summer light

beloved porch

 

I’m writing from America.

Specifically, from an a-frame cabin in New Hampshire, by the shores of a glittery blue lake. It’s been nearly two weeks of flurrious (flurrying? I like flurrious better) activity. A wedding, trips around DC, a brief stop in New York, and now here, to the quiet speckled surfaces of the woods and the water.

 

great east lake

 

 

Before this, I hadn’t been back to the states since D and I migrated home in 2011. However, this won’t be the last time I visit America even this year – I will be back in August, and for a book tour for On the Edges of Vision. That’s my surprise news, the one I have been holding back while work was being done. Already there are reading venues lined up along the Eastern seaboard, with a few others hoping to be secured. The full calender is for another day. I am so incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped. Later this month, I will be launching a Kickstarter campaign to help defray costs (there are some fantastic perks for donors) but! Later, later. Two speedboats are crossing on their white wakes. Someone in a house next door is calling to their friend in a muffled happy voice.

 

We head home tomorrow. And right into the thick again, but for now, and all of today – this:

 

still waters

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Visual notes

clocks in the park

 

 

Things are brewing here, but nothing I want to lay out yet. If we are friends on Twitter or Facebook, or in real life you probably know the plans. But it’s early summer, and the process of fermentation is a slow one that cannot be rushed.

 

 

gloaming

 

 

Summer barbecue smoke drifting across The Meadows. Little day trips when the weather holds. And very soon, at the end of the week, a trip back to America for a family wedding. It’s been four years since D and I left. All these things to be done, and quietly, this great exciting thing that will follow, at the thick end of the season.

 

Arbroath Abbey Graveyard

 

 

Forgive me for taking up this space with dreaminess and vague words. But I hope these images will be enough to charm a little.

 

the looming abbey

 

 

For now, this waiting, exploring, hoping with purpose and work that’s too young to share. See you again with photos and snippets of America, sometime in the next few weeks.

 

the patience of the sea - wish I had it

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Bright weather

 

 

mee

 

It was sunny at the weekend, and D and I went to the botanical gardens. Here I a meeting a leaf. I thought it was Giant Hogweed, so I didn’t actually touch it.

 

wall

 

 

The gardens were full of life and people wandering slowly between the trees and around the pond and walls. An idea of a utopia of the future, the kind where people might reach up and pull fruit off the trees for their meals (though it’s too early for fruit yet).

 

ghibli house

 

there was a house over the garden wall that looked like something out of a Studio Ghibli film, stately under ivy, possibly haunted by various spirits.

 

willow

 

there were trees high and low, like this willow (lowest, clinging to the ground as it would if it were in its natural spot up on a mountain

 

pine

 

some like this pine rose up with branches spread, perfect for lounging, if there wasn’t more to see.

 

Aside from wandering among the plants and sunlit spaces, I have a little bit of news – this morning I woke to the news that I was a semi-finalist for Tarpaulin Sky’s book prize, which I am pleased to hear! I also have something coming out with Irish lit/art mag ESC [zine], though it’s in print, so you will have to order it to read (or wait until my collection comes out, as it’s a story from there).

 

I have bigger news too, but it is still brewing. Plans for the collection, for later this summer. I hope to be able to share more on this soon. I’m excited, but trying, as ever, to be patient. Plans aren’t set. But! But – just a little while longer, and I promise not to be so obscure.

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Patience 2

It only takes a little while sometimes for a mood to turn, for the puddles to start drying up (today I saw that before my eyes, steam curling off just-soaked pavements).

 

In the last few days, while writing and not writing, I have:

 

received a video of a beloved writer reading her work out to me, from her lovely garden, with light everywhere.

 

and very shortly afterwards –

 

received word that I will be reading stories from On the Edges of Vision at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August, as part of an emerging writers’ series. A dream.

 

If you will be in Edinburgh on the 15th of August (a Saturday) please come along. Here are the details, and the names of other writers/readers. If you can’t make it, recordings of the works will be up on the website after the event!

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Patience

Where is the correlation between patience and anxiety – I mean, can you be a patient person and still riddled with anxious feeling?

This is somewhat a calling back to an earlier post on anxiety and writing, partly now a response to life as it is for me: a not-quite emerging writer, hovering at the green edge of things.

 

Yesterday I received news that a funding application I had made had been turned down. It was to be for a modest book tour in the US this summer, for On the Edges of Vision.  I was neither very shocked or upset about it – after all, the reasons given were valid, like the fact that the tour wouldn’t lead to much ‘public good’. Books, especially sly dark ones like mine is trying to be, often don’t add much obviously elevating to the public discourse. It is their purpose to whisper to individual hearts, I suppose. And to whisper nothing useful. There is a place for useful fiction, don’t get me wrong. For education, for encouragement, for comforting words (please don’t think I’m a snob in any way about these books!) But then there are writers who write the anxious, the strange, the whispery.

 

Now I am left with plans to salvage – I made a good list of costs and possible stopping points for the tour. I laid a bit of preparatory groundwork with kind contacts in the US.  It falls on me now to see if I can find other sources of funding, perhaps arrange something shorter, East Coast.

 

So with energy and ways forward, I should be feeling if not good, then at least focused. Unfortunately, anxiety resurfaces at the times it wants. I have to sit with it, work through it. Write my way out, however spidery it makes my writing. Right now I’m working on a novella project, made of flash pieces. Supernatural and full of the ghost of Victoriana and old stones raised on moors and basements full of century-old brandy and shadowy women, and parties that go on unseen in dark ballrooms. It lends itself to short, breathless bursts of writing. Tight wedges of anxious plot that then lead out like fireworks before they light up the sky, to the next flash, and the next. Gaps of silence between. It’s going to take a lot of editing and picking over at the end when I’m done. but it’s fit work for my mind as it is.

 

Always there’s looking to the next thing, and the next. Stories sent out on submission, opportunities applied for and awaited. But now, now I go to the writing and I flick matches against the back of things to see what will strike. Patience subbed out for activity, since it’s all I know in my own way how to do.

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The idea of spring

Greenery

 

Having been for the last little while cooped up with a chest infection, I have only been able to glimpse the Spring through windows, or catch it on slightly laborious walks to work. I’m now much on the mend and craving the outdoors – light, the smell of the sea and plants growing. Much is work these days, quietly tapping away the prescribed 500 words. Or else reading, which I love, but. I want to be out there.

 

This post really doesn’t help curb the feeling. Let me do everything – yes, even a cycling tour, even when I cannot cycle well at all. A 20 kilometre wobble along a coastal road sounds just the thing right now. Or to be up in a helicopter looking at bright shining landscapes. Or in a sea kayak, bumping along past the rocks where the seals are sunning themselves.

 

I’m not sure if I’ll get a chance for this, this year. But there will be other things. Yesterday, a lovely meeting and bookshop crawl with a poet and her husband, on a trip from the states. A wedding in America in less than a month. A short trip down to Bristol to be literary & sophisticated with my friend G, the month after that.

 

For now though, suspended time in which there are mostly the words and awaiting emails. The thing they don’t tell you about being a writer is that patience and imaginative flights of fancy sit uneasily together and often don’t dwell in the same house. But the work is a kind of dreaming too. Sometimes lucid, sometimes with one eye to the blue air beyond the window frame. Tap tap tap.

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Stories read by Mr Bear

kirkyard blooms

blooms in a kirkyard.

 

 

Mr Bear’s Violet Hour Saloon is a weekly radio show and podcast of poems, stories, interviews and thematically-tied songs, and this week, I’m overjoyed to say that some of my work is featured, in an episode called ‘Quiet Hauntings’.

 

If you have an hour free, if you want to take an hour for my flash fiction read in the dulcet tones of Mr Bear, accompanied by wonderful ghostly and fierce songs, your destination is here.

 

(I heartily recommend the archive if you haven’t explored before. Many wonderful things there (in particular I love last week’s episode, which is a perfumed, essayistic delight.)

 

The stories will be in On The Edges of Vision, released in August.

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