Mangled and messy

This week started out with panicky 12-hour days at work, not much sleep and, when sleeping, stress dreams, and ended with a more relaxed drinking-prosecco-at-desk, Tom Cruise on motorbike, wander down the Thames path day. Apart from the fact that my body is currently splurging out the results of the stress (all the spots, all the aches, all the yawns), it’s all pretty good at the moment.

Last weekend I carved out some time to go to one day of The London Short Story Festival – would have be nice to go to more, but unfortunately money and time didn’t allow. I’m glad I caught what I did though – Tania Herschman talking to Dan Powell, Adam Marek and Rob Shearman on the art of weird short stories, which included some great reading and some great one-liners. (I should have written this up last week, but, er, didn’t, mostly because I came away from the festival wanting to crack on with a story, not with the blog.)

Right after that the lovely Catherine McNamara spotted me and said hi – I’ve not seen her since I met her at my second Word Factory attendance, so it was nice to have a quick catch up, and again, I say, get yourselves a copy of her book Pelt – great, dark, thoughtful, wrenching stories to be found in there. I also briefly met Ruby Cowling, who recently won The White Review Short Story award with the excellent Biophile (which is available to read online HERE). From that I got myself an unplanned ticket to the talk ‘The Gatekeepers’, which had a panel of, well, everyone you’d ever want to hear from when trying to get published, and at which Ruby was reading part of her prize-winning story. I also hung out in Waterstone’s foyer for a little while, listening to the on-the-hour readings from Sabrina Mahfouz, who was absolutely excellent (check out this video of her performing her poem Red Raving Hood) and Maia Jenkins who was nervous, but didn’t once betray that with her voice which was utterly steady and assured as she read her story.  I’m glad I went.

I’m off to this month’s Word Factory this afternoon as well, which I’m very much looking forward to because I’ve missed the last two. So that was worthwhile. And then, as I mentioned, back to an early week of stress. But not as bad as it might have been. I’ve taken to travelling to/from work by bus instead of the crowded, expensive, inevitably late train. I’ve found, quickly, that most people who live in my area and work where I do prefer the train, and because of that the bus is quiet both morning and evening, on the top deck anyway. I’m guaranteed a seat, and I take my little computer (touch-screen mode for the prevention of annoying tapping noises) and have 45 minutes morning and evening of internet-free writing time, with just the right amount of background noise (like a café). It’s relaxing. I love it. I haven’t struggled to fit writing in this week despite all my work and I don’t feel guilty about trying to fit it in at home when I should be running the dogs or something. So I’ve finished two poems and a story. Rewritten another old story and sent it out.  Entered The London Magazine Poetry Competition and sent in an entry for the Radio 4 new writer’s story slot (via Sweet Talk).

Last night, I went to the cinema with CM and afterwards we walked home via the Thames Path and Greenwich. It was warm and peaceful and almost like fooling ourselves we were back in Wales a couple of times. Here, have photos:

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