Very chuffed to say that a flash from On The Edges Of Vision is up on Vol. 1 Brookyln’s Sunday Stories. Pour yourself a coffee and look out the window at the lashing rain, and dip in:
Grace unscrews the white lid and pulls out the dripping tiplet and applies the polish to one nail after another, then holds the drying almond surfaces up to the light. Fleck and aura of colour, against the ceiling, the slow chop of the ceiling fan. Tonight’s the night, though it’s not tonight yet. There’s music on shuffle: a mix called MISANDRY+PINK GLITTER. She doesn’t know what misandry means, but it sounds tough and cool, and Grace very much wants to be tough and cool.
I’ve decided that for my Endless Reads project 2015 I am going to read as many novellas as I can. Slim little pieces, tender weird harrowing classic innovative bright calloused intriguing lyrical stark books under 150 pages long (though I’d prefer around the 100 page mark). I have read shamefully few novellas, and having just written one and hoping to write more, I really ought to know the territory a little better.
To that end, I’ve started a new shelf on my Goodreads called Novellarama – if you aren’t friends with me already and you are on Goodreads, please send a request! That way you can recommend books to me (which I shall try to buy from places other than Amazon, to mildly scupper its having snaffled up Goodreads recently).
I’d love as many recommendations as you have to offer – that way I can pick and choose for a whole year. Top of the list so far are:
Four Novels, by Marguerite Duras, The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa, Toni Morrison’s Home, Ordinary Love and Good Will by Jane Smiley, a collection of novellas by Deborah Levy, and Ottessa Moshfegh’s McGlue. There are many more on the list. Donations welcome, if you happen to have them lying around (or want to swap books with me).
Novellarama will start on the 1st of January and hopefully result in a spate of equally tiny reviews for you to enjoy. If anyone else is joining in I will link to your blog periodically and peer at what you’ve enjoyed.
The new issue of Wyvern Lit, entitled ‘Haunted’ is out, and my piece ‘The Mistress of the House on the Machair‘ from On The Edges Of Vision can be read there.
So he goes and makes a gin and syrup for the ghost, and a tea for himself. He puts the gin drink in the fridge with a daisy in it. Daisy for her, though he forgets – is a daisy toxic or not? He imagines her struggling to raise the glass to her lips, the constant threat of spill. It’s a long time between now and dusk.
In other news, my witchy novella ms Villain Miriam received an honourable mentioned in the last Civil Coping Mechanism Mainline contest of the year. It’s such a fun contest, with publisher Michael J Seidlinger reading all entries in a single five day period (!) and deciding CCM press will publish. He has described the contest as a ‘mosh pit’ for books. I’m looking forward to reading the books that won, and I feel it’s a bit of a boost for the novella that even though it’s so short, and a strange hybrid of flash and narrative, it could make an impression in the midst of all that lively jostling. The ms is still out with a few publishers who might (hopefully) be interested in pushing it out into the world.
A submerged, dark feeling to Glasgow early this morning.
Some things swirling around my brain right now:
1. The gothic on the internet.
- Creepypasta (what is it? How about some examples?)
- A book review tinted by grief (it’s gothic really because the site is)
- I never grow bored of funereal food rituals
- That gum you like is going to come back in style
2. Gothic in real life
- The Feminist Book Club meets on the 18th of next month in Glasgow to discuss all manner of gothic tomes (and films I think)
- I mean, park district in general providing the perfect gothic background to life
3. This assured, clear-eyed, excellent essay on issues of abuse and consent (hugely relevant to the online literary community at the moment, and to the wider world always, always)
4. Finishing Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner – on the trap of being an upper-class spinster and expected to be an unpaid reliable type with no needs or private life of ones own and how one woman escapes this by becoming a witch, and, in the most politely English of ways, selling her soul to Satan. Really quite odd in its structure heavily weighted towards the background of becoming trapped by society’s expectations, slowly being ground down, then all at the end in a flurry Satan and awkward dance party black Sabbaths and gentle hikes through calm rural landscapes rather than action.
5. A month of watch ghost films (which I post about on Twitter). I am trying to be spooked, to see where that takes my imagination for the next project.
There are times when writers don’t write. When they blur at the edges or crouch down or go out walking in the damp weather bent against the poles of their umbrellas. When they wait, for words or the reception of words. Or simply for a mood to lift.
I’m waiting for some words to get in from other people. For emails and news and rejections and hopefully an acceptance or two. I’m waiting for the books I’ve been reading to sink into my skin. Watching films to disturb my sleep. It’s deep into Autumn now, and the ghosts are walking in the lane and swaying in the tattered accident tape I see on old monuments, on iron railings that have half fallen in. I have writing to do, but it’s hard to manifest myself enough to type.
I am patient, even when I’m not. I scrape by, getting better at knowing the seasons each year. Waiting is also writing. Reading is also a creative art.
There are 1.6 million voters grieving here in Scotland for the loss of the independence vote. Myself, my family, my friends, the people who spoke to me in the street with hope in their hearts. What to do, in the midst of loss? And now in the newspaper headlines ‘Public funds to decrease to Scotland, says no.10′ and ‘English votes for English laws’ usurping the priorities of the promised powers (on tax, welfare) that were supposed to go to Scotland on event of No (a vow signed by three leaders, a vow that looks likely to crumble under their shrugs of indifference). Now bloody strikes with ISIS, with a multiheaded concept, at the behest of America, likely. Meanwhile the shadow Labour government of Westminster say they’ll cap child benefit, as a way to help fix the economy they told us was so much more robust that Scotland on its own. Dystopian.
What to do?
What we can. I’ve been reading. Burrowing down into books, though none of them comforting. Thirst, by Kerry Hudson. A heartache of a book, all tactility and full of fumes and grime and hope. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, that reclaimed feminist classic, gloriously landscaped, which nevertheless suffers for its undercurrents of racism, classism that go unacknowledged. Revenge by Yoko Ogawa, a series of strange, interconnected salt-sweet tales with a smack of coldness to them. Now biting into Gone To the Forest by Katie Kitamura, placeless colonial tension in a world of violent men and arid fields. All in the last three days.
Writing. I’ve finished the flash novella of island-bound witchy girlhood and charismatic monsters and abandonment – Villain Miriam. Looking for where to send it to, this tiny shattered fairytale. Aside from this, I’ve been job searching, for work in Creative Writing, for ESL, for volunteering opportunities that fit the skills I have to offer. This takes time. And in between the leaves still fall and the nights creep closer, huddling in. Seasons change – at least there is always this.