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Immigrant Song on Flight Paths

17 December 2008 in Flight Paths | Comments (0)

The poet Simon Perril gave us poem ‘Immigrant Song’ to put on ‘Flight Paths’ recently.  Since then, he has recorded a podcast of himself reading the poem for the website PoetCasting.

Immigrant Song by Simon Perril

If you want to find it on the ‘Flight Paths’ site, where it resides with a copy of the text, click on the link and go to the Chapter Two tab.

I and me

16 December 2008 in The Mistress of Nothing | Comments (0)

I know I said I was finished revising my novel, but it turns out not to be true.

Anyway, at the moment I’m obsessed with when is the right time to use ‘Omar and me’, and when is the right time to use ‘Omar and I’.  I was always confused about this, but I’ve become more confused because people use ‘Omar and I’ when they are trying to talk proper, when in fact, the correct usage is ‘Omar and me’.  ‘People’ in this case means my main character Sally, who is a Lady’s maid (I can’t believe I wrote a whole novel about a Lady’s maid, but that’s another story), and she likes to talk proper, so she’d be the type of person who would confuse ‘Omar and me’, with ‘Omar and I’ and use it incorrectly.  But in a novel where, generally, the rest of her English usage is perfectly fine, trying to get away with an incorrect ‘Omar and I’ to show that she doesn’t really talk proper, but just thinks she does, can’t work.  So now I’m completely confused about the whole thing, and will have to rely on a patient copy-editor to help me sort out the mess.

Happy days!

Flight Paths update

10 December 2008 in Flight Paths | Comments (0)

I had a mail on Friday from Carolyn Guertin, Director of the eCreate Lab at the University of Texas at Arlington, asking for some guidance for her students who want to contribute to ‘Flight Paths’.  It’s great to have her interest in and support for the project, but it is slightly alarming that these media arts students, doubtless highly web-savvy, are a bit baffled by how to contribute.  This supports the conversation that Chris and I have been having about finding ways to make the project more accessible, and more inviting to contributors.  I sent Carolyn the following as a reply:

“Chris and I are actually in the midst of rethinking the overall structure and approach as it is clear that people find it hard to find a way in to the story.  However, unconnected fragments are often very fruitful we find - so feel free to send us those as well.  We are going to create five little flash story hot points over the next few weeks and maybe if I run through those for you, this will help your students:

1)  Yacub before he stows away - working in Dubai in construction, alongside many other Pakistanis.  He’s a young man working hard to try to get ahead.

2)  Yacub at the airport at home in Pakistan before he stows away.

3)  Harriet in London on her way to do the weekly shop for her family.  She’s a middle-aged woman with a radical political past that she’s put behind her - has tried to forget in some ways.

4)  Harriet as she watches Yacub fall from the sky.  Yacub as he falls.

5)  Harriet and Yacub after his fall:  Yacub wakes up dead, but to Harriet he is alive, and a story develops here as he follows her through her life.

These might change, but we are thinking if we create five little flash stories around these points, people can then add their own bits and pieces.  It might be useful for them to enter the story via the point of view of either Harriet or Yacub.  Any kind of media is good for us. “

Hopefully, this will help her students and, once we get these little stories up and running, help make ‘Flight Paths’ more accessible in general.

Mistress of Nothing rewrites

4 December 2008 in The Mistress of Nothing | Comments (0)

I’ve managed to get through the rewrite of my new novel, ‘The Mistress of Nothing’.  My editor, Ruth Petrie, had gone through the manuscript and made a series of excellent comments and suggestions, both large and small.  Nothing too large, thankfully, nothing structural; it’s the structure and voice and point of view of this novel that has given me such grief over the past 13 years or so. Luckily, by the time Ruthie saw it, I had solved most of those problems and am left with tightening things up, elaborating some points, adding dialogue, clarifying, making minor cuts and adjustments.  I hadn’t read the novel since Feb of this year, and having had a good long break away from it has enabled me to come back to it with a degree of freshness I wasn’t expecting.

At the moment I am typing in the corrections to the manuscript, having made all my changes to it with red, black, and blue pens on the printed manuscript.  Once I’ve done that, I’ll print it out once again and read it through one more time before sending it off to Serpent’s Tail here in the UK, and McArthur & Co in Canada.

Let the foreign sales pour in!  Let the prizes and accolades rain down! Let the supermarkets place mass orders!

Yes indeed.

Tunis day-dream/ banned sites on the internet

1 December 2008 in Flight Paths Future of Publishing Online MA in CWNM | Comments (0)

Just back from Tunis where I spent a couple of days working as part of the Medi-Cafe group for the British Council.  We had a productive time, mixing discussions about the art and craft of writing with discussions about the Maghreb, in particular, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria.  As always, the Tunisians were great hosts - we spent our working sessions in a palace on the sea in Carthage.  Seriously. A palace on the sea in Carthage.  I sat by this window for a while during one session - I could hear the sea outside and the sun shone on my legs.  Sun!  In November!  Why do I live in northern Europe?  Why did that seem like a good idea at the time?

An issue that arose during some of our discussions was this:  the Tunisian government has taken to banning websites, including You Tube and the Daily Motion, two of the most important sites world-wide for sharing videos. One of my students was telling me that she can’t access most of the videos on ‘Flight Paths’ and we wondered why… but of course many of those videos are hosted on You Tube and linked to from there into the Netvibes Universe that hosts ‘Flight Paths’.  Chris and I will need to rethink the strategy of keeping videos on You Tube.

Banned sites has been a bit of a feature of my teaching of late, as on the online MA in Creative Writing and New Media we’ve discovered that our students in Oman and Ethiopia can’t access Skype - banned by the gov’ts who have done deals with phone companies to prevent access to free telephony.  We use Skype a lot in our teaching, but will find alternatives now.  Also, Oman bans googlegroups. Banning You Tube seems particularly draconian.  But that’s the Tunisian gov’t for you.  Maybe being allowed to live in northern Europe isn’t such a bad thing after all…