This is just a quick one as between packing for a brief trip to Milan this weekend, I am finalising and editing a short story for a competition that closes on Sunday (Shooter Lit magazine, if anyone is interested). I’ve also been to a short story reading evening this week for The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award, which was brilliant but I came home and promptly fell asleep – doing little to no writing in the process.

Add to that a nice trip to the hospital to check on some precanceorus cells, along with a rather painful biopsy, and you have a very busy week. Leaves little time for reading, but at least I have a few coach, plane and train journeys this weekend to squeeze some in. Once I finish editing the short story, anyway.


Just started… Reasons To Stay Alive (Matt Haig)
I’ve written a bit about my experiences of depression and anxiety, and I downloaded this a while ago in an effort to help me feel a bit more positive. Although I’m feeling much better now – and, I must stress, not suicidal during this period at all – I think this should help to keep whatever it is at bay a bit more. It can’t hurt, anyway.

In the middle of… Trigger Warning (Neil Gaiman)
I haven’t made much progress with it, but so far I love it. This is the kind of weird, fantastical fiction I would dearly like to be able to write, but my style is more like the Stone Mattress collection I read from Margaret Atwood a few weeks ago (shall we call it ‘dark realism’?).

The rest

TV: Masterchef. Okay, this is a terrible thing to write about, but I love Masterchef. (I may or may not be watching it as I type.) One of my most burning but unachievable ambitions is to be Gregg Wallace. Who else is paid to eat for a living, with no skill or responsibility attached to it? He doesn’t write a column. He doesn’t review anywhere. He just eats and enjoys some bloody lovely food, and makes a few noises along the way. Gregg Wallace is my idol.

I was gifted a copy of his autobiography a couple of birthdays ago. Maybe one day I’ll write a review.

No, really. This is what I want to be.

Music: Villagers. I don’t have a writing soundtrack, but I do have a commuting one. Villagers have been a favourite since I discovered them about a year ago, with Becoming a Jackal being one of my favourite albums and songs of all time. Try that album first (skipping Pieces, as it’s the weakest track), and then go for {Awayland} followed by Darling Arithmetic. They’re storytelling songs, reminiscent in that way of Belle & Sebastian, so it’s worth paying attention to the lyrics while enjoying the beautiful music that accompany them.

Apps: Headspace. I downloaded this a while ago, attempted it on my commute and failed miserably. But I did recommend it to my father, who is keen on all things meditation, and now he is recommending it back to me – I’ve promised to give it another go. This weekend away might be a good opportunity to get back into it.

I’ll be eating gelato and swanning around the duomo for the next few days (if they let me in this time – last time I tried to go to the one in Florence but my unremarkable shorts and t-shirt were considered too slutty to risk entering the building, as if I would spontaneously combust with shame upon entry). Got some stuff planned for when I return, though, and my downtime will be spent on feverish keyboard-bashing.

Have an excellent weekend, and let me know if you have any book, music, TV, podcast, app, film, or otherwise recommendations in the comments below.