The fourth Unsung Letter is now out to subscribers. This week it was written by Andrew Male:
Davidson is attune to the specific emotional poetry of his world; dark afternoons, slow evenings, lucent midnights, and that that eerie border territory between the harvest and the back end of the year, where distances grow deeper and a deceptive autumnal sunlight illuminates banal frosted landscapes with an hallucinatory brightness.
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In other, non-letter news, this year continues. This year, a whirlwind, both in the political sphere (of which I need not tell you) and personally. D and I came back from Christmas in America, strove through January ( which is as everyone knows one of the months we should just spend in hibernation like Moomins) flathunting and dealing with travails and the bitter cold. This past week we went on a long-ago holiday to Athens:
then on the way back I fainted on the plane and later in the queue for border control and had to be pushed through the airport in a wheelchair. I’m fine now – it was food poisoning meeting exhaustion, we think – and after a day in bed, it was moving day. I’m writing this in our new rental flat, in a pale blue-green room that makes me think of the sea. Nothing is particularly well organised at the moment, but outside there is a tiny garden with a bench and a greenhouse. I’m going to put up a bird feeder and sit out with a book when it’s not so raw.
Soon, quite soon, my debut novel Flesh of the Peach comes out. I had word today that my 6 copies are being sent to me today. Ah! There’s a book launch to come and I’ll make an announcement about that very shortly. I’ve to organise contact with several bookshops who might be amenable to my reading there. It all seems so far off from now. In April it will be Spring, even here in Scotland. Not warm really, but there will be flowers out, and more birds, and the world opening up its shutters, wincing and taking deep breaths.
For now though, the work.
The latest tinyletter of book recommendations for the underpraised has now gone round. This week it’s poet and writer Claire Askew writing her love of a particular Edinburgh-based poet. If you haven’t yet subscribed, you can do so >>>>>here<<<<<
Squint and you can see my name on the cover
The new issue of Gutter is out now, and features one of my stories from Mayhem & Death – as well as a wonderful review of On the Edges of Vision. My book turns one year old on the 18th of this month. It was launched at Waterstones Argyle Street, right before I headed out on the American book tour. Hard to believe that it’s been a year already! I’m still not over the book winning the Saltire First Book of the Year award either.
A year, a year – and what have I been up to lately. I know I’ve been quiet here. Much of that is to do with the fact I’ve been working away on line edits for Flesh of the Peach, coming out next spring. It’s been a wonderful process, neither too invasive nor not rigorous enough – edits from an excellent editor are so important for tweaking bits into focus and letting the heart of the novel shine through. Now the book is off to the proofreader, and I’m anticipating the next phases: the cover and blurbs. Still floating ahead of me in the dusk. While that happens, I’ve work to do on the witchy novel I’ve spoken about here. Drafting and redrafting. Circling in on what is important there. The bones and the flesh of the thing refined. It’s easy to get discouraged at this – so far from the finish line that it seems to be an impossible distance away. It’s been almost two years since I completed the novella version of the book, and by optimistic calculations perhaps another year before it’s finished. I think come the autumn it will be easier. It’s an autumnal book, a little eerie, a little surreal. Littleg at all in kinship with Flesh of the Peach, which is, as my editor said, a ‘dark star’ of a novel. But part of me now, having read the earlier book, wants to bring something in line with the latter. I might have to dig down for texture, something a bit brutal – but trying to do so without crushing the sweet, folktale feel I want it to have. Hmm. Work to be done. I’d better get started.
If you’d like to buy Gutter no 15, here’s the link. You’ll be supporting writing from Scotland and elsewhere. Lots to read and much to discover, and only £6.99.
I know it’s coming on April Fools Day, but we’re after noon here in Scotland, so I’ll go ahead:
You may have seen that my book Flesh of the Peach is due out with CCM in October of this year – well, things have changed quite dramatically:
It’s now, instead coming out with Freight in about a year.
The decision to go with Freight, a brilliant rising press based in Scotland, means that among many other benefits, when the book is out, it will be far easier for readers (and bookshops) to find copies. I’m really thrilled at this, and at a chance to work with the team at Freight.
I’ll keep you up to date on any other developments with Flesh of the Peach and with my other exciting news.
Now tea, and working on the new witchy book and thinking of projects ahead…
UPDATE: Here’s a short piece on The Bookseller about this!
It’s been very quiet here – a long, tough winter. Finally we’ve passed the first day of Spring, and light and warmth is slowly coming back, like feeling to a foot that’s fallen asleep. With the change in the season comes two pieces of good news, the first of which I can share here:
I am now represented by Jenny Brown, literary agent extraordinaire! And I’m extraordinarily lucky.
The other piece of good news will have to wait a little longer. It’s bookish too.
Meanwhile: a little more quiet working in the background. Edits and waiting for the first adventures of the year. I hope soon to have pictures of the outside world. I think the blog has been a little sparse without them.
Wishing you all a fine spring (or autumn) day, wherever you are in the world.
– I did it! I made my 10-story goal of the day.
Total word count: 6,206.
ten whole stories, some of which might be usable in the collection.
Thanks to wonderful people on Twitter who provided encouragement and prompts. You can see their words and mine HERE (along with the numbered first lines of every story I wrote today. I think the wavering in terms of quality is pretty evident).
As I say over on Twitter, if I just wrote like this another 4 times I would have enough stories for a whole collection. They would also be terrible, and I might fall apart doing so. But it’s been good to see what can be done in a single day. Edits, now. Those will come. A long time hence.
Today at 2pm GMT I’m going to start writing flash fictions, and over the course of the next ten hours, hope to write ten pieces.
Why on earth am I doing this? Mostly because the last few weeks or so have been quite slow and unproductive in terms of writing – this is often the case, slow progress is still progress, though it isn’t very encouraging. I need a jolt. I need to set off and keep going. I need the deadline.
I have playlists lined up, and will be on Twitter the whole time (naturally, procrastination has its place too). You can follow me there if you don’t already: @HelenMcClory. I’d welcome suggestions: an object, a location or time period, a character name. Something vague to get me started if I meet any inspiration black holes. You can join in too with your own writing spree, if you like – low pressure, coming and going as you like.
2PM till 12AM.
I might do a post tonight if things go well, perhaps sharing a few titles. Not any of the writing – that will probably be pretty pants. Above all, this is an exercise in forward motion, not finesse, and the pieces will need heavy editing after. Any fictions up to snuff will go in my current flash-fiction-collection in progress (a part of which, as I mentioned elsewhere, was recently a semi-finalist in two chapbook contests, which gives me hope. More editing there, later).
I’m off to prep and scout the snack situation. Please say hello on Twitter or comment below.
Let’s see how this goes. I may regret it, but there’s always coffee, for when that really hits.