February update

Just noting a few of the writing-related things I have been up to this month (which has also seen a depressing number of rejections – oh well).

On the 13th, I went through to Edinburgh for Blind Poetics, where I was a ‘featured’ performer. Now, I just assumed that the name referred to the venue, the Blind Poet pub, but it turned out that I was the only non-poet reading (and, as well as the fantastic Colin McGuire, there were a dozen or so Open Mic-ers). I felt really self-conscious about this as my stories seemed really long by comparison, but everyone was very polite and attentive. A fun night and met some nice people.

On the 16th, I read briefly at the Love Words event at the Museum of Modern Art, organised by the Federation of Writers (Scotland).

On the 25th, the anthology A Thousand Cranes was officially launched at an event at the Arches, part of the Margins festival, reading my story The Unbeaten Track. Helen Sedgwick, Iain Paton, Raymond Soltysek and Katy McAulay also performed and a number of other people from Glasgow Writers’ Group who have stories or poems in the book were there too. It was a surprisingly good turnout (oh, the relief – at one point only 12 tickets had been sold) and quite daunting facing an audience in the large space of the Arches theatre. Some of my friends who don’t normally come along to literary events, along with my partner’s parents, came to support me, which was lovely, and afterwards we drank much wine in the bar. So that’s the anthology now officially out, complete with its foreword by Alex Salmond, and if you could possibly buy a copy that would be very nice (all proceeds to the Japanese Red Cross).

Finally, I went to London for four days this month, piggybacking my partner’s work trip and taking advantage of the free hotel room! An aside: I got the train, he got a BA flight and we left the house at the same time but I got to the hotel by the Barbican literally two minutes after he did … Anyway, my purpose in going was not just to have a Me Party like Amy Adams & Miss Piggy in The Muppets film, but to do some research for my novel in progress.

I had a brilliant time at both the Caird Library at the National Maritime Museum (looking into accounts of sea voyages between Britain and China in the mid-19th Century) and then at the British Library Reading Rooms for various other matters. I am a complete library geek and this was my idea of heaven; I’d visited both places before but there was something really exciting to me about getting a Reader’s card and being able to request material from their stacks, waiting for them to be delivered, taking copious notes in pencil (no pens allowed) in the wonderful quiet atmosphere. Absolutely my idea of the perfect London trip (I also saw a great Dickens exhibition) and it has reignited my love for this project.

I’ve been working on it for a while but I feel that I finally have the shape of the story clear and have enough general research (I will still need to check various specific things as I go along) to really achieve what I’m trying to do. Getting the balance right between researching and writing the first draft has been interesting and has thrown up a lot of issues about writing historical fiction. As a result, I’ve put together, with my mate the historian Dr Ben Shepherd, a one-day workshop which will run at the University of Strathclyde on August 23rd, where we’ll be discussing that very thing (more details to follow).

Overall, quite a productive month really (I’ve also written a new, long short story and several thousand more words of novel). I hope this doesn’t sound like showing off; for me, I have to keep note of the good things as a counterbalance for the inevitable crappy feelings that I’m way behind, I keep being rejected, other people are better etc etc. Got to accentuate the positive, talk myself up (to myself) – that’s what Miss Piggy would do.

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3 Comments

Filed under Books, Literary happenings, Research, Uncategorized

3 responses to “February update

  1. alisongray

    Hi Andrea,

    Not a blogger, so apologies if I did actually manage to send this mail.

    I was in a creative writing class with Bea Colin who mentioned that you had had a story published in an anthology of Scottish writers for Japan in the wake of Fukushima, the tsunami etc.

    I just came back from Japan in May of last year and a lot of my writing is set there. I would have loved to have had a chance to enter a contribution to the book, but I have been really out of it since I came back.

    Are there writers here who are interested in Japan and Japanese culture? Feels such a small world. Can you let me know how I might find out about anything like this happening again.

    Like your blog.

    Alison

  2. Hi Alison! Are you based nearby? If so I recommend joining the Glasgow Writers’ Group – through MeetUp.com or on Facebook – and have a word with Iain Paton who is very involved in that. He was the originator of the Thousand Cranes project, wrote the introduction and a lot of his work is set in Japan, so he’ll know if anything else like this is going on. Most of the people who contributed to the anthology are either Glasgow or Edinburgh types, but some of the stories took Japan only as a loose theme while others were more steeped in the culture. Mine was about Isabella Bird’s travels in Japan in 1887, via letters to her sister on Mull.

    • alisongray

      Thanks for replying so quickly. I do live near Glasgow so I will get in touch with the Glasgow group. I am amazed at the amount of Scots with contacts to Japan. For a small group we seem to get around.
      best, Alison

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