In recent weeks I've been vocal (or should I say, 'writey'?) about the advantages of winter for writers. It's cold, it's dark - perfect weather for staying in, and what better to do with your enforced time indoors than getting stuck into the latest project? I've got me a pair of fingerless gloves and a whole bag of mulled wine spices - so I'm all equipped for it.
At last, I've got a perfect routine going. Work is such that I get home early enough, and emotionally equipped and energetic enough to get a bit of work done most evenings. But you know what really grebs away at the time? Things. Stuff. Crap tasks, like going to the post office, and putting the washing in. It's not just that I resent housework for being an instrument of oppression to women (Emmeline Pankhurst didn't chain herself to the railings so I could waste my time vacuuming the stairs, that's what I always say), but also as a drudge, an idiotic waste of time, and worst of all, it keeps me away from writing. And do you know what the worst swizz of it all is? That you have to do it all again a few days later.
I dream of having a maid. Or even better than having a maid, having an assistant: somebody to pay my National Insurance Contributions at the Post Office. Somebody to go to Wilkinson's to buy cat litter. Somebody to cook my dinner! It's days like these when I exist entirely on pasta and noodles - not because I like either food, but because they take under ten minutes to cook. Alright, so it wouldn't be a very fulfilling job, but it'd free up my time to get more done. You ever wish there were 26 hours in a day? That's me.
You'll already know about Borders' financial troubles. They went into administration recently - a friend who works there told me that the branch he works in is staying open day by day on the basis of how much stock they sell each day. They don't know for certain when the store will close for good - could be any day.
Any way you look at it, Borders' closure is bad news for readers and writers alike. Most book fans are first attracted to books by their covers, and decide to buy on the basis of flicking through them in store. Yes, the prices are cheaper on Amazon, but who buys a book without first holding it in their hands and reading sections of the book to check they like the authors' style? Without bricks and mortar stores for people to wander into, to browse the titles, or to be tempted to buy more books than they intended to through 3 for 2 promotions, I can't see how book sales won't be impacted. The scary thing is, if a bit store like Borders can't survive in this climate, what hope is there for independent & locally owned bookstores?
But... onto the Good News. Mslexia's 2010 Short Story Competition is now open! Submissions of short stories by women authors are invited for the competition, closing in January 2010. The top prize is a day with an editor from Virago. This is a prize really worth winning - so good luck, those of you who enter it! There are more details in this quarter's issue of Mslexia.
Also, independent publishers Wild Wolf Publishing are accepting submissions of full length novels. Specialising in dark, brutal and edgy fiction, they accept submissions of any genre, so long as it's dark! [You can't miss their website. It has pictures of wolves all over it].
Until next time.... I'm putting the fingerless gloves back on and heading back up to my study.... x