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Writing Like A Maniac, Scans and Trips To Scarborough


It’s hard to think of a title for this week, as it’s been rather fragmented. I’ve been getting to my lovely room everyday, and trying to move forward with a whole host of projects: The Manifesto, Women’s Hour Plays, A Short Story for Radio Four about Borders, set in The Debatable Lands, editing ‘The Poetry Cure’ an anthology for Bloodaxe, writing a short narrative with a film of unclaimed material from Boots shown in the digital cultural lab in the university ( and don’t ask me what a digital cultural lab is!) then a trip last weekend to bracing Scarborough to run a workshop and do a reading there, and then last night taking part in an evening at Live Theatre about Sid Chaplin and his work. Yes, I have been a busy writer this week. Most writers I know have fairly bizarre lives. It’s not what people think. There’s alot of admin involved! It certainly isn’t a calm life unless you really make it so, and I have always liked being involved in lots of projects and collaborations, so I am not complaining. However, to get anything done I do have to go away somewhere and make myself focus, and stop talking. I love talking, even more than ice cream. It is important to try and write everyday though…even if only for an hour….or ten minutes. You can get loads done by working consistently and regularly, and sometimes it doesn’t feel as if you are working hard at all. Things almost write themselves!

On Wednesday morning I went for a scan at the Royal Victoria Infirmary. You have to drink a whole jug of juice containing some kind of dye before they do the scan. I was in a very chatty mood on Wednesday. I really wanted to talk to everyone in the waiting room, but no one was in the mood. My fellow scanees stared into space with troubled eyes. The scanman was nice though. He was called Phil, and he made me a cup of coffee on a blue tray with biscuits which was rather touching. Yet again it was awful finding a vein though, and my arm still looks bruised and battered. However, because Phil was kind and apologetic I didn’t mind so much.

Scarborough was very chilly, though luckily I was escorted from one warm building to another, with brief glimpses of a ferocious sea. The poetry workshop there seems very vibrant, and I had an enthusiastic group of people meeting in the library, then a fish and chip lunch, then readings in the afternoon. I am reading Sid Chaplin’s The Watchers and The Watched, in which a young couple go to Scarborough for their honeymoon, so everything tied up. Last night I went to Live Theatre to hear readings from Chaplin’s work and to hear his widow Rene talk about her life with him. It was a moving occasion. Rene saw it as her responsibility to help Sid to write, and was a great support to him. The life of the family revolved around his work, and there was something very moving about the way she described their relationship. You didn’t feel she was being exploited, more that she was integral to his life and work.

I loved the way Chaplin wrote about the North East, as if it was a person that he grappled with and sought to understand. I feel like that often.

It’s very icy outside. I am glad that I live in a warm house. I think I might be growing scales I have so many baths. Winter is so SERIOUS. This week I shall try to work more and talk less.