Well, on Wednesday, poet and writer Tim Clare did me the honour of critiquing the first page of one of my short stories. You can see his editing suggestions his website here.
Tim's cuts were pretty brutal (I'm really glad I wrote under a pseudonym a la JK Rowling!) but they were also fair and constructive. It's pretty clear that the whole story needs a lot of work, so I'm really grateful to Tim for his advice.
I always find it incredibly tricky to edit my own work. I think it's because I'm so close to the material and so attached to the content, I find it hard to see the story from an outsider's perspective. In these situations, it's always useful to get someone else to proof read my stuff, even if only to confirm that it needs some heavy editing.
Rewriting then, and plenty of it!
On Thursday night, I had the very great pleasure of performing with Mr John Hegley, as part of the Arts Alive in Libraries initiative, organised by the lovely people at ADeC.
John's such a brilliant performer, and he has this great presence when he's on stage that really puts an audience at ease. It's definitely something I'd like to develop in my own performances in the future. He also did loads of audience participation, and I know that's something I'd really like to do with my own poems, so I was busy making lots of mental notes while John was on stage!
My set went down pretty well; the audience laughed in all the right places, and I sold my last three poetry pamphlets and gave out my blog address to a few people too. But the best part was being able to chat with John after the gig, and get some advice from a real poetry pro.
I was pretty starstruck, so I probably didn't make that much sense!
It was also really nice to meet with the ADeC crew, and I really hope I can work with them again in the future. They do a pretty awesome job organising and supporting arts in Cambridgeshire (and beyond) and I'm hoping they'll support me with a few projects. Watch this space!
On Saturday, I took a few friends down to Latitude in Suffolk. It's one of my favourite festivals, because there's just so much going on: as well as popular music, there's also a theatre stage, a comedy tent, a lecture theatre, and the biggest poetry arena on the UK festival circuit!
This year, my personal highlights included: Rob Auton and Nic Aubury in the poetry arena; Matts Rees, Shappi Korsandi, and Dylan Moran in the comedy tent; Jessie Ware, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Hot Chip in the Obelisk arena.
28 Sonnets Later Collective - Andy Bennett and Russell J Turner - played the poetry arena on the Friday, and I was really gutted to have missed their performances. I also secretly wished I'd applied for a slot this year, so I've promised myself that I'll give it a try in 2014. I don't know if I'll make it through, but you never know if you never try!
* * *
Next Sunday (28th July) I'll be taking part in the Allographic fundraiser in support of the Edinburgh Free Fringe Festival!
From 12 noon until 5pm, they'll be a poetry book fair on the first floor of the Fountain Inn on Regent Street in Cambridge, where you can come and browse through a selection of poetry magazines, collections and anthologies. There will also be pamphlets and CDs on sale from various local poets and spoken word artists, all at very reasonable prices. Then, at 7pm, the Fountain Inn will play host to a poetry open mic, featuring fantastic performances from poets from across the East of England.
I'll be doing a small set and trying out some new material, and it would be great to see you there if you're free. All proceeds will go towards funding for the Spoken Word programme at this year's Edinburgh Free Fringe Festival.