Thursday, 22 July 2010

Looking the Art

I never look more like a geography teacher than when I'm on the beach. Unless I'm looking like a minor civil servant on annual leave that is, and really it could go either way. Of course, being English, the sunburnt knees and insect bites come naturally, but at least I could do something about that hat.

Back when I lived in Silicon Fen, people with bored handshakes would say 'you're in IT I suppose', and I always enjoyed putting them straight, if only to watch their confusion. 'Is that even a job?' they wanted to say. Perhaps it was unfair of me not to have purple hair and a brain stud.

To what extent should (should?) people in the arts peacock themselves with flamboyant dress? Is a poet in a cardy and slippers not to be taken seriously? And what about a crumpled linen suit, straw fedora and loud summer scarf? Which is worse, being a disappointment or being a cliché?

Now that we writers are all performing monkeys and indefatigable self-promoters (you reclusive types can just stay at home), surely it pays to adopt a trademark style. Some have big hats, others enormous beards, and some look like they've escaped from rock bands. What do you think, could red knees do it for me? And how about you – do you expect creative people to give themselves away in their manner of dress? And what do you do to set yourself apart?

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Carte Postale

I was warned to be careful about living by the sea. I was told it would be addictive and that after one taste of shoreside life, I would never want to live inland again. Well, people tell me all sorts of things, but this is one bit of advice that has already proved itself true. I now live a short stroll from a fabulous little beach, overlooking the English Channel, and it already feels like home.

And there have been signs too. I won't list them for fear of jinxing myself, but a dozen little things have happened to make our move just that bit easier than it might have been, just a shade more agreeable.

One of the reasons for my family's relocation was my need to be closer to my own career -- a sorry thing, that was growing sorrier by the year with my absence. So I can't help feeling reassured by the fact that within hours of arriving, I discovered that Jack's Tractor has been shortlisted for the Sheffield Children's Book Award. A few days after that, the contract for a picture book text called Too Many Tickles finally reached me, bringing to an end a year long submission process, my longest ever. Plus, I have an appointment for a first editorial meeting about my novel, as well as a few publishy things to go to.

That was quick!

I hope my wife is happy. She looks it, and I know she's always dreamed of living by the sea, but I also know it's not easy to leave your own country behind. I don't worry about my children though – there's a beach! And kites, and ice cream and fossils to find and crabs to catch and two full-time parents to wind up. I reckon they're pretty lucky.

Actually, I think I am too.