Reading and writing round-up (29th June – 5th July)

The sun is shining, which means I’ve finally had the chance to read in the garden. Up until last week I was reading with a cup or tea or hot chocolate like it was winter.

Reading update

I finished reading Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, and Raymond Carver’s collection of short stories What we talk about when we talk about love. I started reading Anne Tyler’s The Beginner’s Goodbye, which I’m really enjoying.

Writing update

I didn’t completely finish my children’s book so I will be taking my friend out for tea. That was the deal. I did, however, write a good part of the book. In retrospect my hope to complete 50,000 words in a month wasn’t realistic, not with horses to look after, work to do, and training and racing for running. But the bet made it interesting, so much so that I’ve now had another one. If the book’s not ready to send to a publisher by the end of August I will take my friend and his girlfriend out for a three-course meal. The pressure’s on … again!

I also edited one of my short stories, Home Baking. A little more work and it will soon be finished. I love that moment when you finish a piece of writing. I say finish, by that I mean I’m happy with it for now.

Books bought

The book-binge buying has started again!

I’m starting to write a book about running. It’s a memoir based on my passion for the sport. I did want to work on this as part of my MA module on life writing. Unfortunately Sheffield Hallam University has changed the course when I’m only part of the way through it. Life writing is no longer an option. It’s a real shame. I’ve bought a couple of books which I hope will be useful for my own writing. The first is by Conor O’Callaghan, who would have been my tutor on the MA in life writing if they hadn’t withdrawn it. Red Mist, Roy Keane and the Irish world cup blues is a memoir of Irish society during the 2002 World Cup. I’ve also bought Fight the Good Fight, from vicar’s wife to killing machine by Catherine Fox. This book sounds very funny. Fox set herself the challenge at 45 of becoming a black belt in judo. Fox also happens to be a tutor on the MA in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. Now that Hallam has messed me around, I’m considering applying to transfer to MMU. We’ll see what the next week brings …

As well as the sport books by writers I know I also bought a book by someone I’d never heard of, The diary of an average runner aged 41 and a half: Never, ever, give up by Mark Cameron.

In my dilemma about the changes to Sheffield Hallam University I decided to buy some short stories. Firstly, to cheer myself up, and secondly, because that will be the module I take (if I stay). It’s changed from the original short story module because it’s now combined with poetry. I don’t really write poetry so I’m not that bothered about spending a lot of money on a course I don’t want to do. Anyway, I bought Drawing Alice by Sarah Dobbs. Sarah was my tutor at the Open University on the advanced writing course. She was a fantastic tutor and a real inspiration. I love her writing.

Last but not least I bought Unthology: No. 1. Here’s the blurb … ‘This is the first in a series from Unthank Books dedicated to showcasing unconventional, unpredictable and experimental stories. Containing seventeen pieces by brand new as well as established authors, this is a hard-hitting, hilarious and entertaining collection. Inside you will encounter a motley crew of animals, objects and even humans. Relationships disintegrate and reform. Both domestic and global dramas unfold. A herringbone becomes an omen of impending doom. A boy waits to sit a sinister test he may or may not pass. A girl in a prison cell must write or die. These are tales that inject fresh venom into the shorter form.’

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