Sunday 14 August 2011

The end of a chapter...maybe

 A friend sent  me a wonderful Rothko picture today as she has spent the weekend going round art galleries. It sounded like a wonderful time. We had spent some time together earlier in the summer which included an indulgent moment sitting in the Rothko Room in Tate Modern followed by a glass of champagne. Moments like that add to the 'rich tapestry of life'. I can hear my brother cringing from here as this was a saying he and my mother used to use all the time. It came to mind the other day when I was involved in a Facebook conversation about editing. I am someone who writes cold and edits hot. That is not the normal way round so I keep being told. I get the bare bones of the story down so I know I have a structure and then go back and edit it by adding in the 'colour' to bring it to life.

I keep trying to write at the moment but life gets in the way as there are things that need finishing. I do sit there with my manuscript and pencil ready to give it a go but the mind always drifts off elsewhere. There is part of me that wishes it was this time last year as I was about to embark on a Writer's Tutored Retreat having been awarded an Arvon Grant. It allowed me a whole week to write without any interruptions apart from the odd text message. It was the most wonderful experience and gave me the opportunity to finish the first complete draft of the PhD novel. But it was also a time which allowed me to remember why I write and why I love it so much. If you get the opportunity to go on a Arvon course or retreat take it, you will be surprised by how much you get out of it. Not only did I get write in peace and quiet but also I met up with a great group of like minded people with whom I am still in touch.

This piece of music was one of the old girl's favourites. It is all drama which was her all over. Tomorrow, hopefully, will be the end of a chapter connected with her that needs desperately to be finished so we can all move on. Fingers crossed

Wednesday 10 August 2011


Disjointed is a novel that started as my final year project when I was an undergrad. It was also the piece of creative writing that was responsible for me ending up doing a creative writing PhD that focused on the representations of sex, drugs and alcohol in YAF. Disjointed is a piece of YAF that looks at cannabis psychosis - not an on trend subject!!

Until recently it has resided in a bottom drawer which I always thought I would never revisit. However, whilst I am waiting for feedback from a publisher on Ham and Jam, another YA novel I have written, I thought I would look at it again and was quite surprised that it wasn't as desperate as I thought. When I first wrote it I did have some interest from a small publisher but they wanted me to change the psychotic voice to one that sounded like a hippy. Possibly arrogantly, I refused as that made a farce of the rest of the story.

Anyway I am thinking of rewriting it - which includes adding to it as at the moment it is too short. I want to make it darker as well. One of my main decisions is whether to change the setting. At the moment it is in middle England and I am wondering if I should move it to an inner city location - though is that a cliche and a little too predictable? Need to think on that one.

Coming back to a piece of old work can be daunting, in one way I find is like starting afresh and having pages of ideas to pick from but in another you try to have to pick up on the thoughts you had at the time of writing. You have to embark on that journey again. I found this quote recently in my PhD notes from Susan Sontag and I think it explains (not specifically) one of the aspects of writing for children really well, she says a novelist ‘ someone who takes you on a journey. Through space. Through time. A novelist [who] leads the reader over a gap, makes something go where it was not' It is stepping into the experiential gap between perceived experienced adult writer and less experienced reader then inviting them to join and explore your story together. So I am going to pick up my Disjointed map and go for a trip whilst seeing if I can get any young adults to join me there!

I was looking for an appropriate song and came across this odd little song by Neil Diamond no less!

Sunday 7 August 2011


Well that was a faster U turn than any Coalition government.

I have been surprised, and totally humbled, by the number of people who have contacted me and in so many ways - email, in person, through facebook - asking me not to stop Chaosmos. I had no idea how many people were actually following me.

So I have had to do a little re-think. Chaosmos is coming back. I am aiming, as a friend suggested, to make it reflections on my work and that of others,and discussions of books I'm reading, or even new ideas pieces.

With that idea in mind I would like to mention a little book that someone gave me, entitled Carry a Poem. It is a delightful little book about snippets of poems that people carry around with them. A poem can say so much and mean so many different things as we bring our own cultural moment to our reading. One of the snippets was from an e e cummings poem which means a lot to me.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

I realised quite how many people carry my heart with them when they came out of the woodwork saying they enjoyed Chaosmos. This was further endorsed by several totally unrelated emails, some intentional, some not, that proved to me how many people care. I know I carry a lot of hearts with me but sometimes it is too easy to forget in this busy life that it is often a reciprocal thing.

I have heard this song sung by a very old friend who has a wonderful voice. She's not old but we've known each other for over 20 years. She also has one of the biggest hearts I know and is the only person who can get away with calling me 'Stumpy'. Enjoy a bit of Summertime

Thursday 4 August 2011


In June I gained a doctorate then in July this gorgeous person pictured here joined our family. He is my grandson and very precious. As I cuddled him last night I told him about all the books I am going to write for him. It started me thinking about what I should do next.

This blog was my musings about my PhD and now that is virtually over I think it is time to stop. If I decide I have something worth saying maybe I will start a new blog. But for now it is time to move on. To those that have followed me, thank you.

I went to see these two groups when they performed at the hallowed Wembley stadium and yes I did pick a blade of grass. I saw Simon & Garfunkle in 1981 and Simply Red in 1991 then in 2001 I was too ill to do anything, and now, it is 2011. These songs have followed me around for many, many years and I think, for me, they are appropriate songs to finish with as I say goodbye and as I move on to who knows what. Enjoy!