Posts Tagged ‘happy’

I'm going to see the sheep!

I’m going to see the sheep!

I’m going to make some resolutions for my holiday:

  • I will spend at least two days without connecting to the internet (if you see me on Facebook on Thursday or Friday, slap me).
  • I will get into the habit of writing every day (need to establish the habit).
  • I will not worry about how overweight and unfit I am until I get home (want to fully enjoy Mum’s wonderful cooking).
  • I will not spend more than an hour a day working (I’d like to not work at all, but that’s not going to happen).

I never thought I’d end up being a workaholic. But then I was never passionate about my work when I was in IT.


This is what I’ve been doing over the last few days.


The Bookcase, LowdhamWorking on a new website for The Bookcase in Lowdham. I’m very excited about this project – Jane Streeter wants to make a website that reflects the shop itself, including aspects of the service they give in person and giving a feel for the atmosphere of this perfect example of what an independent bookshop should be.


Draft programme for the Nottingham Festival of WordsSorting out the programme for the Nottingham Festival of Words. It’s going to be amazing, awesome, fantastic, brilliant… I know I keep banging on about this, but honestly, it is going to be EPIC. I’m a bit worried that I’m going to mess it up, but I honestly think we’ve got so many top-quality events that even I can’t blow it!


Nottingham and Leicester Poetry Society members at the Huw Watkins memorial eventAttending and reading at a special Nottingham Poetry Society meeting to commemorate the life and work of Huw Watkins, who died earlier this year. I never knew Huw, but I know by reading his poetry that I would have liked him. David Duncombe asked me to read Huw’s poem ‘Heifers’ – having spent much of my childhood years living right next to a field that was always full of cows, I can testify that Huw totally understood the beasts. We had a great audience and heard many beautiful poems.


The Heroes anthologyToday the proof arrived of an anthology I’ve typeset for the Nottingham Writers’ Studio’s ‘Heroes’ project. Richard Goodson and Natasha Picot worked with groups of young people from diverse backgrounds, which resulted in some amazing poetry and stories, not to mention colourful and inspiring pictures. It was a pleasure to design the anthology and help put it together, and I’m very pleased with the result.


Let the Blood RunOver the weekend I worked on a script for a graphic story that Emily Cooper is going to illustrate – we’ve submitted the proposal to Brick’s new project, which is called ‘Drawing from Distress to Recovery’ – an anthology of graphic stories about mental health problems. I hope our proposal (gorily entitled ‘Let the Blood Run’) is accepted, because I’m looking forward to working with Emily. She’s so talented…


… and lots of other stuff too. I love my life. Just got to find a way to work some more writing time into it!

Oh, and I somehow ended up watching the Olympic opening ceremony. I loved the cauldron, and the bouncing punks. I wanna be a bouncing punk.

Bouncing Punks

How could you NOT want to be a bouncing punk?

Read Full Post »

Obsessed with Pipework

Powerful and strange, huh? Works for me!

Read Full Post »

First Class HonoursThis turned up in the post last Tuesday. I was quite pleased, especially by the stamped “First Class” on the envelope!

To be honest, I wasn’t surprised by getting a first. Not because I think I’m brilliant, but because the Creative and Professional Writing course is completely coursework-assessed… so being a geek, I had a spreadsheet with all my assignment marks and I knew exactly what my final mark was weeks ago. But it did give me a nice warm glow to see it written down on paper, all official-like.

So, what have I learned over the last four years? Um. Lots.

(the images are from my final year project which, for reasons too complicated to go into, I did last year. Click on them to see full-size versions)

The Right Word1. Nothing worthwhile is easy
I thought writing was like maths – someone tells you how to do it and then you know. If you get stuck on how to write effective dialogue, for example, the teacher gives you the formula and away you go. Then all you have to do is practise. I’m not used to taking a long time to go through the four stages of competence. I don’t like being consciously incompetent and not being able to fix it straight away. Writing doesn’t work like that. You have to do it badly, then work out some of why it’s bad, then work out how to do that aspect better, then realise there’s another aspect of your writing that sucks and you have no idea how to fix it… and you realise you’re never ever going to be any good… but you keep going anyway and eventually you write something that you think isn’t too bad…

The Birds of Iceland2. I like poetry
When I started the course I didn’t think much of poetry. I wasn’t interested in writing or reading it. When I read (even now) it tends to be to escape from reality, not to have reality slammed into my head in exquisitely crafted stanzas. But… but but but… the beauty of the imagery that can be built in your mind by a real proper poem came as a huge shock to me. And the emotion… ‘Rage, rage against the dying of the light.’ wow. And the layers. Finding new meanings in words you’ve already read over and over. Making new connections with your own ideas. And writing poetry… gods, that’s difficult, but when you come up with a phrase or an image that somehow (you’re never quite sure how) says exactly what you want it to say, even if you didn’t know it was what you wanted to say…

Taking Photographs of Lundy3. I want to know everything and do everything
I was stagnating in the IT industry. Not learning anything new or doing anything different. Apart from the stress of working in a corporate misogynistic hellhole, I was bored. I thought writing a novel would be fun and easy (after all, I’ve read thousands of books so I ought to know what makes a good one)… so I started on that, then signed up for the CPW BA and discovered there’s SO much more to writing than ‘just’ telling a good story in reasonably correct English. Even that has myriad subtleties to the craft and art of using just the right words. Then you have poetry… and scriptwriting… and editing and copy-editing and proofreading and creative non-fiction and travel writing and memoirs. Then you start looking at the creative process – where writing comes from and how it happens – and a whole new dimension is added… and you start thinking about ‘why’ and ‘who’ and ‘when’ and it all explodes in a metaphorical big bang in your skull… So. Anyway. I’ve found out so many interesting facts and heard about so many interesting ideas simply from interacting with the writing community… I’m now interested in typography and graphic design and book design and ancient civilisations and quantum theory and ornithology and philosophy and the Victorian workhouse system and… I want to know everything and do everything!

Dark Winter4. Writers are lovely people
I’ve made so many friends and met so many lovely people. Before I left Experian I could count my friends on the fingers of one hand. Now I’ve got enough friends to actually consider having a party! In fact, as I was writing the last sentence I got chatting to someone sitting next to me who’s a friend of a friend… and so a new connection is made. I actually like networking with writers.

The End of the World5. The one downside…
You can’t make lots of money as a writer… contrary to popular opinion, there are very few people who make enough to live on solely from writing, let alone bring in a decent income.

6. …isn’t really that bad
This means if you want to write you have to do lots of other things as well, just to keep food on the roof and a table over your head. Or something like that. So I’m now working as a publisher for Five Leaves, for the University of Nottingham as a part-time tutor on the Humanities BA (and hopefully on the CPW BA next year), I teach workshops on poetry, and I’m a freelance proofreader, typesetter and graphic/book/web designer. And I do lots of other stuff that doesn’t directly bring money in but indirectly gets me out there and talking to people who might pay me to do something in the future. I’m on the Nottingham Poetry Society committee, the Nottingham Festival of Words steering committee, the Nottingham Writers’ Studio board, and the Beeston Poets steering committee. And I’ve put funding bids in for an EU project and a Heritage Lottery Fund project.

I’m not the least bit bored – and I’m happy. I don’t care that I’m skint. Life is good. First Class, in fact!

Thank you, Nottingham University’s School of Education, for helping me turn my life around. And thank you to all my wonderful tutors on the Creative and Professional Writing BA programme – Sheelagh Gallagher, Anthony Cropper, David Kershaw, Cathy Grindrod, Ann Hardwick, Nicola Valentine, Cathy LeSurf, Robbie Dewa, and Adrian Buckner.

Read Full Post »