Sunday, January 26, 2020

Writing kicks off again

I've had a long period away from my desk, and haven't written anything since September. First of all, John had ankle surgery and for a while was completely immobile, in a wheelchair and requiring round-the-clock help. On top of that, a week after John came out of hospital, and was at his most helpless, I had to have urgent eye surgery, with follow-up procedures since. I seem to have been living a life of fetching and carrying and medications and eye drops - and my forays from home seem chiefly to have been visits to the eye hospital (with some light relief at the fracture clinic with John). All the while the room I usually work in was dark and cold and empty - apart from the stuff the family visitors dumped there when they were here at Christmas! However, John is now swinging around on crutches, and last week I was free to tidy up and heat the workroom - just in time, it turned out, as writing business suddenly kicked back into life.

Firstly, I had an unexpected, indeed thrilling email telling me that a story, 'Going On', had been longlisted and highly commended in the Manchester Fiction Prize. (It didn't make the shortlist; congratulations to those whose stories did; you can read the shortlist here.) The picture above features the author and editor Nicholas Royle, who has chaired the prize since its inception. The very same day I received the proofs of my story, 'Double Helix', which is due in the next issue of the London Magazine, and I needed to sit down straightaway and work on that. And then the day after that, Jen at Salt sent me the first edits of my novel Astral Travel, due very soon, and which I'm working on now. Yesterday another nice email came: my story 'Kiss', which was longlisted in the Short Fiction Journal Prize, published at MIROnline, reprinted in Best British Short Stories 2019 and picked up from there for The Barcelona Review, is to be featured in a Norwegian textbook for High School students. I am suddenly feeling like a writer again!

There is an award ceremony for the Manchester Fiction and Poetry Prizes at Chetham's School on February 7th, when the shortlists will be featured and the two winners announced. Entrance is free but booking is essential.

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