Winter/Spring 2020

Well, here we all are. Since my last update all outward facing, interacting-directly-with-people writing business has been cancelled as we are all in quarantine. Every event, performance and workshop in my diary has been cancelled. Things are deeply weird, and sometimes scary, and sometimes surprisingly okay. 

But thankfully, not every single thing has been cancelled. Spring is not cancelled, for instance. Also, I am a judge for Manchester Writing School’s inaugural QuietManDave writing prize, which remains open for entries until April 17. As we’re looking for fiction and nonfiction entries of 500 words or less, it’s a good opportunity for new writers or people returning to writing after a long break to experiment. Why not enter?

Also not entirely cancelled: publishing. I have a new piece in issue 20 of Structo, which will be out soon. This story, which I have been tweaking for a couple of years, has ended up being one of my faves so I am really happy it’s going to be in print… though it’s a funny feeling to think of it as being done.  I have some new poems coming out in the Canadian journal Touch the Donkey, too.

I want to pass on word of an interesting creative initiative: Joanna Walsh has started a new project, Zines in Dark Times, that invites writers and artists to make their own zines at home and mail them to her for a future exhibition. Personally, I’ve got a printer with a built-in scanner over here and I’m not afraid to use it. And don’t forget that we’re open for submissions over at The Real Story, so if you’ve got an essay or nonfiction piece burning a hole in your pocket send it over. Pandemic-themed writing is welcome as is the old non-pandemicky kind.

I also want to say that I’ve seen a couple of fire and brimstone posts on social media to the tune of ‘writers and artists this is what you’ve been training for! Go forth and make brilliant genius work that catalyses our spirits and captures this historical moment NOW!’ While some artists may be charging into action and creating like gangbusters in quarantine, I have a feeling that most of us have been slower off the mark. I have focused more on comfort and adjustment than being productive with my writing, and mostly what I have been doing is: making sure my kids are okay, reading escapist novels, cooking nice things and eating them. It will come.

In the meantime… reading is good, if you are able to focus on it.  So, you want a book to order from an independent bookstore or maybe borrow from the library as an e-book? (yes this is a thing! Check it out). Sure. I have loved Doxology by Nell Zink, the complete works of Willy Vlautin and The Book of Delights by Ross Gay – all have NOTHING to do with global pandemics, and I think the last one might be especially good for the soul right now.