End of the Road

Optional soundtrack:

Yesterday, something unnerving happened.

My friend/housemate and brilliant writer Daisy and I were writing in our house – our moods fluctuating between elation and despair, as they always do when we realise that this is what we have chosen to do with our lives – and I realised that the story was nearly over.

I hadn’t seen it coming, but somehow I had manoeuvred myself towards an ending. Cue a panicked ‘I’m nearly done’ to Daisy and an ensuing trip to our local shop to pick up the essentials:

IMG_1089Haribo and Punk IPA – manna from heaven

Then I retreated to my room and wrote the final chapter. Daisy came up at regular intervals to give me more IPA and tissues. By now the tears were streaming down my face as – *spoiler alert* – it’s a sad ending, and probably a dinner of sugar, E-numbers and gelatine wasn’t the best plan (sorry, Grandma). But by half past six, a quite unremarkable hour and not nearly as dramatically as The Cartographer’s Daughter (completed after midnight in a cold conservatory lit by candlelight and a red wine haze), I was finished.

Of course, this is a lie. It’s a first draft, embarrassingly unpolished and downright emotionally trite in places due to my love of tragic (in both senses of the word) films with tragic dialogue. I’m hopeful it will be the second book of my two-book deal with both publishers, though I intend to give them at least two ms to chose from. So there are edits to do before I send to beta readers, to hero agent Hellie, to publishers, and then editor comments, plot upheaval, line edits and proofs to address.

But I don’t think I’ll really recapture this feeling of it being done until it is (hopefully) sent to the printers to become a book. This hasn’t even happened with TCD yet, so there’s plenty of time to say good bye.

Addendum: T pointed out to me that it was about this time last year I finished TCD. I just checked, and in fact it’s to the day. To. The. DAY.


Writer, Writing

Forgive me blog, for I have sinned. It has been forty-four days since my last confession blog post.

And a lot of things have happened, as things tend to do.

Firstly, I had my first editorial meeting for The Cartographer’s Daughter at Chicken House. My editors are Rachel Leyshon and Barry Cunningham. I’m head-over-heels. I already feel that mix of trust, respect, abject terror and awe that is essential in the writer-editor relationship.


It was lovely to visit them in Somerset. The company is based in a beautiful old Georgian-style (or maybe even Georgian full stop?) house, all books and high ceilings. They made me flapjacks and I made nervous small talk, but it soon became clear that this is going to be a fun, challenging and exciting experience. We have a more in-depth, all day session coming up in November, once their other projects have come to an end and I have finished my WiP (so very nearly there!) I should be working with my US-based editor at Knopf-Random House by then, too. Hero-agent Hellie is checking in regularly to make sure I’ve not lost it, and I’m so grateful to have her on my side.

I’m slightly less there with BOAT – my erstwhile debut play. The brilliant director/dramaturg Max Barton, whose work I have followed from Cambridge’s ADC to the West End, is guiding/cutting/keeping my feet on the ground. We hope to take it to Edinburgh next year, so I suppose I’d better get on with it! He has asked me to collaborate on a stage adaptation of a film – in fact, one of my favourites – too, but I can’t say which just yet.

Max must be on a mission to infiltrate my writing life, because I am also working on another project with him in his capacity as a musician, and the artist Tom de Freston. I can’t reveal too much right now, but we are converting an ancient myth into a poetry/music/live art performance for 47/49 Tanner Street, and I’ve got a very, very good feeling about it. Hopefully the performance will act as a launch pad for bigger things, and we have an amazing producer on board to help us with promotion and funding. Here is a little taste of one of my Chorus poems for the project:


Which leads nicely onto one of the most exciting anthologies I have ever contributed to. Published by For Book’s Sake – a premier e-zine of writing ‘for and by independent women’ – Furies consists eighty-one pages of startling, angry, beautiful poetry. Silenced or misunderstood women from history and myth rise from the pages in a cacophony, accompanied by striking line drawings. Other poets include Helen Mort, Rebecca Goss, Malika Booker and Patience Agbabi. It’s a lovely object, but the contents cut like a razor on the tongue. I’m reading at the launch on the 1st October, more details here.


And lastly, I handed in my MA thesis. I also declined my PhD offer. As well as bringing my twenty years in education to a close, this means that I am now a full-time writer.


Did you get that? A Full-Time Writer.

Six months ago, that sentence would have evoked a wistful sigh – ‘maybe after the PhD’. A year ago, I was trying to finish my first book. Two years ago, I was wedded to poetry and therefore had no illusions that such a thing may be possible. Three years ago, it was hit-and-miss whether I would feel up to getting out of bed that day. Four years ago, I would have swatted you aside with disdain – because four years ago, I wanted to be a lawyer, and was working (very briefly) for an asset management firm in London.

But now, I’m a writer. I’m paying taxes, filling out scary forms, signing contracts, actually saying what I do for a living to people without hiding behind student status or qualifying it with a self-deprecating quip.

My point is, things happen. My point is, for the first time in my life, I know where I want to be in a year, two years, four years’ time – writing, in whatever genre will have me.

And hopefully, remembering to update my blog more often.