Hive, Hull, Huddersfield, and Somewhere Not Beginning With H

Typically, it’s been a break-neck, non-stop, busy few months. I’m still writing and working on something I seem to have thought I’d have finished by the end of the month every month since February but these things take time and I’d rather end up with something really good than something quickly. In incidental, Nik news… I have bought a hat and a dressing gown. It works for late working nights like this. I have not drunk beer this year. And I have been watching a lot of things about art – most of them, not literature which is cool because I think forms feed into forms. I’ve been reading more science-fiction than I have in a long time, too.

More more excitingly…

The HIVE YOUNG WRITERS’ FESTIVAL IN THE NORTH happened and it was incredible – even better than the last. Hats off to the team (99% Vicky Morris) for pulling of such a jaw-droppingly awesome (and I don’t use that word lightly) day. We were in a state-of-the-art building at Sheffield Hallam University, there were workshops from pretty much every angle: page and performance poetry; novel, horror, comedy, historical fiction, plays, gaming, short story (hello), zine-making, song writing – even a little something on comic books. One to one sessions with industry pros, a booming open mic. And a good lunch. It was a sell-out. There is nothing like it, I swear. I know everyone will have their own highlight, but I loved chairing a panel with the brilliant Simon Bestwick, And Other Stories, Oz Hardwick, and Bluemoose Books. You can read all about, and see the pics, here.

I took a train up to Hull University, and then Huddersfield for two First Story events, and they were brilliant too. More young people, more celebrating stories and poems and teaching and the wonderful things they made. I loved it. You know, writing’s a strange old thing in that you can be as euphoric and proud of something someone else has created and been brave enough to share as you get about your own stuff. It’s cool that you’ve helped facilitate it but, for what it’s worth, I think the best things you can give anyone wanting to write are confidence and audience – even if that’s only a pair of eyes or ears. Of course, I think you have to know a thing or two first, but I seem to be getting by okay… It’s a privilege (I can never spell that) to be asked and to be involved. (And I’m waving at the Zelazny Girls – hello Anna and Lizzie!)

And the other highlight (these are in no order at all) was the launch of Melior Academy’s anthology launch. I was in Scunthorpe, as writer in residence, until 9pm last Thursday feeling absolutely humbled by the quality and the passion and the kindness of the young writers there, the audience, and the school. I even got my own tee, with the cover on its front (which was designed and illustrated by a super talented year 7).

I am tired now and, of course, there’s been loads and loads of stuff that I’ll come to later, or that I’m not allowed to talk about, or that’s boring, or that I just don’t have time to share (remind me to talk about the autism dog buddy moment one day) but let’s just say it’s been a brilliant few months and it’s a pleasure having a hand in good things and sharing space with so many talented and generous people. You can’t fake quality and you can’t fake commitment for the right reasons – and they’re the things I want to be involved with. Good, supportive, inclusive, nurturing things – with neither ego nor arrogance – are what moves the world towards being a better place, and what helps the people in it shine.

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