Cultural Catch Up

It’s been fairly quiet on here for a while although it’s been far from quiet behind the scenes!

Novel writing

I’ve taken a break from blog tours for the time being as I made the decision to really get cracking on with my crime novel. I am happy to report that I’ve been making good progress so far and am currently past the 30k mark (roughly half way through). This is the first in a series of which I have outlined the first three books. I’ve been getting lots of advice and encouragement from my writer friends which has been very helpful as I’ve been progressing. My deadline for a good rough first draft is by Christmas, so wish me luck!

Reads

Of course, my insomnia means that I have been reading lots too as usual. I’ve enjoyed My Friend Anna: The true story of the fake heiress of New York City by Rachel De Loach Williams and The Furies by Katie Lowe which reminded me of The Craft in the theme it has of witches and 1990’s setting (apart from the fact that it is set in an English school). I’ve also been impressed by the true crime book Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession by Rachel Monroe which examines womens’ relationship to true crime through four key figures.

I’m looking forward to reading the big new releases, The Testaments: The Sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and the new Philip Pullman book The Secret Commonwealth: The Book of Dust Volume Two as well as the new Hilary Mantel which comes out next year.

Films

As for film, the most recent films I’ve seen are Aladdin Live Action 2019 [DVD], Disney’s The Lion King [DVD] [2019]Us (Blu-ray) [2019] [Region Free] and a brilliant remastered re-release of Notorious [1946] (Alfred Hitchcock) [DVD]

I also saw two NT live performances. One was All About Eve, which was excellent and the other was All My Sons which was incredibly well acted. There are bound to be some new NT live productions coming up this season which will be worth a watch. These productions are great for those of us who live far away from London and I’ve never been disappointed with any that I’ve seen.

TV

I have a to be watched list for TV shows that’s about as long as my arm! Of course, Autumn is dominated by Strictly and that’s no real bad thing in my book, talking of books here is the annual; Official Strictly Come Dancing Annual 2020. I’ve watched Strictly since it began and always like to guess who will win, though it’s very hard to tell at the beginning, of course! I recently watched the last series of Poldark: The Complete Collection – Series 1 to 5 [DVD] [2019], which was a return to form and a dramatic conclusion to a much loved series. I’ve also started to watch Sanditon [DVD] [2019] and have enjoyed what I’ve seen so far. Pose series two starts on BBC in October and I was impressed with series one, so will probably add this to my TBW pile.

During a bout of flu, I did manage to watch the recent Fosse/Verdon series which was excellent and is based on this book: Fosse: The Biography.  I knew a little about Bob Fosse after watching Chicago [DVD] [2003], Cabaret – Special Edition [DVD] and All That Jazz [1979] [DVD]. Fosse/Verdon introduced me to Gwen Verdon who I’d never heard of before and Michelle Williams really brings her to life in this show. The overall story shows just how much Fosse’s legacy was owed to Verdon and explored their volatile relationship and the reasons why they were such complicated and in Fosse’s case self-destructive figures.

So that’s it for the time being, a quick cultural catch up! Let me know if you’ve enjoyed any of the same or would recommend that I read / watch any others I’ve missed.

My Writing Year

For one of our last posts of the year, we thought it would be good to have a retrospective look on what we have been up to this year as a whole and in my case, 2017 has definitely been a year of writing creatively. Although I’d mostly been writing non-fiction posts for this blog, it had been a while since I had seriously been able to devote time to creative writing. I used to love creative writing at school and at university but had not done much since. In early March this year, I attended a short story writing workshop that was part of the always excellent Huddersfield Literature Festival. This was a Mslexia writing workshop with Michele Roberts (Professor of Creative Writing at UEA) so I knew that it would be good and I was not disappointed. At the workshop I met two new friends (Yvonne and Virginia) who I now see regularly as we are all members of  the same local writing group.

This group is called The Yorkshire Writers’ Lunch and grew out of a local adult education class that used to be held in Huddersfield. We meet every week for lunch and take it in turns to produce a blog post of creative writing. The blog is really creative and diverse. When I first joined, the group were in a middle of a collaborative spy thriller set in 1958 Algiers, I decided to be mischievous and throw in a new character, the post I wrote for this can be found here. On the blog we also produce short fiction, poetry, and non-fiction pieces. Room 27 is an example of a strange short story that I wrote! Currently we are also in two teams where we are writing screen and radio plays, this has been really enjoyable and I look forward to continuing this next year.

From joining the writing group, I found out about a writing tutor who lives quite near to me, I have since attended many of her classes and feel that my writing has come on leaps and bounds since (thank you Clair for recommending her!). I’ve also found that I particularly enjoy writing in cafes as I seem to concentrate rather well in them!

So really looking back it seems that this year I have been able to devote time to writing creatively more often and looking ahead, there is a lot more that I want to do. I would like to really get cracking with at least one novel, finish an online writing course that I’ve begun a while back and continue to meet fellow writers. I’ve learnt that writing is a journey that it is always important to further develop and improve your writing as there are always improvements to be made. Overall though, this year has been a huge learning curve for me and has taught me the tremendous value of saying ‘yes’ to new creative opportunities and experiences wherever possible. I hope 2017 has been as rewarding creatively for you as it has for me and I look forward to what 2018 brings!