Forgive me blog, for I have sinned. It has been forty-four days since my last confession blog post.
And a lot of things have happened, as things tend to do.
Firstly, I had my first editorial meeting for The Cartographer’s Daughter at Chicken House. My editors are Rachel Leyshon and Barry Cunningham. I’m head-over-heels. I already feel that mix of trust, respect, abject terror and awe that is essential in the writer-editor relationship.
It was lovely to visit them in Somerset. The company is based in a beautiful old Georgian-style (or maybe even Georgian full stop?) house, all books and high ceilings. They made me flapjacks and I made nervous small talk, but it soon became clear that this is going to be a fun, challenging and exciting experience. We have a more in-depth, all day session coming up in November, once their other projects have come to an end and I have finished my WiP (so very nearly there!) I should be working with my US-based editor at Knopf-Random House by then, too. Hero-agent Hellie is checking in regularly to make sure I’ve not lost it, and I’m so grateful to have her on my side.
I’m slightly less there with BOAT – my erstwhile debut play. The brilliant director/dramaturg Max Barton, whose work I have followed from Cambridge’s ADC to the West End, is guiding/cutting/keeping my feet on the ground. We hope to take it to Edinburgh next year, so I suppose I’d better get on with it! He has asked me to collaborate on a stage adaptation of a film – in fact, one of my favourites – too, but I can’t say which just yet.
Max must be on a mission to infiltrate my writing life, because I am also working on another project with him in his capacity as a musician, and the artist Tom de Freston. I can’t reveal too much right now, but we are converting an ancient myth into a poetry/music/live art performance for 47/49 Tanner Street, and I’ve got a very, very good feeling about it. Hopefully the performance will act as a launch pad for bigger things, and we have an amazing producer on board to help us with promotion and funding. Here is a little taste of one of my Chorus poems for the project:
Which leads nicely onto one of the most exciting anthologies I have ever contributed to. Published by For Book’s Sake – a premier e-zine of writing ‘for and by independent women’ – Furies consists eighty-one pages of startling, angry, beautiful poetry. Silenced or misunderstood women from history and myth rise from the pages in a cacophony, accompanied by striking line drawings. Other poets include Helen Mort, Rebecca Goss, Malika Booker and Patience Agbabi. It’s a lovely object, but the contents cut like a razor on the tongue. I’m reading at the launch on the 1st October, more details here.
And lastly, I handed in my MA thesis. I also declined my PhD offer. As well as bringing my twenty years in education to a close, this means that I am now a full-time writer.
Did you get that? A Full-Time Writer.
Six months ago, that sentence would have evoked a wistful sigh – ‘maybe after the PhD’. A year ago, I was trying to finish my first book. Two years ago, I was wedded to poetry and therefore had no illusions that such a thing may be possible. Three years ago, it was hit-and-miss whether I would feel up to getting out of bed that day. Four years ago, I would have swatted you aside with disdain – because four years ago, I wanted to be a lawyer, and was working (very briefly) for an asset management firm in London.
But now, I’m a writer. I’m paying taxes, filling out scary forms, signing contracts, actually saying what I do for a living to people without hiding behind student status or qualifying it with a self-deprecating quip.
My point is, things happen. My point is, for the first time in my life, I know where I want to be in a year, two years, four years’ time – writing, in whatever genre will have me.
And hopefully, remembering to update my blog more often.