The maker of miniatures

I went to see the Basquiat exhibition at the Barbican. I don’t have anything clever to say about it. It made me think again about identity and who we think we are, or might be, or become. It seems to me that Basquiat was between more worlds than only being the black artist in the white scene, homeless to famous, private school to sleeping on a bench, between languages, between forms of expression.

Maybe the most punk rock thing to do is something that you think is a good idea and probably everyone else will hate. Has anyone read the Stephen Millhauser story, In the Reign of Harald IV? What do you think is going on at the end of it?

Here are some more discarded words from the old version of the book.

My head thuds. ‘Set me off again?’ I ad-lib, ‘That was a long time ago.’ I hold my breath. Don’t push too far. Let it come. What more there is, let it come.
‘Yeah I suppose so. I mean everyone’s a bit nuts when they’re kids. I’ve done my share of wild things,’ Debbie says. Her attention is somewhere inside her head. She laughs.
I laugh too, clipping it, trying to cover up clipping it. Act natural. I have my hands shoved into my jeans pockets and I feel your hand grow inside my fist. A tiny baby hand becoming fleshy. I jerk my hand out of my pocket. Debbie doesn’t notice. I flex my fingers, find a glove in my jacket pocket and put it on.

Discreet Music

Brian Eno is good to write to. I spent a lot of the year so far being scared of the re-write of Patience’s narrative. A new job has given me back some of the space in my mind, and a new perspective. The story I’m writing is now more complicated, but it’s also more human now, and more honest.

I set myself a task in the July Camp Nanowrimo: to write 30,000 words this month. I think I’ll mange 25,000 which is okay.

 

I’m not terrified anymore. I feel strong. The dark days of 2016 are receding with each new news story: not because they’re positive stories, but because I can feel something else behind them. A feeling that we’re going to get to the other side. Better days are coming.

 

Louis Wain Kaleidoscope cat

Take a breath, 2017.

Between watching video clips online of Barak Obama and Joe Biden, and crying a little bit as a result, I’ve been thinking about What Next for my own Stuff.

Last year, the infamous 2016, I became even worse at my work-life-other things balancing conundrum. But: I had some really nice feedback from a few literary agents about the Patience and Bridget book. I think I have figured out, finally, what Patience’s character arc is. Her story’s always been more word heavy than Bridget’s but more directionless. I was too nervous to go too deep into her story, maybe. Anyway. Time to fix it, armed with a print out of just her narrative, my laptop and my notebook.

 

2017, let’s go.

 

P.s. before 2016 is never mentioned again, here’s the animation that an amazing artist made from the-hobby‘s drawings:

The comic book that these drawings are taken from is available at Orbital Comics, London and online via Stars Dots and the New Junk.

 

P.p.s. Performing a remembering of a memory live as part of Forest Fringe‘s residency at Somerset House last year helped me to reset myself. Beautiful artists doing beautiful things and nice people being nice.

 

Asking

It’s an ‘Ask’. It’s what you write so that someone says ‘Yes.’

Proposals I’ve written in my dance heritage job sometimes don’t have a strong enough ask, or clear enough. They don’t help someone see why they should care, never mind give money or other kinds of support. It’s a skill to figure out what sort of Ask leads to getting what you need. I’ve been improving. Sometimes the swell of support has even breached its banks and I flip like fish unrivered until I get my regain my bearings.

What inspires a bound from No to Yes?

This week gone I’ve had to think of different ways to ask for a work trip abroad, to write a job description and, most difficult of all, I’ve had to think of a way to ask an agent whose client list I adore, ‘Will you read my work? Will you please?’

I went to the 2016 Curtis Brown and Conville and Walsh Discovery Day at Foyles, first page of Outrigger curled in my bag and a 30 second pitch memorised. Amelie* and I had the same time slot. We met first for lunch to calm ourselves down. We talked about work, about career moves, about trying to live in London when you’re not an oligarch. Becalmed we went to Foyles. Too calm. We were convinced that we were early when in fact we were about to be late, oops.

Foyles is a beautiful bookstore. We queued in its well dazzled by books. I was holding it together. Then I was shown to my agent, turns out she is my dream agent, ahhahaha yikes. And she asks me to pitch my book and my memory slips away, and I somehow reel it back and I am floundering but she likes my page and she says, ‘Send it to me.’

I can’t ask for more than this.

 

*(superstar writer you’ll read a lot about one day)

 

August: Going to an un-named end

A difficult first third, or at least 80odd pages, that’s what I’m hearing. That’s all right, useful. I’ve begun my edit now. It’s startling to see what I couldn’t before. The distance has done its work. My writing was or is a huge mess of typos, an entire missing section, awkward phrases. The Story is all there, though. And eventually it’s a “page turner” according to some readers who have ploughed through. I think they must love me to get to the end of this draft. It’s pretty hard work with all the errors of style and judgement the readers’ first draft contains.

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June: Listening

Nice people have agreed to read my book project as it is at the moment to help me see it for what it might be. I think that it is in perhaps its third draft, a true horrorshow of lumps and knots. A tree growing around obstacles. I wrote it in fifteen minute bursts on trains, waiting for meetings, at lunch, at gigs. It isn’t very jointed at the moment, or maybe it is double jointed which is too many joints.

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