Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bare Bones, Old Friends & Big Guns

I've just had a striking idea for a new novel - 'Lit Lite', I suspect! - which is desperately inconvenient as we're in the middle of being evicted here. I have ideas all the time, of course, like most writers. But this one has particular promise, not least because it makes delicate little connections with some of the emotional hurdles I've faced over the past ten years.

I've put the bare bones of the plot down in a notebook and will revisit it in a few weeks, just to see if it still resonates with me. I'm pleased to have come up with a new idea anyway, even if it ends up being unwritable. I have to finish something else I've been working on before I can start work on a new book, but at least this will mean I have an interesting project lined up for that twilight time just after you've moved house, when your brain is still shifting aimlessly about in the dust and chaos, looking for something solid to cling onto.

I met the editor of established poetry magazine SEAM the other week, the formidable Anne Berkeley. It was at the Cambridge CB1 reading; she very kindly bought a copy of Boudicca & Co., and asked me to send her some poems for the magazine. Of course, I do have some new poems available, but I'm not entirely convinced by them yet. Another month or two, perhaps. They don't seem quite bedded down into themselves, still something a bit provisional about them. But she put me onto an old friend, via email, whom I first met at an Arvon course many years ago: former editor at SEAM, Frank Dullaghan, who now lives and works in Dubai, and has a collection of poetry forthcoming from Cinnamon Press next year. It was good to touch base with him again.

Today someone on the Poem Forum was asking for hints and tips on approaching literary editors about writing reviews for them. Coincidentally I had just been reading some superb past issues of Mslexia - to be picked up for a song via their website if you're a woman writer or interested in women's writing - including one which featured an article on approaching magazine editors as a book reviewer. I've been thinking for some time myself about stepping up a gear in terms of reviewing, but haven't yet motivated myself to send a sample poetry review to the big guns (TLS, LRB etc), so it was a jolt to my ambition to answer the guy's post with some salient points. I've become contented, I think, just to review for the 'usual suspects' and not look any higher. But one of the points Mslexia frequently makes is that women writers tend not to be as ambitious and inclined to aim high as their male counterparts.

Time to do something about that uncharacteristic lack of inclination, I think ...


Ms Baroque said...

Jane, I read that exchange on The Poem with exactly the same feeling. I'm pleading ill health and lack of energy at the mo. In September I shall come out with all 'Big guns' blazing!

I hope so,anyway: I'll have at least a year's writing to catch up on.

Maybe you're right not to set yourself too much while you're in the middle of moving. Then again...!

Rob said...

Jane, I appreciated the sound advice, so thanks. If asking for it ends with you reviewing for the big publications, so much the better. Best of luck!

Jane Holland said...

Sent off those review samples to the 'big guns' today, so now it's just a question of waiting with fingers and toes crossed. In the meantime, I've rejigged the layout and look of Raw Light yet again. The startling red background is perfectly ME and the soft yellowish font colour should be easier on the eye than that harsh white on black I had before.

Hope y'all like it ...

Jane x

Anonymous said...

I'd rethink the writing on the photograph, it gets a bit lost. Either change colour+font or move to the side, or situate anove photo or something...striking colours otherwise. I thought I had the wrong website when they first came up!

Jane Holland: Editor said...

Thanks for the input, it's appreciated! Trouble is, this new 'photo on the header' thing is a new tool at Blogger and still a fairly crude one. You can't MOVE the header writing as you could if it was possible to create a textbox; it's fixed where it is. And you can't adjust the photo in any way, size-wise or to allow that writing to be seen more easily.

In other words, I hear what you're saying about the print getting lost here. But I'd like to keep the photo for the moment, and see how other people react, and since the words can't be moved from their position they can either be shortened, enlarged - which means blotting out my face, possibly a good thing! - or removed.

I'll see what I can do.

Cheers, Jane