Yesterday I spent the day in Oxford. I arrived early, the train delivering me right in the centre of the city, still beautifully quiet at half past nine even on a Saturday (compared to the frenetic hustle and bustle that it became later in the day).
First off, I attended two free workshops for Oxfordshire Arweeks which I am participating in this May for the first time. The afternoon gave me some food for thought about how to market myself and my story to attract people to my art.
Later in the afternoon, I high-tailed it across town to Blackwell’s Bookshop to hear Kiran Millwood-Hargrave read from her new novel, The Mercies, and talk in conversation with friend and fellow-author Daisy Johnson. It was one of those events that was inspiring in every way possible and made me want to get back to my writing and finish the *work in progress*. In a small way it even made me begrudge my sketching life for taking up my writing life. Which is silly as I enjoy them both equally, and let’s face it when I wandered downstairs later to the ground floor of the shop an saw the racks of my prints for sale, the pictures have been earning me more of a small living than my writing.
In response to a question from the audience Kiran talked about how if you want to get published you just need to follow ‘the rules’ of the industry and write the book, then approach agents, and then it will happen. She nodded to the fact that some people of course choose to Indie Publish (as I have done) and that that was of course an option and that there is nothing wrong with that, but it wasn’t for her. And it made me think, that I think I do still have a yearning to be published and supported by the publishing machine.
Kiran’s talk definitely inspired me get on with my writing. Today, with Storm Ciara battering the UK, it was definitely a hibernating kind of day. I got stuck into reading Libby Page’s The 24-Hour Café, partly because it is so good, and partly because I can then delve into The Mercies. Then there is Daisy Johnson’s anthology of short stories, Fen.
Now I just have to put my plan into action. Just have to decide whether or not to re-edit Mr Tumnal again. I still can’t quite decide whether I should keep it set in the fictitious city of Wren Hoe on the edge of the Cotswolds, or adapt it to a full-on, if alternative, Oxford, as that is essentially where it is based. I like the Wren motifs and the play on words with Nowhere, but I’m still wondering if it could be better still for being actual Oxford – if an Oxford with trams, and an Edinburgh-style West End.
†My immediate To Read Pile is just the tip of the iceberg to my actual to read pile.
‡This list does not yet include Michelle Harrison’s new novel, A Sprinkle of Sorcery.