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And now we welcome the New Year. Full of things that have never been.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Isn’t that a glorious quote for the new year? January is a difficult month, everyone is full of lethargy and Christmas excess. This year it seems like all our heroes are dying. The weather is awful. The nights are long and dark. It’s hard to get motivated. For a writer it can be the most depressing time of year. I have often found it hard to get started. If I haven’t written for a couple of weeks, getting back into stride can feel like climbing a mountain. It’s all a matter of perspective of course, as Rilke’s quote illustrates. This year I am determined to see the new year not in terms of the past but in terms of what’s to come.

Rilke was himself was a wanderer, a traveller of no fixed location, he sought lovers and patronage and never truly settled. He moved from one possibilty to another, across Europe into the Middle East and Russia, back to Paris and then, fatefully,Switzerland where he died at 51 of leukemia. A short and packed life of longing and regret that produced breathtaking poetry. Read some.

This year my resolution isn’t to lose weight or drink less! I probably will, but under no pressure to do so, 2016 will instead be a year of action. I have plans. I have words to write and opportunities to exploit. I have a fully finished short story collection and a half finished novel. This year I will find an agent and a publisher and move things on and if I don’t find either I will move things on anyway. There is always a way. There are always things that have never been.

The first Rattle Tales show of 2016 takes place on Feb 16th at The Brunswick in Hove. We had an amazing response to our call for submissions and we are reading through them all now to come up with a programme as varied, entertaining and thought provoking as all our shows. Do come along and see what we are all about.

Rattle_Poster_Word Feb 2016

I am involved in two very exciting projects this year. Firstly, The Brighton Prize (of which I am a co-director) enters its third year and we are in a position to expand. The competition will go international for the first time and we are adding categories for flash fiction and local writers. I will have more information on this very soon but we recently asked for volunteers to help us develop the prize, and Rattle Tales in general, and were literally overwhelmed by the response. I’m really looking forward to the group taking this project forward and to working with new, talented and enthusiastic people.

I am also involved in The Beach Hut Writing Academy, a new writing school established by professional writers in Brighton. I did my first course for them last year, co-teaching on short story practice with Bridget Whelan, and it was a very enjoyable success. The new courses begin on Jan 21st with a Fiction Writing course run by best-selling author Aramanita Hall and then a TV and Radio course taught by Sue Teddern and Hannah Vincent. Our most ambitious plan for early 2016 is a writers conference in Brighton on March 12th. Write by the Sea will feature, best-selling authors, publishers and agents taking part in panel discussions, workshops and one to one pitches, all at the beautiful sea front venue The Angel House. We have agents Simon Trewin, David Headley and Sharon Bowers, Cornerstones Literary Agency, local publishers Myriad Editions, The Writer’s Guild of Great Britain, authors Simon Toyne, Julia Crouch, Lizzie Enfield, Laura Wilkinson, Araminta Hall, Catherine Quinn, Kate Harrison, Sarah Rayner, Sue Teddern, Bridget Whelan, Jo and Emlyn Rees, William Shaw and me. There will also be one to ones where you can pitch or discuss your current project. The full programme is available on our website and the early bird rate is in place until Jan 24th.

Before I had a publisher for Starlings I attended a similar event at The Jubilee Library run by New Writing South. I met other writers, agents and publishers and came away with a wealth of advice and contacts that really helped me get my book published. Rattle Tales is sponsoring a session on Writing A Prize-winning Short Story and so two worlds collide. You’d be crazy to miss it.

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