“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” #Arachne5

As part of our Arachne 5th Anniversary celebrations, we’ve asked all of our authors to come up with a blog, that might have something to do with writing or anniversaries. Some of them responded! This one is from Jacqueline Downs who we published in Stations – her story She Didn’t Believe in Ghosts is set at Crystal Palace.


On September 23rd 2016, I received a birthday gift: a five-year diary.

Instead of acting as a repository of my thoughts and feelings about pop stars and boys and fallings out with best friends, this diary has a different function. Each day, year by year, this diary requests that I respond to a question or statement. The idea is that over five years I will be able to see how my answers to the questions or statements change, or don’t change. Prompts range from the profound and potentially distressing (‘Who loves you today?’, ‘What have you got to lose?’) to the seemingly more trivial (‘Write down the last text message you sent’, ‘What is your favourite item of clothing?’). Whatever I am asked, my response will reveal something about how I am thinking or feeling at the time; how I view myself on a given day in a given year.

One of the things that makes it so challenging and interesting, is that it also serves the purpose of acting as a series of miniature writing exercises. You may need to be descriptive (‘What’s the weather like where you are right now?’) or imaginative (‘Where do you see yourself this time next year?’). You may have to negotiate your emotions (I’m always going to give the same answer to ‘When did you last speak to your parents?’ – 13 February 1979 and 12 May 2009 – and that is always going to be sad).

There isn’t much space to write, but within those confines I can answer with a couple of words or an untidy and ill-fitting paragraph. The best thing is, it gets me writing every day.

The challenge on the day I received this gift was: Write a quote for today.

I was able to answer immediately, as a writing group friend had helpfully written something apt in his birthday card to me:

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

     Thomas Mann

I’m a writer. I don’t earn my living from it, but it’s who I think I am; it’s what I say I am, if I’m asked (although out loud I will always add the caveat ‘and editor’).  I put off writing a lot of the time, I get a slight homework-style dread when I know I have a deadline. But once I start, even if it’s just typing or scribbling, I feel happier. And then when typing or scribbling becomes actual writing, I feel a kind of lightness inside, there’s a taking off.

In the five years since Arachne Press started, I’ve taken off a little more. My first anthologised story was in Stations. Since then I’ve had stories performed at live literature events, published in other anthologies and online magazines, and written a screenplay based on another published short story of mine. This screenplay is with a producer who is trying to get a director on board, raise money, get the words off the page and onto the screen. I’m under no illusion about how long this process could take.

But with luck – and it will take a lot of luck, now that the hard graft of several drafts is out of the way – when the diary next asks, ‘Where are you right now?’ my answer will be ‘backstage at the BAFTAs’.

Because if you want to really take off, you have to aim high.

Jacqueline Downs is a writer (and editor). She blogs infrequently at Jacqueline Downs is Reading and Writing

Writing Ambitions – three days to go on Kickstarter funding bid

Just thought I’d mention, its three days almost exactly until time runs out on our funding bid. If you’d like to support us, please take a look at the pitch – you can have a laugh at me and Katy being distracted by every butterfly that flew past, and remaining oblivious of the trains roaring by at the bottom of the garden – one of the few decent patches of sun so far this ‘Summer’, a bit like today.

And in the meantime, watch a whole bunch of Arachne authors talk about their writing ambitions…

© Arachne Press 2013

Arachne Authors talk about writing habits 2

Paula Read and Jacqueline Downs like to be in motion

Emily Cleaver writes when her child is asleep

Wendy Gill would like a greenhouse!

Lennart Lundh loves his computer, Michelle Shine loves her writing group

more arachne authors on the writers who inspire and influence them

Stations and London Lies contributors tell us about the writers they admire

Wendy Gill, Michael Trimmer, Ellie Stewart, Emily Cleaver

Peter Morgan and Jacqueline Downs

LBF 2013 day two

jackie at LBFMuch cheered by yesterday’s meetings at LBF 2013. So: it’s just possible forthcoming titles Mosaic of Air and Weird Lies will be distributed in Romania, and Lovers’ Lies and Mosaic of Air in Portugal via a mail-order catalogue. Maybe. Perhaps. There is also a US deal flirting with the horizon, not sure what, when of even if, but maybe! Useful talk with Matthew from Waterstones, and Jacqueline Downs dropped by to say hello, so that was good too.

Also found places to sit down and recover which was good, including a seminar featuring Salt Publishing and a number of their authors on building a brand on a shoestring. Shoestrings being what I have available this was very interesting. Pleased to find I’m doing most things right, just not enough. Where’s that cloning programme when you need it?

Going Overground with Cityread

Cityread London (1)As part of CityRead Arachne Press authors will be reading from Stations at

Forest Hill Library
Dartmouth Road SE23 3HZ
on Thursday 18th April 2013 7-8.30pm

Rosalind Stopps (Brockley), Caroline Hardman (Hoxton), Jacqueline Downs (Crystal Palace) and Peter Morgan (Forest Hill) for stories of love among the coffee cups, vampires in pubs, ghosts in the machine and eccentrics at a station.

cityread forest hill001

Stations: Norwood Junction – the Video

Been a bit slow editing the video from South Norwood Library but here it is at last.

Rosalind Stopps Recipes for a Successful Working Life (Norwood Junction)

Cherry Potts A Place of Departure (Rotherhithe)

Andrew Blackman Actress (Sydenham)

Jacqueline Downs She Didn’t Believe in Ghosts (Crystal Palace, read by Alix Adams)

Michael Trimmer Platform Zero (Haggerston)

Lots more readings happening, take a look at the events page

Crystal Palace Special

The joy of local authors is they really know their scenery. We decided to take advantage of this and have a reading that celebrated all things Crystal Palace, hosted by the magnificent Bookseller Crow on the Hill. So here are videos of the Crystal Palace stories, as they hit the park.

Jacqueline Downs: She Didn’t Believe in Ghosts (Crystal Palace).

Adrian Gantlope’s Penge Tigers (Penge. Read by Cherry Potts)

Joan Taylor-Rowan: Birdland (Anerley)

Alan McCormick‘s The Runner (from London Lies. Read by Ray Newe)

and to welcome him back from the other side of the Atlantic,

Andrew Blackman: The Actress (Sydenham)

MVMNT by Train…

Another reading from Stations, at MVMNT cafe, right next to Greenwich DLR, if you listen hard enough we’ll have sound effects!

For those who have joined us at MVMNT before, there is now more protection from the elements and some heating, so don’t be put off by the season.

Wednesday March 20th 7pm

Line up:

Jacqueline Downs (Crystal Palace) She Didn’t Believe in Ghosts;

Bartle Sawbridge (Shadwell) Rich & Strange;

Peter Cooper (Highbury & Islington) Inspector Bucket Takes the Train,

Caroline Hardman (Hoxton) Bloody Marys and a Bowl of Pho.

And from Lovers’ Lies, (to show there’s more to us than train spotting) Darren Lee By the Horns.

Arachne Press Authors talk about what they did before they met us

Of course we’d like to think the most significant relationship our authors have is with us as their publisher, but they do have histories…

find out what they got up to – in their writing,