This Is Your (Writing) Life

Clarice Lipspector

Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector circa 1950

I don’t know about you, but I always imagined the life of a writer to involve smoking Gauloises, drinking wine, and looking like the cone-breasted, immaculately-coiffed Clarice Lispector above. Oh, and churning out a few thousand words before breakfast.

While I still hold dearly to the vision of this existence, alas, my reality is far it. (Apart from the wine, of course – the contents of my recycling bin would make Bukowski blush.)

Most of my literary life is spent thus:

a) Thinking about writing

b) Looking for opportunities to sustain my writing

c) Thinking some more about writing

d) Checking terms and conditions on grant forms

e) Submitting grant forms

f) Waiting for a reply to grant form

g) Checking outbox to see if grant form has definitely sent

h) Tapping some words into a document

i) Deleting the words immediately

j) Idly watching pigeons

k) Reading a book I wish I’d written

l) Screaming into a dark hole of existential despair.

Occasionally, something from within the dark hole responds.

This time, the response came so long after I’d submitted the grant form I had forgotten I’d submitted it in the first place. But it was worth the wait.

It was a cheque from The Society of Authors to develop a piece of research I have been working on for Durham Book Festival. With it, notification that I had been elected to Membership of their hallowed institution (plus a cool widget for my website – yay!)

All this to say that writing is hard work – and that’s if you even make it to putting pen to paper. But don’t give up. I’m just off to buy my conical bra…

Durham Book Festival 2018


Photo credit: Keith Pattison


I am delighted to be on Durham Book Festival’s commission bill this year, with my project, The World Above. My research centres on the lives of four women, across three generations, living in a colliery village in East Durham, spanning 100 years.

The event on October 7th will be staged in the magnificent Pitman’s Parliament at Durham Miners’ Association.  It will feature a stunning projection installation designed by Newcastle-based production company Novak, a soundscape of women’s voices, and a reading from my creative piece, followed by a panel debate on the future of female activism in the North East of England.

Click here for more information and to book tickets for this very special event.

Northern Writers’ Award 2018 – Winner!


Fiction winners

Northern Writers’ Awards   Fiction winners 2018

I am so pleased to have been awarded a Northern Writers’ Award 2018 for my novel-in-progress The Song of Annie Chapman. Over 1400 writers applied for the Awards; my novel was one of three fiction titles to have been selected by judges Jonathan Ruppin and Kerry Hudson.

Ruppin describes the book as ‘a hugely immersive piece of writing that really captures the emotional rollercoaster of teenage life, with a claustrophobic and antagonistic friendship at its heart. It confronts the feelings of shame and exclusion forced upon children who grow up in poverty and the yearning to escape that this brings.’

I will now be developing the book with an editor and spending some time away to focus on the redraft, as well as taking advantage of ongoing guidance, networking and advice offered through New Writing North.

For full details of winners and more information, please click here: