Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Stuff and things...

I usually like to write a blog post which focuses on one thing at a time, but there are too many things clouding my brain right now to do that. So here is a grab-bag of things that have happened, are happening or will happen, all in no particular order.

Having finished teaching at MMU before Christmas (and having finished the marking hangover from there just today!) this week I started teaching at Winchester. Having been an Associate Lecturer for years, the process is somewhat simplified in that I know all the things I don't know (thank you, Donald Rumsfeld). So, I was able to get all of the admin sorted either before I got there, or on the first day. That much was simple. It didn't, however, take away from the first day nerves. After years at MMU, and a couple of years at Edge Hill working with people I already knew, I was the new boy again. It all went well - they were, after all, only introductory sessions - and I have no doubt that it will continue to do so, but it never stops the nerves. It's a sign that you're fresh and eager, I suppose.

I'm teaching 2 Creative Writing modules there, which is gratifying as my teaching for the last few years has been heavily biased towards literature and theory. The first is a Year 1 Module in 'Creative Voice' which is an introductory module that aims to tie together all the students' previous first-year modules in writing in various forms. It's rich, varied and exciting, and I can't wait to get my teeth into it. I shall be teaching alongside Carole Burns, who seems to have a good grasp on the course and lots of interesting ideas. More on that as it progresses, no doubt.

The other, while also being called 'Creative Voice' is the third year version of the module. This one aims to bring together everything the students have done in their entire degree and prepare them, if such a thing is possible, for the real world. My section finally allows me to use some of my PhD knowledge as I shall be talking about Electronic Writing and Publishing. This is one for me to write and design, and should be even more fun. Again, more on that as it happens. One thing which makes it even better is that I'm teaching that module alongside my friend, Vanessa, who took me under her wing on my first day and showed me around (thanks, Ness!). So, I'm looking forward to working with her too.

In the meantime teaching of Lit Theory and Life Writing continues at Edge Hill. I have promised my Life Writing students that I shall do a small memoir of my own - partly to put the pressure on myself to write a piece which I have been thinking about for a while - but that is definitely for another blog post.

In other news I heard today that my paper proposal for this year's Great Writing conference has been accepted. It will be on the pros and cons of high-pressure writing projects like NaNoWriMo and CalFlaWriMo, so much of what you have read here will form the basis for it. It's not till June, so I don't have to write it yet, but the brain is already turning it over.

While all this has been going on, I have been sending out stories to magazines and competitions. I haven't heard anything back yet, but fingers crossed. Now that I've finished my marking (for the time being, at least) it's time to send out a load more.

On the subject of stories, I have also started editing and finalising the stories from CalFlaWriMo for the book Just Another Ordinary Day, which I hope will be out at the end of the month. More news on that when I have any.

Also, despite the end of the project, my brain hasn't wanted to let go. I've already written a new story in Feb, and have ideas for 3 more just waiting for me to have the time to get to them. Maybe after I finish this blog post, what do you say?

As if that wasn't enough, I'm also plunging back into the world of Slipstream (my NaNoWriMo novel), familiarising myself with the plot and characters and making notes of where it needs any major rewriting. That needs to be done before the finer job of cleaning and polishing can be done.

I haven't yet got to my other novel, Endless Days, nor to my conference article from last year, 'Stranger than Faction', (which I want to submit by Monday, so I guess that has just moved up the schedule to tomorrow morning.) That said, I have been turning bits and pieces of Endless Days over in my mind, and having read Negotiating with the Dead by Margaret Atwood, for one of my Winchester courses, I now have some idea of how to make the article better, so I guess they're moving on whatever I do.

In amongst all that, I've also found time to do a reading and an open mic night, mark essays, read text-books, teach my classes, and somehow become embroiled in a scheme to set up a new Flash-Fiction Laureate. Possibly. How do I find the time? I have no idea.

Anyway, that's what's on my mind at the moment. A little glimpse into the life of someone who more and more feels he has every right to call himself a professional writer. Any questions?