My (Writerly) Year in Review.
February: Following Francine Prose's recommendation in READING LIKE A WRITER, I worked through a volume of Chekhov's short stories together with some of his advice on writing. I agree with what Ms Prose says about these - every writer should read them.
March: Two books stand out from this month - Tamar Yellin's KAFKA IN BRONTËLAND - a superb collection of short stories - and also James Meek's NOW WE ARE BEGINNING OUR DESCENT. This is about an unusual love affair of two war correspondents in Afghanistan, but the sections based in London and the US are the parts that affected me the most - an unforgettable book.
April: The month of the Shed - but I also managed to fit in a trip to London to see Marcus Chown - science writer extraordinaire (author of THE MAGIC CRUCIBLE and QUANTUM THEORY CANNOT HURT YOU amongst others), and a talented writer for children. I also attended a fascinating conference at the Louis Pasteur Institute and went to a magnificent gala dinner at the Invalides in Paris.
May: This was devoted to my writing of my proposal for a non-fiction book - an on-going project.
June: My contract with Seren books for the publication of my Patagonia book finally arrived - I was also sent a literary tea towel with a great little Alan Bennett book (THE UNCOMMON READER).
July: One memorable day this month I not only saw the Psychobuildings Exhibition in the Hayward Gallery in London but also went to the 'Creativity in Science and Literature' debate (with unexpected guest-author Ian McEwan) at the Royal Geographical Society. This was also the month that I finally and officially got a new agent (Peter Tallack).
August: I interviewed Eli Gottlieb, author of the NOW YOU SEE HIM - a superlative novel on the theme of loss, and then, at the end of the month, went to the Nature Network Blogging Conference at the Royal Institution.
September: A busy month and hard to choose one thing - but I started Nicholas Crane's GREAT BRITISH JOURNEYS and had the great pleasure of interviewing and meeting the author (again) slightly later.
October was a sad month, but I interviewed Paul Parsons the author of THE SCIENCE OF Dr WHO and went to a few events in the local literature festival. I also took part in Tania Hershman's Book Tour for her entertaining and thought-provoking selection of New-Scientist-inspired stories THE WHITE ROAD.
November: I finished reading and interviewed the author of DON'T SLEEP THERE ARE SNAKES, Dan Everett - an inspiring man and book - and went to Liverpool St George's Hall and saw my friend Jan win a prize for her short story.
December: My book was held aloft by Jack Dee on LEAD BALLOON (a red-letter day) and I read Elizabeth Baines's BALANCING ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLD. Elizabeth Baines is a superb stylist - a latter-day fabulist in fact - and her writing reminded me of Chekhov's in that it was spare and paid attention to the subtleties of everyday experience. I am looking forward to hosting Elizabeth on one of her stops on her forthcoming book tour.
Anyway, a good year, certainly a lot happier than the last few years, and even though nothing very much has come of it so far, I feel privileged to have experienced it.