Mavis's Shoe

Author of two novels and a creative memoir.

Monday, 12 September 2011


The first draft of the stage version of Mavis’s Shoe has now been finished. I know there is a lot more work to be done, but it feels good to have reached THE END, at least for the first time. Perhaps drafts should be called laps, as in those on a running track, or would the idea of running in circles be too painfully close to the truth?

If you don’t have a complete first draft, you don’t have enough ingredients for your cake, aka play/novel/short story/screenplay etc. My ingredients are in the bowl and I am celebrating with some fizzy, by which I mean Lidl’s oversweet pear cider that some kind (unsuspecting) person has left in my fridge, and by lighting the wood-burning stove and leaving the curtains slightly open despite the darkness outside, so that I can still see the trees waving frantically against the pink city sky in the gale. I can hear my daughter and her friend giggling in the next room, not at me I hasten to add, though I wouldn’t care. Copies of this first lap have been sent to two parties for inspection, and the anxiety, not to mention dread, that sometimes accompanies the wait for feedback has not yet made its presence felt.

I am also celebrating the arrival of two copies of West Coast Line, a Canadian journal who have kindly published one of my short stories, The Love Bus, which you can also read on the International Literary Quarterly website. In addition to this, West Coast Line have published two stories that I worked on with Iraqi writer Kusay Hussain. We got paid for these stories too which is increasingly rare these days. The current journal’s theme is ‘Transnational Publics, Asylum and the Arts in Glasgow’ and its guest editor is Kirsten E McAllister, a Japanese-Scottish Canadian. I’m delighted to see the names of several people I know on the contents page.

But the other thing I am celebrating, Sue-no-friends in my room all alone, is my participation in the Vault art event over the last weekend. I know, visual arts: what was I doing there? I did ask myself that question a few times. I was doing an ‘art booth’. The booth was actually a table, itself a work of art with a variety of strange marks of glittery red and pastel green amongst others. There were three jars of sweeties on it (when I started) and a plateful of custard creams. Beside me at the table were a couple of visual artists offering instant art for a small fee. I was offering instant poetry, also for a small fee, based on OuLiPo techniques. I dreamt this up in a moment of optimism. Actually it was a moment of optimism about optimism. In other words I was feeling rather despondent and was missing feeling optimistic, so I faked it and hey presto! there I was making promises to the organisers that on reflection seemed a little difficult to fulfil. (I was under the auspices of Ironbbratz studios, who I love. If you are a creator of art of any description, Ironbbratz studios is a fabulous place to be.)

For an art venue, the Briggait in Glasgow has a lot of drips falling from it’s beautiful holey ceiling. Some of it landed on the booth-table. But spirits were not dampened and indeed I am celebrating the fact that the instant OuLiPo poetry exercise worked and was even, apparently, therapeutic for the customers who revelled in being able to talk for a few minutes completely uninterrupted on their chosen subject while I concocted poetry from their words. It was a heart-warming occasion for all, and one which I’d happily repeat.

So, yes, I think smug is the word I’d use for myself right now. Not proud of it but it doesn’t happen often.

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