Tuesday, 29 April 2014


I'm not quite sure of the of the origins of this series, but I was flattered to be asked to contribute by esteemed Manchester blogger, novelist, and dapper man-about-town Greg Thorpe, by way of Emma Jane Unsworth I think (and also somehow Zoe Lambert, who've I've never met but who seems like a very nice lass judging by the writing on her blog).

Greg's answers are here. My nominees are sensational cultural critic/fiction writer Rhian E. Jones and music critic, poet, and all-round literary renaissance man Darran Anderson.
What am I working on?

At the moment I'm waiting for a couple of books to come out, and tying together some other ideas in the hope that they'll coalesce into a new project. There's an essay for Glasgow quarterly The Drouth about the Anglo-Scottish borders which will hopefully come out around the time of the independence referendum: a Yes vote is looking increasingly likely so I think we have to start thinking seriously now about what will happen to the North of England after Scottish secession. Aside from another, more academic essay about Ezra Pound's late poetry, I'm trying to work out how to corral my willfully disparate output into a single book about something or other. I've done two short-ish books now so something a bit bigger would be good. The poetry is ongoing too, and sporadic, as poetry tends to be - the latest accretion is here.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Following on from the last question, I think one of my biggest preoccupations is trying to work out what genre is best for saying the things that need to be said at this moment in time. I think it's quite a strange period for art in general and countercultural art in particular - lots of the old forms and genres are a bit lost, a bit enervated, and we're awaiting some sort of social development that will re-organise culture in a way that will give a bit more shape to the way we experience art collectively. At the moment the culturescape is a kind of Darwinian sludge pit, with lots of competing individuals and not much agreement about the underlying point of it all. I think that both the big strength and the big weakness of my writing is that it's not yet quite committed to one genre, but hopefully interesting because it's trying to think about how you might create a new genre that's responsive to the spirit of the age and anticipatory about the big societal bang - whatever it may be - that's just around the corner. Maybe something like lyric criticism or lyric non-fiction would be a good term for it. And I think with poetry, similarly: lyric realism or something like that.

Why do I write what I do?

Look, I'm just doing what I'm doing do and if anyone else likes it ... Only joking. I'm trying to say a handful of things that I think are important - I don't really have a problem with that fundamental bedrock. It's more the stuff about genre and form and positioning, and of course trying to persuade people to publish that's the hard part.

How does my writing process work?

I don't really have a set method, partly because, like most people, I live and work pretty precariously with very little routine or long-term job security. When I get a book project to work on it's quite liberating, and I try to work for five hours a day, morning to afternoon, five days a week, until the book's done, if I can. More than that and your concentration starts to slip. I tend to write in short, closely worked-on chunks of 500-700 words at a time and keep the editing at the end to a minimum. Poetry is obviously very different - short bursts followed by continual revisions, sometimes over many years, mainly tied up with the issues of publication and cultural positioning outlined above.

No comments: