Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Shit job, crap-backpacking and a weird laugh

Thank you to Rebecca Stanley (aka Betty McFab) who has given me one of those odd bit-like-a-chain-letter blog awards. I've had one or two of these before and haven't always gone beyond thanking the person who gave it to me, but seeing as it's been a while since I did a meaty blog post I thought I'd do it. It's a nice opportunity to recommend some fellow bloggers and have a little chat with myself, which I do further down in the post when I answer Rebecca's questions.

So here is the AWARD

And here are the creative folks I'd like to pass it on to, if they so wish to take it up:

  • Mario Gregoriou - Things Found and Made - a treasure trove of writing, art and music. Imagination is key - go there to read about a newly discovered spider who pranks his prey, to see how The Wicker Man ought to have ended, and to listen to a recording of David Bowie mashing up China Girl with the theme from Steptoe and Son.
  • Anna Cathenka - Anna Cathenka's guide to life - she describes herself as a "29-year old writer, cat-person, adventurer, cake-eater and woman". I know these things to be true. Anna writes about her life, short punchy personal essays, there's usually a lesson learned or she's learning that she doesn't need the lesson. Always insightful and funny.
  • Rebecca Alexander at Witchway - Rebecca nabbed an agent and a publishing contract after being a runner-up in the Mslexia novel competition, and her novel is just out in paperback. Rebecca writes honestly about the whole publishing process, her family life and personal struggles too. 
  • Rachel Fenton at snow like thought - she's a North Yorks girl in a southern hemisphere world - Rachel the poet, the short storyist, the graphic artist, writes and shares her creative pieces and news on her blog - and they're often prize-winning. 
  •  Dan Purdue at Lies, Ink - thoughtful and engaging posts about the writing process and the publishing world. Recent posts have included a weighing up of writing for print vs writing for an online audience, and tips on how (and how not) to promote your short story collection.
  • Ric Carter at Digestive Press - Ric shares not only his own short stories and news of their successes, but also info and links on interesting and useful happenings in the writing world.
  • Andrew David Barker - you may recall Andrew stopped by the blog a few posts ago to talk about his writing journey (how turbulent it twas) - check out his blog for interviews, writing thoughts, and the exciting news that he has recently found a publisher for his novel, The Electric.

So if you don't already follow those blogs, take a look and maybe make a new friend or two.

Now it's time for me to have a little chat with myself. I'm answering the 11 questions set by Rebecca.

How often do you manage to write and how long for?

At the moment I tend to have short bursts of time a couple of times a week. Like a lot of writers, I have to fit it in around the job/s I do to pay the bills. But I do try to use the time I have as best I can. This means staying away from the internet and not taking part in any indulgent blog award interviews with self. Oh.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever done?

Selling double glazing over the telephone in a windowless room at a bare desk with just a phone, a biro and a few pages ripped out of a phonebook by the supervisor at the start of the shift. I lasted a day.

How much research do you do before starting a new writing project?

None! Not really. Maybe it’s because the kind of writing I do doesn’t call for it. The main character in the novel I’m writing uses a lot of self-help type websites, so I’ve been looking at one in particular which is fascinating and horrible in equal measure. It has tips like ‘How To Talk To A Guy and Make Him Like You’, and my favourite: ‘How To Look Sexy Without Trying To Look Sexy’.

What little things do you get really cross about?

Things like people walking slowly in front of me when I’m walking quickly behind them. But if I’m getting irritated by that sort of thing it’s usually a sign to slow down. Oh and it’s not a small thing but I shouted at some men in the street the other day because of something they said to a guy who was begging. It wasn’t like I was ready to get into a debate with them, I just shouted ‘BASTARDS!’ They were bloody smug and rude and eugh. Aagh I feel angry again thinking about them! 

What are you reading for pleasure at the moment?

I go through phases of not reading much and I’m in one of those now. I am watching a lot of TV though, is that the same?

Do you ever give up on a novel you’re reading or do you have to stick with it to the end, however bad it is?

Give it up. There are too many books to read ones you’re not enjoying. I do get a sense that with some books it’s just the wrong time to read it. So after 50 or 100 pages if I’m not into a book I’ll abandon it, but maybe come back to it a few years down the line. I did that with Wuthering Heights, and second time was a charm. But yeah, read what you like reading, not what you think you should read.

What was your New Year resolution and are you keeping to it?

I didn’t make any resolutions at New Year, but through January I’ve been trying to be more relaxed generally and to enjoy life’s smaller moments.

What was the last film you saw at the cinema?

I work in a cinema yet don’t go to see films nearly as often as I should. So the last film I saw was, I think, Aint them bodies saints. Or was it Philomena? Both  are very good.

Who are your favourite writers?

I’ve loved books by Ali Smith, Sarah Waters, Tim Winton, Dodie Smith, Maggie O’Farrell, Kate Atkinson, Alice Munro. Not many men on that list, so I’ll add Richard Brautigan who I’ve recently discovered.

What has been the biggest adventure in your life so far?

Oh crap. I hate this question. It makes me feel like I have led an adventure-less life. I did go back-packing around Europe on my own when I was 20. It was shit.

When was the last time you got the uncontrollable giggles?

This happens when you shouldn’t be laughing, doesn’t it. In a meeting at work I can get a bit giddy. I think I’m at school. And I’ve realised recently that there’s a type of laugh I do, not intentionally, and I only do at certain times, with certain people, when something has really made me laugh. It’s doesn’t go on for ages, it’s quite short, quite guttural. It sounds hideous now doesn’t it. It’s very natural. It’s the opposite of the laugh I find myself doing with people who make jokes I don’t find funny but I don’t want to offend them. I hear that laugh and feel bad inside, mainly for myself. I should try to fake the weird guttural one.   


I'm s'posed to give you 11 random facts about myself now but I can't bring myself to do that bit, soz. (They wouldn't be that random would they? They'd be selected by me to make me sound like the best version of me.)

For those writers up there who I've nominated, here are the 11 questions I'd like you to answer, if you decide to do it.

- Where do you usually write/create?
- Describe your ideal writing/making day.
- What are you really enjoying working on at the moment?
- What, if anything, stops you from writing?
- If you could choose a writer to be your mentor (share work with, chat about the process) who would it be? 
- Do you believe in writer's block? If you get it, how do you overcome it?
- Tell us a good thing that happened to you today.
- What's the first thing you do in the morning?
- What's your most listened to song?
- Who would play you in the movie of your life? 
- What would the title of your autobiography be?

So - if you choose to accept the award, here's what you need to do:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
  2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post.)
  3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
  4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
  6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
  7. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
  8. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!)


So there you go - a bit of fun and a blog post with meat on it. 

Back soon.