October 21, 2015 § 13 Comments


On the shortest day the rain came. It flung itself at the valley and blackened the earth. The old woman watched the river burst and seep up the brick path into her garden – her breathing too quick, too thin. Worms drifted, torpid and white, bees floated on their backs spinning dizzy like coracles. The violence mocked and hid the sun, numbing her senses like a mantra. She saw she was trapped, so her spirit quietened, and giving in, she turned in on herself and ceased to see.

Her energy stripped bare, her body slowed. Taking blankets, she made a nest upstairs and surrounded herself with books and warming soup. She imagined she was wearing the thick fur of a dormouse. Lighting a fire in the hearth, she began to dream. Taking a pen, she wrote of things that no longer mattered – remembered events that could not possibly have taken place. Her consciousness became continuous: day and night fusing seamless. Nothing stopped, and no thing remembered to begin.

There was no brightness to touch or gather on those short grey days. Clouds hung heavy and full, pressing down on her like an unwanted lover. The river meadows became bogs that could swallow her whole, the trees poked out like sentinels, roots holding their breath for a sun forgotten. Rats swam mindless of the farmer’s gun, and swans gathered in loose clumps, wondering. There were no streets, no paths to roam. Only silence.

There was no one to explain, so the woman used her ears and eyes. Opening the long thin window that faced the river, she cocked her head, holding her breath tight in her chest. No birdsong to justify, no swish of wind to condone, no sense of coming or going. Sounds that had always been there – telling all yet demanding nothing – were gone.

And as the waters stirred, she became indifferent, and her being grew light.


Fanciful words inspired by ‘The Being Of Nothing’, Samuel Beckett.

Image courtesy the late Edward Seago (1910-1974)

Reblogged from a while back (revised).

Thanks For The Award!

January 1, 2014 § 14 Comments

Congratulations to my dear friend Jess

on receiving the Readers Appreciation Award –

and thank you for passing it onto me!

I found Jess’s blog quite by accident. Although I am not a Christian, I found her site both fascinating and convivial. It’s a unique and dynamic platform enabling people with widely diverse Christian and spiritual backgrounds to learn from, and about, one another. Check it out on All Along the Watchtower.

Awards are like electronic ‘hugs’. They say ‘I care and appreciate what you’re doing’, and most of us like cuddles from time to time. Being appreciated, and perhaps even understood as a fiction writer, is so important. Filling a blank page with stuff that exists entirely in my head is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done, but also one of the most rewarding. That is why WordPress is so special as a platform for unpublished writers like myself. It was a great surprise to me that anyone would want to read my fiction, and an even greater surprise that after three months blogging I have had  9000 views and accrued over a hundred followers. Small beginnings for the fledgling story teller – but to me, this is indeed a success!

Thank you to all my friends who follow this blog and who have helped create a unique community full of support and inspiration.


 The ‘rules’ for this award are pretty much like all the others:

1. Use the award logo in the post.

2. Link to whoever nominated you.

3. Write ten bits of information about yourself.

4. Nominate fellow bloggers: in this case you will be relieved to know it is just three.

5. Tell the nominees what you’ve done!

So, ten things about me:

1. I’m learning to play the Viol da Gamba. It makes one of the most beautiful, melancholic sounds on the planet when I’m not making it squeak.

2. I gave up smoking six months ago and I’m not going back.

3. I used to be a pilot and now I’m terrified of flying…

4. I’m very, very nosey. I listen to other peoples conversations and turn them into stories.

5. If I were only allowed books from one country to take with me to a desert island, they would be written by Irish writers.

6. I don’t like parties or small talk. I prefer to curl up on the sofa with a book and someone I love.

7. I like being cold, and have the windows open in winter.

8. I dislike shopping unless it’s on the Internet.

9. Being creative – in whatever way – keeps me healthy.

10. I hardly ever finish reading a novel and am often disappointed by them.

And now the hard bit, as there are dozens of talented, inspiring bloggers I would like to nominate.

The three I have chosen are:

Prospero’s Island for the unique and graceful way this blogger views the world and his island through his fiction;

The Velvet Rocket is a fascinating travelogue with great photos, offering an insightful look into other cultures; and

Bookish Nature: a nature blog with a fine narrative and beautiful photos. A hive of information on literature about the natural world.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. x

Don’t Forget To Breathe: Part Two

November 25, 2013 § 2 Comments


Tabitha lived off her great aunt’s inheritance and didn’t know what to do with herself. But one day – perhaps by coincidence, perhaps simply by accident – she discovered something that allowed her to get closer to her obsession – the aeroplane.

‘I’m taking flying lessons,’ she announced to her husband over dinner.

‘Whatever for?’ he asked, gulping down his second glass of Verve Cliquot Rose Reserve 1985.

‘It means I’ll get a better view of the clouds, silly.’

‘That’s nice my love,’ he said, finishing the bottle. ‘Delicious. I must order some more 1985 tomorrow.’ Tabitha slid the flying logbook off the table and sat on it. He really wasn’t in the slightly bit interested.

Tabitha’s idea of heaven was no longer a new pair of Manolo Blahniks – it was gliding between her beloved clouds as her wingtips glittered like sparklers in the sunlight. But her instructor was no ordinary man: he taught her how to land on them. ‘Saves on the landing fees,’ he said. He found a cloud with a flat top and Tabitha set up the approach path. Playing with the throttle settings, she let the flaps down fifteen degrees or so to get her angle of descent right, then flew along the top pretending it was a runway. Then flaps up, full power on, and the take off was in the bag. If she messed up the landing she disappeared into the cloud and came out the other side with dewdrops on her wings. Flying was like being in a magic place – rather like a mystical experience, she decided – and she soon grew silent and sullen and didn’t want to land.

And so…

November 24, 2013 § 6 Comments


A short story…can be held in the mind all in one piece. It’s less like a building than a fiendish device. Every bit of it must be cunningly made and crafted to fit together perfectly and without waste so it can perform its task with absolute precision. That purpose might be to move the reader to tears or wonder, to awaken the conscience, to console, to gladden, or to enlighten. But each short story has one chief purpose, and every sentence, phrase, and word is crafted to achieve that end. The ideal short story is like a knife–strongly made, well balanced, and with an absolute minimum of moving parts.

 – Michael Swanwick


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