8 November 2002
Happy daze. Yesterday I finished the first serious chunk, about fifteen thousand words of what I hope will be the next fantasy novel; one more such chunk to go (done his section, now I just have to do hers), and we can start showing it to people. Nervous, but nice. And I had an e-mail from a real live reader in the US, a thing that happens far less often than most people think; and news came, also from the States, which means that a favourite project of mine, that I thought was dead in the water, may be revived after all. So I went to bed quite bouncy, despite having sat up to watch a depressingly tedious film (The Human Factor, from Graham Greene's novel; even allowing for the seventiesishness of it all, Lordie, it was dull. And Tom Stoppard wrote the script, which I find extraordinary, as it lacked both the crispness of Greene and the wit of Stoppard. Nicol Williamson just looked bored with the whole enterprise from the start, and quite right too).
And today? Today I jumped on a train to York, where they have an annual lesbian book festival, organised by the crime writer Jenny Roberts who also runs Libertas, the women's bookshop in the city. Manda Scott is featuring this year, this weekend, and started with a lunchtime reading today in the library. I haven't seen Manda for altogether too long, since we got her up to the Durham Litfest in the summer. So I went down and walked in and the first person I saw was Stella Duffy, whom I hadn't seen for even longer, and didn't even know would be around. My fellow Murder Squaddie John Baker was there too, not quite so unexpectedly, as he lives in York. Jenny read, and so did Stella (from her story Martha Grace in the Tart Noir anthology, which has just won the CWA Dagger for best short story of the year) - and then, just in time, Manda turned up, having aquaplaned down from Glasgow through storm and tempest, by her own account. Popular vote and a ruling from the chair required her to read from the upcoming Boudica, vol 1 of a trilogy which is going to be sensational (published in February next year, so be ready).
Afterwards we adjourned to Betty's, where else? - Manda, Stella, John, self and the great Sandi Toksvig, where we sat in a window and improved the state of the world for a while; then they all went dashing off to other appointments while I who had none meandered slowly home, pausing only to discover none of the Outremer books in Borders (bah, humbug!). Checking the shelves in bookshops is one of those fatal writerly habits, much like picking the scab off a never-healing wound; it's only going to make you feel good if you're a bestseller already, at which point presumably you don't feel the need to look (tho' I must ask one of my more successful friends if that's true, if they do rise above it; it might be one of those utterly native behaviours that can't be escaped, like beautiful people constantly glancing in mirrors: not vanity, just reassurance, confirmation, it's still there...).
© Chaz Brenchley 2002
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.