I think I’m now entitled to call myself a member of The Lonely Crowd, as I have a story in the new issue (#8) of the Welsh-based print journal of that name, in the company of many prestigious writers.
I’m delighted to have had my story selected. It’s called The Wood has Ears, The Field has Eyes. It’s about something out-of -the-ordinary which happens in a small museum somewhere in Wales. If you want to know more you’ll have to buy the magazine – here’s the link.
If you buy it I won’t get any money personally, but you’ll be supporting indie publishing and enabling more writers to get published. As well as getting the work of over 30 poets and short story writers to read. I met some of them at a launch event in Swansea this week, where I read part of my story. And there’s a Cardiff launch on Wednesday next (15th November) – details here.
And while you’re here – pop over to my Stories page for a couple of new ones you can read online…
Choosing where to submit stories is a tricky business. On the whole I now avoid US-based publications and websites, because I’ve found that most Americans (or at least editors!) don’t seem to ‘get’ my writing. It’s good to see more and UK-based websites (as well as others around the world) publishing short stories and flash fiction and one of my favourites is Fictive Dream.
The Editor, Laura Black, is one of the best I have come across, professional, generous and supportive.
I’m also delighted that Laura has accepted a story from me for Fictive Dream’s Flash Fiction February 2018, which will feature a new piece of flash fiction every day of that month. You can submit until the end of December – see the link above.
Jonathan Gibbs, author of the novel Randall, a wonderful re-imagining of the world of the Young British Artists in the 1990s, has set up a weekly newsletter which generously offers an opportunity to any of us to draw up a personal anthology of 12 short stories. I jumped straight in and my personal anthology was sent out by Jonathan last week.
I relished the chance to revisit stories which have stuck in my mind since I first read them, some many years ago, others more recently. My chosen stories are:
At Sea, Guy de Maupassant
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, Rudyard Kipling
The Luncheon, W. Somerset Maugham
A Child”s Christmas in Wales, Dylan Thomas
Curl up and Dye, Fran Landsman
Ernesto, Juana Adcock
Wires, Jon McGregor
The Semplica Girl Diaries, George Saunders
Tiger Palace, Kirsty Logan
Sound Waves, Lane Ashfeldt
The Cruellne, James Clammer
Two, Joanna Walsh
Read more about my choices here – I also give links to where you can read and/or buy them.
A dear friend of mine, Anna Schiff, died not long ago. I offered to draft an obituary for her and send it to The Guardian for them to consider for inclusion in their Other Lives.
This was a new writing challenge for me. Capturing the essence of a life within 400 words is not easy! I was lucky in that I didn’t have to do any research, having not only my memories from many years but also a copy of all the material read at her funeral, as well as a chronology of her working life. However, getting an appropriate combination of key facts and anecdotal details was tricky.
Another friend offered an editorial eye, and polished up my work without compromising it – a great skill for which I was very grateful. We asked if it could be published under both our names, but The Guardian insist on a single byline.
They also asked for several pieces of additional information, including Anna’s mother’s maiden name. I realised why – an obituary is about recording information about a person for posterity as well as being a pen portrait. Fortunately, the inclusion of the additional information in the final edit done by the paper was not at the expense of all the fun bits.
The piece is in The Guardian online and I have just heard that it will be in the print edition tomorrow – 16th September. I’m so pleased – Anna deserves that recognition. She was, as one of her other friends said to me, a one-off, and we will not see her like again.
Sometimes the process of writing is clear; other times less obvious. There is a period of collection, or collation, of material. Then a period of gestation before a way forward presents itself. It is good to be patient.
Travelling produces material, willy nilly.
I have been in Cornwall this weekend. What will come of it for my writing remains to be seen. I am sure that there will be something. Meantime, here is an inspirational image. Feel free to make use of it!
I’ve been experimenting with black and white photography over the past few days. Using a setting on my camera called ‘high-contrast mono’ I’ve achieved some unexpectedly pleasing results.
Wheelbarrows in the walled garden at Croft Castle
It’s also got me thinking about how working in monochrome can translate into writing. We often talk about introducing colour into our work, but what about stripping it away? What about, instead, concentrating on shape, pattern and contrast?
I’ve just got back from a week at Tŷ Newydd, the National Writing Centre of Wales. It’s close to the village of Criccieth in Gwynedd, North Wales, and overlooks Cardigan Bay. Dolphins swim in that bay, maybe mermaids too, for there’s more than a sprinkling of magic in the area. It’s been inspiring writers for many years.
I was one of a group of ten writers there this week. Under the guidance of tutors Francesca Rhydderch and Mavis Cheek,who complemented one another beautifully in their teaching, we ten all found that the words flowed freely in this beautiful setting. Helped not a little by the leaven of laughter – writing may be hard work, but it certainly doesn’t have to be solemn.
I came home with the drafts of two new short stories. As well as the makings of a new writing support network. And we’ve all promised to invite one another to our book launches, in the fullness of time!