Tuesday 24 July 2012

Diary dates - Free Verse, Warwick Words, and Cambridge Writers

  • Free Verse (a poetry bookfair with readings) will be held on Saturday, 8th September at the Candid Arts Trust galleries in London, near Angel tube station. I'll be helping with the HappenStance stall.
  • As part of the Warwick Words festival Nine Arches Press are putting on a 'Short Story salon' at 9pm, Sunday, 7th October, at the Grand Union in Leamington Spa. My "By All Means" story pamphlet will be launched there.
  • I'll be running a workshop called "From Word To Flash" at 7.30pm, Tuesday, 6th November in Cambridge, organised by Cambridge Writers

Thursday 19 July 2012

Hypochondria and Writers

Years ago at a workshop I went to, Jo Shapcott said that she thought poets were prone to hypochondria and didn't like driving. These observations made sense to me at the time, connecting up. A few little, random symptoms might ingeniously be connected by a writer's imagination. Some little object seen out of the corner of one's eye while driving might make one's concentration drift while approaching red lights. In "The Information" Martin Amis writes "Poets don't drive. Never trust a poet who can drive. Never trust a poet at the wheel. If he can drive, distrust the poems ...".

But it's not all bad news. In "Tormented Hope" Brian Dillon suggests a link between "health anxiety" and creativity, pointing out that the illness can be used as an excuse to get a bit of piece and quiet. Charlotte Brontë and Proust were worriers. Fear can be a spur. Someone I know is thinking of using his worries to make him send some of his work off "before it's too late". I think Antony Burgess started frenzied writing when he death-threatened himself.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

My competition results, 2012

My competition results so far in 2012 are

  • Cambridge Writers Story competition - unplaced (not in top 10. 27 entries)
  • H.E. Bates Story competition - unplaced
  • Commonwealth Story competition - unplaced
  • Bristol Story competition - unplaced (not in top 80)
  • Grace Dieu Story competition - unplaced (not in top 12)
  • Frome Story competition - unplaced (not in top 60)
  • Nottingham Story competition - unplaced
  • Exeter Story competition - unplaced
  • Poetry Business poetry pamphlet competition - unplaced
  • Flarestack poetry pamphlet competition - unplaced
  • Vers Poets Competition - unplaced (not in top 40)

Still more than 5 months to go ...

It's October. I'll retrofit more news -

  • Bridport Story competition - unplaced
  • Yeovil Story competition - unplaced
  • Wreckin Story competition - unplaced (not in top 16. About 200 entries)

Saturday 7 July 2012

Trains of thought

Like many other writers, I find trains useful. They feature in 5 of the next 8 stories of mine to be published. There's the departure - leaving the old life behind - and the arrival - a new start - but the mode of transport has useful features too - a combination of constraint (tracks and timetables) and freedom; of aloneness and being in a crowd.

Journeys are traditionally quests, but train journeys can be outside space and time. One of AL Kennedy's characters says "You can relax here - this isn't anywhere. What ever happens outside, there's nothing we can do about it right now". Kaye Mitchell says that for Kennedy's character trains are "free of the expectations and judgements of others, a space in which to meditate freely on the past and her possible future".

Of course, there are many books and essays on the use of trains in literature and film. Two places to start are Why poets take trains from the Guardian, and Trains in Literature