What I’m Working On…

Just taking a break from being in the Welsh hills with a school group and thought I’d write a quick post…

With Other now out in the US and having been at Wild Goose and met a bunch of new people, I’ve been asked a fair bit ‘what are you working on now?’ Life is fairly complex to be honest, but here’s some of the things I’m working on at the moment:

Firstly, I’m working fairly intensively on a new novel. It’s set in Jaywick, a tiny sea-side resort on the coast of Essex which was recently rated the most deprived area in the UK. This has some personal connection as my great-grandfather bought the land in the 1920’s and created the village, initially as a bunch of beach-huts for holidays for people from the East End of London. It was wildly successful, but with the 2nd world war and other factors, it has fallen on very hard times. So the novel is, if you’ve read it, a bit of Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, set in Essex, and will draw in issues of contemporary poverty and dislocation, as well as a good dose of the British sea-side frontier spirit. My first novel – which tracks the breakdown and recovery of an English teacher in a tough London comprehensive – is currently with a big UK publisher, who I know like it… but that’s a long way from ‘yes!’ Fingers crossed.

In terms of my work in education, I’m consulting with the BBC at the moment on a new programme involving Mathematics in nature and culture which will be out in the Autumn. Can’t say much more about that right now, but looks great. I’m also exploring a lot to do with ‘mindfulness’ in the classroom, thinking about how to help kids to concentrate better in a fractured and distracting digital world. Lots of neuroscience, bit of meditation techniques etc.

And in my other writing, I’m researching a new book which will concentrate on ‘the commons.’ I’m convinced that we have something to learn from the twin failures of Communism and Christianity. The church has never properly taken on board people’s alienation from their labour, which Marx got so right, and Marx never understood alienation from ‘the Other’. What is common to both is, ironically, a core idea of a ‘commons’, which we need to reinvigorate – linking this to Zizek’s work on the radical early church community, and the terrible erosion of the commons that capitalism/protestantism has brought.

Linking with this, I’m also working hard on expanding the piracy thesis, and linking this with a dark inversion of the prodigal son story, which draws in some thoughts about why we so often see ‘big’ ministries fail so spectacularly. I’m not sure what to do with this yet, as it’s something I want to get out there, but it feels too long for a blog post… and what magazines are truly interested in something that draws in psychoanalysis, theology, philosophy, films, pirates and everything else? May be I need to start a magazine ๐Ÿ˜‰

So… busy times, complex times. Need about 50 more hours each day, or a very rich patron. But hopefully will all come good. Thanks for messages of support of the field I’m ploughing… Encouragement is so welcome!


3 responses to “What I’m Working On…”

  1. The last of which if too long, should just put out as a PDF like some of your other short stories.

  2. Acetate Monkey

    Wow! Sounds immensely interesting and very busy! I hope it all comes good, and am looking forward to the fruit of your labours! Hope you’re enjoying the Welsh weather as well as the hills! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. That all sounds like some great possibilities to come. Really enjoyed meeting you at wild goose.