Thursday, 31 December 2009

Day 31 of #100days: Happy New Year!!

Today I wrote about how I spent Millennium eve for my friend Sian. Her novel, Fluids, begins in the early hours after 1999 has been partied out, and she’s gathering Millennium stories for her blog at the moment. If anyone wants to add their own story, she’d be well chuffed. Just drop her an email. (They can be anonymous if you like.)

And now I'm about to start on the wine, in preparation for the musical festivities above.

Gleðilegt nýtt ár / Happy New Year to everyone! Hope it's as loud, quiet, fun, lovely as you want it to be!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Days 26 to 30 of #100days: Late Night Scribbling and Short Story Bliss

[26/100] Wore my new wellies but still nearly ended up on my face on the ice. Drove home very slowly. Creativity FAIL. Knackeredness won.
[27/100] Italian friends Simona and Maurilio are over from Turin. Spent most of the day just hanging out, but came up with a story idea once I’d gone to bed, so had to quietly scribble it on the back of an envelope in total darkness.
[28/100] Spent all day in my pj's. It was awesome. Read all of one of my Christmas books and started on another. No proper writing, just more scribbling of ideas.
[29/100] I wrote a story that might be called 'Something Inside Me Has Jumped The Track', although the final story doesn’t fit the title, so I will probably change it and steal the title for something else. It’s a story about kissing and gin, and I really like the main character in it. After reading a book of Michel Faber’s short stories, I’m back in short story mode for a bit. I’ll try and get a couple more done before the novel sucks me up into its bowels again.

Which brings us to today [30/100]. Fellow Hundred-Dayer Lizzie Poulton has come up with a brilliant idea: 10 Weeks Of Plagiarism - To Make Me A Better Person. In her own words:
Basically the plan is for the next 10 weeks (the remaining 70 days) I will copy/rip off/pay homage to other people’s inspired 100 days projects in the hope of improving my creative output.

Now why didn’t I think of that? I sort of wish I hadn’t been so vague with my pledge, but I knew that Christmas was coming up and that I’d feel like a constant failure if I’d set myself big tasks. Maybe I’ll break it down into weekly projects? I’ll have a think and see what January 1st brings.

Well, it feels like I've been updating for hours, but I'm finally all caught up.

I've been learning the months. I'm finding it fairly easy to read Icelandic, which is encouraging. I'm nowhere near mastering it yet, though. But I'm enjoying it a lot.


Day 25 of #100days: Gleðileg Jól!


I got very creative with my baby nephew’s xylophone, did some making-up-of-songs, that kind of thing. (It counts!) Santa brought me some ace wellies with daisies on, so I would no longer have to cry in my no-grip Cons when the ground got slippy. And my sis got me a proper Icelandic course, so now I have no excuse.

Talar þú íslensku?

Days 20 to 24 of #100days: Wrapping, Rasputin and Wellington Dreams

Siobhan from wigglymittens very kindly made me a couple of Rasputin stickers. I spent more time than is probably healthy posing Rasputin around the house. I think he looked most at home in with my peace lily, though. He looks a bit like a jungle explorer.

I finished off my robin cards, wrote a bit, did some very creative wrapping, and marvelled at the lovely snow whilst wishing for wellies.

And I learned some family words:

mamma (mum) pabbi (dad) foreldrar (parents)
systir (sister) bróðir (brother)
amma (grandmother) afi (grandfather) barnabarn (grandchild)

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Days 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of #100days

I finally got my very overdue submission sent off to my mentor tonight. He is probably going to go mental. I’ve been messing around with the novel so much lately that I wasn’t even sure which bits to send this time. And I haven’t felt like I could do anything else until I had it done. But now it’s off in the ether and there’s nothing more I can do to it. So...sewing?

Yesterday’s [18/100] creative thing was drawing possible Christmas card designs. I always make my Mum’s card (and my sister’s if I can be bothered/have the time) by hand. I decided this year, since I was being creative and all, that I would be bothered and I would make the time. So today [19/100] I bought the things I needed, and I made these little fellas ...

(I got a bit carried away. I think some people might be getting two cards off me this year)

This is going a bit in reverse now. On Thursday [17/100] some Vikings came into the library. With my basic grasp of Icelandic I managed to ascertain that they were doing a project on schoolchildren. So, I found them some books.

My Icelandic words were skóli (school) and barn (child) and also bók (book).

Wednesday [16/100] and Tuesday [15/100] were all about the novel. Lots of creativity, but very boring to look at. However, I did manage to learn: skemmta sér (have fun, have a good time, party), and hatta (go to bed). Important things.

I’ll leave you with a joke Nath told me. A joke that’s definitely on a par with Jenn’s ‘baker with brown hands’ one.

Q: Who’s the coolest person in the hospital?

A: The ultra sound guy.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Days 11, 12, 13 and 14 of #100days: Sasquatch

(Or, I have been a slacky mcslackface blogwise, but honestly, it would be really boring for anyone to read “I wrote some words for my novel and then went to bed” for three days in a row.)

[11,12,13 and 14/100]

I tried drawing on Friday and gave up. I messed up the mouth horribly. And I’ve just realised now that I can cover that mistake with hair, too, just like the other one. Hooray for beards! ...Except I just messed that up too, (too Jesus-y) so I decided to go the whole hog and make it Sasquatch. But it’s really not very Sasquatch-y either. Again, this is why I write.

Days 12 and 13 were good for writing. Although as a kind of distraction, (I had to eat!) I did discover a TV channel that shows made-for-TV Christmas films non-stop. I’ve been limiting myself to one a day. They are truly terrible and absolutely amazing. I love them.

I also found this game to help with my Icelandic, and I got every answer correct! My pronunciation obviously leaves a lot to be desired with some of the phrases, but I’m beginning to recognise and understand words when I read them.

Halló. Hvar er klossettid?

I think I’m going to write a paragraph each day about people who come into the library. I think that will be a fun thing to do to help me pass the time when I’m at work. I can make my workday 100% more creative if I’m imagining encounters with people who are or aren’t really there. I just thought of this now, whilst picturing Sasquatch in the library, trying to fit into one of the little wooden chairs we have for storytime. Nice one Sasquatch. So...

Today, Sasquatch came into the library. He needed to use the computer, but there weren’t any free. I told him I could book him onto one in ten minutes’ time, and he said okay and handed me his library card. He’d chewed it in one corner. I made his booking, and when I went to hand him his card back he grabbed it, which made me do a little scream. He was instantly apologetic, and so was I. He said it was a survival instinct, and I nodded and said ditto. And then we just smiled awkwardly, and he went over to browse the Local History section until his computer was ready. When I looked across a bit later, he was watching a YouTube video of a cat playing the keyboards, and when he laughed, the whole building shook like there was a miniature earthquake.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Days Nine and Ten of #100days: Bless is Goodbye in Icelandic

[9 and 10/100]

Talar þú íslensku? (Do you speak Icelandic?)
Ja, ég tala íslensku. (Yes, I speak Icelandic.)

This is a lie. I should be learning, "Nei, eg tala ekki íslensku." (No, I can't speak Icelandic) but that would be defeatist. It's only day ten.

It's just been me and the novel for the last couple of days. Too boring really to blog about. I just want it done now, so I can have my life back.

One of my favourite borrowers died recently. It always upsets me when a husband or a wife or sibling comes in with a library ticket and says they won't be needing it anymore. And there are some borrowers I haven't seen in a while, and I wonder if they're okay, and steel myself for the worst. But this particular borrower has been coming into the library every week for all the time I've been working there. He would only read Jack Higgins books, and over the last few years all he's been able to manage were large print copies. Over the years I consulted "Who Writes Like..." a few times, trying to find him someone new to read. And he tried a few, but no one could match good old Jack Higgins. I got excited once when he asked for a book by Harry Patterson, only to find out it was Jack Higgins' pseudonym. I would print him off lists of all the Jack Higgins books we had in stock, and he would order a few at a time, checking them off. Once he'd got through his list, (and luckily for him it was a fairly long list) he would start again from the beginning. The last time I saw it, there were six ticks next to some of the titles. I printed him a new list about two weeks ago. I issued him "Wrath of the Lion" for the seventh time just last week. He seemed fine.

One of the best things about working in a community library is watching people grow. The toddlers who listen intently to "Hairy Maclary" are soon doing homework projects on The Tudors, and the schoolkids who'd spend hours copying facts out of Encyclopaedias soon become moody and amazing teens. And it's a strange thing to observe people like this, week in week out. But sadly, we also see the reverse. We watch people grow older, notice their coughs getting worse, their bodies growing shaky and frail. And even though we might interact, we are not part of their lives, we are just witnesses. But that doesn't make it any less sad when they go.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Day Eight of #100days: Colouring, Re-capping and a Kreativ Blogger Award


I spent the afternoon colouring in snowmen (not the snow parts, but hats, scarves, brooms, carrot noses, etc) for the Christmas display in the junior library. I like 'quiet days' at the library. I always forget how therapeutic it is to do colouring in. When I studied Anatomy and Physiology, the lecturer gave us The Anatomy Colouring Book, and we'd spend every Monday morning colouring a different muscle/muscle group. It was a brilliant way to learn. Hello gastrocnemius! Bonjour sternocleidomastoid!

So that was my creative muscles being worked today, but I'm all settled in for a night at the coal face, chipping away at the novel wordcount, too. Colouring in AND writing. Blimey.

We're one week into the hundred days project now. It's been a strange week. Some days I haven't felt like being particularly creative, whereas others, I've gone crazy with it. Work does get in the way. Sometimes all I want to do when I come home is curl up in bed. This is why I didn't set anything in stone. I know that there will be days when the most creative thing I'll do is sprinkle cocoa dust on my coffee. So I've allowed for that. Sometimes small things matter just as much as the big things. But I also know that I enjoy being creative, and so pledging to do more things will make me feel better in myself. It's nice to give myself permission to do all these things I usually put off because I don't have time.

And I'm learning things, too. Getting my daily dose of Art History from Howard, who makes it fun and accessible and incredibly moving. And I'm getting to see original pictures/comics/stories/poems being created daily, all under the Hundred Days banner.

Jessica from Writer's Little Helper has very kindly nominated me for a Kreativ Blogger Award. Thank you Jessica!!

The rules are...

* 1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
* 2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
* 3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
* 4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
* 5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
* 6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
* 7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

Seven Things...

1. I cry at anything, especially that dog advert that's on in the daytime, when it's raining and the dog says, "Nobody wants you when you're old." Breaks my heart. The News gets me sometimes/often. Happy tears, sad tears, all the tears you could possibly imagine. I've long since given up being embarrassed about it.

2. If ever I'm given fancy soap as a gift, I use it as soon as the current soap runs out, because I read a poem once about a woman on her deathbed, who regretted not using the owl-shaped(or was it rose?) soap she'd kept 'for show'. I might have a lot of regrets on my deathbed, but hoarding soap will not be one of them.

3. I'm a trained masseuse.

4. I will sew for chocolate. Buttons, hems, you name it. Only one of my housemates has figured this out so far.

5. I want to live in a lighthouse.

6. The scent of privets makes me feel seven years old.

7. I wish I could travel through time.

The seven people/blogs I pass this award on to are...(in no particular order)

Forgetting the time - Annie Clarkson's lovely lovely blog.

Every day I lie a little - Jenn Ashworth's most excellent blog. Dead funny.

A Salted - Sara Crowley's newly-snazzied-up blog. I love her championing of the short story and wish she worked in the Waterstones near me.

Follow the yellow brick road - Katherine Woodfine's arts and culture blog that's won awards for being so ace. I always want to visit the places/exhibitions she writes about.

Wigglymittens - Siobhan Britton’s art blog. She's a fellow Hundred-Dayer, and I'm loving her sketchbook updates. The other day she made Rasputin stickers!

Missyaggrevation - another fellow Hundred-Dayer(it's beginning to sound like a weird cult!) on a mission to see the sunny side of everything for the next 92 days. Admirable.

Confessions of a middle-aged coffee addict - films and books and strange goings-on in the library. Makes SH! seem quite sedate.


Oh and this blog post was brought to you by the word handleggur (arm). I'm remembering it by thinking of my arm as my hand's leg.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Day Seven of #100days: Decking the Halls


Today's word in Icelandic is sjö (seven).

And today's creative act was to put the Christmas tree up and decorate it, deck the halls, etc. I've been off the internet most of today. I think it's good to take time out from it. It can sometimes steal my creativity without me realising.

I'm going to do a proper post tomorrow. I have good things to write about but right now I'm soooo sleepy.

Góða nótt.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Day Six of #100days: Novel Novel Novel and Post-it Notes


Ég er að skrifa. (I am writing)

That's pretty much all I've been doing all day. It's been good.

I love One Hundred Love Stories. I'm fascinated by how couples first met, so this is definitely one I'll be returning to.

And for the tea-lover, there is 100 Days (of Tea) - lovely pictures celebrating all things tea.

I've figured out some good things tonight, about how bits fit together and how I can make things better. Good old Post-it notes, eh!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Day Five of #100days: Not-so-sneaky Afternoon Naps and a Story Called "Hat"


It's been a fairly lazy day today. I got up, drank lots of water, ate a massive bag of Rainbow Drops, then got back into bed to catch up on yesterday's blogging. Then I had a nap. I like naps. Another 100-dayer who likes naps is Siobhan from Wigglymittens. She's been drawing in her sketchbook every day, and on day four she documented her "sneaky afternoon nap time". Yeah! Sneaky afternoon naps are the way forward!

Am also loving Benjamin Partridge's Random Article, where he writes a story every day based on what he gets from pressing Wikipedia's 'random article' button. Genius.

Today I learned the words blár (blue) and kaffi (coffee).

Before I hit the hay, I am going to finish a short story I've been working on. At the moment it's called "Hat". I sometimes have a problem coming up with titles. Sometimes I steal them from song titles. I think this is okay. I read somewhere that song titles can't be copyrighted. I'm sure it's fine.

Day Four of #100days: Brautigan, Stitchery and Reading Out Loud


I had every intention of writing about my Day Four escapades on Day Four, when I got back from the reading I was going to be doing in Nottingham, but when I finally stumbled home, I was a little worse for wine and decided it was best not to do internet things in that state. I'm all good now, though. So...

Day Four was a good one. It began with the words Gott kvöld (good evening) and Góða nótt (good night). This boded well.

Inspired by Josie Long's amazing homemade Kurt Vonnegut t-shirt, I decided I wanted to make one of my own, only with a jumper, and with Richard Brautigan on it instead. (No, I wasn't thinking at the time about how the hell I was going to fit "B r a u t i g a n" across a jumper.) So I got my sewing stuff out

and cut out the letters in turquoise felt.

before deciding that it was "too blue", and so I then cut out some pink letters to make it look prettier. The fun part was trying to get it all to fit on the finished jumper. After various shufflings about, I realised that it would have to be diagonal. I started sewing at four-thirty, and finished just after six, so in the time that I would normally be panicking about reading in front of people, all I could think was: just keep your fingers away from the pins and do big stitches. (Maybe I should do more sewing before reading nights?) Here's the finished jumper...


I wore it for my reading with Hello Hubmarine at Beatnik Guild. As soon as we got there, host Hannah Heartshape gathered us up in a group hug, which was lovely. The Arts Organisation is an amazing open space, filled with big sofas and excellent artwork. They also let you bring your own alcohol, which meant that me and Nath got through both of our "two bottles for £5" wine. Classy.

There was some great open mic poetry and then we did our set, which has changed slightly since the Summer Sundae one. I read an older story, Communion, from the Coffee chapbook. (You can download the PDF for free here, if you like.) And Nath and Jonezy did extra bits to make up for Biff's absence, as he was playing a gig back in Derby. We also had Jo Lewis on singer/songwriter duties, who completely blew everyone away. The crowd was warm and friendly, and I actually felt comfortable on stage, which doesn't happen very often. Huge thanks to James Walker of WriteLion (and LeftLion) for inviting us!

The rest of the night included a horrible dash across Nottingham for a bus, a drunken bus ride, and arriving at Big Blue just in time to watch Biff's (and the Mr's) band play. Day Four was a good day!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Day Three of Eitt Hundrað


Not the greatest day for creativity, although I did get to play with the staple gun at work to make an "advent-Christmas-tree" type thing for a display in the junior library. It was a little bit creative. Not very. So I decided to finish the day with a hundred word short. (100 words including the title.)

And We Swim Right Into The Middle

We’re caught in this swamp, that isn’t actually a swamp. The water is still clear, but overhead there are hundreds of branches, like brambles but without any thorns or green, just wood, like there is some kind of basket being woven above our heads as we try to swim our way out of here. It’s the kind of place there would be crocodiles, and as soon as I think this, I start to panic. I want to be back where it’s just a river. I want to be out in the sun again.

And in case you didn't notice, my Icelandic words for today are One and Hundred.

End of Day Three.


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Day Two of One Hundred


Early edition...

Today I got the urge to draw. I used to draw a lot, but I get quite frustrated when things don't turn out the way I see them in my head. Maybe that's why I favour writing nowadays. Words are always words. So the words I see/hear in my head can always be perfectly replicated on the page. This started out as a cunning ploy to cover up yesterday's attempt at "calligraphy". If you look closely, you can see some writing beneath the hair.

I'm loving the Hundred Days website. It's ace finding new blogs that I'd never have stumbled on before.

This morning's find has been Untitled #23. Howard is going to write at least 300 words about a work of art every day. Day One actually made me cry. It's beautiful.

Late edition...

I got some writing done this afternoon/evening. 726 extra words of the novel, and a chunk of editing. Woop!

Góðan daginn/Góðan dag means 'good day' in Islensku. I know a bit of German, so some words are sort of familiar, which is nice. But obviously the pronunciation is different. It feels softer, less glottal. It's early days yet, though.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

One Hundred Days To Make Me A Better Person


About a week ago, I discovered Josie Long’s new project "One Hundred Days To Make Me A Better Person". It is part of the London Word Festival, starts on December 1st 2009, and finishes on March 10th 2010. I knew I wanted to take part. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do for it. I also knew it would have to be realistic. Even though I was thinking "pledge to write a thousand words of your novel every day", I knew in reality I had no intention of spending Christmas day typing. Or Boxing day. Or New Year’s Eve.

This is from the website:

From 1 December 2009, Josie Long cordially invites you to pledge to do one thing every day for 100 days in a bid to generally make things better. The plan is simple:

1.Register here with your name, email and pledge

2.From 1 December, this pledge must be fulfilled every day for 100 days (or longer if the spirit of goodwill takes hold!)

3.Document your activity where possible - snap it, film it, write about it - and keep us updated on how you're getting along

I ummed and ahhed, and finally decided on my pledge(s) yesterday, at four minutes to midnight:

1.Learn a new word or phrase in Icelandic every day.

2.Do something creative each day.

3.Blog about it here.

I like the vagueness of the "do something creative" part. It can mean I write a thousand words of my novel, or it can mean I arrange some pasta into pretty shapes. Perfect.

So, today, Day One, the first of December, what did I do?

I played with fridge magnets and took photos of them (see picture above), until the batteries in my camera died. I had bigger plans. But, I have bettered myself tonight by recharging said batteries, so that next time I come to take a photo, I will be able to. Good stuff.

And I learned “Ég heiti Emma.” My name is. I always thought it would be good if I hung out with Eminem, because we would be referred to as "Em and Eminem". It would make me laugh every time.

Anyway, other hundred days projects that I’ve checked out so far:

100daysofnonfiction - Hannah is reading a chapter of a non-fiction book each day and then writing about what she’s learned. This one ties in with my favourite quote, “It’s impossible to open a book without learning something.” Go Hannah!

100tinymoments - Every day, Edward is illustrating a tiny moment from his past, present or future. This is one I wish I’d thought of. I especially like the idea of the future moments.

my bit of sky - I love the title of this. And the idea of photographing things people have left behind.

missyaggrevation - Toni has started a blog and is going to see the sunny side of life. Lovely and positive. Yay!

All this and it's only Day One!


I just read the poem "Love Yourself, Or Else" by Daniel Bailey, in the brand new > kill author, and these lines jumped out...

"the only thing i trust is the sound of a magnet
sticking to a fridge"


end of update***********************************************

Sunday, 29 November 2009

The Weirdness Of Your Own Voice

The E.P. launch for Grande Duke, whose song 'Lunacy By Sea Wind' I did a spoken word bit on, and blogged about here, is happening on Friday.

I already have my copy, and it was weird at first, hearing a voice that I knew was mine, right in the middle of ace instrumental music, but the more I listen to it, the less weird it is, and the more I can just listen without thinking too hard about it.

I looked up the science behind why your own voice sounds weird when you hear a recording of it. I'm glad I know.

I'm doing a reading in Nottingham, so I won't be able to make it till later on. Hopefully I won't miss too much. It's going to be ace.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Semaphore Stories

I've been keeping myself to myself a bit over the past few weeks. I've been doing lots of things with Post-it notes, working out the structure of my novel. It nearly drove me mad, but I think the worst of it is over. I haven't been writing many short stories lately, as all my focus has been on the novel, which is a good thing, but I have missed the immediacy of shorter things. So, I cheated and wrote this for the ever-brilliant pygmy giant. I seem to be obsessed with semaphore at the minute. Maybe it stems from my childhood survival-manual-reading, but I've always liked secret codes. I'm crap at decoding them, but I like the idea of them. A good one I've found recently is tap code. Used a lot by prisoners, apparently. I like the simplicity of tap code. I get it.

* **
***** ****
* *****

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Pay It Forward

A while back, Annie Clarkson blogged about kindness and the gesture of Pay It Forward. She had been a recipient and was Paying It Forward to three people who would then Pay It Forward to another three people and so on...random kindness expanding out to (hopefully) infinity.

So, a few days ago, a parcel arrived in the post. It was addressed to me, but I was baffled by what it could be. When I opened it, still half-asleep, I pulled out all manner of amazing things. Beautiful Flax postcards, tasty chocolate lip balm, the Brace anthology(Woop!), a very pretty notecard and some gorgeous vintage buttons.

(my haul - thank you Annie!)

(the buttons and notecard 'artistically' arranged)

I'd forgotten all about Annie's offer, which made receiving the gifts even more wonderful. Presents are great at the best of times, but unexpected presents, totally out of the blue, well, you just can't beat 'em.

So now it's my turn to Pay It Forward. If, at some point in the future, when you least expect it, you'd like to receive a package from me, leave a "yes please" in the comments box. I'll send something to each of the first three people to say yes. Even if you live in Timbuktu. The only stipulation is, you must agree to then do the same for three other people at a later date and blog about it.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

When Godzilla Met Medusa

Medusa was standing at the bottom of the stairs, swigging from a flagon of wine, when Godzilla stomped into the hallway, looking for a quiet place to stand. She noticed his suit first; black, smart, with a crisp white shirt, and a black tie. His feet were big and green and scaly, and as he walked, a thick tail swung heavily behind him. Medusa smiled as he approached, and he took this to mean it would be okay to stand next to her.

“Nice costume,” Godzilla said.


“I like how you’re not just going for the one scare,” he continued, “like you’re going for the fear-of-snakes people, the fear-of-statues people, as well as those that are scared of being turned to stone. Good call.”

She hadn’t thought about it like that. But it summed her up completely to be multitasking even in her subconscious. One of the snakes came loose so she flicked it back over her shoulder, the way she’d seen models in commercials do. When they talked about their hair having a mind of its own, only being tamed by a certain shampoo, she sighed. They didn’t know the half of it.

Godzilla tapped his foot in time to the music. His tail remained perfectly still. He started to feel warm, so he loosened his tie. One of Medusa’s snakes found its way onto his shoulder. He turned to look at it more closely; it seemed to be an adder, native to this country and generally well-behaved. Whenever one of the snakes broke free, Medusa felt a lightness that took a few moments to register. After realising what had happened, she swooped the snake back with her hand.

“Sorry about that.”

“No worries. I don’t mind snakes. We’re kind of...kin.” Godzilla laughed as he said this. Medusa took it to mean he was thoroughly immersing himself in his character. She thought she should do the same. She tried to think of something witty to say about turning people into stone, but nothing came to her, so she did what she’d read to do in these situations, which was: turn the conversation back to the other person by asking them questions.

“So, have you destroyed any good bridges lately?”

Godzilla blushed. “Er, no. Not intentionally, anyway.” He let out a nervous laugh. Medusa took this as her cue and giggled. She worried that it sounded a bit forced, but Godzilla didn’t seem to notice.

“And you’re okay out of water?”

“Yeah. I’ve been using that KY-jelly. It’s such a great lubricator.”

She choked on her wine laughing at his repose, and he felt bad for taking the credit when all he’d done was tell the truth. It felt good to be honest, though, for once. Hallowe’en was the one time of the year when he could actually be himself. No having to hide his tail down his trouser leg, no painfully restrictive shoes, no problem discussing his skin problems with people. A good song came on and he started tapping his foot again. He suddenly felt brave.

“Would you like to dance?” he asked.

“Okay. Yeah. I hardly ever get the chance to let my hair down.”

Godzilla guffawed, clapping his hands. “Let your hair down. Brilliant.”

It took her a few moments to understand he was complimenting her on her apparent role-playing. She gave him a smile and followed him into the other room, past the Jenga tournament, to where the party was loudest. Facing each other, they began to dance. Timidly at first, and then, on deciding to make the most of their one night of utter freedom, they got lively. They threw lizard shapes and snake shapes and wriggled and slinked and cavorted around the dance-floor. They danced all night, not stopping when Godzilla accidentally knocked the Jenga blocks flying with his tail, oblivious to the fact that everybody else had been turned to stone.

(photo borrowed from here.)

Monday, 26 October 2009

Holy Crap!

and a massive thank you to > kill author.

Friday, 9 October 2009


I'm a winner!!! My story made it into Even More Tonto Short Stories!! And I am in damn good company! Hooray plus many many more exclamation marks. I'm just going to have a little run around now, victory dance maybe.

A Staple Diet of Words

On Thursday 15th October I'll be getting my grubby mitts on the new issue of Staple Magazine, at a special launch at Quad.

Hosted by Staple editor Wayne Burrows, there will be readings from some of the issue's contributors, an open mic section, and the evening will be rounded off by poet Jacqueline Gabbitas. Hello Hubmarine are also doing a sneaky set, so I'll be either dusting off, or polishing up a story, as well as getting the Bach Rescue Remedy at the ready.

The event is free and starts around 7:30pm. The theme is words and art. Quad have good cakes. How many more reasons to come does a person need?

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Geometry and The September Project

For September I set myself a writing project, whereby every day I would find a photo and then write a few sentences inspired by it. The idea was to stop myself before I ran away with one idea over another. Hopefully, I'll be able to go back to each piece and pick up where I left off. I know there are a few that have the beginnings of longer stories. I've still to read over them all to see if there's a pattern. I'm sure there will be a pattern. I've been noticing the rhythm of my writing a lot lately. I need to write more and experiment more (in my writing) to see if my theory is correct, though. So, watch this space?

Good news for October is Ben has re-started the excellent blog How Men Make Love In The Twentieth Century, and was nice enough to ask me to contribute a story, which I did, which you can read here. The brief this time was, "a story inspired by geometry". Ben's own story, Perspective, is beautiful. You need to read it now. Thank you.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Last Day Of September

Right at the end of things, when she’s just about to close the door for the last time, she takes a breath.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Here Be Monsters

Even if I get my shoes muddy, it won’t matter. I could walk to the edge of as far as I can see, and it still wouldn’t end. And I know he calls it as he sees it. He looks out and yes, the world is flat here, but here isn’t the entire world.

Monday, 28 September 2009

The Time It Takes To Get From Here To There

He walks past the empty houses, focusing only on the crunch of glass underfoot. He doesn’t worry that it will pierce his soles. He has had his tetanus shots, and the sight of blood doesn’t bother him.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Of Abundance And Goodbyes

Everything felt okay. The spin of the world only altered a little. She took a step back from the kerb, waiting for the cars to clear a path.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

The Reverse Of Light

They held hands in the shade, practised being shadows. On the ground, their arms grew long where the sun caught them, and they watched as more of themselves spilled out, stretched across the stone.

Friday, 25 September 2009


As he passed her, he imagined she might put her foot out to trip him, but she didn’t move at all. He wanted to stop, to turn around and say something that would make it all better.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Not Sleeping But Dreaming

The silence wasn’t absolute. As she lay back on the grass, she heard the industry of small things, quieter than her heartbeat, but still enough to rock the tiny bones of her ear.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

In A Cellar, Somewhere

They kept the fire lit and told stories. They would be okay because the roof was arched, her Mum told her. She stared up at the whitewashed curve and counted each brick.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The Absence Of Glass

Before anyone else is awake, he goes to the window and takes in a first breath of the day outside. The space for traffic is still unfilled, and the only sounds are the chatter of starlings and the hum of bees. On a bed in the next room, a girl stirs and bats imaginary flies in her sleep. He leans out into the morning, feeling the warm rush of August air on his face. He remembers the dot-to-dots he made from her freckles, the spirals and flowers and creatures he drew across her arms and legs, and wishes he’d taken a photograph.

Monday, 21 September 2009

A Beginning. An End.

When it’s time to leave he stands in front of the door, fastening and unfastening his coat.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Twenty-Two Years Of Occupation

With breath hot as tar he pushes me back, tells me I’m being stupid. I graze my elbow on the wall, and when I look down, tiny atoms of my skin cling to the concrete, a small clump of red and pink against the rough white.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Being Ten

He remembers how he tried to make that heart. Pressing his fingertips into the red clay, he made it as symmetrical as he could, and then he baked it in the oven for hours, hoping it would emerge as something unbreakable.

Friday, 18 September 2009

The Next Day And The Day After That

It’s been years since we kissed on that bridge, when I lost my shoe and didn’t realise until the next day. There’s a way of knowing what’s going to be said before it’s said. So we kept quiet and let it be forgotten.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

When To Stop, When To Stand Still

He knows she will never be on time, and so he has learned to enjoy the waiting. He pays attention to the world around him, the small things, things he might miss if he was in a hurry, or if she was there with him.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

And All The World Was Quiet

The world collapses in with all its bright colours. There is a new language, felt only through fingertips. He taps this strange Morse code against the bones of my hand and I watch the shapes, try to make sense of it. He doesn’t move any closer. He doesn’t look up. I stare at his hands and the way his fingers cover mine and feel lost.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

A Timely Reminder...

...that tonight, the Time Travel Opportunists will be taking over Quad and filling it with stories, short films, science, and other nerdery. Join us. 8:30pm in the cafe bar.

Some Kind Of Invisible

He wants to shut himself off. He wants the people he knows to stop calling, writing, knocking on his door. He wants to go through his day and have no human contact. He has changed his clothes. He has cut his hair close to his skull, angling the scissors, making mistakes in the mirror.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Staring At The Sea

He leaves them inside and pulls the door to. There’s too much going on. If there was a way he could rewind things, he’d shift everything back to the day before she arrived.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The Ivy Is Plastic But The Missing Is Real

I lost him somewhere along the way. Before the lights went out, but after the crowds. I wanted to leave a breadcrumb trail, but he’s scared of birds, so there’s no way he would have followed. We should have tied wool around our wrists, bound ourselves together at the end of things. Now all I can do is wait, and hope that somehow we find each other again.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

At This Height, The Windows Are Stuck With Glue

It doesn’t take her long to realise everyone else has gone. She wakes in an empty room, only half-remembering getting there. The curtains have been stripped, the walls whitewashed. The floorboards are flecked with paint and she scratches at the raised blobs, tries to dig her fingernails underneath them.

Friday, 11 September 2009

When We Were Green

We are pretending it didn't happen. We are being economical with our truth.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

An Evening Of Time Travel

Next Tuesday, Time Travel Opportunists are taking over Quad in honour of The Time Traveler's Wife film being shown, and a general love of Time Travel-themed things. See the lovely flyers Biff made...

I especially like the part where he thought that we could actually travel through time and do it all a month in the past. He knows the Delorian is 'in the shop' at the minute.

Anyway, we're going to be reading from books about time (pretty much ALL of Momo if we have our way, but we might settle for just a chapter), showing short films about time, and reading our own stories about time, too. I'm writing mine right now. Well, I'm having a little break to write this, but I am in the middle of a story and I quite like it so far. I am being cheeky and writing notes in italics as I go along. I am asking myself questions like "where are they going?" and "how about graph paper?" and "does she know his sister?" It's fun. Better get back to it.

This Is Not A Test

I tried to cover my eyes. Even though it’s not too dark in here, when the door opens sunlight floods right in and sometimes it can be blinding. He had his back to it, but it got me like an atomic flash. I squinted past him and he laughed low, from his belly. And when I closed my eyes, the shape of him burned there in the centre, like he was all the world.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009


He doesn't know how to take what she's said. He thinks he needs to just sit here a while longer and try to figure things out. She is running circles with the others, playing freeze tag. Half his friends are statues. He leans back against the wall and bits of stone fall in his hair. He knows he should feel heavy right now, but her laughter makes him weightless.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Time Travel Is Possible

She draws a line in the dirt. Whatever happens he has to stay on his side. They sit cross-legged, knees almost banging. The line is a table tennis net between them. It is a spiderweb.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Conservation Area Please Keep Out

There’s a space the size of a matchbox that nobody else knows about. It’s hidden underneath piles of old clothes and books. There are old cassette tapes scattered around, some of the ribbons unravelled and spilling out, words and music coming slowly undone. There’s a part of him in that space that doesn’t exist anymore. The part that was happy. The part that was loved by her.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

The Right Words Will Always Come Back

You write on brown paper bags. Sometimes it is just a few lines, sometimes it is more. Other times, it will just be a single word, and you will choose this word carefully, like you are choosing the only flower you will ever be able to look at for the rest of your life.

You don’t write in biro. Biro can survive water, and you need these words to be ephemeral, you need them to be as fragile as the thoughts behind them. You need to know they can be washed away with tears, that they will bleed into pretty patterns before they disappear completely.

Once they’re gone, you imagine the journeys they will make. The wind might catch a paragraph and sneak it into the tallest tree. There it will whisper to the birds, teach them a new song. A sentence might find its way into the pink hands of a child, as it crunches on cola cubes. A word might find itself part of a shopping list, and nestle there a little out of place, between bread and toothpaste, above bananas.

Your words will always be remembered, somehow. Even when washed away, even when the ink of them is just a swirl of an idea in a puddle, what’s important will go on, picking up pace like a downhill snowball, or a runaway train. Your words will go down the track, finding their way back to the one they were meant for.

And one day, a bird will sit on a windowsill, and like a postcard it will sing your words. And they will be heard, and absorbed, and kept for a lifetime in the soft rooms of someone’s heart.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

By The Time It Gets Dark All This Will Be Gone

He rolls pebbles under his hand so that they clink against each other in the dirt. In this light, I can only see the movement, not the details. The line of his arm draws my eye to the ground. He tells me something just crawled over his foot and I scream and he laughs and says, Just Ambiguity. And I know it’s a word and he’s trying to be clever, but all I can think about is how many legs an Ambiguity might have.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Everything Can Be Broken

So you take one rock and put your hand on it and with a pencil draw round the outline. You do it enough times that the lines are nice and thick and there is no mistaking that what you've drawn is a hand. You place it by the side of the path, half in the grass. You stare at it every time you come here, hoping one day you forget about it and it surprises you.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

On The Moon Things Are Different

My girlfriend isn’t my girlfriend anymore. She stole my shoes and threw them on the garage roof and I tried to climb up to get them back but I couldn’t reach, so I had to walk home in my socks. When I got home, no one noticed my shoes were missing. I ran upstairs and locked myself in my room and cried, mostly about the shoes, I think. Not about her.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

From The Window I See Thistles

The floor is made of sand. Other people come here at night, but in the daytime, it is only me. I like to do a handstand against the wall, and then my legs go out through the window-gap, and sometimes I just hang there and take my hands off the floor and pretend there is no gravity.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Happy September The First

There was never anyone around at weekends. She could do what she wanted. Usually she’d pick a new angle and draw the old bits of machinery. The rust would often rub off on her clothes as she sat on cogs or ducked through wheels. She liked the iron red of it, how the colour had its own scent, a sharp metallic tang she breathed in and tasted.

She’d arranged to meet him here. He came most Saturdays. He had to walk down from the hill, cutting through the beech woods, but he didn’t seem to mind.

When he arrived, she made him take his shoes off, so that she could draw his feet. She had him place them on the old millstone. She was interested in the contrast, she told him, between flesh and stone.