someone mentioned I was 33 and I realised it was true

Hm. 

On an unrelated manner, I hid the Jog Blog because it was far too stressful. I’ve discovered a few things about this jogging malarkey, however. One, I’m more competitive with myself than I thought. Two, I prefer jogging alone. Three, jogging alone can result in mad arguments with self that often start with no one would know if…

you stopped every couple of minutes

you just went home

you walked the whole way instead

Except me. I would know. Hm. So why am I doing it? It’s for guide dogs and the Manchester 10k – you can sponsor me if you like here. (There’s a text one that lets you do a quid.)

Other stuff. Reading some lovely stories and collections for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize. Read one in Cynthia Rogerson’s ‘Stepping Out’ in particular that provided a startling realisation for the children in the story (that they were now without their mother). Finally getting round to paying people back for being so kind about Killing Daniel. People have taken the time to review and give ratings and spread the word and I’m making a big March effort to get my thoughts down about all the books I’ve been hoarding.

A couple of friends have had some great news. Debz Hobbs-Wyatt’s novel is getting published by Parthian and someone else I can’t mention something else about is happy right now. Fingers crossed. Felt really happy and also justified in some way, knowing that it really can all be about the slog. That slog will pay off, one day. So many people in the last few weeks are proof positive of that. Write, work and it will happen. Well done ladies 🙂 I also have some nice news that I can’t yet mention…

What else, issue #12 of the SWAMP journal is up. It’s based out of Newcastle University, Australia and for CW postgrads. Got a submission for them? I guest-edited this one which is nice, given they published ‘Wonderland’ a while ago.

I also went back to Salford Uni this month to give a reading and talk about Unthank Books. Spotted some familiar faces on campus and felt, well, just a tiny bit proud. (First time round at Salford/uni did not go well for me).

If you missed the interview I did with those lovely people at Phoenix FM, Gaia Holmes and William Thirsk-Gaskill, you can listen again here

I’ll leave you with a semi-ridiculous question – jogging makes your boobs bigger? Fact/fiction?

PS Maybe moving to Wales to live by the beach with a dog named Granville.

 

The Manchester 10k & Guide Dogs Association

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Meet Josie, also known as the Yogi Bear (Picture above). Not smarter than the average bear, or dog, but a wonderful companion to my nan for many years. After my nan died, Josie the guide dog became our beloved family pet.

My nan, who was registered blind, always said that Josie gave her the confidence to go outside. To walk straight and not hunched because she had faith in Josie to keep her safe.

For those who know me, I am not athletic, so this is a personal challenge to in many ways. I’d love to raise a little money to help the guide dogs association keep helping people like my man to be independent.

Hope you can help!

Sarah

x

Just Giving

Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page.

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity and make sure Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation by a UK taxpayer. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – I raise more, whilst saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

So please dig deep and do

Meet Josie, also known as the Yogi Bear (Picture above). Not smarter than the average bear, or dog, but a wonderful companion to my nan for many years. After my nan died, Josie the guide dog became our beloved family pet.

My nan, who was registered blind, always said that Josie gave her the confidence to go outside. To walk straight and not hunched because she had faith in Josie to keep her safe.

For those who know me, I am not athletic, so this is a personal challenge to in many ways. I’d love to raise a little money to help the guide dogs association keep helping people like my man to be independent.

Hope you can help!

Sarah

x

Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page.

Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity and make sure Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation by a UK taxpayer. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – I raise more, whilst saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

So please dig deep and donate.

The Syllabus of Errors – review

Or

Twelve Stories of Obsession, Loss and Getting in a State

£12.00

Buy here:

Unthank Books

Amazon

Book Depository 

 

Image

I have seen people comment on how this sequence of stories needed to be savoured and considered and that’s definitely true. There are layers within each of these stories and connections that create a fascinating latticework of ideas, theme, time and character.

 

My favourite moments in the collection were those that most clearly explored the intimacies of relationships. The first two stories were perfect for that. Island Gardens starts in London, though flits to Moscow and, briefly, to Spain. This movement in memory, thought or place is echoed in the technique. Storming the Bastille contains similar movement. Greg and Nikki are a young couple who have been dating for two years, though have yet to have sex. Only in the Hotel de Crillon, she says. At one point, when Greg has been ‘held up’ (I won’t ruin it) and they have gone back to the Hotel Vivienne (definitely not the Hotel de Crillon), you think they might finally make love for the first time. Except the narrator skids away, commenting from a place and experience years ahead.

 

‘Six years later, in a hotel room in the Marais, Greg will pace and fret – the room reminds him of her, this night, the two years.’ The movement allows us to reflect on this moment, which we return to, now weighted down with future knowledge, older and unable to see this moment with the excitement and promise as the two of them might. It’s not deflating either, it doesn’t strip the story of its purpose which you might think it could. The sensitivity and skill of the writer needs to be acknowledged here and the way this story ends is all the more beautiful for it.

 

Not forgetting Stokes’ trademark humour that I enjoyed in his debut novel Touching the Starfish. The contrast between Grant in Island Gardens and the Reverse English he (fatefully) meets is hilarious:

 

‘You well bate, blood?’

 

‘Pardon?’…

 

‘You done now, blood, I’s banking.’

 

The Syllabus of Errors is a fascinating collection of discussions on the ephemeral nature of life. The transience and impermanence of love which can be, as we see from one of the characters, Ludo, who dwells on a past love, utterly enduring. The physical movement, the almost dizzying layers of place, together with the temporal movement echoes, for me, the reality of us. All the hopes and disappointments. We’re the sum of every obsession, loss, and ‘getting in a state’ that we experience.

 

Occasionally I felt a little dense to appreciate all the complexities of the Syllabus, but that’s something to do with my C- awareness as opposed to the A+ writing (that was cliché, wasn’t it?) That’s as maybe, but this collection certainly isn’t and contains stories to read and return to and which, somehow, will change and expand and alter, just as you do.

You can follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyJStokes