Return of the Living Blog (Slight Return)

Hello there. It's been a while. How have you been?

Life has been busy – full-throttle, nose-to-the-grindstone, no-time-for-blogging busy – to the extent that it's only at the Easter holiday that I've found the time to get my head straight and get some words down. And of course, the longer I stay away from the blog, the less it feels like it matters, and the more I wonder if anyone really pays any attention to the things that I post here (a familiar confidence-related refrain for writers). But, to be honest, I've let a lack of confidence get to me far too much over the past year or so, and it's time to officially say “Nuts to that.”

So, here are some EXCITING updates full of AMAZING news that will TRANSFORM the way you see the world in SO MANY WAYS:

(Disclaimer: Certain elements in the last statement may not be entirely true.)

1: I'm almost at the end of the second semester of my MA Creative Writing course, and it's gone terrifyingly fast. I got my first mark back in early March, on my 'Portfolio piece' from Semester 1's fiction workshop, and I was two points away from getting a Distinction. Two. Points. Naturally, my brain immediately leapt to “Damn!” rather than “Holy crap, only two points away on your first go,” but I'm still proud of what I pulled off. Weirdly enough, thanks to the structure of the course, I'm not going to be doing any more course-related fiction writing until the beginning of 2015, but I'm going to be making up for things in the interim with plenty of exercises, tests and writing work, including continuing on for as long as possible with the reading group I've formed with a bunch of the students (many of whom aren't part-time, so will be vanishing off at some point during the summer, which will be very strange.

2: I'm flirting with the idea of going on to do a PhD in Creative Writing after the MA, but it's a thorny and weird subject. Just trying to get my head around what a PhD in Creative Writing actually is, and how I would fit my skills and talents into one has taken a long time, and there's also the question of whether I can get anyone at Manchester to accept my application or get enough funding for it so I can afford to do it, and on top of that is the “Do I definitely want to do a PhD?” question. It'd help in a whole lot of ways, and give me a good chance of working in academia and doing teaching, but it would also take a very long time, and would conceivably shut down most of my attempts at a writing career for three years, unless I'm absurdly lucky enough to get full funding. I like the idea of the challenge of a PhD, and I'll be investigating the possibility further, but I'm not yet 100% convinced this is the right direction for me. 80-90% convinced at the moment, but I'll need to do a bit more thinking…

3: Work is… work, pretty much. I've done more freelancing this semester than I did across the first, and while it's been tough at times, I've pretty much been able to hold it together. Proofreading isn't something I want to do forever, and the whole uncertainty inherent in freelancing occasionally makes me yearn for the comfort of an easy-to-quantify job with a guaranteed wage… but I know that route would drive me mad within six months. So, I'm slogging away, but I'll get there in the end.

4: I wrote a short story. Let me repeat that: I WROTE A SHORT STORY. Admittedly, it's probably going to end up drifting towards a short novella – it's currently 6,000 words long and one of the main pieces of feedback I got from my tutor (SF novelist Geoff Ryman) is that I'm trying to fit a really complicated idea into too small a space. As a result, at some point soon I'm going to have a go at brainstorming an expanded version and just let it be as big as it wants. It's pretty dark and bleak stuff, but I'm interested to see where it takes me.

5: After lots of debate and muddle (including lots of self-conscious worry about not being a 'serious' enough writer), I've decided that all my worries are ridiculous and I should concentrate on (a) finishing stuff, and (b) doing the stuff that I'm good at – action, fun, and extravagantly daft worldbuilding. There'll be plenty of time for me to try different directions once I get the two books currently occupying my head completely sorted (Bradley and Hoyle, a 'Strange London' romantic comedy adventure, and The Hypernova Gambit, a rewrite on my first unpublished novel, a crazy comic-strip SF Adventure). Until then, I'm going to do my best not to worry, learn heaps of stuff, and get some fun books out there. It isn't a race – there's always going to be writers faster than me and more succesful than me. I'm just going to concentrate on having as much fun as I can with writing, and everything else can wait – at least for now…

6: I'm currently on holiday in Devon, which means that of course the heavens have opened and everything outside is damp and grey. Fingers crossed the weather will brighten up before we head back to Manchester on Friday, but it's lovely to be catching up with my family, whatever happens, as well as getting the chance to do a ridiculous amount of reading. When I get back, there'll be an essay on Contemporary Fiction to start, which is currently intimidating the hell out of me, but that's a few days away yet. Until then, I shall relax and enjoy myself…


There we go. The Full, Unexpurgated Truth of my life as it is right now. HOW CAN I POSSIBLY KEEP UP WITH ALL THESE THRILLS?

More updates when they come in…


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