Monday, 29 September 2008

Where Is My Mojo?

Whenever I set a day aside for writing, I end up staring at a blank page for hours, with brief internet interludes. I think up lists, and I come up with brilliant plans for other things. Sometimes I even start sorting out drawers or piles of papers. Often I do the washing.

I am going away at the weekend on a writing retreat to a houseboat in Norfolk. It will be very Alan Partridge. I think I will probably say “A-haa!” a lot. I hope I will do lots of writing. I hope I feel suitably ‘inspired’. I feel like I haven’t finished anything in ages. I have misplaced my story mojo. Will I find it on a houseboat? I hope so. I tried to find it today, but I’m two cans of pop in and still nada. I’m going to do some right-brain drawing now, and then see if a little stream of consciousness will kick start something. These are desperate times.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Home Launch "Review"

The launch night went well. Really well. There was much brilliantness. On the previous two launches, when I arrived at Big Blue the doors were closed and we had the place to ourselves to rearrange tables and put out bourbons. This time, the doors were open, and people were already seated at tables and milling around in and outside. This panicked me a bit, because I was used to the sanctity of being there with just the other writers and performers for the start of things, but I managed to calm down after a while. I worried about not being able to put the bourbons on the tables, but the tables were already decked out with Tracy Meek's cards and Ms Mischief's carrot keys, two of which I managed to snaffle the tags off. I had a glass of wine and felt instantly better.

First up was Biff with his House Cooling story. It was poignant because he's just moved out of Time Travel house, and there are white squares on the walls where his pictures were. Next was Richard Barrett. He'd travelled from Manchester for the day, as is detailed in his travel diary. He read some poems that had everyone chuckling away. Aimee Wilkinson was up next. Considering the fact that she nearly didn't read because of nerves, she handled it all with perfect aplomb. Then it was me. I read Waiting For Centralia To Sink. Gareth Draper was next. He'd come all the way from Bedfordshire to read his ace story, Looking Up. Next, Jenn Ashworth read Garden Refuse, and had everyone in her thrall. Again. She's just been shortlisted for next year's version of this, which is bloody brilliant news. Nathan was next, with a long story he wanted to split into two parts, so we had a break in between.

After Nathan, Rob Hodkinson mesmerized everyone with his poems. He should definitely be on the BBC. Next up, Chris Killen read The Itch. He'd travelled from Manchester via Preston with Jenn, and Sian Cummins. Chris' first novel, The Bird Room, is out in January 2009 on Canongate. He's an old hand at this 'reading out loud' lark, putting on a night in Manchester with the excellent Sally Cook. His deadpan delivery definitely got the laughs.

Michael 'Fierce' Frearson took over next and managed, mid-poem, to verbally battle his way out of an altercation with a crazy man in a puffa jacket who'd wandered in off the street and wanted to do boxing. If it had been me, I think I would probably have just cried, but Fierce didn't let it stop his flow at all. No party rings this time, though. Booo. I think I was up next, reading a short one, and then Biff closed the night with a song.

Drew Gummerson wrote a story for us but couldn't make it to the launch, so he made a recording of his story Catch The Pigeon, complete with sound effects. We were going to play it on the night, but things didn't go quite as planned. You can listen to it here, though. It's better than Jackanory.

As you can see, I managed to take a total of TWO photos that weren't blurred. Jim took more, which I'll post either here or here soon.

Afterwards some of us went across the street to a club to do some dancing. The club was very empty. The deejay played a lot of Michael Jackson and No Doubt. A lot. Last time we went there the deejay played the Pixies and Devo. I think it might have been a different deejay. It was disappointing. We danced to Thriller anyway. We drank blue drinks. Jenn didn't try to start fights with anyone this time. Perhaps she's become more acclimatised to Derby now.

Chris did a write up here, Jenn did one here, and Duncan Cheshire wrote about it here.

I think everyone enjoyed the night. I wasn't as nervous as I had been at the other ones. Big Blue felt nice and warm and cosy. It was also a huge relief for me, Biff and Nath to have this book finished. It's definitely been a learning curve. I know we've all neglected stuff over the last month or so. It'll be nice to catch up with what we've been missing. I had a plan at the start of September to write a post every day. That fell by the wayside early on. This post feels like I've been writing it forever so I'm going to post it now.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Home (on the range)

click the picture to make it bigger. technological advances. the magic of the mouse. my fingers are numb from sewing books. my brain is numb anyway. enjoy the poster.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Home (is where the heart is)

On Saturday, it's the launch of our third TTO book, Home.

I'm excited. This is our biggest venture to date. Not only does the book have stories by Biff, Nath and myself, but we opened it up for submissions and we have some real treats in store.

Reading at the launch will be Jenn Ashworth, Chris Killen and a disembodied Drew Gummerson, as well as Richard Barrett, Michael 'Fierce' Frearson, Joe Coghlan, Gareth Draper, Rob Hodkinson, Aimee Wilkinson and me, Biff and Nath. And maybe some other people too. It's going to be a corker of a night.

It's all taking place at the Big Blue Coffee Co. on Sadlergate in Derby.

Doors open at 8pm and it's totally free to get in.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

It Really Is The Ninth Of September

Could tomorrow be the end of the world? At the library, I get asked many many questions, some brilliant, many inane. But today, I was asked if the world was going to end tomorrow. Of course I said Yes, which seemed to worry the questioner, but I just shrugged it off and forgot about it. When I got back I remembered the question and wondered about it enough to Google it. And then a cartoon I'd seen a while back made sense.

Is the world going to end? I hope not. Will crazy things happen? We'll see.

According to this, everything's probably going to be okay. And you can't argue with science. Well, you can if you're a Creationist. But I'm going to go with the 'okay' scenario. I got way too overexcited by the Millenium Bug. I'm keeping my opinions 'hopeful' on this one.

Monday, 8 September 2008

September the Eighth

Woody is back. He's a lovely dog. All is well in the world when Woody's around.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

The First Sunday In September, The Seventh Day Of The Month

Was all dedicated to TTO stuff. Lots of it. Reading and emailing and making more envelopes and planning out orders of things and thinking about boxes and getting angry at Word's mad hyphening 'ideas'. And in all of that flurry of activity, I forgot about my jacket potato.

To be forewarned is not always to have four arms.

I am enjoying cheating with dates. I feel like a proper time traveller. (I am writing this from Tuesday.)

Saturday, 6 September 2008

September 6th

This came in quite handy today.

Friday, 5 September 2008

The Fifth Day Of September

I am cheating here. I saved a draft of an empty post, so I could do a retrospective September 5th post. But that was four days ago now. (I am writing from the future.) I am going to write some instructions for myself.

1. Take an umbrella to work.

2. At the bit in Wolf Creek where the bad man slices the girls fingers off, leave the room. You really don't want to be thinking about "a head on a stick" every time you see cutlery.

3. Don't forget about the jacket potato!

I hope these help.

Emma from four days in the future. xx

Thursday, 4 September 2008

September the Fourth

Home is coming together. The tiny map envelopes will hold the Home badges. I can't find any Home-themed biscuit things as yet, though. At the minute, actual home is weird, because Biff is in the process of moving out. This has been Time Travel House for such a long time, from when TTO was just a record label and Biff and The Mr were screenprinting, badge-pressing, racket-making maestros. And then I hijacked the name, deciding TTO should have a small publishing imprint, and convinced Biff and Nath that we could take over the world. So Time Travel House changed, became a place for stories and binding and bone-folding, a place of stamps cut from erasers and flower paper torn into deckle-edged rectangles. This latest incarnation is one that fits with the character of the house. I'm sure some tasks will undoubtedly be 'outsourced' to Biff's new pad, and I'll be sad about not hearing the crunch of the badgemaker through my bedroom ceiling, but the core things, like the Mythbusters sewing circle and the walk-round-the-table collating will always be part of this old house. So i think things are going to be okay.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

September 3rd

Today, I took a lot of painkillers (see yesterday) and made lots of tiny envelopes from old maps. I have a crush on my tiny envelopes. I am going to carry one in my pocket all day tomorrow. I am going to maybe keep some painkillers in it, and my locker key, which I will have to take off the plastic fob so it fits inside. But that’s okay, because my locker key falls off the fob at least once a day anyway. The fob is almost superfluous. Its only purpose is to make the key harder to misplace.

I got Shane Jones' chapbook I Will Unfold You With My Hairy Hands in the post. It is a thing of beauty. It has a cover of textured card, with a print of two trumpeting angels. The title is printed in red. Inside, the endpaper has green roses on it. The paper it's printed on is lovely paper. It is all beautifully written. It feels sparse and important and true. So far, I've read it twice. I keep picking it up and looking at it and looking at the pages and reading bits over and over. I want to write a review but I don't feel I can 'do it justice' right now. I'm going to read it again. Included in the parcel was Walden Book by Allen Bramhall. I haven't read it yet. It comes in an envelope with a print of a branch and a sticker that is stamped with the title and author's name. Its cover is a map. In a strange turn of coincidence, a couple of days ago, I was thinking about where I grew up, and I remembered a rock I'd sit on in the middle of a stream, writing bad poetry, trying to emulate Thoreau. And today I get this book. Spooky.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

On The Second Day Of September...

...I managed to convince myself I have Lupus.

Monday, 1 September 2008

The First Of September

September is my favourite month. When I was at school, a friend and I would write screenplays and the boys would all have 'exotic' (i.e. made up) names like Tember (from September) and Tober (from October). Influenced heavily by The Lost Boys, we were going through our spooky/vampires phase. It lasted a good few months, and served to inspire many plot ideas and daydreams. It passed. But I'm always reminded of the silliness when September comes around.

I have been very sporadic with this blog of late. I think I had a crisis of confidence, of sorts. But September is my 'doing' time, and so I have a plan to 'do' something every day and write about it. Maybe I will set myself tasks (of things I want to do). Or maybe it will just mean that I'll write something here every day. I'm not sure yet. Maybe it will just be a mix of both.

Sally wrote something about waiting for your life to start, and I can't get it out of my head. There's a sense that I should be doing more. But I can't decide what, and so I do nothing. Option paralysis. But not this month. This is my doing month. Bring it on.

No Point In Not Being Friends 2: The Aftermath

I really enjoyed no point in not being friends. The basement bar felt like a ’70’s porn lounge, resplendent with red velvet curtains and curved walls. That, or a dungeon. But it was cosy. It was also incredibly busy. Lots of people had showed up. I always get excited by the fact that people will go out to a place just to listen to stories and poems and tales. I was nervous, too, (for a change) even though it was nice and dark. I read a story called Dancing In The Dark, which is an homage to Bruce, but isn’t really. He might like it, though. Everyone was nice and I even got a couple of laughs, which were unexpected but made me happy. Everyone who performed was ace. I am going to try and poach some people for TTO things in Derby. Chris Killen read some of his chapbook Paul Simon, which is a work of literary genius. Jo Bell was brilliant and engaging as usual, and also offered a hefty dose of Derby(shire) solidarity and support. And Sam Pink was beamed in live from Chicago (or his dog was, and it wasn’t exactly live) to read Move In With Me. You can watch it here. You should watch it. It’s good. I think he’ll get a lot of takers. All in all, it was a brilliant night. Sally and Chris did an amazing job of bringing it all together.

I just came up with the title for this post, and I actually google image searched ‘dead swans’. I feel awful. I am not going to use the picture I found of some dead swans. I found an almost comical one of a dead swan propped up against a tree with a passive-aggressive sign round its neck. But it made me sad. I’m still smirking at it though, and I feel terrible about that. Bad Emma. I think it’s just that passive-aggressive notes are one of my smirk triggers. So it’s unfortunate for the swan and the writers of the swan’s sign that they chose to take that particular route. Did they think that people would think the swan wrote it?

Getting back from Manchester, I felt kind of dazed. A lot of that is the three-hour bus journey. The Transpeak does exactly what it says on the tin. No motorways for this bus. It winds its way through the green hills of the Peak District, picking up speed in the valleys and old ladies in the market towns. Even though I find it exhausting, I still really enjoy the bus journey between Manchester and Derby. It gives me a lot of time to think. I stare out at the hills and cliffs and sandstone cottages and I think of all the lives I might have had and the ones that are yet to come.

I got back to Derby and power-napped for an hour. And then I went to Nottingham with friends for a gig. I was too tired to go, but I went nevertheless. I pretended I was watching Springsteen, and that I was in the eighties and the only things that mattered were singalong choruses and fists punched in the air. I thought about the thing I always think about at gigs, how when the band are playing and everyone’s caught up in that, I feel the greatest solitude and the greatest sense of belonging, all rolled into one. I'm going to stop now before it gets any cheesier.