My Quest To Be The Best

Dear Friends

It’s 5:30pm on Saturday the 25thof May and I’m in the Hillhead Book Club on Vinicombe Street drinking Diet Irn Bru. I’ve just mowed through a vegan doner kebab and a side of chunky hand-cut chips, and now I’m finally ready to write the third instalment of My Glasgow Life.

I decided early on when I moved back to Scotland that I would only work on my novel on weekdays. Saturdays and Sundays would be reserved exclusively for things like reading, relaxing, rearranging the house and maybe writing a random poem or a short story or having a catch up with a pal.

I’ve kept to this rule for the most part despite being one of those odd creatures who constantly struggles to get their head around the concept of downtime. I’ve always been a wee bit obsessed with self-development – gym journals, food diaries, mood trackers, you name it I’ve done a million of them – and after the publication of my memoir ‘Cracked’ in 2001, I ramped up my dedication to the craft of writing and took on the mindset that if something wasn’t worth documenting (or wasn’t going to further my career as a writer in some way) then it wasn’t worth doing at all.

For reasons I won’t go into, I realise now I was wrong and I’m trying hard to change this mantra.

Today I’ve enjoyed the freedom of not having a plan or a set of self-improvement tasks to tick off – I’ve slept in till noon, I’ve gone for a two-hour walk in the rain, I’ve explored a dozen west end shops. I’ve also loved the solidarity of being by myself after a month of busy book events and talks (most of which saw me making twice-weekly trips through to Edinburgh). It would appear that I have gone from having no literary scene in Sudbury to not being able to physically attend all the live lit nights and book launches that I’d like to.

I don’t have my diary handy so I can’t list all the brilliant places I’ve been and the things and people I’ve seen, but off the top of my head I can name a few: Jim Kelman’s stand out performance as part of Thi Wurd’s spoken word night at Stereo, a riveting conversation between Monstrous Regiment’s Lauren Nickodemus and Catherine Clay about intersectional feminist magazines, and a wonderful showcase of emerging Scottish writers coinciding with the Edinburgh launch of Andrea Lawlor’s queer shape shifting novel ‘Paul Takes The Form Of A Mortal Girl’.

Earlier in the month I was invited to read my short story ‘Bad Elements’ at the sci-fi and fantasy live lit night ‘Event Horizon’ – originally this story was published by New Writing Scotland in 2017, and it was reprinted in March this year by Aether And Ichor and it can be read online here – - I had a great time at the event and met a lot of lovely people and it’s definitely inspired me to have a go at experimenting with more speculative forms of fiction.

It’s now 6:30pm and the Bookclub is beginning to get busy. I’ve just spied a couple of punters over by the door shuffling impatiently and giving me the evil eye because I’m hogging an entire booth – I will take this as my cue to drink up and head back out into the rain.

Till next month.

Much Love


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