2016 started with drama. Not the fun kind. My youngest son came out in shingles the same day as a 600 pound car bill arrived. That was difficult to swerve. But hey. We dance on.
A very long update on divers projects follows, which may be of limited interest to the passing reader, but the start of a new year is an opportunity to take stock. So I’m taking stock. Bisto ahoy.
Inevitably this sucks up most of my creative energy but hey, it pays the bills and we have fun. Last year I wrote all sorts for Fun Kids, from Physics to Pathology and our series about WW1 for the Heritage Lottery Fund.
We’ve already given some thought to the next series of Through a Child’s Eyes and last week I took a trip to Luton’s Wardown Park Museum to learn about the Home Counties’ involvement in Gallipoli – something perhaps we can work into the next installment.
There’s also a little chapter book coming soon, about Hallux & Nanobot, two of our favourite Fun Kids characters. I wrote it ages ago, to be an e-book download for our young listeners, and it will (no really) – just as soon as we can figure out the stupid aggregation software which is making me want to poke my eyes out with pens.
The current project taking up the lion’s share of brain is a series for The National Gallery, introducing children to famous paintings and encouraging them to use their imaginations when viewing art. I was lucky enough to have a private tour of the Gallery with one of the curators, and have been translating all my notes of wonder into some fun educational pieces which will be broadcast on Fun Kids in the Spring.
This time last year I had just moved into my new shared office space and today I’ll be renewing the lease with Mel – Sally’s moving on which is a pity as I really enjoyed our chats and we had such a good laugh, but the set-up was always meant to be flexible. Mel and I may carry on as a twosome or perhaps we’ll offer the free desk to someone else – let me know if you’re interested in taking it. Such a beautiful space in a great creative environment. Reasonable terms. Plenty of hot beverage options.
The Challah Tin
My novel manuscript has been stripped down to a third of its size and is being reworked. Dear God it is a slow process. The second draft is possibly similar to the difficult second album – after the euphoria of creating a complete piece comes the sinking realisation that you have to start all over again.
I am preparing another section for my next Writer’s Group meet in February and it will be terrifying, ahem I mean interesting to get more feedback.
I had resolved to write more of these in 2015 and I did write a few, achieving runner-up status two times in the Faber Quick Fic comp. Bigger wins were elusive and the story below, “Cups” was a flash/short that didn’t get anywhere. I can’t be bothered to enter it any more so I thought I’d just be lazy and put it up here. Entering comps is time-consuming.
It’s been great to have the support and feedback of the cohort and the group energy is infectious. I had another 121 with Jonathan Davidson at the end of last year when I talked about some of the frustrations of the previous few months. One of the things I was able to talk about was a screenwriter’s networking event which was, essentially a scam in which I’d become enmeshed- something that left me feeling stupid and vulnerable. To say it has knocked my confidence with pitching my screenplays is an understatement.
Luke and I met frequently across the year and spent time playing with our different projects, both having a try at novelising our existing scripts. Luke brought out his beautiful e-book and I was proud to write the foreword for it. It’s a great collection and I urge you to buy it.
Whilst good fun, our novelisation experiments resulted in a few dead ends and Luke noted that I had reached some universal record for mentions of a dead dog. Not my finest prose but I was inhabiting the mind of a Texan psychopath who just killed a dog and he really was thinking about that dead dog a lot.
Rubery International Book Award
I’m so very excited to be a Reader for the prize this year, a nice little job sifting entries for the judges. I think that all kicks off in a month or two and I even get paid for reading. I am looking forward to getting stuck into the entries, and enjoying a fresh challenge.
Definitely more fun, as challenges go than coping with shingles and a car bill.