Beasts, Tentacles, Early Days & an Unruly launch

Wow. After nine months strapped to a keyboard writing The Other’s Look, when nothing much happened other than my elbow snapped (it now has a sticky-out bit, like a cartoon elbow, which I quite like), there’s been a flurry of writerly happenings.

Firstly, The Wrong Story has been entered into two prizes: The McKitterick Prize and The Golden Tentacle award. All digits are crossed, sacrifices have been made, chanting begun on a daily basis.

Two, my short story, The Beast, has been highly commended in the British Fantasy Society Short Story Competition, and will be published in BFS Horizons. This has made me very happy not just because it is one of my favourite short stories, and not just because the BFS is a long-established organisation with a tremendous following – but because of the very kind and generous feedback that I received. It’s rare that editors and judges go out of their way to do so, and it’s all the more welcome in consequence.

(C) not to be outdone, my short story, Early Days, has been highly commended in the short story category of the Carers UK’s Creative Writing and Photography Competition 2017. I’m very pleased about this because it is a very personal story and written in an experimental form that I hadn’t tried before. Carer’s UK are a fabulous and worthy charity and I am proud that Early Days will be published in their forthcoming anthology, Not In The Plan, and that I have been invited to read at the celebration event in London at the end of November.

IV. Some things just make me ludicrously and unconditionally happy, and seeing writers who are friends have success is one of them. The launch of Sam Guglani‘s new novel, Histories, in London earlier this week was a true joy. Great book, great speech and great reading. The Unruly Writers were out in force and it was my pleasure to be amongst them.

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a vintage year

Numero cinco, it’s not really a happening but it is an event for me: the second draft of The Other’s Look is complete and now ready for beta-reading and then submission. It includes three of the characters from The Wrong Story and takes place in a subsequent time period, so although it is not strictly speaking a sequel, it is related. As with Early Days, there is a chunk of emotional investment in this story that goes beyond the telling of a tale, so I will be interested to see if it all hangs together. Elbows crossed.

A bone is born

I’ve broken my elbow. To be precise, I’ve fractured it. To be utterly accurate, the end of my funny bone has been chipped off. I’ll leave the gags to you. I was knocked over by a group of charging youths late on Friday night. It was an accident; these things happen; it could have been worse – I could have chipped a bit off my head. The lesson I’ve learned is to wear body-armour whenever I go to Bath.

I’ve never broken a bone before, at least I don’t think I have, but now I wonder about all those times I tripped and landed on my knees when I was young. Are there fragments of my fractured knee drifting inside my joints?

On the X-ray I could see the end of my funny bone floating some distance from the main bone, like an off-shore island. Its shape exactly matched the coastline where it had once been. I felt strangely uplifted, as if it were setting off on a new adventure.Elbow

While the X-ray was being displayed the nurse explained the purpose of each bone inside my arm. But she had to agree that, strictly speaking, I now have an extra bone in my arm, and one that has no purpose at all. I like that. I am proliferating.

It’s been a while since I was clattered to the ground. The last time was when I was thirteen and playing rugby. I was a terrible rugby player and they only picked me because I was big and heavy. The opposing scrum would charge at me and knock me flat and then run over me in their studs. Sometimes my own team did that too. Getting back to my feet in Bath city centre  brought back many of those happy childhood memories. And it’s made me wonder if adults fall over enough. I don’t think we do. I think we need to establish controlled environments where we can go on a Saturday morning and spend an hour or so tripping up and falling flat on our faces. Just like we did when we were young.

I feel positive about this new pain in my life. There are lots of advantages to having a broken elbow. Playing my ukulele, for example. I can only strum and pick for a few minutes at a time. This is a tremendous relief to so many people. And carrying things and lifting things up – I don’t have to. In fact, almost any household task can be avoided by saying, ‘I have broken my elbow’. Even typing takes its toll which means I have the perfect excuse to finish whatever I’m writing, such as this blog post, whenever I want, and without having to come up with a witty or satisfying or logical ending…