It’s a hot and sunny day in Manchester. It’s just over a year since I first visited, with the feeling that I was about to spend a lot of my time here. My current lease ends in three weeks’ time, and I’ll be in Warwickshire for the summer, but I’ll be back to finish up my MA in September. I’m nearly halfway through the course, and we’re nearly halfway through the year, so it’s a good time to see where I am.
So, November 1st I embarked on NaNoWriMo 2015, which is a challenge to write a novel – beginning, middle and end – of at least 50,000 words between November 1-30. It’s only the 25th, but I’m calling it a day at roughly 22,000 words. And yet, I would say that this month has been a semi-success.
Hello again. Sorry the blog went quiet without warning. You know how it is, once you stop doing something, it becomes harder to start it up again. Plus, an awful lot of life seemed to be happening for a while there, so I didn’t really feel like doing much of anything. Still, cusp of a new year, so well worth clearing up the detritus of life since the last update, putting a bow round it, calling it a present, and then moving on to a more communicative 2013.
I last left you with two weeks to go before the first official Rebel Breed performance, and a vague promise to blog more and write more in general. Obviously, blogging more has not been a success. But what has been successful, you ask?
You’re probably owed an explanation of what else I’ve been up to creatively apart from Nando’s, but sadly the answer to that is not much. Rehearsing a musical somewhere you don’t live, setting up a multiplatform writing partnership, attempting to escape graduate unemployment, and readjusting to the family home and its pets and schedules, plus god knows what else, has very much taken up the available brain space that I would prefer to use for creativity. As such, not much is getting done, I’m afraid.
Tl;dr – making creative things in Leicester. Get involved.
Over three years of living in Leicester, I met a load of talented people, who just give away their time either through generosity or because they don’t quite realise how special they are. Also, I made friends with these people.
The other thing that happened is my confidence in writing, and my output, increased by a lot. (Also, directing is fun apparently.) (Also also, I like doing radio.) So, when I stopped pretending to a degree/graduated (ymmv) it seemed imperative to keep doing this sort of thing, because it’s what (all I’m) good at.
One project I did while in university has proved to be the catalyst for doing all of this. Basically, things got out of hand. William Breden came to me with an idea for a musical skit, taking the piss out of musicals and cheap dates with affection. This has snowballed into a full-length show at Dave’s Leicester Comedy Festival in February 2014. However, we needed to bill it under some sort of company name, rather than just vaguely go “here’s a show”. Also, through our collaboration, there proved to be a lot of common interest in doing a wide variety of stuff independent of any groups we’re associated with.
Enter Rebel Breed.
I’m averaging a post a post a month since this blog started in March 2012. That’s regular, right?
- Come June I will be free of uni work, come July I will have graduated, and the adult world beckons. Erp.
- Submitted various things I had hanging around to various places, will be on the lookout for more places to send and waiting on any of it popping back up.
- Thanks to superhero comics, I’m ahead of schedule on my Goodreads target.
Exciting times over here. The plays I’m directing are opening in exactly one week from now, and closing two days afterwards. The technical rehearsal is in three days, and there are all sorts of meetings and rehearsals and props and costume is getting sorted out… My actors are working super hard, the crew seem prepared for the challenges, and I couldn’t be happier with my production team. Everything is coming together, and it’s very exciting indeed. Plus, I found out that I’m producing a play written by my friend Ivo de Jager next term, which will be an exciting new challenge.
Speaking of Ivo, he was the most recent guest on my radio show. It’s going much more successfully than I thought it might. Not only am I learning a lot doing it, but the show’s being appreciated. My guests enjoy doing it, my listeners enjoy listening to my guests and readers, and I have a small but dedicated team of readers offering their voices to the mix. I’m definitely going to try to do continue it next term, as I feel I’m barely scratching the surface of the format. You can find a link to the podcast of it on the right.
On top of all this, the poetry module I’m taking is frustrating but rewarding. Each week we’re tackle a different form, each week my group produces some beautiful and interesting responses to it. The work is often astonishingly personal, and there’s a great supportive atmosphere. Although I often wish I took more time and care with my poems, I find being forced to produce them very helpful. This also means that most of them will need to be revised, but the one below I am happy to share:
A Poet’s Charm
I call the spirits, wind, and fire, and earth,
to rain on this, my latest work. I call
upon the ghosts of poets past – infuse
my verse with subtle phrases, words so rare,
so beautiful that worlds will sing them long
after my death. But I resolve that this
shall be the last time that I beg for help,
crawl on my knees for this petty assistance.
From now, I shall rely upon my wit,
to find such words in mind alone. I call
upon experience – pour lessons, heartbreaks,
joys, revelations into pointed phrases.
I call upon invention: stoke my fires,
make words that move the earth, and redirect
the screaming wind. Let spirits comfort others.
Our pens are sharp, and quick, and keen, and ours.
So yes, although the play is being neglected, the short story section of this site is a joke, and I should probably invent a personal life one of these days, were I an American I’d say I had a lot to be thankful for. As I’m British, however, and don’t observe Thanksgiving, I shall merely say,
Summer has been spent mainly reading sci-fi for my dissertation. Not much writing has got done. Even my grammar is slipping, as the previous sentence shows. However, I’ve got a few updates and notes for you:
- I have finally started the play I’ve been threatening since the inception of this blog, which will most likely be called Just a Kiss – now two scenes in. I am pleased, because I need to be able to say I’ve finished a playscript, and more importantly I want to get it out of my system so I can write a play about robots. Please therefore bug me on Twitter to get it done (I’m only planning to to seven scenes, so it can’t be too difficult).
- I’m drafting a blog post about the use of religion in imaginative fiction, which is partly inspired by the 2/3rds of Dune by Frank Herbert that I’ve got though (I’ve decided to move on, I’ve lost a fortnight of time by not reading it. It is good, but heavy-going). It’ll go up when it goes up.
- I’m directing an evening of one-act plays for LUTheatre, performing 29/30 November/1 December. The programme is two by Anton Chekov – A Marriage Proposal and The Bear – followed after the interval by Still Life by Noel Coward. More promotion and thoughts nearer the time, I suppose.
- A quick plug for my good friend Nick Palmer’s Tornmile series. It’s a fantasy flash fiction serial, told from multiple perspectives. He posts a short yet hearty chunk every Monday over at http://nickpalmerwriter.com/ – we’re eight instalments in, so fill your boots.
- Pretty much everything I have worth reading is now up on the site, so have a poke around on the pages above to catch up with my writing so far. Anything new, I’ll post it on the blog so you don’t miss it.
- Finally, speaking of new, I mean to finally do some writing for the ULSU’s newspaper The Ripple in my final year. I’m hoping to do some music journalism, but I’ve also submitted an extremely short story for the Arts and Creativity section. If it gets published, I’ll be here preening like a proud mother. But for now, for loyal readers of my blog, and as a reward for getting through the infodump, here it is. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks to Edward Spence for his advice – his site over at http://sovereignstudios.tumblr.com/ is well worth a perusal.
Laura waited in her bedroom until she stopped shaking. Her parents had left a while ago, but she was still sat in her chair, looking at the door. All the Freshers advice said to prop it open, so people would drop by and introduce themselves. Laura’s door was firmly shut. She was starting to think coming here was the stupidest idea ever.
She wasn’t cut out for university. She wasn’t smart enough – she only just scraped in on her General Studies grade. She had no idea what clothes she should be wearing, what music she should be listening to, what was cool and what wasn’t, and she felt like just some provincial kid from a nowhere town that had no business being in this city. She couldn’t call her friends back home – she’d be so embarrassed and ashamed of herself. They were busy anyway, gone to their own universities in other cities far away, making new friends, living it up, and forgetting all about Laura. She didn’t want to be here, she didn’t want to do her course, she didn’t want any of this any more. She had never been this scared in her entire life.
There was a quiet rap at the door. Laura froze. She got up very slowly, and walked over to the door. She opened it. A boy with messy hair was standing in the corridor. He smiled at her. Laura smiled back.
I’ve neglected this blog fiercely, I know. Keeping a personal record has never been a strength. I am improving the site as whole, though, to give a better impression of my work. Some poems are already up there, and over this week I’m going to put up all my short plays and some older work from another hard drive. Also, I’ll type up a few things currently only in hard copy. On another note, I’ve never found a free template I’m happy with that isn’t stolen from a friend’s site, so if anyone has any ideas in that direction let me know.