My voice(s)

Beat The Dust invited submissions for their latest literary experiment. They asked for pieces of 500 words or less, taking as the start point an end line you thought good.

I took my line from Jenni Fagan’s excellent novel The Panopticon and wrote “Again”.

It struck me how the voice I used was at once my own voice, and not my voice. It’s how I speak, sometimes. It’s not how I speak usually. It is my voice. It’s in my head. It feels comfortable, natural. It’s not how my mum sounds, but my dad and brothers do. When I go home, back to where I was raised, that voice, a blending of Essex and East London, a sweary shorthand, feels very usual. Now it’s published, and I read it back, I feel awkward in case someone thinks it’s a patronising kind of mimicry. If you meet me now I probably won’t sound like that. If we have a few drinks in the pub I may well do. (I won’t ever say “nothink” though, I hate that erroneous “k”). My dad is originally from Ireland. He speaks with a British Essex accent but if he meets up with his family his Irish accent reappears. When I was young it sounded like another language. It’s interesting, is it a fake accent or is it his voice?

Seeing as how it’s a piece of fiction anyway it shouldn’t make any odds. But it does, to me. Hence this post.

I really appreciate the work Melissa Mann does with BTD. I like how she invites us to play and stretch and keep on pushing our words. It’s an interesting journal. Oh, and I LOVED choosing my five fave intros. There would be a different five today probably.

She Was Glitter and Shine at Beat the Dust

Thanks to Melissa Mann of Beat the Dust for publishing my story “She Was Glitter and Shine” this month. There’s hardly any dialogue as the main character hides herself away and has little contact with the world, which is a tad tricky in fiction as it makes for clumps of reported prose. Anyway, it’s there if you fancy a read. As is the splendid “Fade to Black” by Jo Mortimer, and plenty more cracking words too.

Oh, and I had such fun choosing my dream 5 Glasto acts. I was going to be more classic and go for Janis Joplin, Faith no More, Elvis, Billy Bragg and Bunty Chunks but instead went for what I’d like to hear right now.

Sweeties Like Radioactive Worms

I have a thing published at Beat The Dust. It is called “Sweeties like radioactive worms” and is the fictionalised account of the real life death of the author of the coffee reviews and recipe it contains. Regular readers here will guess that my co-author is Matt Kinnison.

I’m really pleased that Melissa Mann decided to run with this. I know it’s a bit odd. I also know that Matt would freakin’ love it!

Matt was Mr Caffeine, he loved coffee more than any other substance and was a real aficionado. A few birthdays back he sent me a package containing 4 bags of freshly ground coffee and a card containing descriptions, ratings and reviews of the coffees. He also wrote the turkish coffee recipe for me on our shared (now defunct) Live Journal. We had spoken about the possibility of us collaborating on some words. We wondered about him maybe illustrating a children’s story I would write called “The Bear and the Pickle” – only when we tried, his Pickle looked too phallic for a kids book. We ran out of time. We had wildly differing styles too – he was surreal and funny and abstract and, erm, I’m none of those things. But he loved my writing and encouraged me enormously. I said I would write a coffee story for him and asked permission to use his words.

After he died I set out to write the deepest, most awesome tribute to him. And failed. And failed again. And again. The coffee story became too important. However I wrote it was wrong. It became soggy where it should have been sharp, reportage where it should have been fiction, and the more I worked at it the worse it became. I put it away.

I got it out months later, looked at its blahness, its 5,000 words of well intentioned bad, and I cut it to shreds. Sliced and diced. Spliced in Matt’s words – et voila!

Matt loved William Burroughs cut ups and would love the fact that I have done this. I have no clue what anyone else will make of it, but that’s not so much the point. It’s the last of my Matt writings, and it feels good.

By the way, the very awesome title comes from Matt’s coffee recipe. Boy did he have a way with words.

Erm, me, at Sparks, reading out loud, into a microphone, sounding strange

Hmmm. Weird one this. Sparks was filmed, and videos of some readers are now up at Beat the Dust.

Mine is here

Very strange to look at myself doing that. It doesn’t seem to be me, it does not sound like me. It seems like a jolly, fat lady channelling Joyce Grenfell has got up on stage wearing my clothes, and ENUNCIATED her way through my story.

The others are far more appealing:

Steve Finbow
Martin Reed
Jo Horsman reading for Anna Britten
Melissa Mann