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).
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
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