I am half way through a pre-view tour of the book, ‘Some Girls’ Mothers’ will my fellow writers, Char March, Clare Shaw, River Wolton, Nell Farrell and Suzanne Batty. We have been to libraries and venues in the North West so far, and audience response has been great. Lots of discussion about the book, and feedback from people. We have sold quite a few too! Here is a link to a fantastic short video that Ian Daley from Route made of the first gig:
It has been a challenge for me to think about performing with a group of people, instead of by myself. We have used props, a plinth, and had coaching from radio/drama director Polly Thomas. All this has really helped the shape and structure of the piece. I think I enjoyed performing in Oldham the most so far, because I was confident, didn’t fluff any lines, and people laughed! I could not quite believe that. We are hoping to do a much larger tour next year in 2009. Route have published the book, and we have also had support from a great group of librarians and Jane Mathieson from Time to Read. I have also run workshops as part of this project and people have written some cracking material. The workshop punters have been very diverse and had a great deal to say about family relationships. It has been a careful path to tread through peoples’ memories, and one that has delighted and saddened me at the same time. How do we all get through being parented, and then being parents ourselves?!
I had expected the summer months to be quieter and less busy, but with two books now on the go this was always going to be unrealistic! I have been working with Helena Nelson from Happenstance Press on my first poetry chapbook, and we have finally decided a title ‘Slug Language’. The process has been one of very fine tuning, looking at grammar, imagery and finding the exact words for poems. I have also continued to work with Ian Daley from Route on ‘Some Girls’ Mothers’ – a collection of non fiction on the theme of mothers and daughters. It is now flowing in a good order, and is ready to be proof-read. A cover has been discussed and I have had the difficult task of writing an introduction and blurb for the back of the book.
Helena Nelson shares Ian Daley’s attention to detail but the process of working on a poetry collection as apposed to creative non-fiction feels very different. There is less emphasis on narrative, more on concise use of language, and rhythm. I have enjoyed both processes immensely, and both have been very personal because of the subject matter of my poetry and the story I have written for ‘Some Girls’ Mothers.
I have always been a very visual person, as interested in art as in writing, so looking at images for the cover of both these books is something I relish. It feels like they suddenly acquire their own place in the world and are much less attached to me!
Earlier this year, myself and a group of writers called ‘Poets with a Kick’ were awarded an arts council grant to develop a new publishing and performance project on the theme of mothers and daughters. My own part in this project has been varied. I am booking a tour, writing a creative non fiction for the book and learning editing skills by working alongside Ian Daley from Route. What have I learnt so far on this journey?
Attention to detail, I think. And to aim for quality. I am a skilled editor when it comes to poetry, but creative non-fiction is a whole new genre for me, and the biggest learning curve has been how to approach a narrative, and support a writer to find a narrative structure that works for the content of their writing and keeps a reader hooked. This will probably take a much longer apprenticeship for me to perfect, but so far, I would describe the process as learning to structure a piece of music. My own writing for this project did not have a clear point of emotional impact, and now its structure builds in the middle, and connects the reader to an unfolding series of events. So thank you Ian Daley. Our provisional title for the book is ‘Some Girls’ Mothers and it will be out in October 2008. I will use this blog to chart some more editing skills as the project develops.