Publication day is upon us!!!

Its true! It’s nearly here. My debut novel His Dark Sun will be released tomorrow – Monday, 11th February 2019. The novel and more specifically Luke, the main protagonist, has been a constant in my life for almost ten years – yep, that’s how long it’s taken – and I am so thrilled that Luke’s story, however edgy and dark it is, will finally make it out in the big bad world. The final edits had me exhilarated, exhausted, crying, fearful, working until 4 in the morning, waking up in the night, having seizures of paranoia that this wasn’t actually going to be a good thing after all, no it was going to humiliate and ridicule me, because the book was essentially pants. Normal kind of stuff I’m sure.

You get copies of your book beforehand and I have looked at them longingly and picked them up and caressed the cover, even flicked through and read the acknowledgments, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to look inside, read any of the text. That was quite a surprising reaction and one I wasn’t prepared for. I used to scoff at actors who’d said they couldn’t bear watching themselves on screen. What! After all your hard work you don’t want to look? I didn’t get it, but I do now. We are our biggest critics. It’s been a while now and I’m more detached and it doesn’t matter if I can’t read it, I don’t need to, now it’s the turn of others to read it, if they so wish.

Luke’s story won’t  appeal to everyone, I know that because I don’t – nothing and no-one is a fit all. All I am really hoping for is that Luke, and the world I’ve created, comes across as authentic. Anything else is a bonus and believe me that is not false modesty. The best thing about art, whether it be books or paintings, or theatre or dance or whatever, is that it’s a broad church. There are millions of other books out there but at least His Dark Sun has finally managed to make that leap and join in, because the lead up to this day hasn’t been easy or straightforward.

I started writing the novel when I was studying for an MA in Sheffield Hallam and had a very rough, very bad first draft. The title then was The Dangerous Sun and it had begun life as a short story. Not the greatest of moves. I got the voice of Luke Spargo, the main protagonist pretty much straight away, and the setting and his character traits didn’t post too problematic. My writing style had been developing prior to the MA, it needed honing and it needed polishing but for a first draft it was OK. The main issue I had was the narrative. And that was a sticking point that stuck and stuck and stuck and stuck. On reflection using a short story as a starting point was limiting. I basically stretched the short story out and made the storyline too thin and too weak to sustain a reader’s interest. Unfortunately, I can be stubborn, it’s one of my less good character traits, and that combined with a touch of ‘newly qualified writer arrogance’ did me right up and consequently scuppered the potential of acquiring an agent and/or getting published.

During this stubborn period the book managed to get longlisted for the Mslexia novel competition and also win me a Northern Writers’ Award. Coming to the attention of New Writing North, who run the Northern Writer’s Award, was my lucky break. Claire Malcolm the Chief Executive really liked my writing and part of winning the award was a meet and greet in London with agents, publishers, film makers, etc. An agent did offer to work with me but their suggestions were a bit vague and I was in the wrong headspace, romantically distracted shall we say…  So that opportunity amounted to nothing and so I put the book away and started writing another. His Dark Sun wasn’t initially set in the near future, it took place in present day, but I set this second one in the future because I wanted to write a dystopian thriller. And the energy it brought to the story was so surprising. I got my mo-jo back and so half way into it, I thought what if I do the same with His Dark Sun. It worked. The narrative took off because I knew what to do. It was like a shot of steroids to the plot.

Then, as all good fairy’s do, Claire Malcolm got back in touch. She liked the sound of the revised manuscript and said that Moth Publishing, of New Writing North, were looking for new authors and asked me to send me the amended ms when it was finished. But I’d forgotten about the last nasty plot twist that comes just before the end, and as per my previous blog post cancer reared its head again. The cancer was treatable, but the treatment was tough, and I had to take a year out. I thought I’d blown yet another opportunity, but this story wasn’t going to have a bad ending. Claire told me not to worry, to just get better. So I did, and I finished the book and yippee the publishers liked it. Changes were needed and I worked with Claire on the edits. I did redraft after redraft and yet more redrafts. It was hard work. My other character traits include a tendency to not commit, to get bored easily, not persevere but I have learnt to acquire them now and I welcome them. Because, hello, perseverance and commitment yield results. And I have a debut book to prove it! Have I mentioned my book is due out tomorrow? Here’s a few links if you don’t believe me 😉

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1911356097?pf_rd_p=71cb17e9-f468-4d3f-94d5-a0de44c50a7e&pf_rd_r=3JPZ410XJ77S7GFMJNHJ

https://www.waterstones.com/book/his-dark-sun/jude-brown/9781911356097

https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/his-dark-sun/9781911356097

 

 

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Bad news, not so bad news, bloody great news!!

It’s been two years since I stopped by. Maybe more, actually who am I kidding? Definitely more. Well I’ve got the best excuse cos here comes the bad news. The old cancer reared its head again. What can I say, it missed me.  Aw. I’m not doing the long haul recall, so in a microscopic flash fiction style nutshell… it started as a kiss. No, not really, but it did start off near my mouth, a little humtpy-bumpy spot on my chin that grew into a fecking volcano in a matter of weeks.  There was a missed diagnosis and crap initial care, but loved ones came to the rescue and I ended up in the right hands and the volcano is now just a wee scar. I nearly went down the radical face changing surgery route but the  second opinion doc offered radiotherapy (the not so bad news) and I was saved that trauma. Head and neck radiotherapy brought it’s own bag of spanners but I’m a year and a half post treatment now and I’m doing fine. Being closely monitored and scanned and getting very well looked after. When the NHS works well it is divine. So that’s good news, isn’t it? Great news in fact, but I got something else to share that’s even better news. This is the bloody great news. The news I thought I might never get to share. My long wait to be published is over. My debut novel, that started life as The Dangerous Sun and is now entitled His Dark Sun, is to be published Feb 11th 2019 and I have taken an oath to never dismiss the size, shape, quality of any other author’s published work because it took such a lot of freakin effort. I know my stamina is reduced but the self coercion, the self bribery, the self inflected threats to discipline myself to sit and face yet more edits, yet more rewriting, yet more changes, was soooooo difficult, almost undoable. All I had to do was get my bum on the seat and sort out the words in front of me, as per Stephen King’s advice, but some days it felt as if I was having to sit in the dentist’s chair and have each of my teeth root canaled without any anaesthetic. What a fecking wuss I was. How I moaned. How I lost faith. And then I remembered how I handled my radiotherapy treatment. I imagined it as a gruelling pregnancy. And when it got tough, sometimes so tough I thought about stopping, I’d remind myself of my due date aka end of treatment date, and the knowledge that there was a definite end in sight really helped. The treatment would finish after six weeks and then I would begin to recover. So I would remind myself to stay in the present and deal with each day, and at the end of each day’s treatment tell myself that was one day nearer no treatment. I used this technique for the editing. Broke it down into small manageable parts, some parts were harder than others, but if I set weekly goals and stuck to them I would chip away at the mountain until it was such a small microscopic thing it disappeared!  It’s about not getting overwhelmed. It sounds simple but it’s hard not too sometimes and the overwhelmingness can be  paralysing. Small steps, as they say. I think that’s life in a microscopic nutshell.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/His-Dark-Sun-Jude-Brown/dp/1911356097/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

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Stand up to cancer? We should get into bed with it.

Cancer isn’t a bully. It isn’t a terrorist. It’s a cell that’s gone wrong. It isn’t a sentient being. You can’t threaten it, argue with it call it names, shout at it, swear at it. Well you can. And I have. But that was for me, to get my anger and frustration out. It can’t hear you. And it doesn’t understand English or French or Spanish or Japanese. And It isn’t doing what it does to be malicious, vindictive, an arse – it’s programmed that way. So we have to get to know it. Understand it. We have to seduce it, get into bed with it. Find it’s weakness. The saying, Keep your friends closer but your enemies closer, is what we need to be thinking about re cancer. We need to know what makes it tick. we need hackers, IT geeks, people who know about codes, people who understand the language of genetics and DNA to work with the computer nerds to help make a virus that destroys it Or neutralises it. It’s happening now. As I type. There are clever folk trying to get into bed with it. They know thAts the way forward.

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Fingers in pies

I made an arts council funding application back in Feb for time out to write the novel. Had made a previous one which got rejected because the public engagement section was wanting. To be honest I had no idea what to put there as it seemed more related to a finished product ie a published book so I was disappointed but not that surprised, as knew this section was pretty damn weak. Anyways moving on. I met with an arts council rep who highlighted some of the areas I needed to expand on and think about – it turned out that I was being far too modest (well we are aren’t we) and not putting everything I did re readings/workshops/interested parties down. Apparently you can look at the public engagement as research and development ie doesn’t have to be totally about your target audience/public once published, can be about what is happening now whilst it’s still being written/edited/polished. So it got me galavanised to maybe up my game and look at getting involved in some writing festivals and so I snook in a few proposals at the 11th hour to some local festivals and lo and behold it yielded fruit 😉

‘Sheffield Hallam Writers’ are a confirmed listing at the Wakefield Literary Festival in September. Our slot ‘To do or not do? What a creative writing MA can lead to’ is on the opening weekend Sat Sept 20th 2-3.30 at the wonderful stately Orangery (which does look stupendously cultured). I’m hoping we do the event and and the venue justice. Am sure we will as our group has an awesomely eclectic line up. We’re all graduates of the MA in Writing from Sheffield Hallam. so there’s me – Northern Writer Award Winner, best-selling author Susan Elliott Wright, Beverley Ward another Northern Writer Award Winner, Russ Thomas who goes by his writer name James Russell won a Waterstones Bookselers Bursary Award and last but by no means least Marion Iseard writer of poetry and prose winner of an epublishing contract for her children’s books.

So if anybody fancies coming along and hearing us read and chat about our individual journeys re writing successes;) and failures 😦 feel free!

Just waiting on Sheffield’s own Off The Shelf. Hopefully we will get listed there too.mI’m learning that the more you put out the more you get back. It’s all about give and take. You got to knock on doors, get your fist stuck into a few pies. And it isn’t that difficult. It’s the first step that’s always the hardest. Like starting that diet, asking someone out, going on that course, writing that first chapter. But if you don’t begin there’s no story, no journey and that’s torture.

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Coming at it like a reader

Woke up this morning and you weren’t on my mind… yeah, the vice hold of fantasy is well and truly slackened.The fire finally out. Amazing what a change in obsession can do. Am now free to obsess over another  fantasy ie being agented, being published. So I’m gonna get down with the words and do it. Get sentence dirty, paragraph filthy, page horny. Am airlifting myself straight into second half of novel.  First half been done over too many times and beginning still doesn’t work so am sacking it off as they say. The switch in focus has been helpful. The weeks, months, I’ve spent with my heart and head elsewhere have given me a whole new perspective. It’s so obvious now what needs doing. And that’s because I’m coming at it as a reader. Not a writer. And I’m expecting the writer to just do their job and sort it and put in what needs putting in and taking out what needs taking out and using interesting language when necessary and not showing off with being over excessively verbal and poetic and keeping the narrative intriguing and taught and letting the characters in close. This reader knows what she wants and is confident the writer knows what to do. It feels very liberating and it feels that the experience I had that dragged me away for a time, that felt pretty negative and bad, was in itself useful. It’s changed my internal compass. I’ve shifted on my axis and now spinning to a different song. Yuk, now that is too fucking poetic.

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My writing process

It’s time for my post in the link that it is the writers blog tour currently occurring on twitter. I got nominated by the very lovely and highly talented @helencadbury want to thank her for doing so, and encourage everyone to go checkout her blog wheneverpigshavewings at http://www.helencadbury.com re #mywritingprocess – it’s a corker. She is an award winning crime novelist and currently working on her 3rd book. Have read the first one To Catch a Rabbit and it’s an excellent read. Anyway on we go. Below are my answers to the stock questions, I hope they’re of interest. 

 

1. What am I working on?

Mainly ‘the novel’. My first novel The Dangerous Sun won me a Northern Writers Award last year. It’s contemporary literary fiction and the story is told  from the pov of oddball and loner Luke Spargo. Luke’s nineteen, obsessed with the sun and a pyromaniac. The award, run by New Writing North, secured me interest from an agent and having seen a first draft they felt it was a lil rushed and a lil underdeveloped. So that’s what I’ve being working on (inbetween trying to write a crime novella and tinkering with short fiction pieces.) These latter mentions are pure distractions and I’ve today made a pact to abandon them and pay attention to Luke and only LUke. It’s so easy to do isn’t? Ignore the thing that needs the most attention and piss about with the stuff that doesn’t. But this pact, this two fingers up to the God of Procrastination, has been witnessed by Molly the cat so that’s it, I’ve bewitched myself and there’s no going back. So here I am exploiting scenes, fleshing out characters and slashing and burning useless redundant prose. Strangely editing and re-writing is enjoyable. Never expected it to be when i started out as a writer. I thought it would be writing hell but it ain’t.

 

2. How does my work differ?

People who have read my fiction say it’s got a quirky, sometimes whimsical take, albeit urban and edgy! My novel sits alongside those that feature unreliable young male narrators eg (Gavin Extence’s Alex Woods Versus the Universe and Ross Raisin’s God’s Own Country, The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer) but I’ve been told I have managed to find a unique character in Luke and formed an original way to tell his story and that I can create believable characters in a few lines.

 

 

3) Why do I write the way I do?

I like exploring what it is to be human and like many writers am drawn to the dark side. The secrets, the weaknesses, the flaws in people. I trained as an art therapist and have a long standing interest in psychology.  I love character driven prose and enjoy first person pov and love getting right into the mind of a character. Conflict doesn’t have to be between two people, internal conflict can make for intense, exciting, unpredictable drama. As you can probably tell I’m all about character! Setting and plot do come into my writing but don’t go overboard on description. I like to read authors who share my style and particularly those that have central characters who are disturbing and engaging. One of my favourite writers is John Fowles. I think he’s a genius when it comes to depicting disturbed and engaging! I read The Collector and then The Magus and was blown away. Other novelists I rate include M J Hyland (This is How), Tim Winton (Dirt Music) and the brilliantly overlooked Richard Wright (Native Son). My first love was short stories and I was drawn to Carver and Chekov because of their writing style. I can forgive anyone anything if I fall in love with their writing style.

 

4) How does your writing process work?

I’m not a writer that can dash off chunks of prose easily but I do think it depends what you’re trying to do. Moving story along, giving people things to do, even dialogue, is much easier to do over creating unique descriptions. Struggling over metaphors and similies can be tough and frustrating and at times I can get obsessed and sit and toil over the same words and sentences for days, even week! My book is character based and told entirely from the pov of Luke. It’s his unique perspective on the world that’s the book’s USP, the reader is always in Luke’s head, which at times is a tense brooding place and at other times Luke is vulnerable and fearful. The one thing writing this book has taught me is that first person present is damn hard to maintain through a whole novel. I don;t push on if it’s not working and I don’t beat myself up. I’ve put guilt in the backseat and if I stray from the path it just means I get there by a different route. I need to enjoy writing as that’s what got me into. But the more you do the better you get at it so that old adage of getting your butt on the seat is so true. At home I have a room set up as a writing room but perversely I usually write in bed in pjs with my laptop. I can’t write in the mornings. Don’t start to write until 2/3pm usually but can go until midnight and into the early hours. Getting out of your comfort zone is also useful. I do treat my writing with more respect if I do it outside of home. Hate that I do, but it’s a fact!

 

So by now you’ll have worked out I’m full of contradictions. Sit in bed, get out of the house, focus on the novel, start writing short stories. Whatever hope this has been of some use and I’d now like to introduce fellow writer and fellow twitterer, Lynne Blackwell.

 

I met Lynne at Harrogate Crime Festival where to be honest we spent most the time laughing in the tent! Lynne’s writing has been described as gritty, powerful and atmospheric and she draws on the desolate landscapes of her home county Yorkshire. Lynne’s first novel ‘Into the Snicket,’ received a great deal of interest, with one leading agency offering representation – a situation which she now describes as ‘peaking too soon.’ Subsequently revised it is now currently being considered for crime specific representation. Brought up close to Ilkley Moor, Lynne moved into a nurse’s home on the edge of the Peak District in her late teens. She has since lived in a number of locations; by crags, woods, glens and disused railways – perfect locations for the disposal of fictional murder victims…

Her blog, ‘The Trials of an Unpublished Author’ documents the highs and lows on her long journey to publication and you can find the link here https://sites.google.com/site/lynneblackwellwriter/blogs

Lynne also has a website https://sites.google.com/site/lynneblackwellwriter/home

and of course she is on twitter @lynnemblackwell

so please read her blog in a week’s time and follow her !!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Close to the sun

I feel so bad and so sad and so stupid. A week ago I was going around singing and dancing and smiling. Had so much energy and verve. Anything was possible. I could fly to the sun if I wanted. And that was where I was headed. Cos that was what he was. This golden boy. Tall as a tree and beautiful as an angel, he shone with warmth and joy and he made me feel blessed to be around him. Who cares if it’s lust not love. Who cares if all it is is desire, want, need – as long as it’s the truth. As long as it’s genuine. If something makes you feel so good you shouldn’t question it. Unless of course you’re female and you happen to be much older, like a few decades older. Shouldn’t matter should it. If you both like each other and want to be together it shouldn’t matter. No-one frowns on older men going out with younger women. And you would think in these times people would be less prejudiced. But no. Not even some of my liberal, feminists friends can hide the disapproval from their voice. You’re nearly twice his age. They’ll call you a paedophile. He’s too young. There’s no future. People will talk. You’ll be laughed at. Humiliated. It’s amazing how people get the ability to see into the future when they feel they’ve got the moral high ground. It’s shocking how prejudiced we are towards an older woman taking a young lover. Can’t deny I felt twisted up about it too. It did feel uncomfortable and I did wonder why. Maybe it’s the last of the sexual stigmas. No-one would dare frown on a same sex relationship or a mixed race relationship but an older woman and a younger man is essentially seen as immoral, dirty, disgusting, wrong, bad, unacceptable. A bit like single mothers were in the 50s. I was illegitimate in a time when bastard children and unmarried mothers were looked upon as immoral as prostitution. Possibly worse because at least prostitutes hadn’t the stigma of being a burden on the state. Or being the crucible for all  he ills of society. The family unit has always been upheld as a platform for a stable and healthy society. Every fucking prime minister has banged on about it, usually whilst they’ve been banging their mistress.  It’s only been the last ten years that single parents and their offspring have been dropped from no. 1 scapegoat slot. Guess who is up there now! Yep. It’s your dirty rotten immigrants. Theresa May what the fuck are you playing at letting in foreigners to steal our crown. I’m not particularly orthodox, never have been, birthright I guess. But sadly I’ve given into the pressure. I’m not going to be a harlot as well as bastard.  I closed my wings and fell like a stone. And caused some pain to a rather lovely boy. Maybe it is for the best, as everyone keeps saying.  Maybe they’ve got a point but it is incredible how when women behave the same as men they still get tarred. Wonder how many women have bottled it and given in. Learn a lesson though. Conformity feels shit. Don’t like it. Not at all. It sucks like a Dyson. Given a second chance I wouldn’t jump into bed with it again. I’ll go for the sun. Rather risk getting burned than sit in the shade with the weeds.

Anyone got any reading tips that could help me??? Not Scandal tho.

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Heady Hedda

Spent birthday weekend in London and saw a great production of Hedda Gabler by Etcetera Theatre Company in Camden. Between me and my mates we conjured up the below review. As it says – fully recommended. Runs until end of 23rd Feb. ‘This fast-moving interpretation of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler gains from its transposition to inter-war London, while losing nothing from its shortened cast and time format. Five central characters of the original play deliver a captivating and entertaining performance. Hedda, convincingly played by Annemarie Highmore, switches from cool and manipulative to whimsical and frivolous. This complex mix gives her an edge and adds to the developing tension in the narrative. Her husband, the naïve Tesman, is well portrayed as the perfect foil by Ben Waring. Judge Brack, confidently played by Daniel Jennings, is better matched to Hedda’s scheming, while her ex-lover Lovborg and her old school friend Elvsted are clearly depicted as vulnerable characters by Chris Clynes and Claire Lowrie respectively. The dialogue is crisp and at times humorous. Nevertheless, themes of destruction and loss foreshadow the outcome of 1930s European politics. As the plot draws to its ending Hedda’s growing instability brings an inevitable conclusion. This powerful production by FiasCo is thoroughly recommended’

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erm months later…

So the Awards Night has been and gone (way back in June if you must know) and I have an A4 framed Award Cert declaring me a Northern Writers’ Award Winner 2013. It was a very grand and literary do – lots of writers and readers and beaux food and free flowing wine. We all went up to get our cert and I was given mine by the very gifted and talented and beautiful wordsmith that is Sarah Hall, she of the Granta Best Young British Novelists mob, writer of books (Haweswater, How to Paint a Dead Man) and fanastically electric short stories. Before I went up she introduced me. She was so generous about my work that I couldn’t quite take it in but the clever pixies at New Writing North sent me her comments from the night so here it is to serve as a reminder for when I get  down days.

She said my work had an incredibly cool note of intrigue and a very high standard of psychological sophistication, and that the main character (Luke) is conflicted and complex, sympathetic without being sentimentalized, and it’s not often that she’s surprised as a reader, but she was.I loved that she thought that about Luke. She only read the first 5K but got him, just got him – tell you that made my heart soar 😉

And she went on:

‘Jude is another writer who can hold back, allow the plot to develop within the bounds of an activated world, reveal things gradually and keep the reader really engaged.  The prose style is deceptively plain, the language very atmospheric and almost note-perfect. This was the first of the pieces I read that made me forget why I was reading. I just read and I enjoyed enormously.’ This was the best bit, she actually forgot why she was reading. Now unless she’s got early onset Alzheimers that’s a bloody good compliment. Was I a happy bunny that night? Oh yeah.

Reader it didn’t last.

The plan was to have a few bevvies back at the hotel bar post do, and then retire to beddy byes. The plan also involved me taking a sleeping tablet as my cousin Pauline (like myself) is a bit of a lawn mower of a snorer. Now Zopiclone really works for me. Sends me into whipped cream cloud sleep very nicely… which is a bummer when you have to wake up and deal with your cousin who is screaming in agony because they’ve just fallen over their tipsy lil feet and broken their teeny weeny wrist. Ouch.

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The mad month of June

Been a long time since I blogged – part laziness, part where to start, part may as well see the month out and count the fuckups. June came at me like the wicked witch of the west. I found a lump. Lying on the couch late one Friday watching Mansfield Park, credits about to roll, I drop biscuit crumbs on my chest. Brush them away and excuse me! WTF was that???
Out of hrs service Sat morn confirm it’s not crumbs, but a solid mobile inch sized lump on my right breast. They look concerned and tell me to go to my GP first thing Mon. GP calls it breast mice. Which is medical talk for benign. It makes me laugh and the stress barometer drops. I leave the lead coat of fear behind and skip down the road. By the time I get to work I’m as high as a fucking astronaut and am telling everyone not to worry I haven’t got breast cancer, it’s just a mouse. Bloody cat eh? I joke. She can’t stop bringing me things. Have to put them somewhere. I get a 2 week wait appt and the euphoria beings to wear off and days get physically difficult. I mean physically in the sense of the noun – physics seems to have grown new rules and gravity seems to have bigged itself up. It feels tiring to walk, sit, read, watch TV, eat, sleep, just doing normal things takes a hellofalot of effort. I think about dying and I think about surgery and chemo and wigs and nausea and scars and I think that I can’t face getting cancer again. I think about the other times and how lucky I was in my 30s and then in my 40s and I wonder if you can get it a third time and survive. I google people who have had cancer more than twice and there are some famous people who have survived. I haven’t made a will and tell myself I need to. A few days later I come home from work knackered and fall asleep. I wake up around midnight and check my phone. I’ve an email. It’s from New Writing North. I can see the subject says Good News re Awards. I think it’s a general one announcing this years winners. I’m to numb to care that I’ve missed another literary boat so I open it and it’s addressed to me personally and it says congratulations you’re a winner!. I’ve won a cash prose award. It’s worth 1500 quid and Sarah Hall was the judge. I burst into tears and I tell cancer to fuck right off.

The clinic day comes and I go in and have another examination and then a mammogram and an ultrasound and then a biopsy and then they say they can’t tell me anything until the biopsy results, so it’s another week. I push them and the doc says I’m a 3, which means indeterminate, they don’t know if it’s good or bad, but it’s probably more likely to be good than bad, which is good news I think.. My friend Kay is with me and we watch a programme on the widescreen TV as we wait between tests. It’s a documentary  accident and emergency show. Someone needs to be  airlifted and they don’t want to go because they’re frightened of helicopters. I think you stupid bastard, you’ve only broken a leg, just shut your eyes for an hr. I have to come back in a week for the results and my imagination keeps me entertained with sad scenes and funny scenes and fights at my funeral and posthumous dedications to my nomadic lifestyle. I log on to Suzy Greaves Big Leap to keep the critical pessimist in me under control. I tell cancer to fuck off again, I talk to it a lot like it’s a boyfriend that’s really pissed me off. I sing terrible lyrics to it in the bath. I ridicule it in the kitchen. I call it out in the lounge. I lose sleep over it in bed. And I cry over it.

The results day brings my cousin Pauline  down from Middlesbrough on the coach and we sit in the large waiting room that it is the surgical breast clinic for nearly 4 hrs. My 10.30 appt morphs into a 1.30. I’m not alone with this long wait. One person kicks off and then leaves. Everybody in there is anxious. My cousin nearly has a fight with someone who goes before me who she thinks came after me.  I don’t mind them jumping the queue because whilst I’m sitting there not knowing my fate I haven’t got a label that might say cancer. I go in and we wait in a very small room for half an hour and then in comes my young bespectacled doc. A nurse follows her. I can’t look at them. It’s good news. That’s what the doc says. It is a mouse! It’s a benign fibroadenoma kind of mouse. I burst into tears again. Didn’t realise winning made you cry this much.

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