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Dusk

I don’t have much to give you so I’ll give you the light outside my door ten minutes ago:

 

lane 1

 

 

lane 2

 

 

the lane from outside

 

 

It’s a little bittersweet – D  and I just had word that the landlord wants to have his property back, so we will have to move out at the end of February. Which means, aside from losing this little coach house, that we’ll be flathunting under time pressure.

But we will have one Christmas here. This is a place good for the little lights and tinsel and rich foods. We’ll have that.

And then the cold pre-spring move into somewhere utterly new.

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The last month of the year

the winter gardens at the People's Palace, Glasgow

 

 

The cold breath of the last month of the year is blowing now, and it’s almost, but not quite time to find out the edges of this last year and to gather it in, and see what it amounts to before looking up to (shh) face the year beyond.

 

The Millions have started posting their Year in Reading series, something I look forward to, even if I’ve not read nearly enough of those spoken about. I’m starting to think how many books I will have finished by the year’s out – I think about 32? Which is a good number I think, because that will be my age in the middle of June next year, if nothing intervenes.  I’m going to start thinking about what books spoke to me most – but I might keep quiet on that, lacking any great insights, and favouring for now they unuttered over the analysed.

 

I’m thinking too of how this time last year I was in Banff, in Canada, on the Creative Futures residence at The Banff Centre. I’m so incredibly grateful to have had exposure to those woods and mountains and sulphuric streams and icefields and lakes and stress and friendships and too much delicious food and walks and drives in the dark and in the hills. It took a long while for that experience to settle (if it has at all) but I think I can say truthfully that On the Edges of Vision came out of that time, though I wrote it several months later, having scrapped the stuff I was working on all those days in the the Leighton Colony, looking out at the snow and the pine martens and the pine bark. Lists and lists and riches. None of it settles, I suppose. None of it can be made neat. It sits in a dark place, crackling like a fire, fuelling my work right now.

 

Yes, it’s been a productive, book-filled year, and it is not over yet. I’ll start (hopefully) on edits for On the Edges of Vision right before Christmas, so I’ll be typing away. I’m also working on another project, interweaving flash and a longer narrative. Who knows where that will go, but where there is fire there is energy, so -.

 

Have you started to gather things in yet? Or is it too superstitiously soon? Or are you in a frantic rush for the holidays? Or are you reading (please say yes, and what)?

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A Second Pushcart nomination – fanning self

Yes, I woke to the pretty incredible news that another of my stories from On The Edges Of Vision has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize!

It’s “To String” from the Cobalt Review’s Fall issue.

 

To take a special holiday to visit the place where they were last seen.
To take a bus and then a train, the green countryside blipping past, the
technology of an earlier era but no less miraculous.
To arrive at the station, the only person standing on the platform under a
yellowing sky.
To see likewise the yellow fields of rapeseed swaying in a breeze your arms
do not register.
To feel in your nerves the storm hunching below the horizon.

 

Read More…

 

Here are the other stories nominated by Cobalt:

 

Parable of Pillow Talk with a Chupacabra” by Joe Jimenez (web special)
The House that Ruth Built” by Liz Dolan (Baseball issue)
Dodger Blues” by Nikki Thompson (Baseball issue)
Class Trip” by D Watkins (Spring 2014)
Box Score #41” by Colin Rafferty (Baseball issue)

 

(more to read over your coffee and tea today)

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Impossible dimensions

Today the builders working on my upstairs (and sideways) neighbours’ house cut a wire and blew a fuse in our flat. I spoke to them about it, and the damp seeping in – they briefly looked it over, and said they thought it was from the other side of the building, and not the shared part of the roof. And then we discussed the strange dimensions of the house. Upstairs is a concrete roof, they said, discovered under floorboards. Strange to have so thick a wall above a dwelling, was the message. Our part of the building is half submerged, with a low, subterranean window in the kitchen, but access on street level on the other side. It was a puzzle they said. I told them the place used to be a coach house, but I don’t think that full explains why things are as they are.

 

Perhaps I’m on alert to strange dimensions after reading Through the Woods, a graphic novel by Emily Carroll (see glimpses of her style here). Full of sinuous lines  – of speech, of landscape, warping black and red, the colours of dark pine and violence – it is precisely the book for the now, for the place D and I live, the strange old coach house at the dark part of the cobbled lane, by the small, strangulated woods. Across the street there is even the ruin of a cottage (it seems) built into the back boundary wall of the much newer fancy Park Circus tenements that turn to face the view on the other side. Brrr.

 

Today was good for reading – I also finished Among the Dead by Becca Jensen (brief review on Goodreads) which is not at all of dead things, because it is about literature, and the life that flows through it, long after the writers of it are gone into the river.

 

What else, what else?

 

More books, I hope. I’m working too on a new project, a novella-type thing with interlinked stories, of nightmares, surreal and unnerving. So far: a swallowing wall, crystal teeth,  taking an acid bath for an audience, marrying a ghost, a giant in a bookshop and a monstrous bothy.  I like the early days. I find writing the easiest thing in the world, like day dreaming. It’s the editing and the organising – ie. the making sharp and clear and enjoyable for other people to read – that is the hard part. Putting that off into the distance for now, like a spectre, pushing it out where the light doesn’t reach (though tomorrow it will).

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Pushcart nomination!

A story from On The Edges Of Vision has been nominated for the 2016 Pushcart Prize!

‘The Mistress of the House on the Machair” appeared in Wyvern Lit’s Haunted issue. You can read it here.

 

A black line along the floor where the rolling pin fell and cracked the tiles. The servant boy stares at it awhile, breathless. Behind him, the breathing, curtained windows look out on the endless sandy meadow of buttercups and daisies, the phenomenon known as the machair. The servant boy in his smurched apron washes his hands but does not pick up the rolling pin to place it somewhere safe. He abhors its slippage. Why had he been holding it anyway? There’s no pastry needing rolling. Bread’s in the airing cupboard. Her ladyship the ghost isn’t conscious this early. The hearth, as it has to be, is dusted. Everything beyond that is yellow-white machair and a strange, echoing pain ringing about his heart.

 

Read More…

 

Also nominated by Wyvern Lit and for your perusal -

 

 

 

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‘Singing with the Wolf’

My piece on the 1955 film The Night of the Hunter is live in the Noir November issue of Bright Wall/Dark Room. To read, you’ll have to be a subscriber – $2/month or $20/year. For that you’ll get access to some excellent personal reflection on film from loads of different writers. Maybe have a think about it?

 

If nothing else watch The Night of the Hunter because it’s a brilliant noirish fairytale, perfect for dark days indoors.

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‘Monstirs and Flash’ on the QFP Blog

Morning here from a dark room, with winter beginning to nip at the air. I have been busy with my friend C, up from London for a visit – together with D we pushed through heavy rain for coffee, an art gallery and a punk beer bar , we pushed through the crisp cold to walk across the town past groups of excited fan girls trying to spot pop stars in town for some MTV awards, and inside away from the weather made tiny crafts and watched Sharknado and science documentaries (to even each other out). She’s off home now, and I hope very much to see her again next year when I go down to London for readings from On The Edges Of Vision (this at the moment a vague concept yet to be organised). However! And perhaps of interest! On the Queen’s Ferry Press blog I write about the naming and monstrous influences behind this forthcoming collection:

 

All monsters represent some fear, some disgust, bafflement: we are worried by our bodies, by the possibilities of other bodies. We worry about the fluidity of our identities and our flesh. We’re all sliding around trying to find our balance, and at the same time watching what the other dancers on the floor are doing.  

 

Read More…

 

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