Follow the Yellow

Archive of ‘writing’ category

27 things to do before I turn 28


Following my fairly unsuccessful list of 26 things to do before I turn 27, I thought it would be only right and proper to make a new list of things to do in my 27th year. However, having learned my lessons from last year, I decided to be slightly less ambitious with my plans this time. Who knows, I might even manage to actually achieve a few more of the following, rather more achievable goals for 2010…

Here are some of the things I’d like to do this year:

1. Knit a jumper
2. Keep a list of all the new books I read
3. Plant red geraniums in a window box
4. Go to the ballet
5. Swim at a London lido
6. Have an elegant afternoon tea
7. Start writing a new novel
8. See some live comedy
9. Go to London Zoo
10. Take a dance class
11. Learn to crotchet
12. Collaborate
13. Get a bicycle
14. Eat a lobster
15. Go to Rye in East Sussex
16. Make handmade Christmas presents
18. Read more non-fiction
19. Buy some art
20. Read the only book I still haven’t read from the Lone Pine series by Malcolm Saville (Strangers at Witchend)
21. Go on holiday
22. Bake a pie
23. Get published in print
24. Eat sushi
25. Swim in the sea
26. Create a handmade book
27. Go on the Eurostar

[Image via Tumblr here]

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]