It’s half ten at night as I write this, but I feel like I have to make a post, or else something will float away from me: I’ve decided, finally, what to call my second flash fiction collection. It isn’t finished, and I haven’t begun approaching publishers about it yet, but at nearly 37K it’s now formed into something with character enough, I think, to bear the weight of a name:
Mayhem and Death
It will be over forty stories long, with several sections (one of which, Ritual Stitches and Good Red Wounds, was the semi-finalist in two chapbook contests). Around ten stories have been published or will be shortly, with hopefully a few more to come. Lots of murderesses in this collection, which is a nod to Margaret Atwood’s use of it in Alias Grace. The feminising suffix, so often used to diminish, set against ‘murderer’ reads strange and unheimlich. Also: versions of films beloved (and hated)(and invented)(and mashedup), and an interconnected flash segment about a mother reading her deceased daughter’s diary of nightmares.
I’m excited! I’m also still working on the witchy novel Villain Miriam (working title, though I quite like it too) and awaiting to share some news about my debut novel, Flesh of the Peach. Later, later. At a more reasonable hour. Perhaps.
If desirous of some of my stories, see the Fiction section above for lots of links to published pieces, or buy my first book here (free worldwide shipping)
– I did it! I made my 10-story goal of the day.
Total word count: 6,206.
ten whole stories, some of which might be usable in the collection.
Thanks to wonderful people on Twitter who provided encouragement and prompts. You can see their words and mine HERE (along with the numbered first lines of every story I wrote today. I think the wavering in terms of quality is pretty evident).
As I say over on Twitter, if I just wrote like this another 4 times I would have enough stories for a whole collection. They would also be terrible, and I might fall apart doing so. But it’s been good to see what can be done in a single day. Edits, now. Those will come. A long time hence.
Today at 2pm GMT I’m going to start writing flash fictions, and over the course of the next ten hours, hope to write ten pieces.
Why on earth am I doing this? Mostly because the last few weeks or so have been quite slow and unproductive in terms of writing – this is often the case, slow progress is still progress, though it isn’t very encouraging. I need a jolt. I need to set off and keep going. I need the deadline.
I have playlists lined up, and will be on Twitter the whole time (naturally, procrastination has its place too). You can follow me there if you don’t already: @HelenMcClory. I’d welcome suggestions: an object, a location or time period, a character name. Something vague to get me started if I meet any inspiration black holes. You can join in too with your own writing spree, if you like – low pressure, coming and going as you like.
2PM till 12AM.
I might do a post tonight if things go well, perhaps sharing a few titles. Not any of the writing – that will probably be pretty pants. Above all, this is an exercise in forward motion, not finesse, and the pieces will need heavy editing after. Any fictions up to snuff will go in my current flash-fiction-collection in progress (a part of which, as I mentioned elsewhere, was recently a semi-finalist in two chapbook contests, which gives me hope. More editing there, later).
I’m off to prep and scout the snack situation. Please say hello on Twitter or comment below.
Let’s see how this goes. I may regret it, but there’s always coffee, for when that really hits.
For the new month I was commissioned by Visual Verse‘s editor Eley Williams to write a piece in response to the site’s prompt – Grant Wood’s famous painting American Gothic – very suitable subject matter for me, given my writing.
Here’s a taste:
This land’s so full of spikes like you wouldn’t believe. Saul broke earth this spring early and found rows of them, growing like dragons’ teeth under the thin soil.
“Come out, Alice,” he yelled. “See this.”
There are stories and poems by other commissioned writers, and the opportunity to submit your own work. You have to write your piece in an hour. Each picture stays up the month long, but as this is a short one (albeit with that leap year day clipped on as a bonus), you only have another 28 days to crack your fingers and get to it.
I’m going to be one a panel (my first!) which, as the title indicates, is on how to get published, and is hosted by the Society of Young Publishers Scotland. As some of you may know, the story of how I came to be published a bit of an unusual one, involving lots of near misses. I’ll be there with Agent Jenny Brown and editor James Crawford. If you’re interested, and able to make it to Edinburgh on Wednesday the 27th at 6pm, get your tickets here!
A few days ago I finished the first full-length draft of Villain Miriam (which began life as a 12,700 word novella). Here it is all printed out at 67,700 words. It’ll be a fair bit shorter when I’m done (savage edits planned). I’ll retype the ms from scratch too I think, a tip I’ve seen elsewhere and think might give a fresh perspective.
This is how Villain Miriam begins (at the moment). This is how it continues: lots of tinkering, lots of red pen. Getting as much done as I can before the novel edits come in for Flesh of the Peach.
The sun is shining, and I’m off for tea and biscuits. The year finally, at last, finally, feels like it is starting.
Here’s a taste:
We begin a new year with a new author. Helen McClory’s otherworldly short fiction recently won the Saltire Society First Book award, and she chats here about how her fiercely original collection On the Edges of Vision came to be born
Sometimes less is more. Anybody can describe a chair or an apple, to the finest detail perhaps. Most could even draw quite an accurate picture of one or both. And wouldn’t that be boring?
Far more intriguing is when the dimmer switch is turned down. When that everyday object or situation is seen in the half-light, that psychological dusk. Possibilities open into spaces as wide as your imagination.