Sunday, 21 December 2008


Looking back over the writing year there have been some high spots and some low spots.

Highs would include working with Douglas on the Kafka’s Aunt letters. I have loved that. And the publication of Words from a Glass Bubble, and subsequent nice happenings and some lovely reviews. And focussing on poetry, getting a few small hits with that. And spending time at West Cork Lit Fest, and being invited to Frank O Connor Fest and meeting Jhumpa Lahiri. And my week at Anam Cara. And of course, hearing the brilliant successes of the Workhouse inmates. Fab! And last but not least, my teaching. Especially the residency at Felpham with year 10 students. A real high.

But for the first time, lows have overtaken the highs.
I am severely out of pocket, having lost £600 to the MPhil disaster, plus whatever bed and breakfasts and travel up to Cardiff costs. I have done as many readings as I can possibly do, each one costing train fares and so on.
I and several other writers have been treated appallingly by a local writing association, who commissioned workshops then have not paid us. I am owed a lot of dosh from them, and will not see it.
I have seen my book photocopied instead of being bought, for reading groups.

All this leaves me on a real low, which I can do nothing about, just acknowledge it, and move on. This blog was always about telling the truth and not hiding the bad bits to make myself look shiny when things are not always so.

I am looking forward to Christmas with my family, here. And then a six week break to Antarctica with Chris.

Happy Christmas, Happy New Year. Lots of Good Writing to everyone, and do treat each other well. It's a cold enough world out there.


Orbific said...

I'm very sorry to hear you see more low points than high points in this year. From afar things look to have gone well for you: I know a lot of people who've read your book and enjoyed it, and I've enjoyed seeing you read several times.

I hope that, as time goes on, the lows seem less important and you can look on 2008 as the success it seems to be from the outside.

And you must tell me about this holiday to Antarctica - is it an organised tour? I am so excited for you - I would love to go there.

(Have you read Sara Wheeler's book on the continent?)

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi James, thanks for dropping by, and sorry to hear you hadnt been well. The reading looks to have been really good... well done you.

And thanks for the nice things you say. I will put them in a pot and open the lid now and again.

This is the trip, intended to be a big birthday thing for Chris, but it has turned into a retirement thing. never done anything like it before, and won't again.

Alex Keegan said...

So Van,

is Antarctica the icing on the cake?

I thought I recognised those penguins.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Maybe the icing on a layer cake. When I'm low I see the negatives, when I'm high I see the good bits.

The penguins are friends of mine. They smell a bit, but they are great company.

Tania Hershman said...

V, I know you well enough by now to know that platitudes and exclamations of love and appreciation from me and others won't help right now. I understand how you feel. Photocopying of your book and non-payment for workshops is absolutely shitty, makes my blood boil.

I wish you an amazing, cleansing time in Antarctica, I cannot wait to hear about it. May next year be one where the Highs tip the balance greatly and where you are fruitful and happy with all your projects. T xx

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Thanks, T. My very own 'White Road'. I am looking forward to it... but not to the organisation needed for packing!


Charles Lambert said...

Well, I had a semi-sleepless night last night thinking about how writing, and being published, and being read sometimes felt like three only tenuously connected phenomena, and whether I was very or only slightly unhappy about this. And then I had an email from someone this morning who said that one of my stories had convinced him that writing did, after all, serve some purpose, so that cheered me up no end, and reminded me of the adage about one good reader being all a writer needs. I'm not sure Jen and Chris would agree, though! (To be honest, neither do I. I think we all deserve millions of good readers...) And now my neighbour's just died, unexpectedly, which puts everything into perspective.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi Charles

yep, things do come along to put things into perspective.

I think I am suffering from the long-distance writer syndrome. ie: Climb a mountain (have a book published) and all there is in front of you is another mountain. And not even a tiny pot of copper coins!

I look at the stuff that gets publishers excited and I know I am not writing enough commercial words. And I dont like reading most of the stuff that fits that category, so why would I want to write it?

doris said...

Pretty shoddy behaviour from the local writing association - and admirable restraint from you in not naming them. Maybe a flood of "publicity" is just what they'd need to help open the checkbook. Of course, here in California, there'd be more lawsuits than you could shake a stick at.....
Your writing, talent in enabling others to write, and enthusiasm to share your passion has brought happiness to how many people this year? That's got to be a huge sense of accomplishment.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Thing is, they've done good stuff in the past. I've just got caught in the downturn. But I wont be working for anyone next year unless they are big in pocket and spirit.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Thanks D,

Ends and beginnings.