manchester blog awards 09

It’s that time of year again! Nominate your favourite blogs for the 2009 Manchester Blog Awards at the shiny new MBA website.

The categories are: Best Writing, Best Arts and Culture Blog, Best City or Neighbourhood Blog, Best New Blog and Best Personal Blog. You can nominate as many blogs as you like or even nominate your own, but make sure you get your nominations in by September 18.

Being shortlisted for two awards last year – and winning Best New Blog – was absolutely fantastic, and a real highlight of 2008 for me, so if you have a favourite blog, make sure you put it forward!

And don’t forget to book your ticket to attend the Blog Awards extravaganza itself, which this year will take place at the brand new Band on the Wall on October 21. The lovely Jenn Ashworth will be reading, and if last year’s event is anything to go by, it’s bound to be a great night.

breakfast procrastination

My still-unwritten dissertation is stalking me... I won't be able to avoid it for much longer, but in a last-ditch procrastination effort, I'm drinking coffee and looking at these beautiful breakfast pictures from the Bowhaus flickr photostream (via daydream lily and lovelorn unicorn) - the perfect viewing 'fodder' (arf arf) for a Sunday morning:

Pink goop on toast and Coco Pops with strawberries is most definitely where it’s at.

[all photos from the Bowhaus flickr photostream]

travelling moleskine

I was recently invited by the most excellent folks at The Culture Vulture to take part in their lovely Travelling Moleskine project as part of The Big Draw 2009.

The concept for the project is relatively simple: dozens of pristine new Moleskine notebooks have been ‘unleashed into the world,’ each with its own theme. The recipients of the notebook respond creatively to the theme on one or two pages of the notebook, and then passes it on to someone else, who in turn will make their own contribution, and pass the notebook on. The result will be dozens of mini collaborative exhibitions-in-a-book: completed Moleskines will be returned to The Culture Vulture at the end of September, to be exhibited as part of a special project exhibition.

I was very pleased to start the ball rolling for a beautiful brand new Moleskine, with the theme of ‘My Party Trick’:

I love projects like this, and especially anything involving collaging, doodling or drawing. However, I make no claims to be an artist (I didn't even take a GCSE in art and, to be honest, still struggle to stay inside the lines when colouring in) so I'm not sure my effort really stands up next to some of the much more accomplished responses to the project, which you can view at the flickr pool here - I especially love this one by Katie of What Katie Does. However, I certainly had myself a lot of fun with the felt-tip pens and stickers!

You can find out more about the project and some of the contributors so far on The Culture Vulture website, which is also an excellent place to go for information about all manner of cultural goings on in Leeds, Bradford and beyond.

london adventures: what I've been doing

Visiting the ICA for bookshop browsing and the Poor.Old.Tired.Horse exhibition about text-based art and concrete poetry; wandering across Wandsworth Common and Battersea Park; loving the Barbican Library; investigating local watering holes and discovering secret, leafy Islington canals; eating many a Brick Lane bagel; admiring the beautiful exhibition spaces at the Raven Row gallery; catching up with old friends; tea and lemon cake in the National Gallery cafe; escaping the South Kensington weekend crowds in the Natural History Museum’s sweet little wildlife garden; watching rainstorms from the balcony; al fresco drinks and people-watching by the river at Gordon’s Wine Bar; retro ten-pin bowling and root beer; meandering through the Whitechapel Gallery; cooking up yummy vegetarian delights for a birthday dinner; reading, writing, thinking, planning; following the yellow line around the Barbican and maybe starting to have an idea where I might be going to…

Writing + Sloth

I’ve recently been trying to dedicate more time to Doing Proper Writing, but I've not had much success so far. I don't know about anyone else, but I find it incredibly difficult to write on a regular basis when I’m working full time, especially when it’s in combination with a demanding commute (currently involving two tubes and a train). But I do miss writing when I'm not doing it regularly. In an ideal world, I’d like to write something every day, but I don’t know if that’s ever going to happen, because most days, by the time I get home from work I feel pretty much exactly like a sloth.

I am in awe of the amazingly prolific people I come across: the ones who manage to turn out novels alongside busy lives, family obligations and full-time jobs, but I'd love to know their secret.

What are your strategies for motivating yourself to keep writing even in your sloth-like moments?

P.S. Check out my two new book reviews up at Bookmunch: poet Gee Williams’s first novel Salvage, and Aleksander Hemon’s new short story collection Love and Other Obstacles.

[sloth photo via zooillogix]