Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Four Story Day

I've felt particularly uncreative of late. Sat down at the weekend looking at a blank screen, writing a few words. Nothing seemed to come. I've been so busy this week, as well, having organised an event introducing the arts to the best in digital stuff on Monday - and think that maybe having no headspace for anything else has just let the ideas line up in there. Anyway this morning I woke up with a great little idea for a short story, and I'd hardly come up with more than a skeleton in my head (well it is nearly Halloween!) when three more story ideas scrunched up behind it. A four story day, then. All I have to do now is write them...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Blog Life

Last night, was at the Manchester Blog Awards, which I've written about here, in a piece called "when bloggers become writers" so won't repeat that here. Had a great time, though it was one of those nights when I got tired from saying "hiya" to too many people. Lovely as all those people are!

Retreated to Common and had a wonderful chat with the alluring Coco Laverne. All this blog stuff is great, but I'm painfully aware how crowded a space it's getting!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

When Worlds Collide

Everything seems very frenetic in Manchester at present. There's the literature festival for a start - which I'm going to finally make acquaintance with tomorrow at the Manchester Blog Awards at Matt and Phreds. I would have gone to more but have found myself with a range of other commitments - work and otherwise - as well as having a bad cold which knocked me out for most of last week. Thinking ahead, I'm key organiser of a range of events for the arts over the next few weeks, starting with an event around "Digital Content" in Manchester next week, and culminating, in Norwich with an event with New Writing Partnership looking at how the art of writing is changed by technologies. All exciting stuff, of course, but feel the various strands of my life are hurtling around like something thrown together by the Large Hadron Collider! And again, sitting squarely between my different worlds - as blogger, literati, and technology advisor to the arts - I'm quite excited that a group is forming that it would make some sense to be part of - namely a "social media cafe" for Manchester. I'm pretty sure that even my avatar is exhausted by all of this.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Worth Every Penny of the License Fee

Congratulations to Aravind Adiga winner of the Booker Prize; not read it, not particularly interested in reading it, but same for the rest of this year's shortlist, so who knows? They may have found a gem. There's been plenty of meaningless discussion on the Guardian's book blogs, and various tit-for-tats. But my favourite comment was the one that said "of course it won, he's Indian, and it's got a tiger in it, one or the other improves your chance - but both..." (I paraphrase, but I thought it funny.)

I've been down and out with a cold these last few days, and so had the attention span of a ribena addict, so had forced myself to stay up at least till the Booker winner was announced. I've always enjoyed the pantomime of the Booker however hoary the plots and characterisation, yet the BBC long ago gave up on it. And last night they were worse than ever. Turning to the live performance on the 10.00 news, they stayed with it for 3 minutes, had an embarrassing cock-up when they got no sound from their reporter in the Guild Hall, ran the VT tape of the 6 books, and only just caught the announcement of the winner, before telling us to "catch more of the ceremony on BBC4"... they meant BBC News 24. And we pay the license fee for this?

Life, as they say goes on, though doubt I'll now make the opening of the literature festival tomorrow, even if I make it back on my feet. It's took me about two days to write this blog entry as it is - the soporific power of lemsip!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Booker for our times?

Just a quick one. We know that Booker judges only choose their winner on the night, and so one wonders whether the credit crunch will have helped the chances of Linda Grant's The Clothes on Their Backs - its story loosely based on the slum landlord Peter Rachman. As a 7-1 outsider, it might be worth a few quid!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Where to start?

Where is one to start? With National Poetry Day, perhaps. Yes, it's here - and yet hardly here at all. Or with Jean-Marie Gustave Le Cl├ęzio, a writer I've never heard of, I'm ashamed to say, winning the Nobel. How can it be that a writer of such stature in our cultural neighbours should be so unknown in England? Or what about the Forward Prize, won by Mick Imlah after a 20 year silence. If only other poets would take that hint! Only joking of course. The poetry prizes in this country are notoriously catholic in their that its rare for one book to even get nominated for more than one, or for one writer to consistently be listed. One has to be a little amused that the poem of the year was Don Paterson's homage to an obscure techno artist, "Love Poem for Natalie 'Tusja' Beridze," since its rare for modern culture to make more than a fleeting appearance in the poetry prizes. My Ellen Allien homage will be finished by bedtime.

Where will one end? With William Skidelsky's cry in the Guardian about the lack of contemporary novels wrestling with the corrupt wealth of the last few years. It's always "where's our Balzac/Dickens?" of course. It always both amuses and annoys me - all I can say is that when I wrote a somewhat disdainful novel "High Wire" set partly on election night 1997, and encompassing greed, IT and modern art, it wasn't what the publishers were wanting not at all, but in one of its character's Eric Mansion, a politician and a businessman, I like to think I came close to the spirit of the age...

"Sat around the table, expectantly, were the money men. The new company was being financed by a firm of venture capitalists, Innovision, whose portfolio concentrated on fast growth, high risk companies in the areas of bio-technology and information technology...

Amongst them was Eric Mansion.

...Digests of Hansard painted a picture of an economic libertarian with an off-the-peg set of right-wing social views. Eric Mansion believed in God, the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection and possibly even the bit about needles and camels, but it hadn't hindered him in making millions out of property deals with the church commissioners. He hated the E.U. but picked up European subsidies for both farming and urban renewal, so no hard feelings there. He was pro-America, Saudi, Indonesia and Beijing and would perhaps even find a good word for Castro if cigars became his next cash cow. His was the profile of a businessman through and through who cut his ideological cloth accordingly. It was Mansion's unswerving pragmatism that most frightened Adam, and he realised that the man might just as easily sit in the current cabinet as the last, a veritable Talleyrand of today."

I wrote that in 1998 - I think I might come back to Mansion, as a character, see what he's been up to!