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Sunday, 23 September 2012

Being a grandad - and one or two other items.

I am overcome with that honest fatigue you only acquire through physical exertion. I expect to sleep the sleep of the just tonight, and write page after page of sublime prose tomorrow.

The weekend began with a trip to Leeds to see my grandson, now ten months old and turning into a chunky little fellow. He stares at you long and hard. If he decides you’re okay he beams - all day long. He’d most likely forgotten who I was after an absence of several weeks, but soon decided I was one of the good guys. I got a smile to warm the heart. His Mum and Dad were off to a wedding in Pontefract, and we were deputed to look after him all day, give him lunch and supper, bathe him, read him a story and sing him a bedtime lullaby. That was the hardest part, I have to say. Taking him to the park, pushing the swing, shovelling risotto down his mouth… that was a piece of cake (in a manner of speaking). Bath-time, fresh nappy (okay, diaper)… yes, it all came back to me after a 22-year break. I was really rather impressed with myself. But the lullaby: darned if I could think of one apart from that ‘rock-a-bye baby’ number, which I’ve never really liked. I mean, the poor kid plummets earthward in the final line. So I ended up walking to and fro with him in my arms (his preferred method of getting to sleep), singing Bob Dylan numbers. I can report that “Shelter From The Storm” very nearly did the trick. Anyway, as a first attempt at being an accredited grandfather I’d say it was a success.

Today we were back home and, inasmuch as the weather contrived to give us an entire day without rain, were able to turn our attention to the allotment. I have broken more new ground, expanded the rhubarb patch, and still have a vacant area at one end awaiting a decision. Will it be artichokes, or will it be asparagus? Most likely a little of both. I also strimmed the rank grass that surrounds our cultivated plot and discovered that that’s where those hideous fat slugs that have been plaguing us had taken up residence. I showed no mercy. I cannot imagine a single good reason for slugs being tolerated. Yes, I know they eat dog-turds, but is that really necessary now that we’ve invented the shovel? I’m not sure.

A publishing update. I have heard that my agent is thinking that, should we fail to get a decent deal from a mainstream publisher for the next lot of Mike Pannett books, he might offer to publish them himself. He recently launched his own imprint. It’s an interesting proposition, and would yield us a far higher percentage of the cover price than we normally get. On the down side, can he afford a halfway decent advance, because without that I am going to be deep in the brown stuff? Sounds as though a meeting is required. Meanwhile I shall plod on with Further Education.

It’s all gone very quiet in the world of e-books, at least as far as this writer is concerned. For three or four weeks there was no movement at all. Then, yesterday, I saw a couple of sales notched up for The Red House On The Niobrara, which raised my spirits rather more than you’d think. When I write I do imagine someone, some time, reading what I’ve written and, perhaps, being pleased by it. When you see no evidence of sales it’s easy to imagine that you’re shouting in the dark, wasting your time.

There was better news from my good pal Linda Acaster, fresh back from visiting New Mexico and the Clovis Music Festival. She tells me (and the world) that her e-book Torc of Moonlight has been chosen as ‘Indie Book of the Day’. (I do know it’s a cracking good story: she used to read it, chapter by chapter, as it was being written, to the Hornsea Writers - way back in the 1990s. You can check it out via http://indiebookoftheday.com/torc-of-moonlight-by-linda-acaster/).

One of my readers recently recorded a comment here saying that I ought to start an RSS feed. I honestly do not know what an RSS feed is, but I have spoken to my good friend Glenn Norman in Albuquerque who said that it was a Good Idea, and directed me to a site that explains how to get the thing up and running. I can report that I have set it up and pressed GO. I await developments.

Tomorrow I will assemble all the many parts of my application to the Ucross Foundation for an eight-week residency in Wyoming. I believe I mentioned this in a posting towards the end of August. The deadline is now approaching and I have everything I need, everything but the required $40 fee. I shall probably buy two $20 bills and bung them in with the forms. I have a good feeling about this one, and have three references which might have made me blush, were I a few years younger. At 63, however, I simply allow a glow of gratitude to fill my breast.