I'm heading to Dublin for the weekend in an hour, and in lieu of packing, here I am on blogger, like a sad case. I'm planning on packing some of the reading list for the MA - the course starts in less than a month, and panic is starting to set in - not enough read, certainly not enough written, and don't even mention the looming horror of moving house, let alone trying to fit in enough paid work amongst the madness to finance the rent I've already paid out in advance. Terrifying.

Each week on the course we'll have a seminar and a workshop, and every two weeks there'll be an additional seminar with Martin Amis. The reading will probably be manageable, and about half of it I've read before, so though I'll probably re-read most of it, it's definitely do-able. Getting back in the academic mindset after six years out will be more awkward. I expect I'll become something of a library gnome, hunched over critical texts, trying to drag my brain out of retirement, and writing deep into the night and getting all sleep-deprived and narky. Anyway, the reading begins today with some Henry James for the plane, and now that I've got a couple of weeks without much work (though including a house move, urgh) I should be able to get a chunk of writing done.

In terms of this blog, I've been looking at another one, The MFA Chronicles, and I like what they're up to, so I think I'm going to do a copycat job on it here, sort of, by keeping a record of my experience on a creative writing MA. I'll post notes on the structure of the course, the workshops, how I think it's effecting my writing, etc - a whole bunch of self-obsessed crap, more than likely, but you never know, somebody might be interested, and I think I'd have been interested in an equivalent log, a year ago. So let's give it a go. It's the MA course in Creative Writing in the University of Manchester, and I'll be starting as a full-time student on September 21st 2009. Stay tuned...

PANK Interview

I spoke too soon - here's a writing-related thing that's happened: PANK have interviewed me about my story The Girl In The Glass, published in the August issue. Thank you, Roxane!

All Apologies

I've been very slack with the old blog this week; if anyone's held their breath with anticipation for so long that their head's fallen off or their lungs exploded or something else equally gruesome and unappealing, then sorry, but, dude, really, you should have just gone and browsed Wikipedia or some shit. That's probably what I was doing instead of updating. Ahem.

I've actually been hunting houses, and have found one - well, part of one, a flat - in South Manchester, so woo-hoo for that, and, thanks to an expensive overlap in my new contract beginning and the tenants moving into my Birmingham flat, I'll be spending this next month wandering back and forth between the two cities, putting things into boxes and taking them back out again at a leisurely pace. I'm the opposite of homeless - I have an overabundance of places to live. Though, their powers combined, they could impoverish me to a pretty malnourished state by mid-September. Please send food parcels.

Writing-wise, nothing much is happening, a couple of publications pending and a few outstanding submissions, and I've got a ton of reading to do, but hopefully once the packing is underway it'll all pick up. You all hang in there now, 'kay?

Boiler Blues

This morning the postman spent an unprecedented number of minutes outside my front door shoving a glorious number of book parcels inside, and I think he got revenge on me for aggravating the housemaid's knee and awful back condition he undoubtedly possesses by somehow instructing the universe to kick me in the metaphorical balls; my hot water boiler upped and died like a pathetic coughing snivelling bastard about an hour after the postman left.

Do you know how many books I could get for the price of a new boiler? About a gazillion, let me tell you that.

My levels of enthusiasm for home ownership are not peaking right now. RENT, PEOPLE, RENT! But I have consumed enough sugar (in the form of emergency cookies, thanks Andy) this afternoon to keep me blasting through the days and days of cold-showers-and-no-washing-machine that lie ahead until I get this whole sorry mess sorted.

If only the iPhone had a hot shower app.


While waiting for the aforementioned books to arrive, I lost the plot altogether and joined Twitter. I'm here if anyone wants to follow me doing nothing much in 140 character blocks; username valerieoriordan. If I'm not updating much, it's because I'm tragically unwitty and panicking about it. (Hey - maybe I should tweet that?)


I got my preliminary reading lists for my MA the other day, and went on an Amazon spree. For the sake of my bank balance, I'm relieved that I've already got quite a few of them, but I'm looking forward to plowing through the rest (or some of the rest) in the next month before classes start. There's a decent mix, from Bolano through to Chekhov and Muriel Spark, and a few critical texts, which it would behove me to read in the meantime, though whether I will bother doing that remains to be seen. It's been a staggering six years since I've had to read an academic textbook, and though I'm excited now, I guess I could give myself a generous estimate of a week in the libray before I'm pounding my head off the deskwith the same frustration that working for a living currently inspires in me. In the meantime, the househunting search begins in earnest, and I've got books to read.


The new PANK is out now, and I've got a piece in there. Thanks Roxane!

Every Day Fiction

I've got a flash up on Every Day Fiction today; thanks EDF guys! If anyone wants to head on over there and vote for my story, I'll be your friend for ever and ever.


I've got one hundred posts under my belt. Par-tay!

Now, contrary to this evidence, I absolutely do not have too much time on my hands. In fact, I have so little time on my hands, I'm so overwhelmingly busy, that this post is coming to you from the past! Oh, yes; this is time-travel, ye internete folke - from the mists of August 11th this post comes. Creepy? You're not as creeped-out as me; who knows what kind of mixed-up futuristic madness awaits me? I might be addressing a horde of robotic monkey clone sheep monster machines.

It's totally possible.

Anyway, if there hasn't been an apocalypse in the meantime, I've got a humble request for the three of you that read this, the three of you that I love so much.

I'm taking part in a half-marathon in London this October, and I'm trying to raise money for Cancer Research UK. This is the fundraising link. It's a cause with particular resonance for me at the moment, as you'll see if you click through. I feel a little cheeky petitioning the world at large for cash like this, but the older I get, the more people I know whose lives are completely blown apart by cancer, and the more funding the research gets, the greater the chance that the disease might one day be eradicated. So if you can spare a penny, please support us.

And if I collapse at the finishing line, I promise I'll post a photo.

Another Day, Another Riot

I used to listen to Toasted Heretic quite a bit back in my post-university script-writing-on-the-dole days. (€3.50 a day budget, no lunch unless you were buying, oh-god-somebody-give-me-a-job - ah, memories.) But I never made the connection between their frontman Julian, and the novelist Julian Gough, until a couple of days ago, when I had a look at his blog. Then I felt like a prize buffoon. I mean, really, though; how many Julians have you heard of? Anyway, for the sake of the poor old days, check out this video of maybe their best known song, and this interview on The Den, my favourite TV show as a kid, and the rightful home of Zig and Zag before they sold out to the Brits and went all 'cool'. Oh yes.

Status Update

So, how would the Bennets and the Bingleys and all the rest of them manage in modern times? Just fine, it would seem. I think this is one of the funniest things I've seen online in ages; it just goes to show what a nerd I really am. (For you non-Facebookers out there - get with the programme, dudes, even Mr Collins is doing it.)

On A Day Like This

Jessica's rapidily ascending wordcount has put the shivers up me, so I've implemented a word-meter thing over there on the right - just to publically shame myself, you understand, because there's nothing like your three followers knowing you've done sweet-*&£%-all for a week to get those demons jumping. And jumping they are. I wrote more than a few paragraphs today, had a hack at a couple of old flashes and sent them out, and even made dinner. That's considerably more of an accomplishment that the rest, because I'd rather eat crackers three times a day than chop and fry things. (Andy, if you're reading this, I can take care of myself when you're out of town. In a manner of speaking.) I've also been listening to Elbow obsessively since returning from Norfolk, and it's all Zoe's fault. She won't know that because she doesn't do blogs. Zoe doesn't procrastinate like I do. Zoe's like a super-writer-lady. We love you, Zoe.

Bollocks to the Wellingtons

I got back this afternoon from a very lovely trip to Norfolk. I'd never been to that part of the world before. I loved the flat expanse of it all, and the vast skies overhead. Five hour train trips are pretty low on my list of sensible activities, though; I worked out by horrible trial that typing on the train makes me feel utterly nauseous, although I'm ready to concede that that may be my brain's ultimate procrastination strategy. Don't write, it makes you puke. No worries, brain; I'll try to sleep with my head banging off the window instead. Comfy.

Anyway, thank you, Zoe (who probably won't read this) for a fantastic time - great food, trips to the beach, much nattering, and my gazillionth viewing of Withnail & I. Unlike those gents, I went on holiday on purpose. I got some very useful writing done, and I feel properly set up to carry on with my current project. I've got a few days off now, so I'll see how far I can get before people make me do other stuff for cash again. The nerve.

off for a bit

Off to Norfolk in five minutes for a four day retreat. Coool. Five and a half hours on the train - bit daunting. See y'all Tuesday.