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9 November 2009 Entry: "Speeding into the dark"

How did it get to be November the 5th so quickly, despite the unseasonal warmth?
I am having to wrap all my work up neatly, because I am going to be spending Christmas in New Zealand - hooray!

No sweating over a turkey or nut roast, no fretting over presents and a tidy house, I’m out of here. I plan to have christmas day sitting by a beach with a glass of bubbly in one hand and maybe a book in the other. Bliss.

Fred and I have done a first draft of Cain and Abel, and we’ve got Fiona MacPherson on board as Director. Going for a meeting in Durham, to find out what they think of the first draft and to talk about how we will recruit and rehearse the young cast. I’ve been amazed and delighted by how easy the working relationship was with my son; I’m also very impressed with his writing skills and his dedication to the task in hand. We may get my younger son Johnny to do the beats and soundtrack for us as well. He’s currently doing the Music Technology Btech at Gateshead College so is honing his technical skills. I hear his loops and bass beats coming up the stairs every evening.

I’ve also been commissioned to write a short piece for Live’s Youth Theatre, the older age 16 - 25, based around the themes and ideas in Pitman Painters. So another bit of writing to get underway before I leave for the antipodes. But nowadays, with laptops and skype and emails, nobody is very far away, and nothing is unreachable. However, I don’t plan to be doing a lot of work while I’m away.

The launch of Breath, alongside Cynthia Fuller’s Background Music, at the Lit and Phil on 23rd October was a friendly affair, and both books were well received, and sold out. Then we did a reading in Durham Book Festival, alongside Maureen Almond, Linda France and Pippa Little: we were the warm up for Carol Ann Duffy. So we had a huge audience (in poetry terms) and they listened intently. It was a bit like the old Poetry Virgins days, being onstage with a bunch of women, as we all shared the reading of Linda’s Renga poems.
Unfortunately, Waterstones lost Cynthia’s book - the only poet from Durham in the Festival that evening, and she could have sold lots. How rubbish is that? Apologies from the manager don’t really cover it. Poets like us rely on readings for our main sales.
Cynthia and I have another reading together at the Culture Lab as part of Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts events on 12th November. Last reading before I go off.

I got a lovely email from Tim Dalling sending me a poem of mine he’d set to music from the book, I thought it was great. So we’ve agreed we’ll try and set up a gig together in the New Year, him playing music and me reading poems. I want to try and set up readings about the country, in towns and cities where I have friends too.

Went to the ‘official’ opening of the new Library on Friday 6th, with Queen and Dukaburgh (as my mother used to call him) . The Library Book is finished, arrived the night before (phew!) and a small girl handed the Queen her copy. I watched from floor four lots of tops of heads. I managed to see the one printed copy available, and was very pleased. Can’t wait for my own copy. Then had a jolly buffet lunch, and met up with two other writers - Valerie Laws and Benita Brown. We discussed book sales and the nature of high, middle and low brow books, and how ‘literary’ writers never meet the ‘popular’ writers, though their world wide sales are in the millions while literary writers struggle to sell in the hundreds sometimes. Snobbery should have no place in the community of writers.

Maybe if I get myself together, I will blog from NZ. Festive Greetings in advance.

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