Follow the Yellow

Archive of ‘writing’ category

the birthday list

About this time last year, I wrote a list of 26 things I wanted to do before I turned 27. You can read the full list (which included everything from knitting a jumper to going to New York) here.

Unfortunately item #19 on my list (write a dissertation) proved to take up rather more of my time that I had naively anticipated, and so in the end, I never quite got round to doing many of the more ambitious things on my list. However, I did manage to tick off a grand total of 7 (!) things from my list, as follows…

#3 Sit around a midsummer bonfire

#25 Drink champagne
I’ll admit it’s largely been sparkling wine rather than actual champagne this year. But surely it’s the principle that’s important.

#26 Take a break
OK, it wasn’t quite as restful as I envisaged, what with a dissertation to write and job applications and interviews to deal with, but my two months by the sea in Dunbar did give me chance for many lie-ins and aimless meanderings through woods and along beaches.

#10 Go wild swimming
I was determined to swim in the sea at least once in Scotland this summer. I’ve never swum in the North Sea before, and can honestly say that it was possibly my coldest and most painful (yet strangely exhilirating) swimming experience ever.

#7 Practice the piano

#17 Find a lovely place to live
I always wanted to live in a flat in an old Georgian house on a quiet, leafy London street… and now I actually do! OK, so I didn’t imagine it would have a mildewed bathroom ceiling but you can’t have everything. This spring I’m planning to buy red geraniums for a window box – the perfect finishing touch to an unexpectedly lovely place to live.

… and finally…

#19 Write a dissertation
At last it’s finished. That’s all I’m saying on the subject

[Image by kristina♥kiessig via tumblr]

mostly truthful

I had a lovely time reading at the launch of Mostly Truthful at Lancaster Liftest on Saturday. I must admit I expected it to be a little bit nerve-wracking as opposed to enjoyable, but in the end it proved to be an altogether very pleasant experience. It was great to be back in Lancaster, in the pleasingly familiar surroundings of the (albeit newly refurbished) Storey Institute and the audience were fantastic, but most of all, I really enjoyed the opportunity to hear my fellow writers, Jane Routh, Adrian Slatcher and Kate Feld, reading from their work.

Editor Sarah Hymas describes Mostly Truthful as “Flax’s first adventure into creative non-fiction … a vibrant collection of voices that represent a slice of now, of us being on the brink, as always, of change.”

You can download the anthology, which also has an introduction by Jenn Ashworth, for free from the Litfest website here.

catching up

I’m back in London again, on a soft and greyish day. It’s really starting to feel like autumn here: walking through Bunhill Fields last week through the first falling leaves, wearing a jacket and boots for the first time, was a picture-perfect autumn moment.

It’s been a very, very hectic couple of weeks. I’ve spent a lot of time on trains, going here, there and everywhere in my work capacity. I’ve been to the Edinburgh Book Festival, as well as various other events and meetings, and have also been organising an exhibition of picture book illustrations and an accompanying event as part of the launch festival for the new Free Word Centre. And this weekend I was in Coventry for a conference of librarians – what a truly glamorous life I lead!

In any spare moments (few and far between) I’ve been trying to fit in my university studies, spending time in the library, and working, very slowly, on my dissertation. Even though getting it done is posing me with something of a challenge at the moment, I’m nonetheless enjoying it. I’m also glad it gives me the perfect excuse to head north on a regular basis, as I’m still studying at Manchester University.

Unfortunately, all this leaves little time for blogging or indeed writing of any kind: I haven’t even managed to write in my faithful diary for months. Interestingly, I’ve noticed this blog is increasingly drifting towards being more of an ‘arts’ type blog than the personal blog it once was. I’m not quite sure why that is, except maybe it’s simply easier to write about impersonal things – books, exhibitions – when you are super busy, because there just isn’t much time or brainpower left to have many interesting ‘personal’ thoughts.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to getting the dissertation finished and then I can (at least occasionally) have a life, and a perhaps even a brain, once again.

However, in the meantime there are, nevertheless, some good writing things happening. The most exciting is that I’m going to have some work published in the latest anthology from Litfest’s excellent publishing imprint, Flax. Mostly Truthful is Flax’s first nonfiction prose anthology, and also features work by Kate Feld, Adrian Slatcher and Jane Routh. There will also be a launch event as part of the Litfest programme in October at which we’ll all be (eek) appearing and (even more eek) reading from our work. You can check out the event and maybe even book a ticket to see it, right here.

P.S. follow the yellow brick road also pops up on Kate’s Cultureometer over at the excellent Creative Tourist this month. Check it out here.

P.P.S. Look who’s joined me down here in London Town – yep, it’s my most glamorous blogging compatriot, the fabulous Ms Coco Laverne!

[Image via lavendardays on we heart it]

Writing + Sloth

I’ve recently been trying to dedicate more time to Doing Proper Writing, but I’ve not had much success so far. I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it incredibly difficult to write on a regular basis when I’m working full time, especially when it’s in combination with a demanding commute (currently involving two tubes and a train). But I do miss writing when I’m not doing it regularly. In an ideal world, I’d like to write something every day, but I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen, because most days, by the time I get home from work I feel pretty much exactly like a sloth.

I am in awe of the amazingly prolific people I come across: the ones who manage to turn out novels alongside busy lives, family obligations and full-time jobs, but I’d love to know their secret.

What are your strategies for motivating yourself to keep writing even in your sloth-like moments?

P.S. Check out my two new book reviews up at Bookmunch: poet Gee Williams’s first novel Salvage, and Aleksander Hemon’s new short story collection Love and Other Obstacles.

[sloth photo via zooillogix]

Creative Tourist + More on Procession

Creative Tourist, launched today by the Manchester Museums Consortium is a brand new online magazine about art and culture in Manchester.

Issue 1 features Jeremy Deller, Ansuman Biswas (aka the Manchester Hermit), Marina Abramovic in conversation with Maria Balshaw, Director of the Whitworth Art Gallery, Andrew Shanahan’s guide to videogames and Dea Birkett on children in galleries, as well as much more.

And as if all this wasn’t enough, Kate Feld (of Manchizzle fame) will be working alongside editor Susie Stubbs to bring in content from Manchester’s lively blogging community, commissioning guest posts from bloggers who write about art and culture… and guess who you’ll find in the very first issue?

That’s right, it’s me! Check out my post about Jeremy Deller’s Procession here. I was delighted to be the very first blogger commissioned to contribute to Creative Tourist, and I was even more delighted to be asked to write about such a fantastic event. If you read the piece, I’d love to know what you think – and whether or not I’ve managed to capture the unique atmosphere of this very special Manchester experience!

PS You can also keep up with Creative Tourist via the magic of twitter. Looking forward to reading more soon!

[Photo courtesy of the very talented Duncan Hay]