My relocation to Brighouse is complete and I’ve just come back online after 3 weeks in the dark (meaning no internet). Being offline would’ve be the perfect time to isolate myself and write (right?). Well, I didn’t. At least not as much as I wanted to. Moving homes was more stressful and time consuming than I thought, and now that I’ve got internet access again, I fear it’ll take at least another week before I’m up to speed with current events and can sit down and write full time again.
At least the view from the new apartment is spectacular (there are even cows in this picture. Cows!).
Last week marked The Manchester Anthology launch. It contains some amazing writing (including my own) and I’ll post a link to the kindle version when it becomes available on Amazon. If you want a physical copy, just leave a comment or send me a message.
And now it’s time to face the truth about my receding hairline and stock up on Regaine. Why can’t we just remain young? I think I’m having a mid-life crisis.
What is The Manchester Anthology 2014, you might ask. It’s an anthology with writing from every student graduating the Creative Writing MA at the University of Manchester;
This event marks the launch of a brand-new collection bringing together the exciting and varied work of 20 voices from the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing. Featuring poetry, short stories and novel extracts, and including published authors, prize-winners and competition shortlistees, this event showcases the melting pot of international talent that is The Manchester Anthology.
I have one poem and a short prose extract in the anthology, which will be sold at the event, and online afterwards. Besides my own writing, there’s some amazing stuff in there by my talented classmates, a foreword by Vona Groarke and new fiction by Ian McGuire. The entry is free so there’s no reason not to come (if you’re around). The event takes place on Wednesday 3 September, 6.30pm doors for a 7pm start, finishing around 8.30pm for 9pm. The International Anthony Burgess Foundation is on Cambridge Street. I’ll even sign the anthology for you (imagine that)! I hope to see some of you there.
With a month left on my Creative Writing MA I’m tugging away at my dissertation and thinking of the past year that I’ve spent in Manchester. It’s been amazing, frightening, difficult, and fun. Some of you have been in contact with me (via Facebook) inquiring how everything’s going since I haven’t been updating (which I apologize for, but writing about writing when I’m taking a break from writing and editing doesn’t exactly wind me down). I thought I’d share a handful of pictures I’ve taken since my last post in January (wow – that was half a year ago); including are a trip to London, some Manchester pictures, celebrating midsummer in Sweden, and lastly a picture of the gorgeous Speedback GT car, taken at yesterday’s fantastic launch event. My plan is the re-launch the site once I’ve got my MA with a completely new design and regular updates. Don’t forget, to all of those who’ve been requesting more from me, that you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter for frequent updates. Until next time!
Yesterday I handed in all my semester 1 coursework. Hurray for me! I felt liberated, happy, and went for £2 cocktails at Font bar close to the Uni. It was a good day. I was supposed to clean today (I’ve got course papers everywhere) but I slept instead – hah!
3 months of work – all bound and done!
I didn’t spend the last two months just studying. I went to Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry, the Christmas market, and back to Sweden to celebrate Christmas with my family and New Year’s with friends among other things.
Now I need to shower and head over to Lola Lo for a dinner. Stay classy (eh, Fred!) and I’ll be with you shortly, dear readers!
… Of Semester 1! In less than two weeks I have my last Creative Writing workshop and then it’s time to revise and edit like crazy before the January submission deadlines. I would like to say I am complaining (I really am stressed out) but it’s fun to write and edit, to grow and improve as an author. Having a room full of up-and-coming writers, and professionals such as Geoff Ryman, MJ Hyland, Vona Groarke – and next semester Jeanette Winterson and John Mcauliffe - is empowering and truly developing.
I do wish I could update this site weekly like I used to, but at the moment, there’s simply not enough time while I’m on the MA. Lucky for you guys it’s only a year long! But you know that already.
On the other hand you can look forward to a heap of new poetry from the course that I will publish here later! I will also talk about the changes made to them based on workshop feedback and what I’ve learnt in terms of writing poetry. You want a sneak peak? Sorry! You’ll have to wait.
Meanwhile, here are some pictures from my birthday! We wanted to go and eat at Luck Lust Liquor & Burn because they have famous burgers (at least around these parts). Turns out they didn’t take reservations and we had to wait a good 2h if we wanted to eat there. So we walked around for a bit and found another place with amazing burgers: SoLIta
What do you see here? Well - A burger topped with caramelized bacon (I ordered it just to see the wonder!), a lovely Espresso Martini, and a Peanut butter Chocolate Fudge Brownie with Oreo ice cream! My wonderful course friends were there, of course, but I am not sure they’d enjoy having their faces here – so I’ll stick with the food for now.
But Fred, where are all the pictures of Manchester? Of the University?
I actually forgot about that. Sort of. I’ll keep that in mind from now on and try to take more pictures. Give you the virtual tour, you know. Until then!
Last Saturday I met with one of my avid readers, of whose blog I frequently visit, Ben Naga! He is an amazing person and a great poet. We had a lovely time strolling through Manchester, talking about everything from poetry (what else?) to politics and travel. If you have not visited his site and read his poetry I highly recommend it!
Besides Lynne Truss and Ben Naga I have met a range of interesting authors and poets this past month (Nadeem Aslam, GC Waldrep, Audrey Niffenegger, and Ali smith to name a few)! Let’s hope that one day I will be the one to hold a workshop with a group of MA creative writing students.
Speaking of the MA, I better get back to revising some poetry for Monday. I greatly overestimated the amount of free time I would have. I ordered a bunch of books about a month ago that I thought I would have read by now. I haven’t even started! Oh well… At least they look nice on my bed stand.
I hope to have another post rather soon, hopefully something about my birthday (which is tomorrow)! Take care, and don’t forget, I still update my twitter and facebook frequently. Don’t forget to check them!
Today our class had a lovely workshop with none other than the Queen of punctuation, Lynne Truss! It was wonderful to hear the thoughts of such a humble yet astonishing figure. After the workshop she proceeded to have a short presentation about grammar, followed by a discussion with Jeanette Winterson. Punctuation makes a difference – mind you – and it’s easy to forget, at times, that a single misplaced blob of ink (or a wandering pixel) could change the meaning of a sentence. I am sure you have come across unintentional hilarity several times when revising your own work. It happens rather easy, doesn’t it? Well, you’re not alone. Once I get cracking on some extra-curricular reading I set myself ‘ll get her famous book Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
Meanwhile I’ll trust my instincts and auto-correct. Speaking of auto-correct: Both Jeanette and Lynne wrote with it turned off. I get it, it’s annoying to have blue underlines everywhere, but it also helps me catch an amazing number of mistakes. Maybe I’ll turn it off when I’m 70 and can write like Cormac Mccarthy.
Oh, and by the way, you should check out Lynne’s book! If there’s buzz, there’s a buzzing (Hah! That was lame).
There is a gym on the ground floor where I currently live which is for the development’s residents only. I have been going there nearly every day for the past two weeks to work out. It is empty 90% of the time and I have never seen more than two people in there.
So, a few days back I came down the stairs, punched in the gym pass code to open the door, and proceeded inside without even hearing the TV in the background I assumed it would be empty like always. Instead there was a large group of people, occupying nearly the whole premise, sitting in a half-circle facing a wall with some strange scribbles on it. They were all dressed in proper gym attire and I thought that maybe they were all personal trainers and just finished a meeting. But why would they sit in perfect silence and not say a word?
There was no way I would walk past them and access the free weights area so I jumped on a crosstrainer while waiting for them to leave. Moments later a short man walks in and all eyes immediately turn to him. He takes his place with his back against the scribbled wall, and says: “The internet has been around for 15 years and it is here to stay. The internet is the future.”
Did I hear that right? Did the short little man just begin a speech about the internet and its future in 2013? I was intrigued! Ho-ho.
Indeed, I had walked into a “web” lecture in our private gym. The short man discussed everything from WordPress to Google analytics and how important it was to use all forms of social media and enable “sharing” buttons (he was really keen on this! Sharing and liking was the future). Blogging was also essential – otherwise how are you going to deliver new content to your visitors ever day (perhaps an advice I should follow haha)?
After twenty minutes they promptly left in silence and I could go on with my workout. I am fairly certain I will never see any of them again.
I am back!
I am back from my break and sitting in my new residence in Manchester on an internet connection that went online last evening.
How was my move? A nightmare, honestly. What was supposed to be a quick and easy flight to Manchester to sign our tenant papers, get the keys, and move in became a two-day trip of sweat, heavy luggage, and cursing Danes.
I arrived at Copenhagen Airport in the early morning of September the 2nd, still tired from the non-sleep I got the previous night, where I checked in using one of automated SAS check-in machines, and took a step further into the airport. There I stopped. Just a few metres ahead of me – how I could have missed it when I first arrived is beyond me – stands an absolute mass off people. Whatever, I thought, I have checked in! All I had to do was drop off my luggage and I’d be on my way.
I pushed through the crowd and scanned for the “drop off” sign. After walking through the terminal once I realized there were no “drop off” signs. There were no counters opens! The same moment I realized this the speakers came on, some Dane with a whisky-voice mumbling something I could not comprehend, then came the English announcement. All security staff were on strike. All check-ins were closed.
So I find my place at the back of the massive queue stretching throughout the whole terminal and wait like the good citizen that I am. 1½h later and I stand in the same place and my flight leaves in ten minutes.
“Excuse me.” I say to an airport-person. “My flight leaves in ten minutes.”
“Then you’ll have to rebook your flight.”
“Oh?” I say, thinking of the letting papers that needed to be signed in four hours. “And how do I do that?”
The Danish dame, a descendant of Vikings, points across the terminal to another queue, even longer, leading up to an understaffed SAS office. I laugh with joy and clap my hands all the way to the end of the other line where I stand and wait for another two hours before it is my turn. I know there are four flights each day from Copenhagen to Manchester and knew I would get on one of them – but the remaining flights left in the evening so I still had to rebook my meeting with the letting agent (even worse, my girlfriend was in another terminal, flying with a different company later in the day, so I was completely alone. Coordinating all of this was hard).
Once at the SAS desk I ask another lovely Dane dame to put me on a later flight.
“I’m sorry,” she says. “They are all full.” What what what! What about my meeting? What about the papers that needed my signature? The striking security staff couldn’t care less. They must really be protesting something important to put the whole airport on halt. “But I can route you via Stockholm.” The SAS lady then said. “You will arrive in Manchester in precisely another eight hours.”
By that time the strike had ended and people were starting to man the check-in counters. I get my new flight information, head back to the self-check in machine, print boarding pass and everything else, and once again look for a “drop off” sign. I find it - Aha! - in front of – what else – another long queue. After an additional two hours I drop off my luggage and proceed through the security gates (I got lucky here and managed to sneak by a lot of inattentive people, hihi).
My girlfriend was fortunate and got on her flight, even though it was an hour or so late, and managed to reschedule with the letting agent for the following day, which meant a night at a hotel. Not too bad, I like hotels. What was more annoying was that we had two days set aside for decorating and buying essentials (one day at IKEA and one in the city centre). Now we only had time for IKEA.
We do our shopping, Ninnie leaves the next day, and I am left to setting up the broadband, reactivating my UK phone number, and so on. Not much can go wrong at this point, right? Right?
I immediately realise my postbox key doesn’t fit the lock.
“Excuse me,” I tell the property manager. “My key doesn’t work.”
“Well then it’s not your box now, is it?”
He was right. The letting agent had shown me the wrong postbox. I found out a few day later, after sending away some angry emails, when I stumbled upon it by accident. It was a hunch. The box carried the same number as my apartment, was in the same building (but at a different entrance I had never used before), so I shoved it in – and turned!
Inside was an heap of letters for the previous tenant. URGENT! WARNING! EXTREMELY IMPORTANT! LAST NOTICE! Looks like someone forgot to tell someone they moved.
I bring all the letters upstairs, look through them, mark them to be returned to sender, until I come across one addressed to “The Occupant.” That’s me! I thought and opened it up. It wasn’t for me, and I’m glad, for the letter inside explained why the previous tenant left in such hurry (it seems). There was an unpaid energy bill demanding over £1 000(!) – how can a bill even get that high? – and they had a warrant to enter the property and turn off the energy supply… Monday morning. It was Saturday, 4.46 pm. The phone lines for the energy company closed at 4pm. I gasped and picked up the phone, dialled the number, hoping someone had forgotten to go home from work that day. Guess what? They had – the call connected and after spending 20 minutes in a phone queue (somehow costing me £6 on my phone bill) I got in touch with a nice lady who asked what was wrong.
“Well…” I said. “It says they are going to cut my power. But I just moved in!”
She assured me she would sort everything out and that I could toss away any further mail I received not addressed to me (which was good, considering there was a court date for “the occupant.”)
By this time I also found out why a good portion of the commercial European air fleet was stranded in Copenhagen. The security gate personnel were not striking for some moral reason, like being underpaid or having dangerous working conditions, no. They objected to their new winter schedule. Hah!
I have now lived in my new apartment for two weeks and there are still things I need to settle and people I need to hear from (need to rent out the garage, get papers back from the Council, and so on) . I meet the MA group on Monday and classes start the following week. Let’s hope I don’t suffer writer’s block the moment I introduce myself. That way I get to spend more time with you, my fans and followers. I will now proceed to read all the pots and blogs that I missed during my absence. Take care!
It is the first day of September, and my last day (for now) in my apartment in Sweden. Tomorrow is the day that I move to Manchester and I’ve spent 2½ days cleaning so far. How jolly!
Again, I wish I had more time to write this past month but I have spent most of my time preparing for the move and being part of conferences related to a video game project I am working on where I am lead writer. The project is going really well! Part of the manuscript has already been recorded with voice actors (hurrah!). It is truly fascinating to hear your work being interpreted and acted out by professionals. I am hoping to have a video, or playable demo, for you within 2 months.
Once I have settle in Manchester I will return to my usual blogging pace (instead of monthly updates). But first I need to take a field trip to IKEA! Until then, here’s Ville the party cat!