Onwards, to Camden!
I’d tired myself out walking, so thought I’d give a rest to my legs and take the way of the future – the underground!
Camden at lunchtime was colourful and bustled with hungry young people. The markets on Inverness St stuffed with hundreds of tee shirts printed with the ubiquitous ‘Keep calm do X’ slogans, Camden High Street lined with knock off headphones and heart shaped sunglasses.
Unfortunately, I was going the wrong way – I had taken the wrong spoke of the roads that cross the canal. An easy thing to do, my friend G later told me. Camden is tricky if you don’t know the lay of the streets.
But if I hadn’t got lost, I wouldn’t have seen how lovely it was in the sunshine.
Eventually I turned around, and worked out where I was to meet my agent. After a coffee underneath an overhead tube line (possibly a bad idea, shaking me every few minutes) and another read of NW, this time actually in an NW postal code area, I headed to the pub for our meeting.
And what news did I hear there? Well, the future for Kilea is uncertain. Drea is still supporting it, and had some suggestions. I am so grateful to her for her dedication and hard work with my quiet literary novel. It slinks like seagull above the clouds, keeering. Cross your fingers that one day it will find the right place to roost.
However! Progress with the second novel, Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts is underway, with two extracts of it out or forthcoming in online literary journals, and submissions planned later, when more work has been done on it. That shall be the effort of the next few months – editing the novel, deepening it, firming it up. The best sort of hard work, and with Drea’s support (and that of D, my first reader), I hope to produce something that will be watertight and compelling, that will, crucially, find its way into the wider world.
I feel touched too to have readers, here, who are following my progress. It’s been a long year of hoping and struggling along, and nothing is ever certain. Some days are spent burrowing down into the work, others in combing my emails for news, for some breakthrough. Your comments are like fairy lights, warming in the dark.
I know other writers are right now, at various stages in their careers, chipping away at the same coalface. Pushing their skills forward, trying to be ambitious in their writing, though their life circumstances are not always the most favourable for fostering imaginary worlds or the careful construction of sentences. For art, for storytelling.
Solidarity has helped me along. Excellent role models are everywhere. You know who you are, and that you have my admiration, my love for your words and your painstaking skill with them, and your honesty and necessary lies that illuminate the truth.
And to the rest of my day in London? Spent in meeting friends – fellow writers, storytellers too: C, G and J, in that order. A trip to the Barbican building with C, to stare out at the fountains in the lowering dark, discussing C’s adventures past and present. Out for Vietnamese food in Shoreditch with G, who is fighting the man and planning her novel, which I’ve had the privilege of reading in early draft – when things happen there, I shall direct you to her site, with her permission. A drink of juice in a pub with J, to whom strange and unbelievable things happen as a matter of course.
And then to the tube station, and then to Euston, and the sleeper. My tiny berth with only me in it (the other passenger lost somewhere in the big city), and me falling into an exhausted semi-sleep, dreaming my way North again.