On A-Level results day I always get a bit twitchy – partly because that day for me, twenty years ago is emblazoned on my mind and partly because every year that passes reminds me of how quickly time moves. How summer is almost etched into the past because September is almost here and how choices that get made on days like today can shape the course of a lifetime.
I’m not exactly sure what happened to June and July but they sped past without so much as a ‘I know what you did this summer.’ There was, of course, some amazing time spent at the beautiful Larmer Tree Festival and seeing Sigur Ros in Cornwall and then a week in Lithuania with the family. But two months since I last wrote a blog post? Really?
Lithuania was, as always, amazing fun and truly inspirational. I got to visit a location I have written about in one of my short stories – I had been there before but this time we went to a specific place that I had only seen from a distance: the lighthouse at Ventes Ragas. This is a magical place where they ring migrating birds and track their distribution patterns. I got to release one of the ringed birds. Just saying. But it was possibly the best bit of the entire trip. As the only English speaker, the ornithologist rewarded me for speaking Lithuanian to him with a handful of finch! As I released my fingers slightly, it flapped its tiny wings and took off over the Nemunas Delta as I stood there open mouthed. Gorgeous.
There was also lots of reading. In preparation for seeing Margaret Atwood in St George’s, Bristol later in the month I re-read Oryx & Crake and The Year of The Flood. So excited to get my paws on a copy of MaddAddam. I need to narrow my questions down to one just in case I get to ask her….
Novel: So the novel is out there. Having sent my query it to a small number of agents for feedback in the last week or so I have had two initial expressions of interest – it’s not ‘that’ phone call / email but it’s something that encourages me to continue with the sequel, albeit relatively slowly. I really have got to thank my four tremendous readers for getting it this far – without them it would still be a collection of random theories bound up in nonsense. At least now it has a story and some characters too… I am excited to see where it goes next – it may, of course, go nowhere but at least I have done it. I have written a novel.
Short Stories: Since I blogged last I have had the incredible honour / surprise of getting long-listed in the Bristol Prize (See previous blogs about prestigious prizes with names beginning with the letter ‘B’). I didn’t, sadly, make the short-list but with over 2000 entries, to get into the last 40 was pretty astounding. I entered two stories – yet again, the one I held out the most hope for, got nowhere. But to have chalked up a mention in the Bristol Prize at all is pretty something, even with a story that someone once described as ‘a tale that…fizzes out into nothing.’ I’ve also had a couple of short-listings in Writer’s Forum but no further wins on that front. I also got a short listing in Inscribe Media’s monthly competition with a story that I know has potential – it’s just getting it to the right market (and that, clearly, wasn’t it)
So now it’s time for some new stuff – a new novel, a new set of short stories and possibly even the release of a small collection on Kindle. It’s exciting, this being a writer business – I do sometimes wish that on that day, twenty years ago, I’d have made some different choices about where I’d studied, what I’d studied, how I’d studied. But then the question remains – would I still have the same stories to tell and the same people to tell them to? Probably not.
But it’s never too late to do what you want to do. Even twenty years after the fact.