The Eagle has landed

Finally, Laura Marling’s new album Once I Was An Eagle came out this week. I’ve been looking forward to the release all year and it arrived this morning (yes, I still buy actual CDs for certain music – it’s a sound quality thing). I’ve used her music as an occasional background to my writing for some time, drifting in and out of it as the words do, or do not flow on the page. Fans of Marling will no doubt have already downloaded (or bought) the album, but for the uninitiated here’s a live performance of Once on Later with Jools Holland:

Places I write: Part 1

It’s been a barren couple of months for my novel, with MA assignments and other commitments taking up my time. Fortunately – before panic/despair/self-doubt set in – there was a partial lifting of the fog, and a couple of new chapters are up and running. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s all coming together, it’s definitely not falling apart.

I’ve said before that I like to write in cafés, and my latest flurry of words came in Selley’s in Sidmouth. A cosy corner, an enormous pot of tea and my mobile writing set-up are all I need to write on the move. Here is the view from my writing corner in this cute café:

And here is my writing corner (note that large teapot – lovely):

It was here that a particularly stubborn scene finally flowed.

I find that as my novel progresses, I’m feeling the need for a specific, dedicated writing space close to home. To give myself a realistic chance of finishing the first draft this year, I’m currently planning a refurb of our dinky caravan to provide an on-the-plot writing room with zero distractions, and everything I need to feel calm and creative. Here it is in situ; I will provide an interior picture story in due course, to mark its transformation into literary haven.

Where do you like to write?

Literary traditions

“a very strange stranger it must be, who does not see charms in the immediate environs of Lyme, to make him wish to know it better.”

Jane Austen, Persuasion

I was prompted to find the above quote after spending a few moments sitting on this bench ….

… next to this sign:

… in our local gardens,

looking at this view …

It made me think about the tradition of literary greats we have, who’ve written from, about, or inspired by the South West. More on those in future posts.

A kind of renaissance

I’m redefining rejection and competition misses. Rejection is a part of the submission process, or at least a frequent result of it, so a thick skin is a must-have. Instead of the F word immediately springing to mind – and I mean failure, not the other one – I see it as an opportunity to breathe new life into my prose. It’s a much more positive approach: looking at a piece of work that may have been submitted weeks or months before, with fresh eyes. A kind of renaissance. A welcome chance to reboot and revitalise those stories. Make them tighter, make sure they work … just make them better. And if a particular story has run its course, move on.

write more → submit more → improve more


Festival season

It’s May, and music festival supplements have started appearing with the weekend papers. I’m all for a quick dive into the mosh pit, but I’m also thinking about the literary and book festival scene. It’s thriving. Check out this Literary Festivals website; no matter where you are based, you’re sure to find something to your taste. So get your calendar out and start putting some dates in. It’s time to make time to get literary.