Well, I must say the safety-net of my flow chart has been working brilliantly. I've been spending no more hours than usual on my novel but they have been very productive, even in the run up to a big publicity push, because I've had peace of mind for those few hours each day, knowing I'll still get everything done. I am though now in the full flow of the centre of the novel, with the characters long set up and the structure long established and lots of things falling into place, so I'm not sure it would all be working quite so well if I were at that early stage when you have to juggle so many possibilities in your head...
It's all been a bit stalled since Friday evening, however, as the Didsbury Arts Festival is now upon us. In fact, the art previews started on Thursday evening, but I missed the first one - Phil Portus's lovely photos of France at the Cafe Delice: I got the time wrong, and turned up at 6 just as it was finishing (but then I was just emerging from great immersion in the novel, and not quite yet connected back with the real world). Here's a sample:
I managed to make the next preview, on Friday evening, at the Feel Creative Gallery, where more of Phil Portus's photos were on display along with those by Martin Malies, Ray Grover, Ged Camera, Jo Kaberry and Sharon Hibbert. A really good exhibition, one of which - Phil's photo of the Cherry B swing singers below - had been in the Royal Photographic Society Exhibition.
There are exhibitions of artwork all over Didsbury, in many shops and businesses (list via this link), and the festival is extremely lively. Yesterday morning, outside the library, I caught the very funny outdoor theatre Fairly Funny Family and their Cheesy Trailer
and a team of Eastern European dancers (I don't think they were actually Eastern European):
In the afternoon, I popped up to the open-air events at Parsonage Gardens to hear Linda Chase read some of her great poems between various musical acts, and in the evening I went down to the Albert Club for a short while to catch a bit of Mish Mash, the cabaret that my old writing friend Julia Brosnan is in, but unfortunately I had to leave before she came on.
And in between all this, I kept slipping home for brief periods to work on my own reading and talk for Monday night at Moor Cottage (7 pm), where I'll be concentrating on the themes of magic and science in my work (oh, and I popped into Oddbins for the wine I'll be providing!) - although I have to admit I did bump into my colleague and fellow Salt author Adrian Slatcher, who will be reading at Pizza Express on Thursday, and ended up gassing over wine in Saints and Scholars, so I'm sure you can guess I haven't got my plan quite sorted yet, leave alone touched the novel...
Today I'm off up to Fletcher Moss Gardens to hear Nick Royle read one or more of his bird stories, as he did last year, at 2 o'clock outside Fletcher Moss Cottage where the RSPB was born, and kick off a whole afternoon of outdoor events there. The weather's cold but it's lovely and sunny, as it was yesterday, so it should be good...
And this evening I hope to get up to the Didsbury pub to hear Conrad Williams, who has just won the British Fantasy Awards, read from his novel Blonde on a Stick (7.30 pm).
Other literary highlights are:
Salt poet Steve Waling and Edmund Prestwich at the library (unfortunately they clash with me at Monday 7 pm!)
Poets John McAuliffe, Rachel Mann and Annie Clarkson at the Northern Lawn Tennis Club on Tuesday, 7 pm
An evening of readings from Nick Royle's short-story chapbook press, Nightjar, again at the Northern Lawn Tennis Club, Wednesday, 7 pm
Cath Staincliffe talking about her latest novel The Kindest Thing at the Didsbury Pub, Thursday 7 pm.
Cath clashes with Adrian Slatcher and James Davies, but I won't have the agony of choice as I can't go to either, unfortunately. I am doing something exciting, though: that's the day I'm off to London to the launch of A Clash of Innocents by Sue Guiney, who will visit this blog with it on October 10th.