July: time isn’t holding us

If I put into google “agents debut novellists commercial fiction” will I see some miraculous future? I’m becoming more nervous as the reading period for my ‘beta readers’ drags on. Some of my readers are reading it through twice to make sure they have given me as much feedback as possible. Others have gone Very Quiet which suggests that it is perhaps difficult to read, too shoddy to read, to shoddy to give feedback to. ERK. Or perhaps they’re busy. Or perhaps they don’t know how paranoid I can be.

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June: Listening

Nice people have agreed to read my book project as it is at the moment to help me see it for what it might be. I think that it is in perhaps its third draft, a true horrorshow of lumps and knots. A tree growing around obstacles. I wrote it in fifteen minute bursts on trains, waiting for meetings, at lunch, at gigs. It isn’t very jointed at the moment, or maybe it is double jointed which is too many joints.

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May: Next thing.

Hello, I’m addressing you directly. Some of you will have noticed that I didn’t post in April. The blog has been running for three years of monthly fiction posts. It’s time for a change. Now that I am beginning to submit work for other people to publish I can’t put as much on here. Where there might appear to be gaps in the archive of posts that’s where stories have been reworked from the stump of blog post beginnings for possible publication. Perhaps one day the archive of this blog will be completely denuded. So the blog needs something else. This year I went through two drafts of my first novel-length work. My book project. So I’ve been a bit busy.

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March: Moon Duo

The baby is nearly thirty months, not truly a baby any more. He can climb stairs, pedal his tricycle, put words together in groups, although only his mother is very good at understanding him. He pronounces words using only half of his mouth, making the sounds fluffy and intimate. Only if you spend a lot of time with him will you understand his way of speaking. His mother likes this. It’s nice for her that they have this almost secret communication. She’s the one who explains the world to him. She knows that soon he’ll get better at speaking, and soon enough he’ll be at pre-school, and he’ll have other people to explain, and he’ll need her less and he won’t want her so much and this soft time they’re sharing will change into something else.

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February: Rocking out with my big sister

Dancing to Hole’s album with the sea coming to our feet, I became friends with my sister again. With the night stars pinning the sky up above us, we danced off the sharp tequila that had shaken us. We shared headphones and one cassette tape in a cheap walkman. We were still kids then, sort of. We were old enough to drink tequila, but young enough that we didn’t have anyone counting on us. It makes you selfish, being young. It makes you be inside yourself as the centre of your world. It makes looking back from an older age have this filter of wonder, of the strangeness of yourself, of your younger self.

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December: Christmas Ghost Story

The car shakes us as it travels over gravel. I watch the bushes at the side of the road. My head is against the glass of the window. The seatbelt is at my neck. The bushes have spiky leaves in yellow, light green, dark green. We pass a set of bushes with fuzzy red berries, long spindles of branches. ‘What are they?’ I turn to ask Martha. She doesn’t look away from the road.

‘Just bushes,’ she says.

The house at the end of the drive rises. Its white columns are like the bones of another house, a house that has long ago withered into this one. It’s a sun bleached carcass of a house. Martha’d said that she’d found it last minute. That the reviews were good. That the pictures were good. We’d spend a few days here then head up to meet the others at the mountain lodge. My ex was going to be there, at the lodge. Christmas isn’t the right time to break this to her, we both think that, so we’re stealing a few extra days stolen before we have to be just friends.

‘Spooky house,’ I say.

Martha shrugs as she pulls our bags from the boot. ‘You think everything in the countryside is spooky.’

‘Bring me to a city,’ I say, ‘I’ll be happy.’

‘New York next year then,’ she says, slapping my arse. ‘Here, help me with the keys.’

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November: Hero Type I (born to it)

I knew her mother. A woman who didn’t like other people much. You wouldn’t ask her to take in a parcel for you, to watch your kids while you popped out, for any kind of favour. I didn’t know she even had a boyfriend but she must’ve. One day she was ‘showing’ and took to wearing smocks. I asked her about the dad, a few times I asked. She said he was away, said he wasn’t into commitment, said he wasn’t interested. To be honest I think she was just saying things off the top of her head, getting rid of me kind of thing. Anyway the bairn, when she got here, was right bonny but a wild thing.


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October: Autumn story 2014

I usually write about autumn in October but this year, even though autumn is finally here, in the difference in the air itself, in the wetness of the air, in the russet twilight, I won’t write about it. Things are changing. I can’t spend my life looking back. Always staring into myself like Narcissus into a lake, although actively listening for Echo, re-working things that float around in my own head, taking twigs of experience and twisting them into some kind of wicker metaphor for something that could be universal. I should write a story about what is going to happen, or what is happening right now in this moment, unravelling at the speed of an eye over text. That’s what I should write. Even using ‘should’ begins to play into the past tense, but maybe doubt is the mood of the present tense, maybe ‘am’ has embiggened its role in our tensual state. No, I think I’m wrong. ‘Should’ is the moment before the present. But what can you say about the present? I am writing this. I am writing this to you. You are reading this. You are thinking, what will happen at the end of this sentence? Or maybe I am thinking that and in thinking that I reach the end of the sentence. Become the moment between the present and the future. Where are some characters to accompany us together riding this to the end, we’re both here, but is there anyone else?

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September: Remember (guest post)

I’m still working on my dissertation and creative project story fans (as of writing only 2000 words and lots of edits to go). Next month normal service resumes but until then please enjoy this guest post by the very talented Sue Oke. She blogs over at susanmayoke.com. Pop over and say hello!

North to South

It’s the voice I hear first, a baritone with the unmistakable soft edges of a Yoruba accent. We turn at the same time, tentative smiles of recognition blossoming as our eyes meet. And then he’s grinning, wrapping me in bear hug, his enthusiasm temporarily infectious.

‘How are you? How are the children?’

I grab a breath, the rote , ‘We’re fine,’ slips out of my mouth.

He barrels on, ‘And what of Oga?’

Oga… chief… boss… master… he’s using a title to refer to the man who, twenty years ago, used to be my husband.

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August: Renew

In July, August and September I have to write a lot to finish my course. Instead of writing new things for my blog I’m going to tart up some old things. An early version of this story appeared in Words With Jam magazine in 2011. Let me know what you think.

We’re Chained

The ice cubes in Ali’s glass made tiny twitches as the vodka melted them. ‘This means something,’ she said, her voice hoarse.

‘I’m sorry?’ I said. My chest ached with the sadness that bore down on my ribs. I wanted to drink, and talk, and not think about the way each second, or gesture or even thought, was a second, gesture and thought further from where you and I had been.

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