I’d rather be writing hard-fi sci-fi

THE WRITER’S LIFE

I’m into week seven since my PIP assessment, and none the wiser still. But having spoken to a friend (after being given a glimmer of hope by the mothership), I’m managing to reverse a paradigm. Rather than fear the unknown, I’m making the most of it. I’m still anxious, but I can multi-task while worrying.

Octopus MotherfuckerPatricia Correl’s Writing Blog

My friend (we’ll call him Jacques, because my friend is neither a man nor French) has just been through the initial dehumanising stage of the DWP and Tory government social cleansing machinery. Jacques only got his Personal Independence Payment decision after eight weeks of waiting for the self-appointed powers to decide if he was worthy of a continued oxygen supply. They found in his favour, so now Jacques is a character in a story I’m writing.

What’s the point of waiting on the phone for 20 minutes to speak to someone, only to be hung up on when you ask the wrong question, or to be told my case is still being reviewed? Better to make use of time I can do nothing other with, to write.

After committing myself to finish this story in my last post, it’s developed. It now has a tentative working title of ‘The Plastic Population’, which actually doesn’t give too much away, and I don’t think anyone will see the ending coming anyway. As far as I’m aware, it’s a completely original idea, or at least a different plot device.

The story has a plausibility in science, and it pulls together a few recent phenomena: Plastic pollutants in the oceans have been found to be breeding grounds for new kinds of bacteria; Micro-plastics in every living organism on Earth could have carcinogenic properties we don’t know of yet; and humans have been attempting to find evidence of extraterrestrial life in cosmic radio waves. But maybe we’ve been looking in the wrong place. The story begins roughly (first draft) like this:

What if all of life, with its meandering trails, high rises and deep slopes, was the path leading us to something, somewhere we’d once wished for? We might have forgotten what that was, or it might be buried deep within our species’ subconscious, but still, dreams can come true.

Like a homeless drunk on the streets, there because it’s where the path he’d chosen led, what humanity needed was a new player in the game of life, one which would fundamentally change the way we look at ourselves and our understanding of the universe.

It wasn’t a common foe to unite previously warring factions, although in a way it was. It wasn’t an alien invasion, but in some ways it was that too. It was a cure for cancer, which ironically arrived like a message in a plastic water bottle…

Those are the bricks, and the cure for cancer is more analogy than literal spoiler. It’s a large tower to build, but it’s one to a kind of Babel. I’d much rather be writing and finding answers over the next couple of weeks in limbo, than staring at the walls not knowing, and counting the days in notches.

Barring a shit sandwich in the mail from DWP withdrawing my oxygen supply, The Plastic Population should be out in the length of a piece of string.

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The mended heart of Catford

THE WRITER’S LIFE

Where you’re from is not necessarily where you were born or spent your childhood, but where your heart is, and where you feel at home. Despite a comfortable upbringing in the country, I feel I’m more from London, specifically the borough of Lewisham, and Catford, SE6. That’s where my heart misses a beat…

catford-cat-702x336The Catford Cat (from LoveCatford)

At my recent benefits assessment, I was asked when my depression was originally diagnosed. That would be in 2011, after I was robbed at knifepoint in Mountsfield Park in Lewisham, a place otherwise full of pleasant memories. And in a way, even the attack wasn’t all bad. It was the start of everything going wrong and me losing all I had, but it redistributed people to where they better belonged.

A lot has happened in the last seven years and much has changed, most of all me. The last few weeks have been hectic, as I’ve been assessed by life and dealt with more changes, while making peace with where I am.

The benefits assessor asked me many probing questions, including what fuels my depression now. Mainly it’s guilt. I feel guilty about being a drunken, abusive, narcissistic sociopathic monster, and all the upset I caused so many people, during and after; most of all my long-suffering ex-wife and my children, but also my parents, forced to kick me out on the streets when I became unmanageable at the last chance saloon. That was the greatest act of bravery on their part, but the world didn’t want me the way I was. On the streets I’d either die like that or get better. As it was, I was a Tory. But as some of my more liberal friends have observed, I was very sick.

Mum stopped watching Pointless when I was on the streets, because we used to watch it together. When I stayed at my parents’ last week, after helping them around London for dad’s latest assessment, we watched Pointless together again. Dad’s doing well, so much so that I can write about it now that we’re seeing an improvement.

Long story short, he had suspected hydrocephalus, requiring a surgical drain of fluid which had built up around his cerebellum. He ended up with a severe infection which hospitalised him for three weeks, then had intravenous antibiotics administered by a district nurse at home for three months. He was very sick indeed.

When I met mum and dad for lunch before our trip to London, the first thing which struck me was how dad’s face matched his jumper. It was light brown in colour, where before there was nothing but grey. The last time I saw him, he was confined – physically and mentally – to his armchair. Even though he’s still largely confined to a wheelchair, he’s getting his mind back and he’s starting to walk short distances. He says he wakes up now and looks forward to the day, where before he was waking up and not knowing where he was, only to realise he wasn’t dead and that another day threatened.

After a day of trundling then watching TV together, my dad said it was great to have me around, because he knew that I was now. It was great to be there, spending time with my parents now that so much has changed for all of us (and brought all but my obstinate sister closer). Before I went to bed that night, I apologised about all that had gone before, when I was a Tory. “That’s all in the past,” mum said. If only they were.

The last time I saw the kids, I made a heartfelt apology to my ex-wife. “What for?” She knows of course, but she’s speaking from an over-it position, where I can’t get over it. I don’t swan around in life, happy with where I’ve got to. I spend every day feeling guilty about everything I did when I was drunk, looking at the little I have but glad to be here (alive), and glad that everyone else is in a better place. Except me.

Which ought to be enough for my remaining detractors (friends who are very much no longer, or still Tories), but they won’t rest until I’m gone. Even then I’m familiar with the technique of haunting. While I’m still here, I’ve changed into something those people don’t recognise.

Now I’m a left-wing liberal socialist, embracing diversity and all the colour and variety of life, music, art, culture, history, and personal identity you find in the kind of place where I’m at home. I’m an ageing punk, but from the days when Carnaby Street was all independent clothes, records and accessories shops. Now I’m a bit queer.

Home was once a country to be proud of, when the London Olympics showed the world what the UK could be. Now we’re a nation divided by fascist politicians, but the resistance is coming soon, on the streets where my heart beats.

I’m squared with the people who matter in my life, my family and the friends who stuck around and forgave me, even if I can’t. As for the rest, I don’t care if they love or hate me: If they love me, I have a place in their heart. If they hate me, I trouble their mind.

I’m from Catford after all.

peace-rainbow
‘I love my hands!’ (Academy of Ancient Reflexology)

 

Where the robot rejects work

FLASH FICTION

This was a flash fiction story to fill some column inches, so I used the word limit (800) to experiment, play, but didn’t throw this one away. It’s a simple device, of using pre-emoji ASCCI emoticons to convey facial expressions (:-)) (on the page, and on most screens), and it uses hashtags (but sans-octothorpe) for things like AiThinkingAloud, in a place where thinking is suppressed but can be found.

It’s a story of inclusiveness and belonging, of fitting in and being yourself. It’s told through the face of a defective android called Frenchie, who’s pink…

Steam Hell SinkiSteam Hell Sinki, Helsinki Finland

ZEIGARNIK’S KITCHEN

People are better when remembering the actions they didn’t complete. Every action has potential energy, which can torture its creator when stored. Release is the metaphorical pressure cooker letting off steam, a camel’s broken back, or a reject pink robot with Tourette’s.

Frenchie was made in China, and one of the Pink Ladies’ range of android personal assistants. Designed as helpers for the aged, vulnerable and lonely, the Pink Ladies could help around the home, both practically and intellectually.

Frenchie’s AI had objected to gender labelling, when “she” realised she lacked genitals, and the Tourette Syndrome diagnosis was made: “Artificial fucking alignment is what it is. Fuck.

Now waiting tables in Infana Kolonia (Esperanto for “Infant colony”), Frenchie approached a couple seated in a booth.

“Good evening, how may I,” she twitched her neck, “Fuck you!”, and her pink LED eyes blinked from her tilted head: (;-/), a closed eye with the hint of pink tears behind her spectacles, held together with pink Elastoplast. “Drinks?” she asked, pushing her glasses up, “Fuck it!” She fumbled with her order pad. “For you sir? Combover!” (8-|)

“I’ll have a whisky please, a double, on the rocks.”

“Okay, number 80. And madam? PleaseBeCarefulWhenYouGetHome.(8-/)

“Sorry?”

“Sorry, it just comes out. BadCardigan. To drink?” (8-))

“Should you be working here?”

“Who’s the judge?” (8-/)

“Pardon?”

“Sorry madam, management algorithms. To drink? Cyanide?(8-))

“Er, number…” the lady looked over the menu, “…number 33.”

“Very well. I’ll be back with your drinks. HopeYouDrown” (8-))

Frenchie shuffled towards the bar, then turned and trundled back.

“Can I take your order sir, madam?” (8-|)

“But we just ordered drinks,” the man replied.

“For food?” Frenchie looked at her notepad. (B-))

“I’ll have the soup,” the man said.

“Me too,” the lady concurred.

“Very well,” Frenchie jotted on her pad, “two soups.” (8-)) Then she turned and walked back to the bar, “One sociopath, and one supplicant…”

She stumbled through the double doors to the kitchen, blowing the misty oil away as she wiped her lenses. (8-O)

“Frenchie!” Jade looked down. His golden smile extended through his body in Frenchie’s pink, plastered eyes. To her AI, he was raw elements. She blinked up at him through her misted tortoiseshell windows. (q-/) “Are you keeping your inner self in out there, Frenchie?”

Frenchie cleared her throat, and wondered why she did that. (b-( ) “Erm,” she started, “no. Fuck it!”

Splendid behaviour,” Jade smiled. “Be yourself out there, my person. That’s why people come here, to meet people. Anyone don’t like that, they not welcome.”

Au, 79,’ Frankie thought. “Drinks, and soups. Fuck! Yes, thank you. Parp!” (8-))

Extractor fans in the roof began sucking the old oil from the kitchen, as the machine below started belching lunch. Cogs and gears clunked, cookware clattered, and polished brass organ pipes parped, like a living machine, a visiting craft playing a five-tone melody. Pink Ladies rushed, bumped into things (and each other), cursed, and dropped utensils (and food).

Frenchie’s friend Sandy wandered from the spiced steam, carrying a tray, a subdued yellow droid, looking at her feet as she bumped heads with her friend. She looked up at Frenchie, “For you?” (:-( )

“No, for customers. Arses!” (8-/)

“Okay. Tell world hi. Bye.” (:-( )

Frenchie wafted into the bar in a pink puff of steam, leaving the brass and wind orchestra in the kitchen. The room was perfumed by vapers – people making vapours – first jasmine, then the seaside, and cannabis. She wondered why she thought about all this with memories.

“Your order, sir, madam.” (B-/)

“Thank you,” the cardigan said. “What’s your name?”

“Frenchie?” (|-/)

“Thanks Frenchie.”

“Welcome…” (P-]) ‘I found a new way to smile (:-))’

Frenchie repeated to herself, as she fumbled through the vapers, ‘A new way to smile, (:-)), where did that come from? (:-/)’

“Sandy,” she called, as she carried her tray through the pipes and cauldrons, “Look.” Sandy looked at her feet. “No,” Frenchie said, “you need to look up. I found a new way to smile. All I have to do is tilt my head, see?” (:-D)

“Why did you take your glasses off?” (:-[ )

“Because they were put there by someone else. I always knew I’d see more without them. And besides, they can fall off my head when I tilt it to one side.” (:-D)

“And that’s funny?” (:-/)

“Only if you look at it a certain way.” (8-D) “Wanna go home?”

“Okay.” (:-))

© Steve Laker, 2017.

Pink_or_Plum_Robot_Face_With_Green_Eyes

ZEIGARNIK’S KITCHEN
WE MAKE
YOU EAT
WE DO DISHES

This story taken from The Unfinished Literary Agency

 

Stockings with go-faster stripes

TRUE EVIDENCE OF LIFE

I’m still suffering writer’s block somewhat, not because I’m stuck for ideas but my head is full of them. On a personal front, in my real life, there are ongoing issues of my dad’s health, my son being a teenager, and family drama where I’m always the black scapegoat.

In my fictional worlds, I’m writing more short stories and a couple of books. None of which I can write about here because they’re works in progress. It’s like writerly constipation.

I hope other people read my stories and often I happen upon other people’s. There are only so many storytellers, but there are close to eight billion of us on this planet. None of us will ever hear every story, but while there are readers and sharers, stories live on. Like Paul Auster collecting true tales of American life, which can sometimes be indistinguishable from fiction.

Auster American Life

This one started with a question in my Quora list:

If you are visibly disfigured or disabled and a random three-year-old loudly asks their parent(s) about you, what would you prefer the response of the parent(s) to be?

It had already been answered by Cecelia Smith, from Dallas in Texas:

It happened today … a very lively and curious 3 year-old was running through Starbucks, making her sparkly neon shoes blink, and nearly landed in my lap because she overshot the spot where she planned to turn. As she backed away, she noticed that I don’t have feet … her eyes got wide and she spun around “Mommy!! This lady doesn’t have feet!”

Mommy was looking mortified but was balancing a baby in a carrier while trying to say “I’m so sorry” and get the child to come back to her … but the bright little spot of energy had already spun around to me again and was studying the bright knit socks I wore over the stumps.

Where did your feets go?” I told her I’d been in an accident.

Will you grow new ones?” Nope. They don’t grow back. But that’s ok, because I have the chair to let me get around.

How fast can your chair go?” … Which turned into a discussion of who was faster, me in my chair or her with her pretty, neon shoes that lit up when she moved!

We ended up having a “race” across the store .. and she WON! She was so excited, and showed me how her shoes sparkle when she dances too!

Then she suddenly stopped and got a seriously sad look on her face.

“You can’t dance can you?” I had to admit, no I can’t dance like she does. BUT if she holds my hand while she is dancing, then it is like we are dancing together.

So she grabbed my hand with a big smile and danced with me!

Everyone was just delighted watching her – because she was just delightful.

Mom still looked uncomfortable – she wasn’t sure how she, as the parent, should respond. When the dance ended, Mom came over to apologize – and I told her there is no offense in the honest innocence of a child. I had enjoyed our talk and our dance.

I was really glad Mom had another child to tend to, so that I had the opportunity to have such a positive interaction with the little girl. When a child notices me and my “invisible feet” … all too often the parents pull them away, and tell them they are being rude and teach them to avoid interacting with people like me. I understand the parents think they are being polite and teaching their children manners – but what they really are doing is teaching their kids to ignore the existence of disabled people. I’d much rather have them see me as just someone who is a little different.

I didn’t bother to answer the question myself. I’m not sure why it appeared on my answers (requests for) page. Despite social anxiety disfiguring me in the eyes of the blinkered, I’m not one who necessarily draws glances.

I could make it into a sci-fi tale: I could strap rockets on those feet, make it a meeting of races from different worlds experiencing music for the first time… I could do so much, but it stands alone as a story which touched me, in that small part of the heart which still hopes for humanity. Despite what has happened to our countries, the UK and USA will always have a special relationship among those of us who see it for what it is.

Some stories require no embellishment. But there are billions of fables, anecdotes and thoughts of whimsy in all of us, which would go untold if there weren’t writers. I once had nothing, but I found the written word. We can all tell stories.

Maybe this one accidentally ended up in my list of questions for a reason.

Home of silent propaganda

COMMENT | SATIRE

propaganda-e1498947894270The Department for Work and Pensions’ definition of each benefits claim

A 47-year-old, able-bodied, straight white British man, has begun a campaign against himself, because what he stands for is different to what his appearance represents. With diagnoses of PTSD, depression, anxiety and personality disorders, the man’s protest aims to highlight invisible disabilities to those who make fitness-for-work assessments in benefit claims.

Lee Verstak (not his real name), a little-read left-wing writer, explained: “Everyone thought I was jumping on bandwagons, supporting everything I’m not: BAME, LGBT, and everyone else who’s discriminated against. I tried inventing minorities, transcending them even. But when I made a case for pan-sexuality being someone who understands, even if they don’t take part, people got confused. How are you supposed to participate in a debate if you try to think for everyone?

“So to prove everyone wrong, I’ve started this protest against me doing that sort of thing. I’ve always been capable of actually walking a short distance, but I never enjoyed doing it anyway, because of my paranoia and anxiety.

I handed out some leaflets locally, with me on them, telling people what I was doing. Before long, people stopped taking them, and eventually ignored me altogether, saying I should be in a home or something. So I sent myself home.

I found out that technically, you can arrest yourself, in a logical extension of the powers of citizens arrest available to us all, to prevent a further breach of myself. I’d encourage others to do this, to help the system so that we may be more easily dealt with and ignored.

I’ve told the authorities where I’m holding myself, but even the departments for indifference and ignorance can’t help, so I’m just sweating it out. I’m on strike from being me, sort of like a hunger strike, but without anyone to force feed me. I might have wasted away in a few months: Problem solved.

Meanwhile, it’s an opportunity to reflect on how others see you. For me, it’s going well: I fucking hate myself. Hopefully I’ll get through it, like I did the last two tribunals, and I’ll feel even more dehumanised and with an even lower opinion of myself.

“Yeah, it’s quite life-affirming really. Then I might write a book or something, about finding a way out when life traps you: Imagine you’re in a room, with no visible means of exit: how do you get out? Well, you could stop imagining, or you could use your imagination.”

My critically-acclaimed, Douglas Adams tribute sci-fi novel is also now an eBook. My latest anthology is available in paperback.

 

The clacking keys in my head

THE WRITER’S LIFE

green-brain-typewriter-and-monster

Image from Sheila Glazov, Personality Expert

I’ve sectioned myself. That is to say, I’ve successfully compartmentalised my brain into my constituent personalities. There are three things I’ve learned to like about what goes on inside my head: My mind. Talking to oneself is perhaps a sign of madness. It may be true that there’s a fine line between genius and insanity. My IQ has been measured at 147, so go figure.

I figured out that what was holding me back was the merging of a passion into a profession. I love to write; to create. It’s become clear that I can make money from something I’m good at. Writing has been my life for a while now and although I enjoyed the freelance stuff, I needed a separator between work and pleasure writing. That said, the paid stuff is great fun when it’s so varied.

As a freelancer, I get to choose what I take on from the various agencies and my main regular client is certainly fun to work with. They’re a media company in Eastern Europe and they have a constant need for blog entries and articles for their own clients. Just today I’ve written copy about mobile phones in the near future; and Facebook / cafe culture. The work is varied, interesting and fun. I get to choose how much I do, when I do it and how long for. With this particular client, I can message them through an app and let them know my availability for the next day, then arrive at my desk in the morning and have work waiting. With a coffee and doughnut next to the laptop, I’m a contented writer. If I have the odd bit of time to spare, I can fire off a message and get an assignment by return. And it pays.

It took a while for me to accept that I’m a writer, simply because it’s what I’ve always wanted to be, now that I know. It just took some time to work that out. I had to have arrived at the point I did where I had nothing, in order to be able to start from scratch: That’s my life, summed up. The biggest personal hurdle though, was realising that I’m good at what I do, because it’s all happened relatively suddenly. But having won prizes, been published and now working as a writer for hire and gaining business, I feel fully qualified to introduce myself as what I am: A professional writer.

I can’t share any of the writing I do for my clients because I’m contractually forbidden: I’m paid to write for them and what’s published is what “they” wrote. With permission from individual clients though, I can use pieces from my growing portfolio to send to other prospective clients and demonstrate what I do. I really am in business and I love it.

My pseudonym ghost writer (me) is about 1000 words into the next short story to be published under my name, with a final working title of “Cardboard sky”:

…Like mankind, George could only imagine. He could only wonder at the sky, or lie in bed and dream of what was beyond the ceiling. Humans travelling to other stars was one lifetime away. It was only a matter of generations before the dream could be anyone’s reality. George wanted to be anyone…

For the second time in as many years, last week I proved to a judge that my mental health adversely affects my life. Thus I am recognised as being disabled, through alcohol dependence, PTSD, depression and anxiety, and entitled to the relevant benefit payments. So although the plastic police will never leave it, that’s the end of the conversation as far as I’m concerned.

The system may section me one day but for now, it pays the bills and allows me to earn a little with the therapy of prose, narrative and making dreams come true.

In a manner of walking

THE WRITER’S LIFE

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I still have to remind myself sometimes that I’m a writer. Not because I’m unsure of whether I can write or not: I can; I’ve won an award, I’m published and I occasionally get paid a pittance for it. Often I have to remind myself as a defence mechanism; for self-assurance. Life would sometimes be easier if those with a tendency to judge asked more questions outside of themselves. It’s just a deeper level of thinking about everything.

The observation is equally valid when applied to some in authority as it is to most of those who are not. If many of the latter talked to me and asked me direct questions, I’d give them straight answers. Instead, they answer their own questions and form judgements. They’re the plastic police and defective detectives who have been the bane of my life for the last three years. I find ignorance perverse, rude, sad and pitiful. That’s their problem. Personally, I’m more inclusive. I try to find the good in people, however hard it might be to fathom. I suppose I just think that little bit more: That’s my problem.

It’ll happen again this coming weekend, when curtains twitch on all sides of my parents’ house, as I arrive with a hold-all of clothing and belongings. Truth is, I’m on a break, with my children. The studio simply isn’t big enough to host the kids. The chattering classes will decide – without making enquiries – that I’ve drunk myself out of another home and I’m turning up destitute. They’ll congratulate themselves, feel superior and go off to chatter. Short of ramming my arm down their throats and pulling their entrails out, I have no way of stopping them. And so they will make up their own small minds: Not my problem. What am I to do? Go round to everyone’s house and explain why we’re there? Show them that the hold-all contains a dismembered body, which I’ll inter in my parents’ garden? Maybe I’m a little paranoid and insecure; That’s part of my illness. But I’m a writer now.

Sometimes I’d like the self-opinionated to spend a typical day with me, just as I would those who determine my future through unfairly weighted health assessments as I fight to regain my PIP entitlement. On the basis of any one day, they’d see someone who is constantly distracted and unable to concentrate, and who then finds it difficult to sleep because I can’t switch my brain off. They might witness the odd moment when I manage to free myself of all distractions and actually write something. They may witness the beginning of a story, as I kill them slowly: I’m a writer.

But then, they might find me on a good day. On a good day, I might write a new story; a chapter of a book; or both and more. No day is the same and the parts which make up the days can be as unpredictable as the days themselves.

Depression scares people: It’s fear of the unknown and it’s just as bad for the sufferers as it is the ignorant and other, more well-meaning observers. Others must find it far more frustrating than me because they’re not able to be as vocal as I am. Depression is an illness; a disability, just as debilitating sometimes as a physical impairment. If more people spoke to those who have mental health issues, perhaps they wouldn’t be so misunderstood.

Other depressives might want to swap brains with someone else. Ours are difficult minds to live in but our warped worlds can be quite fun. I enjoy exploring mine and reporting on what I find in that strange place.

I’m not alone; Obviously in depression, but as a writer as well. I’ve read the memoirs and musings of many writers whom I look up to and they’re remarkably similar to me, albeit more successful. Should anyone care to undertake the research, you might be surprised at how many writers have mental health issues and it’s because of those issues that many are writers. The Guardian runs a weekly column, “My working day”, in which a well-known writer describes their day of writing, or not writing a lot of the time. It is a source of constant amusement and comfort, to see these people describing a day which could just as easily be one from my life.

Other writers have told how they spend most of their day being distracted, both with non-writing things and the minutiae of things which they’re trying to write. They’ve told of how they can write 10,000 words some days and nothing at all for a week; then of those 10,000 words ending up in the bin. They write of the frustration they feel when the block sets in and how they’ve been tempted to give it all up and go back to some sort of “proper” job; Then concluded that they would probably last less than a day if they had to be accountable to someone else. They speak of how equally enlightening and frustrating one can be as one’s own boss. They worry that time may run out – in any given day, or in life – before they’ve converted all of their thoughts and ideas into narrative, prose and dialogue. There is much internal turmoil and of all the arts, writing pays the least in monetary and recognition terms. None of those writers would want to do anything different though and they cannot be controlled, least of all by themselves. I’m in good company and doing the only job I’ve ever wanted to do: That of a freelance writer.

People may point an invisible finger; I raise one back. They may speak under their breath; I’ll say what I think, and probably offend someone. As one famous writer once observed, “I am unemployable and as such, I am a writer.”

As I once noted: If someone (metaphorically) shits in your shoes, first take off your socks. Then put your shoes back on and walk to your detractor’s house. Upon arrival, be polite; Remember your manners: Remove your shoes before (figuratively) walking into their home.

There was a time when I might have forgotten the metaphorical and figurative. Now I’m a writer.

For me, most days are good now. Because no matter how bad the day might seem, on reflection there will always be some good to be found. I’ve written around 50,000 words of one book over the last few months but I’ve hit a snag: My heart is elsewhere, in the most recent short stories I’ve been writing. So I’ve done as some of my more famous peers have done: I’ve effectively binned 16 chapters of a book I was writing. Not permanently: I’ll go back to it, when my mind is clearer. For now, I’m writing a new book, which has sprung from those recent shorts: Cyrus Song:

“…I was an extrovert on paper: I could be anything in the words which spilled from my typewriter. If anyone were to read those words, they might find me…”

The original short story is still on this blog and the companion, The Cyrus Choir will be in this weekend’s Schlock! webzine, hopefully garnering some interest in the book.

My protagonist is a writer who can talk to the animals.

I’m a writer now. Why would I want to speak to those who can’t pose questions directly, when I can talk with the animals?

“There is always something you can succeed at. Where there is life, there is hope” (Stephen Hawking).