First, as it’s Autumn when all of them seem to happen, I have lots of literary events to tell you about, starting this Saturday Sept 21 when I’ll be hosting the Northern Lights Writers’ Conference at Waterside Arts Centre in Sale. This year’s keynote speaker is Jane Rogers (Mr Wroe’s Virgins) and there are talks, one-to-one sessions, workshops all day. Info and tickets here.
Next Weds, Sept. 25th I’ll be reading at Bad Language, and then on Saturday 5 October I’ll be at Flash in the Van, where myself and five other writers will be reading very short stories in a very short caravan as part of Burnley Literature Festival.
On Sunday 13 October I’ll be hosting two events as part of Manchester Literature Festival. First, at 2pm at Central Library, I’ll be in conversation with Deborah Levy, talking about her Booker-shortlisted new novel The Man Who Saw Everything and her writing life. And then at 4:30 I’ll be joining Irish essayists Sinead Gleeson (Constellations) and Emilie Pine (Notes to Self) for a wide-ranging conversation about their books, essay forms and the perils and pleasures of writing from one’s own life at the Burgess Foundation.
I’m also hosting a book launch on November 7th at Blackwells Manchester with Linda Mannheim, whose second collection of short fiction, This Way to Departures, is coming out with Influx Press. I’m reading an advance copy right now and it is a corker.
Since my last update I’ve published ‘Yet Also’, a hybrid essay about werewolves, suffragists and gender at The Offing, which maintains a hybrid and transgenre section called The Enumerate that I have really enjoyed rummaging around in.
I’ve also been interviewed about my writing over at Train Poetry Journal, which published some of my poetry recently. You can read the interview here.
I’ve been reading this short story by George Saunders, which made me leap out of my chair and swear at the end. I’ve been reading a wonderful book of stories and essays, Outlander, by Jane Rule. And I’ve been reading Rebecca Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby, which is one of those shining books I can’t wait to get home to. Last night I read this:
‘Writers are solitaries by vocation and necessity. I sometimes think the test is not so much talent, which is not as rare as people think, but purpose or vocation, which manifests in part as the ability to endure a lot of solitude and keep working.’
This resonates for me because I am way out in the hinterland of a long writing project. Going off for a bit to write a short thing, then emerging pretty quickly to perform it or see it published is what I have done for years, and it has its own ego-boosting motivations built in: applause, acceptance, attention, etc. etc. Writing a longer thing is very different. No one knows or cares what you are doing. It is a lonely and often tedious business and you start to wonder why the hell did I think this was a good idea anyway? I’m gonna go back to writing short things, this isn’t for me. But somehow, you keep going, in fits and starts and long grumps and occasional sudden clicks of things falling into place. Or at least that’s the idea. Anyway, I’m still here, enduring. I just wanted to say hi.