Posts Tagged ‘novelists’

Typewriters: they’re awesome and you should get one.

Monday, November 11th, 2013

A version of this post first appeared at One Night Stanzas in December 2008. (Back then the first line said “at this moment I have five manual typewriters.” Erm…)

Guilty secret: I am obsessed with typewriters. At this moment I have thirty-one manual typewriters, including my latest acquisition, a freakin’ gorgeous Olivetti Valentine. Why am I so obsessed with typewriters? Well, they’re noisy, heavy, impractical and difficult to use, but they’re also the ultimate poet’s accessory. Allen Ginsberg hauled a massive Underwood 5 around with him; William Burroughs typed on his own namesake, and was The Good Doctor ever without his trusty IBM SElectric…?

Why should I get a typewriter?
Well, I’ll be honest with you… if you think you’re going to be sitting down to write a 600 page novel on your manual typewriter, you might want to think again. It doesn’t matter what you do (Margaret Atwood apparently used to sit her typewriter on top of a wad of newspapers), it’s going to be noisy. It’s also going to be a pain in the butt to type on, particularly if you’re used to the feather-light keys of a laptop! Around about 1950, typewriter manufacturers started to advertise “noiseless” and “light touch” typewriter models, but even these are pretty cumbersome. You also have the typo issue - there’s no room for error with a manual typewriter, unless you’re cool with crossings-out and tippex! So if you’re planning on doing any serious writing, you might want to consider an electric… quieter, zippier and generally easier to work with.
However, electric typewriters are nowhere near as cool, and in a world where everyone has some kind of word-processor, a typewriter’s main appeal is its cool factor! Personally, I think manual typewriters are incredibly beautiful — I have mine sitting around my house making the place look pretty. They’re also a serious feat of engineering… try opening one up some time and inspecting all the weights and springs. A manual typewriter makes a laptop look boring.

How can I get hold of one?
Manual typewriters are ten-a-penny if you’re not fussy about make and model, so you don’t need to look to far to find one. Try checking out thrift stores or flea markets and see what you can find, or click around on eBay. There’s a whole load of choice out there so have a look around and find a typewriter you love — if you’re into the older, clunkier ones, eBay might be the place. But post-1960 typewriters turn up regularly in charity shops and at jumble sales and the like. I inherited my Smith Corona from my Dad, but all my other typewriters have come from junk shops and thrift stores.

What should I be looking for?
Well, when I buy a typewriter I’m usually after something that looks nice, and if it’s in its proper case and works that’s an added bonus. But you might want to check that all the parts are there — sometimes typewriters can be missing covers, bases, feet, or bits and pieces from the outer bodywork. It’s not necessarily a tragedy if these things aren’t there but you can sometimes haggle the price down a bit. If you want the typewriter in full working order, you need to check a few things:

- The space bar. On manual typewriters, the space bar is often operated by a weight system which pulls the cartridge along on a string. If you press the space bar and the cartridge doesn’t move along, it might be that the string has snapped. This is tricky to fix yourself (trust me, I’ve tried) and you might have to get an expert to take a look. So bear in mind that this could cost money!

- The ribbon feeder. Second hand typewriters have often been sitting unused for years, so more often than not their ribbons dry out. However, even if the ribbon has no ink in it, you should try typing a few words and pay attention to the ribbon movement. Does it move along through the spools? If it sticks or clogs, you can usually fix it yourself, but it’s worth checking. If your chosen typewriter has no ribbon fitted, you’ll need to find out what ribbon it takes, either by asking the seller or by doing some online research. It’s hard to find a replacement ribbon if you don’t know the right type.

- All the keys. One of the most common faults on old manual typewriters is the ‘capslock’ key, which is usually just connects to a little hook in the mechanism that locks the shift key down. This hook can wear out and stop sticking on. Other keys to check are the lesser-used ones - the numbers and symbols, but also the tab key, which should shuttle the cartridge along. But the best thing to do is just to try them all!

- The cartridge itself. Just check that it does move back and forth and doesn’t stick anywhere. Again, the movement of the cartridge is directly connected to the string-and-weight system, so if it doesn’t work it might cost you £££ to fix.

- Other things you might want to do: pick the typewriter up (sometimes the bottom will drop off or parts will drop out!), feed a piece of paper through (the rollers can be very dirty or can stick), test the carrying case (the last thing you want is the case breaking open and the typewriter smashing on the way home!) and look into the mechanism (sure, you might not know what you’re looking at, but if there are springs, strings or shards of metal sticking out, you might need to worry).

Obviously if you’re buying from eBay, you can’t do this stuff yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask your seller for all this information, and if you’re even slightly worried about the condition, look elsewhere! (I’ve found that eBay sellers tend to be sincere and honest and quite willing to deal with queries like this, so don’t worry too much about asking.)

Ginsberg & typewriters
Some of my babies.

What should I be paying for a typewriter?
Prices vary massively with manual typewriters, but if the typewriter you’re looking at is post-1960, chances are it is not rare or expensive. You have to remember that typewriters were the laptops of the 50s, 60s and 70s — everyone had one, so if anyone tries to tell you that they’re “rare,” you might want to be suspicious. Wartime and pre-war typewriters are less common and perhaps more valuable, but again, you shouldn’t really be paying too much unless your typewriter is something really special. Things you might need to pay more for include:

- Wooden casings. Typewriters with wooden bodies are quite unusual - metal, bakelite or plastic is much more common so a wooden typewriter is a rare typewriter.

- Unusual colours. Some typewriter manufacturers brought out special editions in weird and wonderful colours. In pre-1960 typewriters, colour might be an expense factor (but post-1960 it was pretty common for typewriters to be colourful, particularly if they were plastic) — look out for dark green or dark red casings.

- Leather embellishments. Another feature of special edition typewriters.

- Iconic typewriters. The Underwood 5 is reasonably common but it’s also iconic. People will part with quite a lot of cash for a nice one. Similarly the aforementioned Valentine, which is a coveted design icon… though I got mine for fifty quid in a charity shop!

- A foreign language. If you come across a typewriter whose keys are cyrillic or in another language, it might be worth a bit more.

Just be careful - don’t be ripped off. For just about any post-1960 typewriter, you shouldn’t be paying more than £30. I’d even say that in 99% of cases, you probably shouldn’t be paying more than £20. The most I’ve ever paid, apart from my Valentine, was £15 for my blue bakelite Imperial, and I think I might even have been ripped off a bit there! For a pre-1960 typewriter, keep a limit of £30-£50 or so, unless your typewriter is something special.
If you think you might need to spend money on renovating or cleaning your typewriter, try and haggle the price down! I once found a wartime metal typewriter in a charity store which had a £50 price tag on it, but which had been sitting in a chicken shed for decades… and it was full of feathers and chicken poo! I told the store that I’d need to spend money on cleaning it and I’d give them £35, but they wouldn’t haggle. It certainly wasn’t worth £50, so I left it… don’t be conned!

What if I’m buying on eBay?
eBay sellers can be a bit cheeky with their prices, and on eBay you can’t haggle. Just don’t get carried away in a bidding war — you really don’t need to pay over the odds. Bear in mind also that you’ll have to pay to have the typewriter delivered, and this can cost a huge amount, as typewriters are heavy things! They’re also fragile things, so if you want yours in proper working order, you might want to think twice about having it flown across the world… particularly if it doesn’t come with its own carrying case. Many people will opt for surface shipping rather than airmail with an item like a typewriter, too - it’s cheaper and gentler, but it does take a lot, lot longer… we’re talking months! And there can be problems when it comes to getting typewriters across borders — many older typewriters have keys made of or containing ivory, and if you try to ship ivory into the USA for example, it can end up just being destroyed by customs officials. So online shopping is a bit of a minefield… don’t be afraid to do some research and ask your seller questions about these issues!

What can I do with my typewriter once I’ve got it?
Well, despite the fact that they’re noisy and heavy, they can still make pretty sweet writing machines. If you just want to write letters, or the odd short, sweet poem, they’re perfect. They also make awesome ornaments and I often use mine to stick photos or paperwork in. I have a friend who used to use a heavy old typewriter (don’t worry, it was in a fairly serious state of disrepair when she got it!) as a doorstop. If you want, you can dismantle your typewriter (just make sure it’s not worth major £££ first!!) and turn it into all sorts of stuff… look around on Etsy and you’ll find jewellery, mobiles, paperweights, bookmarks, sculptures and artwork, all made out of typewriter parts! Typewriters are also useful things to have around if you’re into Steampunk.

Something I always like to do when I buy a new typewriter is get on the internet and do some research. It’s great to find out when your typewriter was made and what it might have been used for… maybe a famous writer used the same kind of typewriter as you, or perhaps it was popular among chic 50s office workers. I’m always fascinated by this stuff and there are heaps of typewriter-related sites to help you find out all about your typewriter!

What kind of typewriter(s) do you have? How much did you spend, and where did it come from? Anyone have a cool typewriter tale to tell? I want to hear it!

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Like shiny things? Check out Edinburgh Vintage, a totally unrelated ’sister site’ full of jewels, treasures and trinkets. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Dear poetry newbies: writing in the face of adversity.

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Walk away

A previous version of this post first appeared at One Night Stanzas in September 2008.

Here are a few phrases you’ll probably encounter a lot if you decide to tell people that you want to be / are a writer. Perhaps you’ve already heard some of them…

“Don’t be ridiculous. How are you going to support yourself?!”
“I used to say that when I was your age… you’ll see.”
“But writing’s just a hobby, isn’t it? ”
“Great. But what’s your real job?”

Sound familiar? I’ve had responses like these countless times from people who genuinely can’t understand why anyone would want to even try to make their living from writing. I think you can apply them to just about any other creative endeavour, too — try telling people you want to be a painter, fashion designer, musician, sculptor or actor, and you’ll probably hear similar things. This kind of response can be incredibly demoralising, particularly if it comes from a trusted friend, family member or personal hero. Often you’ll hear things like this from people who are older and supposedly wiser than you, which can also leave you questioning yourself. But no matter how often you hear these phrases, please, please don’t allow yourself to be disheartened by them. Many people can’t understand the possibility of an equation like writing + hard work = paying the bills. But that doesn’t make it a scientific impossibility!

Great. But what’s your real job?
OK, so the person who asks this question is probably assuming that your writing doesn’t make you much money, and as a result, you probably have another job which helps keep a roof over your head. This is a reasonable assumption to make - many writers do have a second source of income, either out of financial necessity or because it directly facilitates their writing. This is particularly true of poetry, I’m afraid. Poetry is an integral part of our everyday lives - it’s in the nursery rhymes we sing to our kids, it’s in greetings cards, advertising, and jingles on the radio. But despite this, not many people actually make the conscious effort to read poetry - to buy poetry collections, attend poetry readings or seek out new and exciting poets locally or online. Poetry just doesn’t sell well, which means that it does not generate too much income - and as a result, most poets do “real” jobs throughout their lives. William Carlos Williams worked as a doctor his whole life (he wrote short bursts of poetry in the few spare minutes between appointments), and Philip Larkin kept up his career in librarianship in spite of his rise to poetic fame. Most of the poets I know work in literature-related environments - some are English teachers, some University tutors, some work in bookstores or write copy for medical journals. Lots of poets support themselves by setting up or working for small publishing firms, which not only helps them survive - it helps poetry survive, too. But yes, I’m afraid it’s true - 99% of poets have to work at something other than their writing, which means you will probably have to, too - at least for a while.

Don’t be ridiculous. How are you going to support yourself?!
So you probably are going to have to get a “real” job, and therefore - although this isn’t very nicely worded - it is a fair question. When you’re not frantically scribbling, what are you going to do?
Well, you’re a creative person, and so I’m guessing that the thought of a 9-5 office post or a low-paid table-waiting job probably makes you want to scream. But you can relax, because you do not need to do those jobs! Teaching is a popular one. You don’t necessarily have to do a teaching degree and end up in charge of a class of thirty kids - just think about what you’re good at; what skills do you have that other people might want to learn? You write, so I’m guessing your language skills are pretty good; or perhaps you play flute, or whizz through long division? Pick a skill, work out a step-by-step teaching strategy, and then make bright, bold posters and advertise yourself (“Want to learn French? Get lessons from a native speaker!”). Alternatively, you could look around for private tutoring agencies and firms in your area, and see if they could take you on. That’s how I ended up working as an English tutor and lecturer; that’s how I paid my bills and supported my writing for over five years.
There are other ways, of course, if teaching doesn’t float your boat. Working in a bookstore may just sound like another dull retail job, but give it a try. Chances are, the people who work there are into words in the same way you are - particularly if the store is an independent one. A good poet friend of mine worked for the huge chain bookstore Waterstones, and surprisingly, loved every second. He got to work in the poetry department, and he went through there like a dose of salts, insisting that they order in more books by Charles Bukowski and other hip writers, writing enthusiastic reviews for poetry books to make people buy them, and making suggestions for cool literary events for the store. He also took the time to chat with the customers about the books they were buying, and had a great time meeting loads of like-minded people!
Basically, your “real” job should always be something you don’t totally hate. Creative people can wither in soul-crushing corporate workplaces, so make sure your day-job isn’t affecting your writing in a negative way. If it is: quit. Go work in a cool café, deliver leaflets or posters, become a carer for the elderly (old people are amazing, and good, caring people are always needed), walk your neighbours’ dogs, drive a pizza van. Do something you like, and when you’re not doing it, write. Don’t let anyone else tell you how you should support yourself.

But writing’s just a hobby, isn’t it?
So, you mainly need the “real” job because writing does not tend to generate a regular income - if you go through a bad patch with your writing and have no financial back-up, you could end up with no rent-money at the end of the month. However, writing is not just a hobby - it can make you money, if you know how to work it!
Poetry’s tricky to sell, as we’ve already discovered. However, some magazines do pay for poems. It’s not generally a lot, but it’s something - and the day of your first paid magazine gig is a momentous occasion! You can also get paid for reading your poetry to an audience, so try and get yourself on the bill of a local poetry reading. Many of these events charge a small entry fee, and more often than not, that goes to the poets. If your scruples allow, you can also try touting your poetic wares to greetings card companies or other product manufacturers… obviously you won’t be writing your best or most complex work, but you’ll be writing and making some cash!
Other forms of writing are more lucrative than poetry, thank goodness! You can make cash-per-word writing freelance magazine articles, reviews etc, and there are heaps of websites out there with advice on this kind of thing - just type “freelancing for beginners” into Google (but watch out for scams… don’t part with any cash for online writing courses or the like - you should be able to get all the info you need for free). You can also write for a specific market - as I said earlier, medical writing can generate income, as can travel writing and writing for other specialist areas.
If you’re feeling courageous, you can also send your work off to poetry contests with cash prizes (though with most of these you have to pay an entry fee… make sure it’s worth paying to enter!) or read up on grants and other funding for writers.

I used to say that when I was your age… you’ll see.
Whatever you do, do NOT be discouraged by negative responses from other people! This “you’ll see” response is particularly nasty, because it implies that you’ll fail, or that you’ll regret pursuing your writing at a later stage of your life. Yes, you should be sure that writing is really what you want to do, but chances are if you do decide to follow that path, and if you stay smart and true to yourself, you’ll have no regrets whatsoever. As for the “don’t be ridiculous” comment - writing and creating are not ridiculous exercises. If you ask me, slaving away at a PC or photocopier for eight full hours of your waking day is much more ridiculous than creating something really cool and unique and sending it out into the world for people to enjoy. And if someone asks you what your “real” job is, tell them it’s writing - you just happen to have another job on the side.

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Budding writer? Creative person in need of a fun job? Check out the various resources and services at Bookworm Tutors. Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

Procrastination Station #120

Friday, April 19th, 2013

u.f.o.

A poem! By Kevin Cadwallender! At Bolts of Silk! A hat-trick of awesome!

I love Kim Addonizio, and this is SO the perfect book cover for her work!

I am so happy to see some of Stephen Nelson’s work over at Fit for Work — an anti-ATOS anthology you should, by the way, really check out.

Have you guys seen the Books and Nerds tumblr? Wall to wall bookish escapism!

The lovely, lovely Chris Scott (who once told me he’d “be the Testino to [my] Diana” if ever I become super famous, and I plan to hold him to it) recently took this brilliant, smiley photo of great poet and great bloke Andrew Philip. I really like it! Chris’ work is generally great. Check out his Author Portraits and his Flickr for more!

Life in Authoring, you totally get me through the day, SRSLY. I also just discovered Life in Publishing and Life in Small Press Publishing and now have so much less free time.

I’m always fascinated when Caustic Cover Critic points out how often the same images are recycled for book covers. Here’s a sad and elegant lady who seems to crop up awfully often…

…and speaking of covers, I just discovered Lousy Book Covers. Part of me feels super sad for the poor authors, but some of these really are lousy.

Is anyone else as into typewriters as me? If so, you should check out clickthing. It is basically typewriter p0rn.

I believe I have mentioned before that I LOVE DAVE COATES’ REVIEWS OF POETRY BOOKS. LOVE them. His review of The Great Billy Letford (as he should always be known) is an absolute cracker. But he’s at his best when bitchy: “poems to be printed on Cath Kidston merchandise.” DOES CRITICISM GET ANY HARSHER? A review to cackle gleefully at.

Apparently, “dear blank” is something EVERYONE has seen now, but it was new to me, and I loved it!

Two Beat Generation tattoos! Ginsberg and Kerouac! I approve! Also, I have been crushing on thigh tattoos lately and love these.

To be serious for a moment: you should probably read more bell hooks.

How much do you wish you’d been at this party?

Adverts are often better “edited” — some great examples here!

I can has one of these?

It wouldn’t be Friday without CAT GIFS!

Have a great weekend!

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Dear Poetry Newbies: do you need a creative writing qualification?

Monday, February 11th, 2013

The World Is Your Oyster Now

A previous version of this post appeared at One Night Stanzas in September 2008.

There are a lot of people out there who will tell you that in order to become a successful writer, you will definitely need some kind of creative-writing-specific qualification. However, there are also a lot of people out there who will tell you that you should avoid creative writing qualifications like the plague. Personally, I decided to go down the qualification route: I have a MSc in Creative Writing and I’m soon to complete a Creative Writing PhD. In light of this, I thought I’d stick my oar in on the subject.
I’m not going to say a definite yes or no either way — you may or may not want or need a creative writing qualification. You may not know right now. You may have people telling you what you should or shouldn’t do on all sides. At the end of the day, the ‘to study or not to study?’ question is yours to answer… but I can offer some pros and cons, dos and don’ts to help you.

Creative writing courses: Pros

- Courses provide opportunities for quality workshopping and mentoring.

- Seminars and tutorials are often run by experienced writers (or former writers).

- You learn about writing, editing, drafting and publishing processes… on some courses you can also learn about how writing is marketed, distributed and sold.

- Opportunities for publication may well be open to you.

- You’re surrounded by other writers like yourself who understand your ambition and won’t try to discourage you.

- You get honest, useful feedback on your work, and help to implement changes.

- More and more courses are springing up all the time, and more and more people are taking them - this means more choice when it comes to where and when you study, how you study and with whom.

- Being part of a course-group often provides opportunities to attend writing-related events, and to meet people in the writing business.

Creative writing courses: Cons

- Creative writing is a very specialised field and you may find yourself with limited career options when your course has finished.

- Creative writing is sometimes looked down upon, or not always well-respected - by businesses and even by some academics.

- There is a common belief that creative writing cannot actually be “taught” and so courses are a waste of time.

- Courses of all kinds can be very costly, particularly if you enroll at a prestigious institution.

- Some courses are run and taught by individuals who do not have sufficient knowledge or experience of the field.

- Workshops can often be less constructive in a long-term course situation, because cliques and animosities can develop between classmates.

- Some writers (even some editors) reserve a certain kind of snobbery for those with creative writing qualifications.

- Because more and more people are studying creative writing, qualifications of this kind are becoming less unique and as a result, less respected.

Dos and don’ts.

DO find a highly-rated course at a good institution. Yes, it’s expensive to go to a good Uni or college, but you generally do get what you pay for. Make sure the qualification you get is going to be legitimate and useful.

DON’T take online creative writing “Masters” or “Degree”, particularly if you have to pay for them. They are generally worthless on paper. (Some online short courses are good, but generally aren’t accredited — so you don’t end up with an actual qualification at the end.)

Probably DON’T take creative writing as your first University degree. By doing so you may back yourself into a corner when it comes to career options. Take a more open-ended degree and specialise in creative writing later, or take a creative writing module or postgraduate course.

DON’T feel that you have to rush into taking a course. If you finish high school or graduate from your degree and you want to do other things first, do by all means. If you want to produce some more writing first, do. No hurry.

DO make sure you can afford your chosen course. If you can’t, look around at other courses - but DON’T just enrol “because it’s cheap”. There may be a reason for that. At the same time, DON’T assume a course is really good because it’s expensive. Do your research.

DO make sure that, if you’re required to have “writing experience,” you have some. You may well be in a class with people who have a fair few publications and projects under their belt. If you’ve only ever written three poems, look for a course designed for beginners.

DO vet the course-organisers and tutors before you apply. Do they sound like they have the right experience/type of writing/research interests to teach you?

DO vet the course, too. Does it go in the direction you want? Does it look unprofessional, or too academic? Trust your instincts, get on a course that will benefit you personally.

DO search around for funding, from student loans, grants, bursaries and scholarships. DON’T run up your course bill on a credit card or via a personal loan unless you’re sure you can manage it.

DON’T take the word of people who say you must or must not study creative writing. Listen to their advice, but DON’T feel obliged to act on it.

DON’T start a course if you already think you might find it too hard, or you might drop out. It can be really costly.

DO vet “free” courses very, very carefully.

DON’T assume that taking a course will make you a writing superstar… but also DON’T assume that, just because it won’t, it’s worthless.

I’d love to hear what you think about the benefits and disadvantages of creative writing courses. Have you done one? Give me your feedback!

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Procrastination Station #115

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

<3

Har! Brilliant lateral-thinking literary Halloween costume idea right here!

It’s pricey, but this is one of the coolest notebook ideas I have seen in quite a while!

And speaking of notebooks, here is a list of cool crafty bookish DIY projects for you to try, if your weekend’s looking empty!

We have forged something beautiful together,
in spite of all the darkness.

I love this beautiful, autumnal poem from Kerri Ni Dochartaigh.

IF YOU CLICK NOTHING ELSE IN THIS POST, click here for some WTF sci fi book covers. Amazing! (Thanks Adam!)

This passive-aggressive note got the English teacher treatment! (I also love these grumpy Halloween ones!)

I do not understand—I will not understand, I refuse to understand—why rape has to be on the table for every story with a female protagonist, or even a strong female supporting cast. Why it’s so assumed that I’m being “unrealistic” when I say that none of my female characters are going to be raped. Why this “takes the tension out of the story.” There is plenty of tension without me having to write about something that upsets both me and many of my readers, thanks.

Things I will not do to my characters. Ever. is great great great. A must-read for novelists.

Also fascinating: Saeed Jones on writing the second chapter.

These author-quote illustrations are pretty fabby (though, as with everything, Needs More Women & POC).

The wonderful Captain McGuire WROTE A POEM ABOUT BROCCOLI, you guys!

Looking at [the word 'fat'] as a neutral descriptor also steals its ability to insult. “You’re fat!” “Your observational skills are stellar!”

Everything Liss writes about fat acceptance is always so spot on. The above is from this post.

I had an article posted at xoJane! Everlasting squee!

I love Ruth’s photos of dewy, early morning plants and spider webs.

Next week I’ll be reviewing Patrick Green’s new album, Melodrama. Get the jump on my review by listening to the album in full here!

There’s three main reasons men (or anyone) don’t cook: Not caring what they eat, thinking someone else should cook for them, or not knowing how to cook. All three have different solutions and not one is “baby him along like you’re trying to convince a timid puppy to go out in the snow.”

I so love The Pervocracy’s monthly “cosmocking” of Cosmo. This month is particularly excellent.

Here are some fantastic photos of what President Obama has been doing to help with the Hurricane Sandy aftermath. And here is an article on why he’s a great (GREAT!) president (NB: go ye not below the line, there be assholes). Finally, in President-related news: this. (via)

Want to make your own colourful bird wings? OF COURSE YOU DO.

“Six people battle to save hedgehog trapped in crisp packet”? That’s my kinda news headline.

Food is lots of things. It’s comfort, it’s calories, it’s communion, it’s history and tradition, and it’s fucking yummy. Two things that it isn’t is GOOD or BAD (unless, you know, e coli). And you are not a good or bad person for eating.

21 Things To Stop Saying Unless You Hate Fat People WINS ALL THE INTERNETS.

I love everything in this amazing Etsy shop.

…and speaking of which, THERE’S NEW STUFF UP AT EDINBURGH VINTAGE!

Guys, please support my lovely friend Hannah, who’s doing Movember even though she’s a girl!

It was close, but I think this has to win cat gif of the week.


Look at this amazing time-lapse of Hurricane Sandy hitting New York City — check out 1:02 when the power goes off!

Lindy West at Back Fence PDX from Back Fence PDX on Vimeo.

Lindy West remains my heroine.


This is GREAT.


So is this.

Have a great weekend!

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Procrastination Station #114

Friday, October 26th, 2012

pumpkin macaron

Procrastination Station has been on hiatus while ONS had a bit of an October midterm slow-down. Here’s a bumper edition to make up for it. Enjoy!

THIS IS GREAT: 10 words you LITERALLY (nooo!) didn’t know you were getting wrong. I want to Pritt-Stick this to all my students’ foreheads.

Received a snotty rejection letter for your work? Rest assured, it really does happen to the best writers!

Check out this cool, illustrated step-by-step guide to Japanese book sewing complete with gif!

Thanks very much to the lovely Swiss for this wee mention of ONS on his blog!

This is deviation:

I had no designs on altitude, knees
flush to the acrylic; all that yellow

was more light than I can speak against.

I utterly love this poem by the lovely Chris Emslie in the current [queer] issue of PANK.

I’m a massive, massive fan of the wonderful Diane di Prima, and she’s sick. She needs help to pay her healthcare bills. Can you help?

Herman Melville says PLEASE WASH YOUR HANDS.

I’m super-extra-mega excited to have FOUR poems in this beautiful forthcoming book, now available for pre-order. Sci fi poetry, OMG!

Kinda spooky, Halloween-y…. mildly morbid. Epitaphs of famous authors.

Point A) “Censuring” is not the same as “censoring.” They look and sound similar, but nope.
Point B) Freedom of speech is not the same as freedom from repercussions. [...]
Point C) Internet anonymity, which, yes, is often a condition of people feeling that they can speak freely, is not a right. And it’s definitely not some kind of Fortress of Solitude…
Point D) People who equate “free speech” with “my God-given right to perpetual access to women’s bodies, no matter how ill-gotten or exploitative” can eat a big plate of Cry Me A River, and then fuck right off.

This article at Bitch is a damn fine response to the whine of “but I’m allowed to be an asshole because FREE SPEECH!” that echoes endlessly off the grimy walls of the internets.

I HAVE A FAVOUR TO ASK YOU GUYS! As one of their community champions, I would love for you to click here and take two minutes to vote for Scottish Women’s Aid to win the Weatherseal Charity Weekend Prize for 2012. They deserve it, they’ll appreciate it, and they’re awesome.

I’m sure you’ve heard tell of the hilarious prank Tube signs that are doing the rounds. Here are some of the best!

6. Challenge homophobia. As a role model for your students, respond to homophobia immediately and sincerely. Encourage in-service trainings for staff and students on homophobia and its impact on gay and lesbian youth.

7. Combat heterosexism in your classroom. Include visibly gay and lesbian role models in your classroom.

Ten simple ways to make your classroom (or hey, any workplace) a safe space for LGBTQ* folks.

This is such a sweet idea… compliment matchboxes full of exquisite art!

A few folk have asked if the Claire of this company is me. It isn’t… but I may soon become a customer!

What not to wear on Halloween.

It is ridiculous — RIDICULOUS — that we live in a society where it’s a good guess that a shooting in a place often frequented by women is going to be an extension of a “domestic dispute.” Anastasia Shields pointed out to me that just two days ago in Casselberry, Florida, a man killed three women at a beauty salon in what the police are calling “part of a domestic dispute.” A few years ago, about a mile from my home, a man walked up to his ex-girlfriend in the parking lot of her office as she was walking into work and shot her point blank, killing her immediately. I think about her every time I drive past there, which is almost daily.

A great, rage-making piece at Shakesville about our society’s problem with domestic violence.

Have you heard about Edinburgh’s cringe-worthy new name?

Oh my goodnessss check out this amazing London loft. Bright red kitchen HELLO!

I defy you not to go “aaaaaaaaaaw!”

Definatalie’s Fancy Lady Industries is having a giveaway. I SO WANT THAT STUFF!

The past (almost) four years of my life haven’t been exactly fun, but the thought of still having that $40,000 of debt, of being so financially desperate that I have to pay an overdraft fee for a pack of cigarettes, is much, much worse than anything I went through to pay it off. It’s hard to explain -– in a good way -– but I feel like I can breathe now.

Paying off all your debts on a teachers salary? IT CAN BE DONE.

CAT BOUNCE!!! (Seriously, click this.) (via)

I so wish I had been at this party.

HEY EVERYONE LOOKIE OVER HERE! If you click nothing else from this post, CLICK THIS! My lovely sister Helen has started her own Etsy store, selling her artwork and crafts. It’s brand new and yet it already contains DINOSAURS AND OCTOPI. Why haven’t you clicked yet?! It’s called Rock Paper Lizard, go give it some love!


This — the new anthem of Edinburgh Vintage, by the way — has been stuck in my head FOR THE PAST TWO WEEKS, so I am passing it on. You’re welcome.


Badass performance poet, activist and all-round awesome lady Cat Brogan has her own TV channel! Legend!


Watch. Be inspired. Act.

Aaaand I can’t decide which of these is my favourite mick-take of all the recent US election shenanigans. Both hilarious, anyway!

Have a great weekend!

*

You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Procrastination Station #110

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Some biology book

Right before I left the States for Europe, I dyed my hair bright red. In a poetry workshop at Cave Canem, Nikki Finney asked the other poets to describe the color of my hair as specifically as possible. Red like paprika, like Kool-Aid, like burnt sienna, like rust… I carry these colors in my head like memories of past lives.

This piece, by Saeed Jones, is really excellent. All about appearance, identity, race, place and loss. Fabulous.

Want to be able to read lying down without getting neck-strain or having all the blood run out of your arms? Now you can… as long as you don’t mind looking daft.

This tutorial on how to make your own small notebook is really cool.

OMG this is a newly-found photograph of (probably) Emily Dickinson! …and speaking of Emily Dickinson: O M G !!!

“Around 11:00PM I received 3 different calls, all blocked, with one leaving a “delete your review!” voicemail and the second stating that I should just kill myself for being such a miserable person for attacking poor Emily. REALLY? And yes, I’m talking with the cops about this already. I mean that’s Misery kind of fan territory. Not long after I heard a loud bang on my deck and I was legitimately scared that it was a gunshot. Far fetched maybe but this was quickly sinking into WTF territory.”

This girl received death threats for writing an Amazon review… and the novelist felt this was pretty OK. I’ve never heard of Emily Giffin but I am sure as hell boycotting her every book after this!

A peek inside the Sketchbooks of the Pros.

Got puns? You do now!

The world’s most beautiful literary magazines — and I’ve been published in one of them! Woo!

You’re thinking about skipping over this one without clicking because it’s called How To Use Google Search More Effectively, aren’t you? DON’T, I BEG YOU. It blew my tiny little mind.

98% of everything I own is second hand. My blow dryer, my picture frames, my sheets (not as gross as you’re imagining). They cost a fraction of what I’d pay for them new, and no one’s the wiser. At least until I tell the internet that I sleep on used sheets.

ME TOO, LADY. And all the other advice listed here is bloody excellent, too.

I contributed to this IdeasMag article on how to make a good impression in your University application. If you’re a prospective student, check it out!

Katja’s meditations make me want to say thank you for more stuff. So, thank you, Katja, for your blog. It’s awesome.

Allow me to teach you a new word.

OMG Starbucks bans screenwriters! So funny!

Yes, I was scared at times, but I had also been scared sitting on my futon watching “The Real World.” (Scared of the phone, scared of the future, scared of what people said about me.) The far more terrifying fate, as I saw it, was that I would fail to become the person I wanted to be. I still wasn’t sure what that was yet. I spent much of those five months feeling like a kite dangling on a string. Was I going to head to grad school? Write for television? Open my own school? My mind filled with clouds. But my God, it was fun. It was boring, too. I took eight-hour hikes and let my mind wander, or sang the “Xanadu” soundtrack for the 18 billionth time.

Why every woman should travel alone chipped quite a big block off my terror at the thought of doing just that.

I was chuffed to come across this database of great vegan cookery zines.

…and speaking of which, I am officially a disciple of the goddess Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and her guide to vegan activism is AWESOME.

Political Facebook discussions. So awful. So true.
(I harbour a special resentment for “The Thoughtful One.”)

I am neither an empty man-socket nor a fucking venus flytrap. I am not looking to “attract a man.” I am just trying to do my stuff and then maybe meet a person who likes me because I am also a person. I didn’t want to get all serious right off the bat, BUT SORRY: Women’s grueling, lifelong, losing battle to transform themselves into magical, flawless creatures with Disney hair and 15-inch waists and massive ham-lips is not for the benefit of women. And when men say that they “love to see the woman underneath the makeup,” they’re not saying they want to see your leg stubble and greasy bangs—they’re saying they want you to be better at hiding your maintenance routine.

I utterly, utterly love Lindy West. My sister, my bloke and I all cackled hysterically at her take-down of stupid guys who comment on their ladies’ beauty routines.

OK, you might think I’m ridiculous, but this woman’s videos have CHANGED MY HOUSE FOREVER.

Is it terrible that, rather than buying things from this Etsy store, I am using it as inspiration to make DIY book-based projects…?

OI!!! Edinburgh Vintage is having a SALE! There’s also a FINAL CLEARANCE section! Go buy pretty things and help me empty my spare room!


Zoe Margolis looking HAWT and calling publishers out on their bullshit.


Amy Poehler being a magical badass goddess of wisdom.


& finally, I love this. Who said Etsy sellers don’t have a sense of humour?

Have a great weekend!

*

You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Check the ill Q&A behaviour

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

366 - 350: You can't shut me up

I’ve been to a whole load of readings and other author events this Festival – avoiding as I am every aspect of the white, male, thirty-something, rape-joke-cracking comedy side of things. And although I’ve had a creeping sense of this for a while, this Festival season it has really struck me just how badly people behave in post-reading Q&A sessions.
It’s got to the point where, on the rare occasions that the event’s chair announces that there will not be a Q&A session afterwards, I feel a palpable surge of relief. You’d think that good behaviour – particularly at a set-up as supposedly erudite as the Edinburgh International Book Festival – would be a no-brainer. But apparently not – it’s more likely to be a free-for-all of terribleness. Therefore, let me share with you my no-shit-Sherlock rules for good Q&A behaviour, wherein I will also share some of the horrors I have been [un]fortunate enough to witness.

1. It’s a Q&A… so ask a damn question
The clue to this one’s in the name, folks – question and answer. Seems straightforward, right? And yet, the most commonplace Q&A sin is most definitely Question Fail. The non-question usually comes from someone whose hand shoots up in a Donkey-from-Shrek gesture. And you can tell as soon as they start that there is no question at the end of their faltering verbal rainbow. They start with “I’d just like to say…”, or “Isn’t it interesting how…”, or sometimes “You’ve just got me thinking about…” And after a while it becomes apparent that they don’t actually want to ask anything. The speaker nods politely along, perhaps trying to engineer a possible response in spite of the fact that the non-questioner doesn’t really want one. The non-questioner just wants the microphone. And yaknow, we’ve all paid ten quid for the privilege of hearing from the speaker. Please ask them something so they can say interesting things to us!

2. It’s not all about you.
A greater awareness that there are other people in the audience would serve a lot of questioners well in general. I’m speaking now of those people – some of whom have real questions and some of whom don’t – who see the Q&A session as an opportunity for them to have a private one-to-one conversation with the speaker. They ask a (non-)question, the speaker responds, and then instead of surrendering the slippery, sweaty roving mic to the next eager hand-waver, they respond back – sometimes numerous times and often at length. Admittedly, there are some event chairs who won’t allow this sort of behaviour and who will attempt to head these me-me-me types off at the pass. But this is Blighty after all, and many chairs and speakers will simply nod politely as the precious seconds of the often-too-brief Q&A tick by. Again: dude, I have spent a whole piece of paper money to come to this event. I did not spend that money so I could hear you chat about how much you liked the voice-acting in Brave (this really happened) with a speaker whose topic had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Pixar’s totally-not-a-princess-movie. Please be quiet now. (Although yes, Brave is great. Just not now.)

3. ’splaining is never acceptable…
…especially when you are talking to someone who is an expert in their field. Seriously: I can never understand folks who’ll wait until the speaker has finished unpacking years of research on a subject obviously close to their hearts before reaching for the mic and saying “actually, x is totally untrue! I read an article about it in the Telegraph!” Some cases in point: Marina Warner is one of the world’s greatest and most knowledgeable scholars of myth and folklore. She’s been publishing on the subject since the mid seventies. What this woman doesn’t know about folklore doesn’t exist. And yet, at the end of Warner’s brilliant lecture at the Book Festival, a woman raised her hand to say, “I don’t know if you realise this, Marina, but Scotland has a very vibrant culture of folklore and storytelling!” Dude. It’s Marina freaking Warner. I guarantee you she knows.
I witnessed another example of ’splaining at Alice Oswald’s truly incredible Book Festival reading. There was no Q&A session, but punters were encouraged to bring questions to Oswald during the signing. The signing queue was huge, it was 10pm and poor old Alice had just read non-stop from memory for an hour and twenty minutes. Needless to say, she was obviously exhausted. And yet, a bloke in the signing queue in front of me had no qualms about stepping up to the table to tell her all about the good old days of his own Homeric studies as an undergrad at Oxford, and by the way, did she know x and y about Homer? The woman is an expert, man! She knows.
Finally – and I really thought that in terms of ’splaining, by now I’d seen it all – at Andrew Keen’s Book Festival event, a truly ’splain-tastic gentleman spoke up at the back. Keen had just finished discussing the possible dangers of social networking for young people, a subject that his two nonfiction works have examined at length. After slagging both books horribly (and I’ll return to this in a moment), the gentleman pointed out that, “according to studies” (BECAUSE OF REASONS!), young people are highly responsible users of social media and only ever ‘friend’ people they definitely know IRL. He actually said, his white beard shuddering with indignation, “I know how young people behave, and you’ve got them completely wrong.” As a young person myself (who has nearly 2,000 Twitter followers and not a clue who most of them are), and a FE lecturer who teaches over 150 young ’uns a year (all of whom talk about “some random on my Facebook,” etc), I must say to you, sir: you are embarrassing yourself.
Everyone else: please do not be this person.

4. Do not slag the book.
I’ve witnessed this more times than I care to mention, yet I still do not understand the logic. Before the white-bearded ’splainer above began telling everyone in Edinburgh all about How Young People Behave, he first launched a massive tirade against the speaker, his books, and everything he stood for. He began with, and I quote, “I read your first book and frankly I thought it was a shoddy piece of work” (cue a lot of booing and hissing-through-teeth from the audience), before adding, “and I totally disagree with everything you say in this new book!” Happily, Andrew Keen is a long-time Silicone Valley insider, and about as hard-boiled a speaker as you get at the Book Fest, so without batting an eyelid he responded, “so you’ve read the new book, then?” When Beardy McSplain had to admit that he had not, Keen continued, “well, you’re not putting yourself in a desperately credible position, then, are you?”
However, I have seen authors panic in the face of their book being wantonly slagged in the Q&A. In an event at the Book Fest last year, the author – who I won’t name – faced a screeching elderly woman in the front row telling her that In My Day Women Like You Would Have Been Called Lazy Sluts, or words to that effect. The poor woman was just open-mouthed with shock, as were the audience.
The reason I don’t understand people who publicly attack the book (or the author) is not because I think the authors shouldn’t have to deal with it. Personally, I see hecklers as part of the public reading territory and almost relish the challenge they provide (I’ve never been called a lazy slut, though, I suppose). No, the reason I don’t understand it is this: if you hate this person and all that they write about/stand for so much, why the everloving hell have you spent ten whole pounds to come to their event? That’s two and a half pints, or a good novel, or four copies of the Big Issue! Folks – do everyone in the world a favour, stay home and give that money to a deserving charity.

5. Wait to be asked.
Just a piece of common courtesy, this. I was at an International Festival event the other day – a panel discussion featuring three academics and the chair. It became clear towards the end that the chair was trying to wrap things up for questions, but before she had even finished speaking, an extremely rude man in the front row threw out his arms towards the panel and boomed, “SO LET ME ASK YOU THIS, THEN…” Happily, the chair cut in and demanded that a) be quiet until she was done and b) he wait for the roving mic (although he really didn’t need it) – but even so, I was gobsmacked. I mean, I’ve asked questions in Q&As before – I do so quite regularly – but there is no way in hell I would ever take it upon myself to decide that I was sick of listening now and HEY LISTEN TO ME INSTEAD! Ladies and gents – be nice. Wait til you’re asked. This is the literary world, we’re civilised here! Aren’t we…?

Right – now I want to hear your horror stories. I know you’ve got them! Have you come across someone even worse than Beardy McSplain? Tell me in the comments box!

*

You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

In search of the perfect coffeeshop.

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Café

Over the summer I was teaching creative writing at the Scottish Universities International Summer School. All our lovely students were from overseas and most of them had never been to Edinburgh before. The festival was in full swing, they were all finding the course extremely intensive (’cause it really, really is — but in a fun way!), and scrabbling around for a free hour or two each day to write. And they were all asking me the same question: which Edinburgh coffee shops are the best for writing in?
Weirdly, this all coincided with my procurement of a copy of David Mamet’s Make-Believe Town — a collection of essays on everything from what David Mamet thinks of screenwriting to what David Mamet did during the 1995 deer hunting season. Now, (< — classic Mamet start to a sentence right there) I love David Mamet a whole load. Although I have yet to see or even read one of his plays, his non-fiction is just so up my street. And there is one essay in this particular collection that not only spookily amplified my students’ questions… it also made me snort-laugh, and in places, nod furiously.

The essay is called “The Diner”, and in it, Mamet asserts:

“Writing, in my experience, consists of long periods of hanging out, punctuated by the fugue of remorse at the loss of one’s powers and wonder at occasional output in spite of that loss.”

This is my personal writing process in a nutshell, and so I was extremely excited when Mamet not only endorsed the behaviour I shall henceforth refer to as “hanging out” (rather than “dicking around” or “procrastinating”, which were the terms I used to use) — he actually suggests that it is a necessary and perhaps even vital part of being a writer. “We’ve got to write, and to read, and to do so, we get out of the house and get into the coffeeshop. [...] We, readers and writers, must hang out.”

And it has to be the coffeeshop. After all,

“Where else would one go? The Lounge seems to have degenerated into the Sports Bar, that is, a spot one can go to watch television. That is not hanging out; no: we cannot say it. [...] That frantic and forced consumerism of the Sports Bar will not do; neither what has become the muddled and tense obsequiousness of that proclaiming itself the Restaurant. No.”

It has to be the coffeeshop. The coffeeshop, as Mamet points out (and this is one of the parts where I furiously nodded), is more than just an establishment that sells hot, usually-brown-coloured beverages. It is a refuge for those of us who are stupid enough to have decided to dedicate our lives to the creative arts, and who therefore have little money and not much of a plan and who need a safe place to go, where we won’t be judged by normal people or told to get a real job.

“In larger towns we’ve seen the budding writer at his or her table, frowning into a notebook; and in the cities themselves, the actor and actress with their flimsy scripts — outsiders all, at home in the diner, coffeeshop, cafe.”

Having read this essay (three times, enthralled, as I almost always am by Mamet’s ramblings), I started trying to think about coffeeshops of my acquaintance that particularly lend themselves to hanging out, especially writing. I was spectacularly failing to help my students with their questions, telling them that during the Festival most of the city centre coffeeshops are out — too busy and noisy — and that they should wander Stockbridge, Bruntsfield, Morningside, Leith, and find their own preferred spots. I realised that Mamet gives numerous examples of coffeeshops across America that he thinks make perfect “hang outs” (in fact, one very sweet and only-ever-so-slightly creepy blogger made a pilgrimage to one of them)… but he gives very little information on what, exactly, might make a certain coffeeshop more conducive to hanging out than others in the same town. He mentions only that they are places “of reading, writing, gossip, mutual observation”, and that ideally, there should be a “beautiful plastic covered menu,” made all the more beautiful if it includes “that most liberal phrase, ‘Breakfast Served All Day’.” To be honest, that doesn’t give me much to go on. But I think, from the general gist of the essay, that the ideal writing coffeeshop hang-out should provide the following things:

– an atmosphere that somehow wordlessly conveys to you that once you have bought your one cup of coffee, you can sit and read/write there for as long as you like without disturbance/expectation of further purchases
– music that is not going to bug you… but probably not no music at all, as that’s a bit weird
– an unspoken hostility towards yummy mummies and their unsupervised buggy-mewling brats (so pretty much any Costa is immediately ruled out)
– long-serving staff who know your “usual”, and who aren’t hipsters
– a conspicuous absence of wifi or wall-sockets (Mamet does assert, “can we take our computers there? Thankfully not.”)
– a total ban on TV of any kind
– people-watching opportunities

(Personally I’d also add: tables that are the correct darned height for a seated human adult; soya milk at no extra charge; juice, not smoothies; properly late opening hours; dim lighting, and booths. Oh my goodness, booths. But yaknow, that’s just me.)

Based on these criteria, I had a sudden, terrible realisation. There are so few proper, decent hang-out spots in Edinburgh that I am actually a bit embarrassed on Edinburgh’s behalf.

There are a few contenders. Word of Mouth, just off Leith Walk, is pretty fabulous, though small. They’d make my list. The Cameo Bar might, too, but it depends on the time, the day and whether or not a big movie is opening. The new Forest Cafe on Tollcross Junction ticks the box for their one-cup-of-tea-and-you-can-stay-all-day vibe… that’s rare these days, so props, Forest. Unfortunately, they do lose out on the music front. Sometimes it’s super-chilled, one-man-and-his-uke stuff, which is perfect… then other times it’s an actual member of staff actually banging his actual fists on an actual piano two feet from your actual head while you’re trying to write. Just no.
Then there’s Black Medicine. There are three in Edinburgh. The biggest, on Nicolson Street, instantly loses out because of its pot-luck weird-ass music, and its UBERHIPSTER counter staff (anyone else remember the days of Kyle and Kyle? I had such a crush on the dreadlocked Kyle. It was WAY more of a hang-out in those days). The Marchmont one has been found by the yummy mummies and the laptop wankers. The newest one, Tollcross, is definitely the most promising (one of the veteran BM staff still works there! Hello, twin mohawk guy!) and may actually make my hang-out list. Soya milk’s extra, though. Boo!
Where else? City Cafe on Blair Street is technically a bar, but they have booths and dim lighting and candles and some of the staff are hot, friendly chubby tattooed girls. Unfortunately, there are TVs. Schoolboy error, City Cafe. Remember before you decided to go for a revamp and become a pseudo fifties diner? YOU WERE WAY MORE AWESOME THEN. (Also, since when did fifties diners have huge-ass TVs almost always showing the BBC News 24 channel? Illogical, Captain.)
And then I kind of run out of options. Cafe Class, also on Tollcross Junction, is cool, but you feel like you have to order more stuff if you sit there a long time. At Kilimanjaro on South Clerk Street once, one of the waiters actually demanded that my friend and I order more drinks after less than an hour, so screw you, Kilimanjaro. Favorit used to be freaking amazing (open til 3am on weekends!), but then it changed hands and now seems to be trying to imitate a Caffe Nero. And the Filmhouse Cafe-Bar is cool, but EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK there are TV screens showing mesmerising trailers for artsy movies, meaning concentration on what you’re doing (reading, writing, conversing, eating their delicious chickpea curry) is pretty darned tricky. And… that’s it. Only two (maybe three. Maybe) real proper definite hang-outs in the whole of Edinburgh.

Given that David Mamet has informed me that hanging out is, in fact, a legitimate — nay, important — activity for the budding writer, it is now really rather important that I find suitable venues in which to partake of it. Therefore, I want to hear about your hang-out spot. I don’t mind where you live — I might be coming to your town someday, and this is vital information I will need to know. I already know of one or two good international hang-out spots… the Bean Around The World in Victoria, BC, for example, might well be the best hang-out in all of Canada. But I am hungry for more! Particularly if you know of hang-outs in Glasgow, London, Portland OR, Barcelona, Krakow, San Francisco, Oslo or Vancouver (these are all places I either really love and want to go back to or am visiting sometime soon). You can also totally please yes do tell me what characteristics your ultimate writing hang-out needs to have. As Edinburgh is so surprisingly poor on the hang-out front, I may need to start my own coffeeshop just to meet demand…

Get thee to the comments box!

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You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)

Procrastination Station #108

Friday, May 18th, 2012

{13/365} Tea, book & bed

STUFF that the INTERWEBNETS hath fruitfully provided this week…

“[N]othing changes here except in memory. I loved the way chimneys cast shadows on sunny afternoons, the way buildings were made to precede you and outlive you while housing you, as if you too will live forever. The haar that crept in from the sea. The cemeteries bumpy with centuries of flesh. The way locals asked ‘Where do you stay?’ and my neighbours invited me for a ‘fish supper’. The way nobody is too interested in you – a great British quality, this live-and-let-live discretion – and yet you end up talking with strangers in shops, because Edinburgh people have time. The worn stone steps that lead to unexpected passages of time. The palatial smugness of Morningside and the smashed-up people of Leith.”

I’m becoming increasingly sick and bloody tired of Scotland thanks to the perpetual winter that seems to be happening (worse than usual) this year. Thanks to Kapka Kassabova for reminding me why it’s actually a magic place.

The image, from this brilliant slideshow, of Hunter S Thompson out partying with Johnny Depp and John Cusack (OMG, dreamteam!) made me extremely happy.

An extra-super-useful list of (mostly North American) print journals that accept electronic submissions (and therefore deserve a cookie. Postal-only submissions are so not cool).

Decide it is time to go on a juice fast, yes definitely, you will get SO MUCH WORK done on a juice fast, but WHICH juice fast, haste thee to the internet, it is certainly not a good idea to go on a juice fast without EXTENSIVE RESEARCH, oh look here is an entire website devoted to funny videos of kittens.

The always-golden Rejectionist: when procrastination strikes!

I really enjoyed reading this interview with fellow typewriter enthusiast Rob of Rob Around Books!

I love this illustrated guide to the favourite snacks of great writers. (Thanks Camilla!)

“I remember after a reading somebody came up to me and said, I love that political poem of yours, and my husband, who was standing next to me, said, ‘Which one? They’re all political,’ and I was pleased by that. I would feel the same if she had said, ‘I love that feminist poem of yours.’ It’s a point of view, it’s a stance, it’s an attitude towards life that affects, and afflicts, everything I do.”

This article is great, but it should maybe be called ‘ten feminist poets you should know before you start reading the squillions of others.’

The Southbank Centre are seeking poets to help them build an arts village!

Dear movie of On The Road: please don’t suck as much as you look like you’re going to. Thanks, love C.

Although I am not a parent — and possibly never will be — I really love Dorkymum’s blog. And I particularly loved her take on Twitter… it is so utterly right-on.

“Somehow I understood it in my bones, as deeply and simply as know I have hazel eyes and cannot sing: I was never going to carry a child inside my body, and I was completely at peace with that. The need, want and drive are simply not there. Nearly three decades later, that hasn’t wavered, though it has hardly gone unassailed by others who have felt compelled to critique or to pry.”

And speaking of possibly-never-having-children and things that are totally right-on — I nodded furiously all the way through reading this article.

Aaaand from calm-and-collected protest to righteously angry diatribe: I love Margaret Cho.

I have greatly enjoyed reading and watching and seeing the various tales of first love over at Something Fine. Friend of ONS Rachel McCrum has a piece up there!

“I like my fat friends. I like my fat family members. I like my fat colleagues. I like my fat acquaintances. I like my fat neighbors. I like the fat members of this community. I like your fat partners and your fat kids and your fat friends, too. I like the fat people I see walking their dogs. I like the fat people I see at the grocery store. I like the fat people I see at the movies. I like the fat people I see at restaurants, on the local trails, at the vet, at the corner store picking up milk. I like the fat lady who told me, when I went out shopping in a sleeveless shirt on a hot day for the first time in my life at 38 years old, “I like your shirt!” And I love my fat self.”

Amen, amen, amen, amen, Melissa! Yet another diamond from Shakesville.

And in case that Shakesville post didn’t warm the cockles of your heart quite enough — here are some hedgehogs taking a bath. You’re welcome. (Thanks again to Camilla!)

Do you have a friend who is like me, and loves vinyl records almost as much as they love books? Yes? Here is an excellent gift idea for you!

Oh my goodness. You’ve got to love Edinburgh!


I just discovered the brilliant poet, activist and scholar Minnie Bruce Pratt. I could listen to her talk about this stuff for hours.


Have I posted this before? This man is my ultimate hoopspiration. Breathtaking. And a GREAT track.


This is actually pretty well done and a must for Disney fanfolk!

Have a great weekend!

*

You can also visit Read This Press for more poetry (and typewriter paraphernalia!). Alternatively, check out Edinburgh Vintage, our sister site. If you want to get in touch you can follow OneNightStanzas on Twitter, or email claire[at]onenightstanzas.com. I reply as swiftly as I can!

(Photo credit)