Catching up on my reading, and getting rewarded

28 Mar

I restarted a new subscription to Writing Magazine about a year ago and got second place in one of the first competitions I entered with them. Read it HERE So far so good, but my reading had slipped a bit, as the magazines are crammed full of articles, stories and various other info about outlets etc.

Anyway, I was sitting at my desk today reading January’s edition, and look:

Writing Magazine Jan2017

Bizarrely I was just working on that very story this afternoon to make it fit the word count of another competition. The Scottish Art Club’s short story competition has a hefty entrance fee, but feeling more confident after seeing this.

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Mothers’ Day

21 Mar

Okay, so maybe you can’t afford to send your mum on a round-the-world trip, but you could buy her a book that sends the heroine on such a journey. Even better if your mum remembers the 80s. What book would that be? I hear you say. Oh, you know, don’t you? And don’t worry, one of these days I’ll finish the next book, and give you something different to look at.

Just to guilt trip you – got my Amazon payments for last month – 3p. Really must get on with writing something new.

The Wedding Party

4 Mar

The Wedding Party

She’d been to these parties before, when a bride wants another wear out of her wedding dress. ‘It’ll be fun,’ Stacy said. ‘All the girls from the office are coming. Another chance to feel really special, eh Christine?’

It was also a chance to have a snide look at your friends’ weight gain; the not- yet-revealed pregnancies; the workmates who would have to make excuses because their dress came out of the hire shop, or the man they called their husband wasn’t really.

Christine had no such worries: at forty she had accumulated three traditional white frocks and two less formal ones – one from the beach wedding with Javier, (who turned out to be gay); and a grey suit from the Registry Office with James, who believed that everything should be functional (he was a bag of laughs).

Stacy’s party definitely called for white, but no amount of SlimFasting would get her into the dress she wore when she married Andy. She was so tiny then, withered away to almost nothing. Three kids later, and a hell of a lot of comfort eating and she was in a plus size for Ali. He said he liked something to hold onto, but it turned out he wasn’t great at holding onto anything.

So those two were out. All that was left was her first dress. The one that made her mum cry when she tried it on. The one that made the girls in the bridal shop rush with a veil and shoes to pop on, and even an artificial bouquet that she could hold in front of her, so she could get the full impression in the mirror.

She lifted it off the hanger, and slipped it on again. After the years of a yo-yoing waistline, it just about fitted. She circled the gold band on her finger; the one Euan had given her twenty years before. The one she had refused to remove for Javier and Ali and Andy and James. The one she had kept faithful with throughout all the subsequent failures.

Maybe if she wore this dress to Stacy’s party she would stand out among the other brides. Maybe Euan would realise what a mistake he had made. And Stacy would regret inviting her new husband’s ex-wife to her stupid wedding party.

This piece was inspired by a prompt at Creative Writing Ink

Round in Circles

5 Jan

The Christmas jigsaw has been completed, and while the decorations are still up, the kids are back at school, so it must be time to get down to work (although it should be noted that paid employment continued/increased over the holidays!).

It must surely be time for New Year Resolutions, but since I started a 90 day plan about 6 weeks ago, I really should just keep on with that. It broadly broke down into three areas: New Book; New Job; New Bod. We’ll totally ignore the last one, as I’m definitely still in the ‘Before’ stage. New Book? Well, the word count is moving up, but not nearly as quickly as I had liked. New Job? Well, there is a bit of a long-term plan there, and I’ve almost completed my Level 1 qualification in British Sign Language, which I am really enjoying and may eventually lead to a little bit of sessional work to supplement the supermarket wages.

So no new resolutions, but I have been thinking about the whole circle of life thing – most of us don’t need to watch the seasons to make our crops flourish, but the way that life is split into days, weeks, months, seasons and years does give us all the opportunity to start again, not just keep going on an unchanging continuum until we write our last word and breathe our last breath. Just think how glad people were to get the Bumper Celeb Death year of 2016 out of the way. There was an almost audible sigh of relief when the bells struck midnight (and Mons Meg was fired), and the internet was filled with memes of Brucie, saying ‘phew, made it.’

And I have to say I was mightily glad to get 2016 behind me as well. It’s been an absolute stinker in many ways, but things are looking much brighter with a welcome decline in hospital trips. The spreadsheet for 2017 is being populated with deadlines for competitions and submissions, and I’m trying not to think too hard about when I’ll receive my annual rejection from New Writing Scotland. So I’ll keep calm and carry on, and I’ll just f*@%ing do it and I hope you’ll keep on keeping me company for the year ahead.

 

Christmas Jigsaw

Postcards in the Attic

1 Dec

When I was younger I collected postcards, and as a result when people were having a clear-out (usually after a death), they would pass me any postcards they found. I knew I had them, I knew there were treasures there, I just kept putting off looking through them. Today, as a precursor to doing some writing, I pulled them out, and they didn’t disappoint. I haven’t reached the Majorca of the early 80s – flamenco dancers with real skirts, but I have, rather handily, found a bundle from Switzerland, Germany and Austria from the 1950s – the era of my current writing project.

Selection of the Collection

Selection of the Collection

Bizarre postcard of Ronnie and Nancy Reagan with their heads swapped, and a cheery one of a V2 flying bomb – wish you were here?

One of the photos has inspired a chain of thought already, and others are helping with the general vibe. Glad I finally opened the box.

After the Beep

4 Nov

After the Beep

He goes to the phone box every day – 20ps in his pocket; the number he used to know by heart, on a scrap of paper.

Some days no one answers, on others a voice gives racing tips. Fewer times now there is the offer of a job – something local, nothing that requires speed.

The walk takes longer each day, the occasional stumble; the rare fall. He had a phone put in in the 70s, has the latest smart technology in his inside pocket, but each day he varies his route to the last phone box, hoping that before he dies, the voice on the end of the line will reveal where the loot is buried.

 

This post was inspired by a photo on Creative Writing Ink

25187370115_fb1e7834a5_k

Inheritance

3 Nov

‘And now,’ Clare said, ‘do you regret not opening the door.

She’d caught her at a bad time, otherwise Eve would never have shared so much with Clare, but once she had started it had all come out. She re-focused on the obituary in her hand, carefully cut from a newspaper and sent thousands of miles.

She had made the journey in the opposite direction two years before. The streets of her home town had been both familiar and foreign. A differently coloured front door causing her mind to falter, to stop the memory, to check the dream.

She’d driven the rental out to the farm, parking a mile away, then walking slowly towards the house. At no point did she think she wouldn’t go through with it. Her kids had jobs now, no longer dependent on her; and her divorce settlement allowed her to book the plane ticket with barely a thought.

It was only when she was there, her hand on the doorknob, that she hesitated.

A noise from within startled her. Footsteps. A nicotine-strained cough. The scrape of a chair.

Fear clenched at her stomach, anger at her bowels. The scars she had etched on her thighs with sharpened sticks, pulled.

She wasn’t sure if she had come to forgive or seek forgiveness.

‘Do you regret not opening the door?’ Clare repeated.

What Eve couldn’t explain was that she had heard no raised voices, no pitiful cries or smashes of crockery. But she could feel the quiet disappointment oozing through the door; the aggressive silences; the oppressive power.

‘No,’ Eve said finally. ‘Je ne regrette rien.’ She smiled, deflecting with humour.

‘And did your mother leave you anything?’ Clare asked, picking for secrets to share at her book group.

Eve nodded. ‘I inherited everything.’

 

 

This piece was inspired by this prompt at Creative Writing Ink

 

prompt door open

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