I’m writing this the week after a very enjoyable trip up to Lancaster University, where I was a visiting writer and discussed the ethics of writing and creative nonfiction with MA students followed by a reading of my essays hosted by the excellent Jenn Ashworth (who I’ve hosted before myself, so I felt right at home.) Many thanks to Jenn and Zoe Lambert for making me feel so welcome. I also had a great day last week at Writing on the Wall‘s Writers Marketplace in Liverpool, where I spoke on a panel about how to make a living from writing.
As of this month, I’ve given up my long-term freelance role at Manchester Literature Festival, where I’ve worked on and off since 2006. I’m sad about this, but as I’ve taken on more university teaching it’s just not possible for me to continue. My time at MLF has been incredible: bringing many wonderful writers, publishers and human beings into my life, teaching me so much about writing, and supplying countless moments of pure joy at readings and events. I’ll continue to be the Festival’s biggest supporter, and look forward to working with them again in the future.
And the future in Manchester for writing and literature suddenly looks significantly brighter — we are now living in the UK’s newest UNESCO City of Literature. It was thrilling to be part of the team that put together the successful bid, which will help us ensure that the city’s broad and diverse literary activity is celebrated and supported into the future. It’s early days yet, but we all look forward to seeing how plans develop.
Writing-wise, I’ve got a new poem in the latest edition of Irish journal The Stinging Fly, and more new work forthcoming in The Letters Page and Hotel. One of my old short stories, ‘Feral,’ originally published in Neon a couple of years ago, returned in a new form when it was featured in the new audiocast The Hillside Curation; my story begins at 29 minutes and is read by writer/host David Hartley; listen here).
I’ve joined my friend Rob Cutforth’s monthly-ish North West literary podcast, The End of All Things, as a regular co-host. This has been so much fun, especially for me, because Rob is the one who actually does all of the work, and I just turn up and talk. If you’d like to listen, head here.
I’m performing my carol-singing pub nativity story for the third year running at The Castle Hotel on December 20th at Get Lit! It’s Christmas, a festive cabaret organised jointly by The Real Story, First Draft and Bad Language. Come along if you’re in the area, it’s sure to be a sparkly and silly and Christmassy affair.
And then? After a difficult and far too busy year I’m looking forward to a quieter winter full of writing, reading and, crucially, doing more things that have nothing to do with writing and reading. See you in 2018.