It’s February, and I’ve finally accepted that the New Year is over and 2019 is definitely here. It’s been cold for approximately 400 days and summer is an urban myth, but even so, this is an exciting year.
I was honoured to spend a couple of weeks in January co-editing the wonderful Ellipsis Zine LGBTQ+ anthology, Love/Pride. We read stories that were funny, moving, inventive, heartbreaking and beautiful. I can’t wait to see the finished book. The quality of submissions was stellar. We read blind, so we still don’t know who wrote the stories we didn’t take, but thank you, if you’re reading this. So many came very close to being included, and maybe on a different day we’d have made a different decision about some of those.
I’m about to start teaching a second Introduction to Creative Writing course through The Public House community education, and having had such a lovely group the first time round, I can’t wait to meet everyone. It should be a lot of fun.
I was in Germany/Austria last week and recorded an interview for the SmokeLong On The Road series, which will be up on social media in a week or two. In it Christopher Allen and I talk a bit about the experience of editing at SmokeLong and mess around a bit like the overgrown kids we slightly are. Beta watchers (best friends, kids, dogs, etc) have found it entertaining – hopefully they won’t be entirely alone.
At the end of March I’ll be at AWP, the American Association of Writers and Writing Programmes’ gigantic conference, which attracts about 10,000 visitors a year and this year is held in Portland, Oregon. SmokeLong doesn’t have a table at the book fair, this time – instead we are having two readings on the Thursday evening featuring a cast of flash fiction legends: Dennis Norris II, Meg Pillow Davis, Gwen Kirby, Nancy Au, Josh Denslow, Kathy Fish, Tyrese Colman and Sherrie Flick. This is crazy-exciting. I’m also reading at an off-site event, and we’ll be around and about the city interviewing people, too.
In June, the third UK Flash Fiction Festival is back in Bristol. After the unexpected wild success of the makeshift karaoke sessions we organised last year (with, again, deepest apologies to anyone we might have kept awake on the first night – we did not realise), I have been officially put in charge of Entertainments, this year, which means that there will be proper karaoke in the bar on the Friday and Saturday evenings – a separate building, so there’ll be no noise disturbance for anyone who prefers the quieter life. This, as anyone who joined in last year will attest, will be THE BEST FUN.
Then, in September, I’ll be starting a two-year MFA in creative writing at the UEA, working with some utterly wonderful human beings and brilliant writers. I live very close to the campus so often go and read submissions or edit stories in a university cafe. I am so very happy to be going to study and write there as a student, not just a neighbour. I have never been to university, and I never thought I’d be going to study on such a legendary programme.
That’s probably about as much excitement as I can honestly take at one time, so maybe that will be it for 2019. I have a story coming out in one of my favourite journals in March, and one which just made the longlist in the Mslexia flash contest. I need to submit more. I need to WRITE more. I’m working on it. See you somewhere this year, I hope, lovely humans.