouldn’t have stopped.

But. Whispering somewhere in me is the idea that maybe I just shouldn’t have started.

There’s a gazillion writers out there, I’m not special, I’m not any whoop whoop talent. I’m out of energy. What if I stopped trying to write The Novel and just relaxed, played with words, enjoyed the creative process a bit more. But, then I’d hate myself for not finishing. God, I hate myself anyway, and I particularly hate that I sound so fucking whiny.

Best get on.

Literary memememememememe

memememememe swiped from Kirsty

1) What author do you own the most books by?

(Because of how prolific she is) Margaret Atwood

2) What book do you own the most copies of?

Sylvia Plath – Ariel

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?

Ha, nope. I am the anti grammar.

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?

None that I can think of. Plenty I’d like to go for a beer with though.

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children)?

The Trick Is To Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway so I can remind myself the writing I aspire to.

6) What was your favourite book when you were ten years old?

I may have been 11 but I remember thinking “My darling, my hamburger” by Paul Zindel was the hippest most happening book ever written!

7) What is the worst book you’ve read in the past year?

Depressingly there are so many. Reviewing books means I have little say in what I get sent to read, and 9 times out of 10 it’s a bit rub. However, I’m too polite to trash other writers. Usually.

8 ) What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?

Thoroughly enjoyed Curtis Sittenfeld “American Wife”. Lovely to read a book that wasn’t a struggle at all.

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?

The Trick is to keep breathing Janice Galloway

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?

Margaret Atwood? (I’m agreeing with Kirsty who was agreeing with someone else!)

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?

None. I usually loathe books turned into movies.

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?

All of ‘em. See above.(This is Kirsty’s answer, I’m just gonna keep it for me too!)

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.

Well, I dreamt that I had the answer to a dilemma I had with my novel. It was to have all the characters wear a different coloured hat. That was odd, and I wrote a blog post about it that I can’t find at the mo, and then wrote a flash piece, that has had a couple of rejections.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you’ve read as an adult?

A hideous chick lit frothy thing that I reviewed.

15) What is the most difficult book you’ve ever read?

You know, that’s an odd thing to define as its entirely personal. I struggled with Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, and found it strange because I usually gulp her words down.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you’ve seen?

I have seen plenty of the big ones, none obscure.

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?


18 ) Roth or Updike?

My uniformed pick would be Updike, though I have read more Roth.

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?

Dave Eggers

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?


21) Austen or Eliot?


22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?

Oh, my gaps are huge and far too numerous to mention.

23) What is your favorite novel?

The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway (who’d have guessed eh?)

24) Play?

Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas

25) Poem?

Les Murray “The Last hello’s”

26) Essay?

I don’t have a favourite essay.

27) Short story?

Impossible to choose. Something by Lorrie Moore probably.

28 ) Work of nonfiction?

Again, impossible. A juicy biography? Something by Germaine Greer? A staggering work of heartbreaking genius by Dave Eggers?

29) Who is your favourite writer?

Janice Galloway.

I have a holy trinity of Janice Galloway, Lorrie Moore and Ali Smith. I also adore Douglas Coupland, Dave Eggers and Charles Bukowski.

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?

Ian McEwan. Fucks sake people, stop buying him.

31) What is your desert island book?

I suppose the Collected Works of Shakespeare for length. Or, being a writer and it all being about me me me a blank notebook and pen so I could attempt to stay sane.

32) And… what are you reading right now?

I am reading One More Year by Sana Krasikov.