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Patience

Where is the correlation between patience and anxiety – I mean, can you be a patient person and still riddled with anxious feeling?

This is somewhat a calling back to an earlier post on anxiety and writing, partly now a response to life as it is for me: a not-quite emerging writer, hovering at the green edge of things.

 

Yesterday I received news that a funding application I had made had been turned down. It was to be for a modest book tour in the US this summer, for On the Edges of Vision.  I was neither very shocked or upset about it – after all, the reasons given were valid, like the fact that the tour wouldn’t lead to much ‘public good’. Books, especially sly dark ones like mine is trying to be, often don’t add much obviously elevating to the public discourse. It is their purpose to whisper to individual hearts, I suppose. And to whisper nothing useful. There is a place for useful fiction, don’t get me wrong. For education, for encouragement, for comforting words (please don’t think I’m a snob in any way about these books!) But then there are writers who write the anxious, the strange, the whispery.

 

Now I am left with plans to salvage – I made a good list of costs and possible stopping points for the tour. I laid a bit of preparatory groundwork with kind contacts in the US.  It falls on me now to see if I can find other sources of funding, perhaps arrange something shorter, East Coast.

 

So with energy and ways forward, I should be feeling if not good, then at least focused. Unfortunately, anxiety resurfaces at the times it wants. I have to sit with it, work through it. Write my way out, however spidery it makes my writing. Right now I’m working on a novella project, made of flash pieces. Supernatural and full of the ghost of Victoriana and old stones raised on moors and basements full of century-old brandy and shadowy women, and parties that go on unseen in dark ballrooms. It lends itself to short, breathless bursts of writing. Tight wedges of anxious plot that then lead out like fireworks before they light up the sky, to the next flash, and the next. Gaps of silence between. It’s going to take a lot of editing and picking over at the end when I’m done. but it’s fit work for my mind as it is.

 

Always there’s looking to the next thing, and the next. Stories sent out on submission, opportunities applied for and awaited. But now, now I go to the writing and I flick matches against the back of things to see what will strike. Patience subbed out for activity, since it’s all I know in my own way how to do.

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The idea of spring

Greenery

 

Having been for the last little while cooped up with a chest infection, I have only been able to glimpse the Spring through windows, or catch it on slightly laborious walks to work. I’m now much on the mend and craving the outdoors – light, the smell of the sea and plants growing. Much is work these days, quietly tapping away the prescribed 500 words. Or else reading, which I love, but. I want to be out there.

 

This post really doesn’t help curb the feeling. Let me do everything – yes, even a cycling tour, even when I cannot cycle well at all. A 20 kilometre wobble along a coastal road sounds just the thing right now. Or to be up in a helicopter looking at bright shining landscapes. Or in a sea kayak, bumping along past the rocks where the seals are sunning themselves.

 

I’m not sure if I’ll get a chance for this, this year. But there will be other things. Yesterday, a lovely meeting and bookshop crawl with a poet and her husband, on a trip from the states. A wedding in America in less than a month. A short trip down to Bristol to be literary & sophisticated with my friend G, the month after that.

 

For now though, suspended time in which there are mostly the words and awaiting emails. The thing they don’t tell you about being a writer is that patience and imaginative flights of fancy sit uneasily together and often don’t dwell in the same house. But the work is a kind of dreaming too. Sometimes lucid, sometimes with one eye to the blue air beyond the window frame. Tap tap tap.

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Stories read by Mr Bear

kirkyard blooms

blooms in a kirkyard.

 

 

Mr Bear’s Violet Hour Saloon is a weekly radio show and podcast of poems, stories, interviews and thematically-tied songs, and this week, I’m overjoyed to say that some of my work is featured, in an episode called ‘Quiet Hauntings’.

 

If you have an hour free, if you want to take an hour for my flash fiction read in the dulcet tones of Mr Bear, accompanied by wonderful ghostly and fierce songs, your destination is here.

 

(I heartily recommend the archive if you haven’t explored before. Many wonderful things there (in particular I love last week’s episode, which is a perfumed, essayistic delight.)

 

The stories will be in On The Edges of Vision, released in August.

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Several Careful Things

I’ve been busy and waiting and stricken with feverish cold, stuck inside as the sun shines on everything, or else walking through the new sweltering warmth of spring just intent on getting to my work and home, so it has been necessary to look to several careful and tender and rich things that help put me at ease. Poems, songs, books. Here are a few that might help you, also –

 

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Five years

Bridge

Bridge

 

It’s been five years since I started this blog. Way back in 2010, when I was 26, I wrote my first post – ‘Fresh Tracks‘ which was in its puzzled, poetic, fragmented way talking about my hopes for the future, and for the novel that would become Flesh of the Peach.

 

This year Flesh of the Peach was chosen for publication, and my first collection is coming out soon (though it still seems unreal). When I wrote that post, D and I had been in New York a few months, struggling along in a flat plagued by bedbugs, in a Queens neighbourhood barren of trees and filled with sleepy, overworked commuters. Now we’re back in Edinburgh, and things are full of light, and the novel is done, but the work is not. Who can say where we’ll be in another five years time? Will this blog even be a part of my life? Will you still be reading it? Will there be more of my books out in the world? Should there be limits set, or just like this – a quiet happiness at what’s been achieved so far.

 

Stopping a moment from the lookout. Taking in the hazy air, and the bridges ahead. Which ones to be taken, which ones to be half-crossed and then returned from. Which ones will lead out over a wild, new sea.

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Current Obsessions in Fiction

What I’d like to read right now, what I’m working my way towards in my own writing, what lingers like incense (happy Easter, by the way, to those who celebrate):

 

shores

hills of grass on and on without end and a puddle here or there reflecting a giant blue sky

diners, motels, petrol stations in the middle of the desert staffed by one person who will not meet your gaze

the mountains were there is a solitary hut above the treeline

constellations when they are considered by small groups of people on the dark face of the earth

ill-defined wrongness and wrongdoing and buttoned lips

islands and their specific, haunted geography

big fat lazy rivers of the kind Scotland is too small to possess

found lines of poetry in spam emails

witches and their fashions and self-forged legends

books which change on contact

forests as impossibly large, engulfing settings for stories (I need more of these)(especially ones which note the way the light shifts and falls, and birdsong, and cracking twigs)

old houses, naturally, with infinite-dimensions of basements and attics and pantries and dairies and outbuildings

little villages in the mesas were all the inhabitance practice a particular craft handed down from one generation to the next

dream logic that is not pure message

graveyards, like shores – with a little mist on them, and great depths

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On the Edges of Vision has a cover!

I’m in love with the cover design created by Brian Mihok. It’s both warm and and slightly sinister – and I think hints at a number of stories in the collection. >>>>>>>Go check it out on Queen’s Ferry Press’s site [ah go on, click it – you can see blurbs for the collection there too!].

 

And then, if you like, you can add it to your to-read pile on Goodreads (if you use another library aggregation site and On the Edges of Vision isn’t there, do leave a comment)

(leave a comment anyway)

(let me know what you think)

(can you tell I am excited! My book has a cover!)

 

 

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