Where does the time fly? It’s already halfway through November, the leaves have mostly fallen and most of us are in some kind of Covid-19 restriction. I don’t like the word ‘lockdown’ as it conjures up imprisonment and if you think you are not free, then you won’t be free. I’ve already put up more lights around the house and have put up the Christmas tree a little earlier this year. I think we all need some extra festive cheer! I count my blessings daily and continue to be careful and hope that things will be much brighter next year. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
This blog is about connecting with others. I recently signed up to become a book penpal with two schools and one of them, Two Mile Hill Primary have sent me bundles of artwork and letters - you can see some on my Instagram. It’s made me so happy to receive such thoughtful and lovely letters from the children. I love the questions they have asked such as:
What is my favourite book?
What is my favourite food?
And how is my hamster doing?
I shall be happy to answer those questions in another letter to this next week. Letters are a wonderful way of connecting, especially in these troubled times. There is nothing like getting real post through the door! Is there someone you could write a letter to that you haven't connected with in a long time?
Since my last blog I have been working on various projects. As part of my fellowship with Moat Brae and Creative Scotland I wanted to learn more about writing picture books for younger children. They are definitely tricky despite the short word count.
I began a picture book course at City Lit, this time it was the advanced picture book course with Lou Kuenzler. Lou is an experienced tutor and does not mince her words. I’ve learnt a lot already and have had my story about a special armchair workshopped by the other participants in the group. There have been some brilliant stories written by the group and by reading and critiquing other people’s words you can learn so much about your own writing too.
I’ve also had 1-2-1s with editors and PR people in publishing as part of the first Scottish BAME Writers Network which was on the 7-8th November. The conference was wholly online, well organised and the 1-2-1s were brilliant. It made me feel hopeful that there was support for more writers of colour coming up through the ranks here in Scotland.
I’m always thinking ahead and so I spoke to one editor about a new children’s book idea that will be set in Scotland and is wholly inspired by Moat Brae. I met with another editor and talked about adult graphic novels and with another editor I talked about me memoir idea. I might not be able to work on those ideas fully yet but it’s good to have ideas always bubbling around in your head as you never know when the next opportunity will arise.
I’ve had more interview material sent to me from Flora, the Chair at Peter Pan Moat Brae which I know will inform my fantasy story idea based around the uses of the house over time. I am feeling positive that next Spring I can spend more time at Moat Brae as a Covid-19 vaccine looks likely and hopefully there will be more structures in place for safe travel and ways of living. One of the exciting things about listening to Flora and knowing more about the building is realising that I might actually be writing historical fiction in some way, which was not something I had considered before.
Last week I had two full days learning about writing for children’s TV and it was informative and tiring at the same time as I was on zoom with the other participants for hours and hours. There was definitely a ‘zoom fatigue’ by 6pm! But again, if I want to be good at a certain kind of writing, I need to put the effort in to learn about it, try it, make mistakes, and get better at it. I know it will take me years to feel confident as a screenwriter and these are the early stages now, where I am learning and growing. I also finished the final (I hope) version of my short film Folding which is due to be filmed next year now due to Covid restrictions.
And finally, the uncorrected proofs of my debut novel Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths arrived last week. It’s a chance for me to go over the book again, read it out loud and see what I can change. It will be proofread once more by a professional too. Then the publisher sends out copies for early endorsements from other authors in the hope they like it and can champion it. It is feeling more real as the months go on, that I will have a book, a novel written by me in bookstores around the world. It feels like a milestone in my career and I'm grateful for every moment of it.
I'm looking forward to warm nights with the fire on, hot chocolate and Christmas movies on the tele!