Since graduating from the Napier MA (over a year ago now and STILL banging on about it!) I haven’t felt the need to maintain much of an online blog presence. Most of my online activities take place on Goodreads where I discuss what matters most to me—literature. Or, if you like, books. Discuss might not be the word. I write brief capsule reviews of the books I read and ten or so people ‘like’ my reviews without comment. If I feel like it, I leave inane comments on other people’s reviews. Still, I like it there.
My book group still meets on weekends, and the Ulysses meetup was extremely useful and laid-back. I sometimes feel inadequate as to how I dissect a text. I have strong urges to write extremely analytical closely-read essays on the books I read, but that would take up too much of my time, and who would care? I could spend over a fortnight writing one of those, all for the satisfaction of having autopsied the book so I briefly have “complete mastery” over it, only to forget the drivel I wrote in a few weeks. I did this for a spell between 2004-2007 with albums and made £300 on a reviewing site. Goodreads pays nada.
The best-friends-for-life writing-network-of-Napier-alumni thing hasn’t happened. Perhaps I was too naïve to assume people would want to start a collective for sharing and editing each other’s work with frequent meet-ups and so on . . . people do things, so I am told, in their lives, that make these things impossible. I did set up a semi-useful FB group which has already been forgotten about. My suspicion is people find publishers for their own work and forget to share, or think fuck it—I want to have the edge and don’t share on purpose. Does that sound embittered and envious of me? Possibly. I’m one of the few people who truffles for publishers and anthologies and then shares. I think people, especially writers, are inherently selfish and perhaps need to be to survive in this fucking horrible world. I don’t like it, but how many writers, upon winning a contest, will punch the air and say, in your face suckers! All of them? Writing is as predatory as any other business.
At the moment, I’m not writing with a commercial eye, I’m focusing on writing what I want to write. Arlene’s Atoms is, possibly, the closest to a mainstream thing I will produce. I recently sent the book, fatalistically, to a slew of small presses, skipping the big hitters. Realistically, if I have a small-press book, or maybe two or three in time, behind me, I will have more chance of being glanced at by the big fellas. So my hope is that one of the many fine small presses will pick it up. If they don’t, I will need to take up mainlining heroin into my knees. I think we were taught to be too ambitious at the Napier MA. Although the crushing futility of the endeavour of writing was repeatedly emphasised by David Bishop, I think I shouldn’t have been advised to sub to agents. It was a waste of time—I’m an unknown with no prizes under my belt. But what does that matter now?
I have a new novella on the go at the moment: the form and structure and content are cohering nicely. I write fairly quickly once these things are in place, so hopefully this will be finished early next year.