I’ve been frittering time away encountering old-aged pensioner’s boobs, being subjected to many conversations that start off “I’m not a racist but…”, ranting online about Barnes & Nobles’ non-existent customer support in the United Kingdom, and getting into ‘heated’ online ‘debates’ about things that I shouldn’t really involve myself in.

We’ve also had something resembling summery weather in Scotland and whilst feeling compelled to enjoying it when we can (drive to Largs, get nice ice-cream, have a wander) my somewhat tender brain hasn’t particularly enjoyed all this ‘dazzling bright light’. I believe the rest of the occupants of the world call it ‘sunshine’.

I’ve been scribbling away and creating a plan for the project I’m involved in for publication next year. Yes, you read right, a plan, something I never, ever do. Well, I’ve dabbled before, but never really stuck it out.

Thing is this project is a multi-part affair, one section/short story for each month of the year, and the storyline has to flow at monthly intervals. I loved the idea when I first heard about it started penning early drafts back in February. A few months later on a space became available on the project and I took up the chance. I hadn’t been writing fiction for a while and so was wary about committing. Now that I have better idea where the story is going I feel a little more comfortable being involved.

See, the whole ‘writing for publication’ thing hasn’t sat with me too well. Not because my previous (and first) experience was a bad one, quite the opposite, it’s more to do with the internal, writerly insecurities, the sort a lot writers have, or so I’d believe.

“I’m nowhere near good enough to do this so why am I?”
“This piece isn’t a ‘masterpiece’ and I’m going to be laughed at by those ‘in the know’. You know, those figureheads with degrees and the like…”

Also, I’ve psychologically linked up the period of intense (well, it was intense for me!) writing around October/November with the start up of those odd night seizures/episodes. Horrible bloody things.

I had one the other week after many months (thankful) respite. “Buggery” as a friend commented on Facebook. In all honesty it could’ve been the day’s worth of staring at travel websites, clicking on flights, hotels, reviews, photos, prices and options, and then yet more flights and hotels, ad infinitum. In fact, it was that.

I had joked earlier that day that planning an upcoming holiday had given me a migraine, but that’s because we never go the easy route. Those horrid package holidays to resorts that look like concrete council estates (schemes to Scottish readers), filled with drunk, shagging Brits. Those all-inclusive jobs where you need walk no further than the swimming pool to get sunburnt and then head back into the hotel for your lunch, dinner and bed. And drink. There’s plentiful amounts of flowing alcohol. Trouble is it’s usually flowing back up in the wrong direction after a few hours… No, no easy package holidays for us.

“I often question “Is my writing dull, or insightfully mundane?”

It’s probably just dull.”

Despite tongue-in-cheek statements such as the above, I have a certain amount of determination to see this project through despite seizures, insecurities and all. These days I’m constantly wondering, just what makes a story flow well? How much ‘action’ does a story need? Will the reader get bored with the way I attempt to use the mundane to reveal the innermost fucked-up characteristics of the characters, and will they empathise, or better still, see those very same fucked-up elements of the characters within themselves?

I skimmed over the hand scribbled draft I was working on today and read it to my partner. He seemed to ‘get it’, but then he’s known me for over ten years, we’re quite ‘in tune’ with the way each other thinks and our views upon the ins and outs of life and how to live it. I wonder how many others would see the same in the piece as he did?

A couple of things have altered. First off, my days of trying to write ‘important’ pieces are travelling behind me now. Striving for imaginary levels that I won’t achieve, trying to stamp each sentence with meaningful, poetic depth when a simple, brutal interaction, between two characters say, can get the ‘message’ across without tying yourself (and the reader) in words for the sake of words.

Matt Potter of Pure Slush showed me that flouncing around, trying to shove the contents of a dictionary into a short story was nothing more than “wank for the sake of wank”. That phrase stuck.

I see that as the writing equivalent of a ‘guitar wank’, making squiggly noises and moving your fingers impressively fast across the fretboard. I’m sure you’ll impress someone, but most of the time the result won’t be anywhere near as effective as someone that can pick up an acoustic guitar and break your heart, hit you over the head and steal your purse with a few simple sounding chords. That’s what I believe anyway.

Secondly, in the past I’ve been quite het up about the fact that I don’t read much (sharp breaths, calls of ‘heathen’ heard from near and afar!) and just how that effects me as a growing writer. And whilst it’s certainly not the norm, I’m not entirely sure I should get too wound up about it. Mind you, it does help to be able to reel off the names of authors and books when conversing with other writers. I’d sit far too quietly when I attended Glasgow Writers Group meetings, watching everyone in full flow as they did their literary talk. One day, I may well be able to join in fluently. Give me twenty years to catch up.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep bumbling on. There’s a link below to the page all about the project I’ve been mentioning, have a little gander, I think it’s going to be a really interesting year for Pure Slush, and I’m quite honoured to have been offered the opportunity to be a part of it!

Pure Slush: 2014 – A Year in Stories