My Writer’s Diary 2001

It’s ten years since I started an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, so I thought I’d post the diary I started that year. It was the first year  I’d written a diary, so it looks a bit sparse but it does cover a few important developments for me.

5th January 2001

I started a Purple Notebook of ideas.

Elizabeth Garrett reviewed my painting poems. I was growing tired of rejections and disappointment, so I looked for encouragement. She suggested an entirely different approach, going on about “logical structure”.

I wrote a poem after seeing Billy Eliot, but it was laughed at in Thin Raft because it had a bit about my gran never having left the country, and {real name withheld} said, “So What!”

19th January 2001

Worcester. I rewrote ‘the paintings’ poems. Then I edited them out of existence. I think Elizabeth Garrett was asking too much of them.

16th February 2001

I met Maura Dooley at Goldsmiths regarding an MA in Creative and Life Writing. I decided to go with Goldsmiths because she didn’t destroy any of my work in the way Bath Spa did last year.

20th April 2001

Well on with handwriting The Hardstanding while on holiday in Ford Cottage, Dorset.

Wrote the synopsis in third person and it developed beautifully.

I’m using first person present tense.

25th May 2001

Another Bath Spa interview with Phil Gross. Phil was great, but the other guy again really started to get down on why I write, homing in on my poem BND 432Y. I found it negative and destructive. Anyway, they made an offer but I accepted Goldsmith’s.

13th July 2001

I made a plan for writing The Hardstanding in a notebook, breaking down the chapter numbers into a target number of words of 110000 over 9 weeks. Up to Chapter 8, adding a character called Uncle Les at 27000.

20th July 2001

Chapter 9 How to Fail 29000 words.

27th July 2001

Chapter 10 Boredom 31500 words

3rd August 2001

Chapter 11 Hurricane 36000 words

10th August 2001

Chapter 12

17th August 2001

Chapter 13

24th August 2001

Chapter 14

31st August 2001

Chapter 15

7th September 2001

Chapter 16 Breaking Out 70000

24th September 2001

Goldsmith’s enrolment day

Took my best poem Geordie’s Wet Hair to Thin Raft

3rd October 2001

Opening seminar – working methods with James Kelman.

Started writing prose: ‘Sounds Good’, and ‘Here Goes Nothing’.

I converted The Hardstanding to third person, past tense, because there’s no sense of drama.

16th October 2001

Saw poet Maurice Riordan and Maura for tutorials. The first tutorial with Maura. I showed her some new Life Writing poems about the caravan in Morecambe. She seemed uninspired.

22nd October 2001

A nervous class today. It was never going to be easy.

23rd October 2001

Lamb’s Conduit for drinks with the MA students.

24th October 2001

Seminar ‘The Writer Today in Northern Ireland’ Conor Carville. Started poems about issues based on Geoffrey Hill.

31st October 2001

Seminar/Workshop Writers and their readers – Selima Hill. Worked on adverb poems based on this.

17th November 2001

On holiday, Devon, writing a story I called Happy Dummies.

20th November 2001

Tutorial with Maura. I showed her stories Sounds Good and Here Goes Nothing. She seemed inspired by these, as did Maurice.