Writing in residence

Today I met up with Louise Welsh, author of “The Cutting Room”, “The Bullet Trick”, “Tamburlaine Must Die” and, most recently, “Naming the Bones”. Louise has just been appointed the writer in residence for the University of Glasgow, and in this capacity I had sent her the opening section of my first novel, “Most Wicked Speed”.

I used to know Louise slightly, many years ago, when she ran the excellent second hand bookshop Dowanside Books, first in Dowanside Lane, then latterly on Gibson Street, in Glasgow. I mentioned in an earlier post about the vast influence Henry Miller had on me when I was 18 – it was in Louise’s shop that I bought most of his work, and where I picked up (at knock down prices) the bulk of my early literary education. We had lost touch since around 2002, when I first moved away from Glasgow (I always seem to end up back here though … ), so i was quite nervous to see her again, especially as in the intervening period she has become such an important part of contemporary Scottish literature. I shouldn’t have been though; she has always been very approachable and encouraging, and it was good to talk to someone about my own writing.

I admit that I didn’t have much of an idea of what a writer in residence actually did until the position was announced on the University’s intranet. Now, I found it extraordinary that so much potential work is expected to fit into one day a week. As well as reading the work of students and staff at the University, Louise is going to be running workshops and is generally meant to act as a sort of literary point of call for anyone who would like to talk to her about their writing. It’s not only a lot of work, but it looks as if it might include a fair amount of responsibility too. I’m not sure it’s something I would be able to do anyway.

Later in the day, I had a phone call from someone at Black and White Publishing who regularly reads the blog and asked if I would be willing to review some of their titles on here. I said yes, of course, and what struck me most while I was talking to him was the confirmation that there are actually people out there reading this. I check my stats as obsessively as any other blogger, but somehow you tend not to relate to them to the real human beings who might be sitting down at their laptops (or their phones or iPads or whatever) and reading the words you have written. So, in the future, look out for some more reviews on here, and if any other publishers want to get in touch for a similar arrangement, then please do so.

It was a good day for writing.

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