Tag Archives: 2016

Big Writing Year

hydrengea

 

Here’s the first photo I’ve taken outside this year. Suitable mood setting for the novel draft I have just finished. It’s currently called Villain Miriam, and is set on an invented Scottish Island called Toftsay, Toft meaning the site of a house/building/homestead and -say being a suffix meaning an island, commonly found in the bounds of Scandinavian Scotland. There’s a woman at the heart of the book, an inscrutable witch who has lived since at least Norse times – she’s a kind of Cailleach figure, the hag-goddess who brings winter and drops stones to form mountains, though that sort of thing is behind her by the time we see her in the novel. Her ways are quieter and more devious. Two girls come to be servants in her house, and the story is of how they are at once charmed and trapped and gain their own forms of power amid at terrible loss. It’s a long while until the novel will be up to the standard I hope for it, though sections were completed as part of a novella earlier, and you can read an extract on 3AM: Magazine here. The form it takes is flash fiction and fragments. I hope to be finished by October this year, right before my debut novel, Flesh of the Peach, comes out.  Then the process of trying to get it too out into the world. It’s the second novel I’ve written set in Scotland, though the first, originally my PhD dissertation, entitled Kilea, is set aside for now. I hope one day too it will be published. No dead darlings there, quite yet.

 

Also on the go: a second flash fiction collection, hopefully just a little longer than On the Edges of Vision. It might take a while going in tandem with two sets of novel edits, but the relief of writing over editing will probably help it along. Some stories are forthcoming in print and online, I’ll link when I have links to share.

 

It’ll be a year of writing, a year of submitting flash, a year of rejections and acceptances. I hope it is for you too, or art-making of other sorts, or whatever you wish to be doing. In great amounts, and well-done.

 

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The last day of the old year

2015 has been long and full and amazing and difficult in all sorts of measures.

 

I went to American twice, after not having been in four years. Once for a wedding, the second time for a Kickstarted Book Tour – which you can read of here, if you haven’t already.

My first book came out in August – On the Edges of Vision. It was put out in the world by the small and lovely Queen’s Ferry Press. I’ms so very glad of everyone who has supported the book and me. If you read it, blurbed it, reviewed it, talked about it with friends (or enjoyed it silently), if you’ve been meaning to read it but haven’t yet (I understand completely!),  if you donated to the Kickstarter, or encouraged me to do it (thanks Toby and Maris!) came out to see me read in New York or Philadelphia or Athens or Atlanta or DC. If you hosted me – thank you. Thanks to Georgia and Elizabeth and Dan and Tess. Thanks Erin. Thanks to family and friends.

 

There’s a saying that publishing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down the Grand Canyon, and waiting for the echo – and I think it’s sort of true for a collection of experimental or unusual forms like flash fiction (and prose poems). But beyond the petal-drift, the quiet of the world, there has been more of a response than I could have hoped for. In November, On the Edges of Vision won the prestigious Saltire First Book of the Year. I was completely blown away. A book barely available at the time in Scottish bookshops, winning this. I feel optimistic about where things might go from here. Hopes that the book will pick up steam and be wider read and reviewed. A new edition, perhaps. Against the odds, it’s a small echo coming back up the slopes.

 

It’s been a disrupted and disrupting year, in terms of health and career. I am unsure what 2016 will bring on both counts. Amongst that, I found time to read quite a few books. Some dazzling, moving, clever, poetic. Some, less so. But a good year for reading, for me. And writing too – I’ve almost finished a draft of my novel-in-progress, which I started as a witchy novella in September 2014, and decided to expand, after it was a runner up in two competitions. Close to 70,000 words are down, but I’m thinking it will be much shorter, pared to the bone. I hope to finish by October 2016. That’s the goal, anyway. Between writing and edits, it was a production year rather than a publishing one (aside from the big one!) but there were still three pieces published –

 

The Bohemyth – ‘What Can Be Endured May Yet Be Unbearable’

Barrelhouse – ‘Overwinternight’

 

and from the novel – on  3:AM Magazine – ‘A Formidable Etiquette’

 

What will 2016 bring?

No one can know, of course. But there are some things budding – my first novel is due out from CCM Press at the end of October. There’s the witchy novel to finish, and a new collection of flash fiction which is well under way. I hope for new work, new challenges, good health to those I love. I wish for a less violent world – a welcome for refugees, fewer people harmed. Justice and mercy and enough food and shelter and warmth with it, of both sorts. Is that too easy for me to write? Too trite? Possibly. What can any of us do, except try to keep the windows open and the politicians aware of our anger, our hunger for a kinder world.

 

Tonight, on Hogmanay, I hope to spend some time with friends. I hope for fireworks, but I’m still very snuffly. I hope whatever you’re doing the new year finds you well (it may have found you already, depending where you are).

 

Thank you for reading.

Here’s to everything we have ahead of us. The joys and pains and dull parts. The books, the sunlit spots, the snowstorms, rain, arguments, poetry, the music drifting in the window from some place across the way.

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