Last week was an amazing time for meeting new people who now feel like old friends ...
(with Lia Leendertz and Joe Melia)
and starting new projects ...
(Catherine Smith and I promise that no animals or short stories were harmed in the creation of our new no longer mythical 'thingy', shortly to be announced)
and which culminated in an amazing evening in Bristol at the Bristol Short Story Prize celebration, won by super talented Valerie O'Riordan (seen here trying to escape from my clutches...)
It was such a great evening, wonderfully organised by Joe Melia, and happily coinciding with the birthday of short story queen, Tania Hershman. As she was one of the judges, I feel really grateful she invited me to speak. I had a few wobbles - not least because I was chronically shy as a kid (like so many writers it seems). So much so that I once locked myself in the bathroom and refused to come out just because my mum had asked a 'friend' round to play with me. The friend had to go home eventually, much to my relief as I could get back to my books and cuddling up with the dog. Anyway, I have learnt to control it most of the time (the wonders of the internet and best shyness cure EVER) and I'm particularly glad I came out of the bathroom this time, because I had a great night and met lots of lovely writers including Clare Wallace, Claire King, Jonathan Pinnock and many many more who I know I am going to enjoy reading more of, and about, in the future.
But this week is a bit quieter. A time to settle down and process some of the new thoughts, ideas and projects that are currently swimming round my head. I'm reminded of this poem by Jane Kenyon, who just always says it right.
AFTERNOON IN THE HOUSE
by Jane Kenyon
It's quiet here. The cats
in a favored place.
The geranium leans this way
to see if I'm writing about her:
head all petals, brown
stalks, and those green fans.
So you see,
I am writing about you.
I turn on the radio. Wrong.
Let's not have any noise
in this room, except
the sound of a voice reading a poem.
The cat's request
The Meadow Mouse, by Theodore Roethke.
The house settles down on its haunches
for a doze.
I know you are with me, plants,
and cats - and even so, I'm frightened,
sitting in the middle of perfect
Beautiful, eh? That perfect possibility...
You can buy the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology here, and I strongly urge that you do. This is GOOD writing - short stories at their best. And so varied. Even those people who are determined they don't like short stories will find something to love here.