Wheel of Fortune

It’s that time again – the time I should be getting some freelance work done, so I write a blog post instead.

Last weekend I went to York for a friend’s birthday. Sorry we went, and had our first experience of being recent-test-passers on the motorway, in an old old (borrowed) car with no power steering which coughed and hrrrmed its way from 30 to 70 in about ten minutes. Speedsters.

Anyway, while in York, I had my fortune read for the first time in my life. For £1, by an old man with a monkey puppet, in the middle of the street. Definitely legit. Definitely accurate.

He did the whole ‘swing a necklace over my hand and it’ll answer a question’ thing, which failed dismally to move much at all. “It’s a very faint possible yes,” he said, as we all stared at the motionless pendant. My question was ‘Will I buy a better car than the one we drove down in?’ so, you know, hopefully he’s right. It’s possible the answer hinged on whether we survived the trip back.

Then the fortune telling cards, where card#1 claimed that I have a friend not to be trusted (is it you?). No one has noticeably screwed me over yet, but now I’m braced for it, untrustworthy one.

cards_
Half a google later, and I can confirm they were these cards.

Card #2 says I have good news coming in the mail, apparently. “Definitely by post,” said the fortune teller. “Not by email.” Nothing’s come yet, mind. So far just a ‘leave’ leaflet, of the type we seem to be getting daily. I ripped up the last one and left it stuck out of the letter box on the other side of the door hoping whoever is dropping them in will take the hint. Rebellion fail: it escaped the mailbox and blew all over the garden. Really, though, campaigning is fine, and I’ll listen to factual information, though you’d better believe I make the effort to research that ‘facts’ I’m told (unless a fortune-teller says it. Then I’ll believe every word). But this is the sort of sneaky pamphlet that starts out with ‘You’re probably wondering how to vote. Here are some not-at-all skewed, completely unbiased facts that we have re-worded slightly and left out important details from’ and ends with ‘if you had this information before we even joined the EU, would you have bothered to join WOULD YOU WOULD YOU HUH IT’S A WASTE OF SPACE OBVIOUSLY VOTE LEAVE’. Not biased at all. No. *rolls eyes*

I will freely admit that I am biased on a totally personal level, and the clarified facts keep me that way. But beyond that the idea of the bunch of self-involved government wankers that actually were elected having total power – without the unelected folk from other countries enforcing useful things like human rights – scares the shit out of me. I could go on. I won’t.

Anyway. Cards three-to-five basically said I ought to be coming into some money. Lots of money. I’m susceptible enough that I actually started hoping maybe this meant I was getting a writing grant I applied for. Ladies and gents, I didn’t even get shortlisted. So. *sob*. But if you want to rebuild my dreams and faith in street-corner fortunes, please do send me some cash. Safe to say, by the way, that that particular no-win stung a bit. I wallowed for, oooof, at least half a day (am Teflon, these days. Feeling so brave that I even, in an email regarding music, wrote the words ‘I’m thick-skinned, I promise’ and then wondered if that really applies to the music stuff yet.)

The wound also healed quite fast courtesy of a couple of things. One – a new story out! On the brilliant Loss Lit site, no less, which is full of the sort of sad, strange, dark, lyrical writing I adore, so I’m pleased to be in it alongside such fab writers as Vanessa Gebbie and Josephine Corcoran. You should, of course, go and read the entire Bumper Issue 3.

And then the wonderful Georgia Bellas, of Mr Bear’s Violet Hour Saloon, got in touch to say she’d picked out a couple of previously published stories to read out on Boston Free Radio that evening. (You should listen to the podcast every week, by the way, if you like stories and poems. It’s a gem.) I was especially chuffed that she chose to read ‘Lost to Dolly’, which was written as a radio piece, really. The other story was ‘Sea Monster’ – it was a creature themed show (there’s links to the published versions of both stories on my stories page). God, but your words sounds different when someone else says them, don’t they? Sentences there that I’d forgotten I strung together, but they were just right. Anyway, have a listen HERE if you wish.

Back to the fortune: so, loads of money apparently incoming. Also an opportunity I should grasp immediately because it will not come again. This was translated as “you’ll see something I want to buy, but when I go back it will be gone, so you should by it straight away”. But I think fortune-speak is flexible, so I’m twisting it to my own ends and using it as a kick up the bum for things that I’ll save for later entries.

OR maybe that money comes from a change in jobs! A fork in the road, says the fortune teller of the seventh and final card, a new opportunity, a new job, a life alteration. I mean, this could just be that the Mega Project is at the printers now and will be in people’s hands very very soon, and if I’ve somehow got something very wrong I could be out of a job? [As I, perhaps unwisely, admitted to a board member, I’m torn between it being a success because I worked so bloody hard on it, and it crashing and burning horribly so that I never have to do that work again. (I want it to be a success, of course. My name’s on it for heaven’s sake – and that thought makes me feel a bit nauseous, so moving on…)]

Huh. I think that actually the fortune teller might have told my 2015 fortune. Job, money, opportunities, untrustworthy friends. Yup.

Oh well.


BOOKS: I have finally (after ekeing it out) finished Beastings by Benjamin Myers, which is so richly written I had to read it a bit at a time, then digest. The ending made me want to be sick and also cry. Hell of a combination. And I’m halfway through Terry Pratchett’s non-fiction stuff, and I’ve started The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. Can’t speak highly enough of that last one. I had to read the first three pages out loud because they are just so *nnnngh* (<noise trying to relay total perfection). I need two copies so I can underline stuff. It is also, unfortunately, the sort of book that’s written so much the way I want to be able to write that it’s simultaneously inspiring me and crushing me. (Sample convo with Coffee Monster, after I made him read the first three pages. ‘It reminds me of your stuff.’ ‘It’s exactly how I want to write.’ ‘It’s like how you write, but distilled, like the between parts are gone that aren’t like that.’ ‘You mean edited?’ ‘No. Yes? Wait…’ ‘But I DO edit my stuff!’ ‘Um.’ *sulk*)

MUSIC: I pulled out the Southway CD we bought off them on the street a couple of years ago and have been enjoying. Also very recent (like, this morning) discovery of There There, who are synthy and lyrical. Also more Eve Conway ‘cause she sang her EP a week or so ago at an open mic night and I adore her voice. And for Gothic ennui and historical, wonderful weirdness, The Black Sheep Frederick Dickens just shared their single Shrines.

A shambles of thoughticles

Today my hands were blue with cold and I wore a heavy winter scarf for the journey to work. Seasons are not real.


I’ve always been pretty good at fading into the background – I have a face that manages to be both politely vaguely familiar and completely unmemorable. It suits my wallflower tendencies. It’s also something that comes in handy on trains where, I’ve discovered, if I don’t move to get my ticket when the ticket inspector comes by, they assume they’ve ticketed me before and don’t bother me. (I am not avoiding buying train tickets – I have a month pass that doesn’t need stamping.) Now, though, I wonder if they’ve seen me often enough that they do recognise me, and know that I’ll have a pass and it’s not worth asking me. A train regular. Can’t decide if I like the idea of being invisible or often visible better. Continue reading “A shambles of thoughticles”

The Circle of Day-to-Day Life

The problem with this blog, I’m discovering as I get more and more lax about updating, is that the longer I put off writing anything for it the more there’s a jumble of things to write about. And then I can’t find a solid topic for a post – or even any kind of hub for the mess to revolve around – and it becomes bitty and a rubbish read, and that puts me off writing, and the cycle perpetuates.

Continue reading “The Circle of Day-to-Day Life”

2016 is all about you and them

Yesterday morning the sky looked like something holy wanted us to look up for a few minutes, and it felt too too ordinary to be seeing it as I walked to the train station weighed down with parcels. And then I saw two people punching the sh*t out of each other, expletives echoing, and wrestle each other into a waiting taxi – and the magic leached away slightly. Continue reading “2016 is all about you and them”

Meanderthal

Have to be honest, I haven’t missed writing blog entries. My domain ownership actually ran out a couple of weeks ago, and it took me longer than it should have to renew it. I was half-heartedly considering shutting this place down – maybe starting a new site, a more professional one with my name in the address and whatnot. Bookworms is a hodge-podge after all, with a misleading title and not enough control over the layout to keep me happy. But I’m giving it another year (if you keep reading).

Continue reading “Meanderthal”

The loneliness of the long distance walker/runner/writer

I haven’t slept properly for the past four nights and, since I can’t pin the blame on caffeine, stress or much else, I’ve decided that part of the problem might be lack of decent exercise.

The Thursday after the Great North Run, I took myself off up to Scotland for four days alone. I stayed at an incredibly romantic and quite fancy shepherd’s hut (and completely recommend the place). No electricity, so when night started to fall, that was bedtime. After the first day, if I wanted a fire I needed to chop wood; if I wanted water, I had to fetch it from the next field over and slightly up a hill. Point being that even making a cup of tea involved some measure of effort. And I decided, in between reading a lot and writing a bit, to go walking. I bought a map of the area with trails marked on it, and went for a short explore on Thursday evening, and for longer walks on my own (six miles and ten miles each on Friday and Saturday. Sunday was a lazy day involving cake and a dog-sitting for the lovely people I met there).

Continue reading “The loneliness of the long distance walker/runner/writer”

The floor is lava

Three weeks of silence, so here’s a story. It was written very quickly over lunchtime last Friday, as is fitting for the Faber Academy weekly #quickfic challenge. The winner gets a batch of Faber books; second place story goes up on the Faber Academy site with the winning story. Third place isn’t really a place but does, it turns out, get you a nice email from one of the Faber Academy folks letting you know that you very nearly almost scraped in, and that next time you might nudge it. Good enough for me. Below is a screenshot of the picture prompt from the Faber Academy site, and my words. It’s worth heading to the site and reading back through all the winners. A pleasant way to spend some time.
Continue reading “The floor is lava”

One step at a time

First off: sorry to all of you that received an email at the weekend saying ‘new post’, only to find your access blocked. That particular entry is me doing some test runs of the Literary Salmon project that’s due out at the end of next month – I’d forgotten about the notification thing until CM pointed it out to me. (No, I’m not giving you the password.)

Literary Salmon Project 1 is well on its way, though. With a week to go before the hardest work, courtesy of the writers, is finished, we’re ironing out some last bits and pieces of the plan. It is intensely exciting to see it all taking shape; it’s also a bit nerve-wracking. It feels as though Bernie, Jane and I have been talking about this on and off forever, but even when we actually got the thing going, I confess to having some doubts that we’d actually do it. But here we are – and I think the final result is going to be something of which all the project writers can be very proud. I really hope that it’s going to be the first of many such projects.

Continue reading “One step at a time”

Say hello, wave goodbye**

I keep thinking of subjects for these increasingly sparse blog entries and then deciding that no, that’s too big a subject – I’ll save it and write something longer and more in depth. Maybe I’ll try an essay. Which is not to say I don’t put effort into these posts. I do, but normally all that effort happens over the course of a couple of hours at most. I splurge words on whatever springs to mind, and edit and post soon afterwards. There’s a minimal amount of research involved, but I have, usually, had something to say.

Continue reading “Say hello, wave goodbye**”

But my comfort zone is so comfortable…

Oh, the bliss of a weekend at home! Which isn’t to say the past two weekends, out and about seeing friends, at weddings, having fun, haven’t been brilliant. They have, and now that I’ve run out of solid dates to be travelling across the country I’m missing everyone badly. But all the travelling and visiting and socialising is exhausting and I’ve been badly in need of a couple of days at home.

(Side note – I know there are people waiting for me to do some things for them, and I swear I will get on to those things this week. I just need one weekend!)

Three things this week that have involved stepping out of my comfort zone. First off: after a very kind offer of feedback on some of my poems a few weeks ago, I finally built up the courage to send three poems to my old uni tutor. I’m discovering that there’s varying levels of fear when it comes to putting things out into the world:

Continue reading “But my comfort zone is so comfortable…”