Ah, the literary life ... posting e-mails, chasing bookings, filing receipts, paying the printers, looking aghast at tax forms. This stuff can and does take up whole weeks. What I need now is a few quiet hours to find my way back to some new writing. A blank page and a world of possibilities. Hopefully, some long hours in terminals and on trains will do the job. John Hegley said he does a lot of his writing on trains and I can see why. The steady hum of the engine, an endless moving screen of landscape and people - and most of all, the lure of elsewhere. Someone asked me recently why so much of my writing seemed to be about other places like the Arctic. My answer was 'I like writing that take me into other people's stories and lives. That has been very liberating ... not to be confined to the 'me story'.'
For inspiration, I shall also take a pile of reading. Today is packing day and I'll be sifting through the pile by my bed. Will it be Susan Richardson's delicious arctic collection 'Creatures of the Intertidal Zone', Mark Goodwin's 'Else' or Brian Daldorph's 'Jail Time' - a collection that certainly reaches into other people's stories? For novels, I have Andrew Sharpe's exquisite African tale, 'The Ghost of Eden'. You can see the titles all speak of 'elsewhere'. I also have a choice of notebooks - my arctic one with the hide cover, a shiny hardback one with the 'Blue Cats & Butterflies' design or the plain but sturdy Sainsbury's hardback with a smoky lilac cover. Sometimes colour can seduce the mind into the 'write mood' ...
And for setting, we have the seaside which is a special treat for a landlocked Midlander. First, Zandvoort in the Netherlands where we get to housesit for friends - Trev (aka Smashy de Clown) and his lovely family. Another chance to inhabit someone else's life - and language even. Then it's Whitby on the North Yorkshire coast - a place which I have a special fondness for. The town that inspired that literary masterpiece, Dracula. We first stayed there in 1995 so it's part of our history too. I have the jet and amber earrings to prove it, the jars full of fossils and a 6,000 word short story.
So back to a morning of e-mails before the excitement begins. I'll be away for most of August and then I'll let you know what the tides washed in.
Writing is a journey, both imaginary and physical. My first book took me to the Arctic to 'catch the colours' of the Northern Lights. Then I hunkered down to catch the wind-blown voices of polar explorers on Shackleton's 1914-17 Endurance expedition. More recently I'm obsessed by space: the race, the rockets, the final frontier.
Hear a BBC Radio Leicester interview about my space poetry at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03wfpyp
Explore my digital narrrative PHILAE'S BOOK OF HOURS, published by the European Space Agency, at:
My prose-poetry collections FIREBRIDGE TO SKYSHORE
and MAD, HOPELESS & POSSIBLE are both published by Original Plus Press at:
Contact me for signed copies or bookings at:
- Leicester, East Midlands
- As a storyteller, my work crosses boundaries of myth, science, history and spoken word. It has been presented in the British Science Museum, Ledbury Poetry Festival, National Space Centre and the European Space Agency website. In 2014 I ran a digital residency on WW1 for 14-18NOW and Writing East Midlands. I teach Creative Writing at De Montfort University and have experience of leading school events, workshop tuition and mentoring.