Tag Archives: book covers

Come up swimming

good things


For the past week, I’ve been underwater. The week before that, I was mute.


Late winter is harsh on the body. I lost my voice, then I got the flu. The cold shakes and the fever dreams and the exhaustion and brain fog. And throughout that last week I could barely read at all.  Where do we go when we have this kind of unwellness, the kind we know we’ll overcome with time? We just sit in our cracked skin, I suppose, and wait for the mind to take a breath and function again.


Yesterday I surfaced. I went to the bookshop with D, and edited. Editing that was heartwarming, because it reminded me that yes, I’ve spent all this time and something is being made. I don’t know of how much worth. But I know I’ve improved as a writer doing it. Struggling and kicking and planing and carving and flights of fancy and sweat. Swimming in my preferred element, however ineptly I am compared to others. I’m listening to a playlist on 8tracks as I write this, so maybe that’s making me think of water, fluidity and so on. The gears are turning with outside help and though my skin is still peeling and my eyes a bit bloodshot, there it is. Thought. The bright flash of an inner field. A vista, a possibility.


The books I bought (with a Christmas gift card) are, l-r,

The Secret History by Donna Tartt, because everyone says it’s good.

Diaboliad by Mikhail Bulgakov, because of that cover and it’s Bulgakov, who also wrote-

The Master and Margarita. This version doesn’t seem to use American terms like ‘sneaker’ which has prevented me from re-reading one of my favourites – it’s been 10 years since I last read it. I’m scared I won’t be as much in love, but we shall see.


It’s good to be back on shore. Now I’m off to climb among the dunes.


Filed under Uncategorized

Guess what arrived?



I’m so excited to have received this book today. I carried it about with me in a bag full of bleach and Economist Magazines – strange mix. I hope to review it on PANK as soon as I get through it. Current deciding between: rush through it in a big swoop OR go slow and carefully. I haven’t reviewed anything for PANK in ages because there had been a dearth of small press titles for my sticky hands. Now – the book I’ve been awaiting. A spell broken. Probably a list of ‘must reads’ will come out of this like ticker tape as I read. Edinburgh Library can expect me back (I think I owe them a few quid after the last overenthusiastic raid).


As usual I’ll post a link to the review when it’s done and approved and up!

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Books in golden light, unread

1. It’s Hogmanay at last and time for many traditional things – fireballs, fireworks, Auld Lang Syne, First Footing tall dark men (never blonde men, who may be Vikings coming to ruin the party), Black bun and Whisky. If you are not Scottish, you may be a little confused, but Wiki will come to your aid in that link. Here in Edinburgh, we have the fireworks all around the castle, and the sound can be heard from one end of the city to the other.


2. It’s also the time of list making, looking forward with one eye and back with the other, and trying to mesh them into a perfect unity using paper and the tip of a pen, or a screen and the tips of your fingers.


3. I have come to realise that I’m not terribly proficient at lists. I like the idea of them, the cleanliness and order, but in practice, my mind just doesn’t enjoy working from point to point, outlying intentions so they can be carefully picked out later and put into effect.


4. Things inevitably get forgotten.


5. Or the lists themselves seem lopsided, and when I go back to make them shorter and clearer I don’t really know what to do. Shopping lists are the exception, but it’s hard to motivate yourself with a shopping list. Perhaps it’s also that I am not wedded to the idea of units of progression through life? Memory intruding and mucking things up, and the tangling of tangential threads, and periods of intense work, and periods of distraction.


6. The language of lists is too simple, but conversely, too precise.  Or perhaps I need to start writing and reading more poetry, which can be a clever form of list.


7.  Despite this, I do have my list, all book related. The picture at the top was taken a few days ago. I am struggling not to try and break open the new year early and open one. In fact, I think I will try to do that at the stroke of midnight, in between toasts and hugs and singing. I have a mild superstition that what you are doing at midnight on the 1st day will somewhat dictate the flavour of the rest of the year. So in 2010, it was a challenge of a year, because I was out in the cold to watch the show in Princes St Gardens, put out by the lack of tread on my boots, and nervous about slipping over on the frosted hill I was standing on. 2011 saw D and I quietly watching the fireworks over the East River in New York City from the roof of our apartment building in Queens – a sense of awe, and careful footing over the tar above our neighbours houses, so they wouldn’t be too disturbed by our movements, and happiness – and so it turned out to be, perhaps –


8. As it’s all in the interpretation, of course.


9.What ever 2012 brings to you, I hope the balance falls in the favour of goodness, whether orderly or mildly chaotic.  And so I wish you all a Happy Hogmanay in what ever way it is your custom to celebrate.


Filed under consolations of reading, Edinburgh, Planning, The Now

Kilea Drawn

For the illustration course exam, I have made up a chapbook of illustrations and short snippets from the early chapters of Kilea.

Front cover (it looks a bit spooky, but the rationale is found later in the text)

It’s my first effort at doing an extended sequence of illustrations, and has been quite intensive; hours of cutting out, hours of drawing. Who knew it could take two bent-backed hours to draw a small panel illustration in pen and watercolour?

Endpages and title. The pine plantation motif from a smaller version I posted here a few days ago.

The opening paragraph to Kilea (also posted here earlier sans pale faced child)

This is the drawing that brought me a new respect for the art of rendering.

Last one for now, What Kilea found in the playground

I have a few more, but they need tidying up a little. I don’t know what I could do with the chapbook after the exam, other than keep it in a drawer, to look back at later to track progress. Sigh in relief that I can get back to focusing purely on the next novel. Yet it has been really satisfying to create something tangential to the writing, and who knows, I may in time see that it has helped sharpen my writing style as well.


Filed under Edinburgh, Illustration, The Now

Two things tangentially related

So last night at the GFT was the premier of Team Little Ed’s film “Scrutiny” at the forty-eight hour film festival. It’s so hard to watch yourself ‘act’ (I do use that term loosely)…but I think audience reactions were overall on the positive side – I definitely heard some flinching. And some mildly hysterical laughter…

Unfortunately, A is still working on colour correction, so the film won’t be going up on Youtube until later this evening at the earliest. I’d also like to link to some of my favourite films when they go up. There were some crackers. For now, place holder: another drawing for the class:

First book cover effort...the shawl looks more red in real life

My first go at a book cover. For the course, each student has to come up with a lengthy project, and I think book covers might be a good idea. Definitely going to try one for the Autobiography of Red, by Anne Carson. Hmm, I’ll have to come up with a list…suggestions welcome!


Filed under Illustration, The Now