Autumn’s properly here, isn’t it? Outside the sky is a lightening blue (it’s 7.30am), and there’s a nip in the air that’s making it awkward to type because I have the circulation of a stone – the sort that people try to get blood out of – and can’t really feel my fingers. Yesterday at work we looked out of the window and realised that the leaves on the trees in the little garden had apparently overnight gone very orange. I would have taken a photo, but all the building work happening behind the trees ruins the shot slightly.
So much building work. So much scaffolding. On Thursday I walked into the loo and there was a bloke in a hard hat right outside the third-floor, open, window. Just… great.
But who minds? Not me, for as of next week I am going down to four days a week in the office, and one day a week on a (paid training OH YES) course that is a mere 20 minutes from home instead of my usual 1.5-hours-each-way commute. I’m going to be learning how to creatively facilitate various groups of people with different needs and issues. Learning good skills. Useful skills that might actually help make people’s lives better or at least add nuggets of enjoyment to them. That paragraph lists four reasons of the five why this is a brilliant thing and why I’m so chuffed to have been accepted on the course, and I can’t wait.
Other stuff in short order: my parents visited and although I have an ongoing and impossible to shake chest-tightening fear that kicks in when they travel, thanks to the events of 2014, it was also one of the loveliest weeks ever. They stayed at a cottage nearby with two rescue donkeys outside it, a very friendly dog called Bella and a walnut tree that I didn’t realise was a walnut tree until after I got walnut fruit juice all over my thumbnail. That stuff stains. It’s taken a month for the brown nail to grow out and be cut off. We touristed our way across the North East, and it was bliss. A week or so later we visited York with friends and learned a lot about vikings. A week or so after that another friend came to visit us. I love our friends. I also love donkeys.
Music-wise, I have been working on a song for a friend, which is freeing because her voice is quite different to mine. And now that things have settled down, the song that we [we = me and lovely Producer Rob] were recording before that, which was written by another friend, will be finished.
Also I had a sort of breakthrough gig at the weekend. I’ve written a lot of times about my horrible fear of the spotlight, but I think now – though I’ll probably still never comfortably embrace it – I’m not so scared of it. This is a combination of having been slightly shoved into a more exposed role at work when I edited Issue 79 of the magazine; giving a private gig for my parents when they visited (nothing scarier than performing for family); and finally really embracing the thing of ‘carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white man’. I’m naming no names but I had an ‘a-ha – I’m actually better than him, so why does he act like he’s so amazing’ moment on that front, and I am running with it.
Last weekend also involved helping out at the inaugural Last Train Home music and comedy festival, which was exhausting (it took me most of the week to recover) and fantastic. It was received very well, I came out of it with at least three more bands to obsess over, and hopefully word will spread and it’ll get funding to happen again next year.
And also I joined the contributor team at NARC magazine, so give it a while and there should be more of my music-y cultural-y ramblings appearing in print, but with actual focus and a few more adjectives beyond ‘brilliant’ ‘fantastic’ and ‘wonderful’.
And finally (not really finally, but I’ve got some non-mind-vomit writing to do and this is basically procrastination) there’s the book-writing side of things. I wrote a fairly terrible blog post about How I Got An Agent, and next week, after a month or so of back-and-forth editing and tweaking, the would-be book that did the getting is going out on sub to publishers (non-writer types, I realise this might be gobbledygook, but presumably you’re reading this on an internet-accessing device so please Google). Every time I think about that I have a nervous stomach twist – trying to get published is like playing a video game with levels and bosses and OH WAIT I am fully thieving a Chuck Wendig blog post, so just click through and read that instead. But basically this point (as every later point will) feels more end-gamey because if no one wants my story I am back to the save-point at Square 2. Though that’s fine, because Would-be Book 2 is starting the transformation from an amorphous blob of unclear characters with a plot to follow into a blob with a rough shape and characters who have their own minds and keep choosing slightly different routes to the ending than the one I mapped out. And I think that’s a good sign.
Anyway. It’s been a tumultuous few months. The year started so downright terribly that I have actively been rocking the tiny, already slightly lopsided, boat that is my life, and nearly ten months in it, it seems to be paying off. Onwards. x