Catch-up

There are so many spaces for online sharing – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok etcetera – blogging can seem very old school. It doesn’t have that instant hit of likes, at least mine doesn’t, so it’s not as pleasing perhaps. I think maybe that’s a good thing. I’ve been blogging for a damn long time now, always erratically. I never schedule posts I just plonk things up when it occurs to me. Anyway, here’s a wee catch-up.

My flash, My Imaginary Boyfriend, was one of the Editor’s Choice picks at Book’s Ireland.

I published two brilliant, and very different, nonfiction pieces at The Forge:

The World I Will Not Taste by Cheryl Pappas

Landsgemeinde, Appenzell by Shane Inman

I read Oliver Burkeman’s “Four Thousand Weeks” which I think is my most highlighted book ever. Burkeman offers balm for those of us who never think we are doing enough and need to constantly strive to do more and be better dammit! As well as making me feel a whole lot better about the impossibility of living up to ridiculous standards, he cautions, “What you pay attention to will define, for you, what reality is.” And “At the end of your life, looking back, whatever compelled your attention from moment to moment is simply what your life will have been.” Simple yet powerful. I can’t recommend this book enough.

I’ve just watched Everything Everywhere All At Once and it is superb. So much better than any Marvel multiverse movie. Not only is it visually amazing and packed with action but it’s also got depth. Although the ending feels inevitable it’s still satisfying. And the weirdness (multiverses including one where people have hotdog fingers, or are rocks,) doesn’t feel odd for the sake of it, instead building layers. Loved it. Oh, and I think in the midst of 100’s of images I saw a shot of Brighton’s West Pier which, yay! And also gives me an excuse to share a snap I took of it recently which I think came out quite well.

(The world is a terrifying place which feels scarier than I’ve ever known it to be. I’m concentrating on the trivial here which sometimes feels soothing.)

Prison stories.

I’ve been working in a prison library and teaching creative writing there for a few years now. I’m fortunate to do a job I love and find meaningful and I spend a lot of time talking to prisoners about their lives. It’s pretty impossible to take part in a creative writing group without revealing something of yourself (although at least one person has managed) and I see it as a privilege to be part of a process that helps people open up and explore their creativity. I think that’s one of the reasons I stayed away from writing any prison based fiction for so long. I want to be respectful and would hate to be exploitative. I try to encourage the men to write their own stories. (Saying that there are a few guys whose stories I would love to write. I do have a little fantasy of doing a Three Women kinda thing where I could follow up on their lives for 10 years or so – it’d be fascinating – before and after prison. I’m fairly sure the prison wouldn’t agree though.)

When you spend time in a place it inevitably seeps into your writing and I have begun a series of short prison stories. They are fiction and aren’t based on anyone real. I am, however, grateful to some of the guys for their assistance with details about kettle cooking and help with language. I learnt some stuff. Apparently, nobody would ever call another prisoner a dude unless they were a “middle class, middle aged wanker from Cornwall.” Also, if you need to know how to jam a kettle switch to make it a hotplate, I’m your gal.

Thanks to The Mechanics’ Institute Review for publishing my story, Doing Time.

http://mironline.org/doingtime/

*klaxon* I have a new story up at Pithead Chapel

I have a new story, Looking Back, up at Pithead Chapel. Please do read if you are so inclined. And massive thanks to those of you who have already read and tweeted and shared. Writing often feels like screaming into a void to me, so it was pretty intoxicating to get such a good response to this one. It’s a stonking issue featuring brilliant words from Megan Pillow Davis, Bradford Philen and Tara Isabel Zambrano, so even if you don’t like my piece I guarantee there’s something you will enjoy.

Beautiful Trees by Nik Perring

Roast Books have just published another of Nik Perring’s intriguing fictions.

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It’s the second in a trilogy of stories following the lives of Alexander, Lucy and Lily. Just like the first, Beautiful Words, it resembles a children’s book. (The third will be Beautiful Shapes.)

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Nik is a flash fiction magician conjuring whole lives with small, careful details. He goes back and forth in Alexander, Lucy and Lily’s timelines and whilst describing various trees gently relates moments to it. For a book so brief it’s surprisingly moving, but that’s because Perring is extraordinarily good at this. A written review can’t quite explain how this all works. Suffice to say it is all very uniquely Perring. His words are accompanied and enhanced by illustrations by Miranda Sofroniou, and you should probably buy a copy for yourself and one for your favourite person too.

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