Towards the end of last year, I finished two major projects I had been working on for ages, a short story collection and a poetry collection. I finished them to a stage where only minor changes were needed.1 These sprawling ideas I had been carrying around in my head, my notebook and several disparate files suddenly existed as completed manuscripts.
They aren’t available yet. Publishing is a whole different mode to writing. But all the writing is done. ↩
For my first book of the year, I sped through Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation, the first in the Southern Reach Trilogy. It is classified as science fiction, but in this case it seems to be a catch-all category of “I dunno. Seems weird.” Science fiction isn’t really a good classification for this odd novel. From the very first moments, it is clear that this strange little book is delving deep into horror.
In Area X, the rules of the world we know are discarded. There is only the alien ecosystem subverting every part of nature. Immediately, things go very wrong indeed....
I’ll finally tidy up this place and keep it neat. It’s too dark! Too many cobwebs and not enough flaming torches. I’ll stop leaving tomes half opened on the lectern. Need to keep my ingredients in order. I can never find salamander’s tails when I need them. Similarly, I will stop leaving half-finished potions around the place. The number of times I’ve been interrupted then come back to find the laboratory filled with a putrid purple smoke, I tell you… It’s not good. I’m four hundred and seventy-two, I need to start clearing up after myself.
Once I tidy up,...
It’s that time again when I examine what media I’ve consumed over the past twelve months and pick my favourites. Defining the best of anything is an entirely subjective act that nevertheless, I try to do every year. I’ve moved away from trying to pick the ‘best’ of anything as they are all different experiences, so instead, I have chosen a few in each category I like.
Let’s dive in.
Double Negative- Low
See, this is where the list is entirely subjective and changes from day to...
In previous years I’ve written rambly, angry blog posts that tried to make sense of the world around me and mostly failed. This year I’ve given up trying to understand the world and instead have written a poem to sum up the year:
This year was a bullet fired from a shaking hand,
screaming as it ripped the air in half
then burying itself deep into an essential organ.
Or maybe two. It was hard to tell with all the viscera.
This year we all turned to stone.
In many ways, it was...
The problem of writing is that you spend too much time in your own head. Even if you do it as a side hobby as I do, you can spend a lot of time imagining future plot twists or details for your characters and world. I’ve been editing short stories and poems recently, finally getting to the end of a couple of projects that have taken me years. During editing, I stare at words, cross them out, write another in, before crossing that out and going back to the original. It can be frustrating and maddening. That’s why I find...
Recently, I’ve been very lucky to have some writing accepted in a couple of different places.
I am very pleased to have been featured in Neon’ magazines Battery Pack, which features very short stories. I have a story called Debugging report in Battery Pack 3 and you can get it for free here.
I also have a poem in* The Martian Wave 2018*, called *Beyond Darkness. *Find that here.
Like the rest of the UK, I’ve been steadfastly ignoring anything to do with Brexit. It’s like there’s a ticking time-bomb hanging over our heads and we are doing everything we can to distract ourselves from the countdown, hoping that it won’t explode if we just ignore it hard enough. Sometimes though, something slips through. This week I saw the chancellor’s comments on how Brexit will probably reduce public spending further.
Soft wind and raindrops
play a tune on dying leaves.
I have all I need
I was inspired to write this post when I saw this image by artist Sean Landers:
It is a deliberately insincere and provocative slogan, designed to wind people up. So I’m going to ignore the joke about suicide and focus on the myths of artistic creation this piece brings up, as I think they are still present in the perception of artists and how they work.
In our society, there is a persistent myth of the great work by an individual genius that changes everything. Many artists and writers fall foul of this fallacy [^1],...
Houses have faded to grey. Colour slumbers.
We drag our feet down monochrome
streets, blinded by persistent monotony,
unable to see the edge of the pavement
or the bricks of the walls surrounding us.
Corners are indistinct. We see only lead,
tarmac and endless concrete, nothing more.
Guided by gentle hands, faces emerge out of walls,
fences, telephone boxes and empty billboards
developing slowly, like a photographic negative,
thriving like flowers in the cracks and ignored spaces,
bending and yearning and opening to the light.
They smile down on...
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a Quaker wedding. 1 As part of the ceremony, we sat in silence for close to an hour, punctuated now and then by someone speaking briefly, then lapsing back into silence. It was an unusual ceremony. I felt uncomfortable in the silence. I had the urge to speak, to do something to break the quiet. Other people who weren’t Quakers found it difficult as well. Personally, I think I am not used to that amount of quiet contemplation. I was reminded of the famous Blaise Pascal quote: “All of...
One of the best and worst things about the internet is the amount of freely available information. It’s obviously a good thing, just look at Wikipedia. We can access almost any important information and get a pretty good summary. This is a golden age for progress. The creation of the internet is a bigger revolution than the printing press. It’s like the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy...
There’s a magical tool that allows you to focus right in on any problem. Or you can broaden it out and use it to explore the inner workings of your mind. It has endless possibilities and applications. I’m talking about paper of course.
Recently, I have found myself using paper and pen more to work out first drafts and even second and third. In my opinion, there is no finer tool for getting your thoughts down and exploring them. In this increasingly digital world, paper has not died off as many have predicted but has stuck around and even got...