In a world that is more than a little bit crazy and scary, it is nice to get some good news. While I was on holiday in Mexico this year, the world back home was turning upside down. Manchester had been hit by terrorists and the country was reeling. As a writer, times like this are surreal. You want to react like every other rational human being and just try to stand tall and proud and help your fellow man, but something else is happening inside you.
You feel a compulsion to comment in some way that is outside of your normal reactive self. I am not sure if the right word to use is “obligation” but it certainly feels like that. Artists of any kind – writers, painters, musicians - have a means of taking events, be they everyday ones or totally spectacular and horrifying ones, and giving them another life. Maybe because most writers are in some way twisted, self-conscious people, who look at things from a skewed angle, they can give, and take, some comfort in finding beautiful words that express everyone’s grief, disbelief and strength.
After the Manchester bombing I wrote something brief and – for me – cathartic, and then sent it away to be considered for National Flash Fiction Day’s Flash Flood.
In the meantime, amid the madness, I got some great news about an application I had made for a mentor as part of the Womentoring Project. I had written to ask that Kate Barker, a literary agent who was offering her services, help guide me to complete my novel. I never dreamed I would hear back, but I did.. early one morning as I was waking up in Mexico. The email from Kate said: “Guess what? I am going to be your mentor!”
It’s at times like this you wish you had champagne on ice at the side of you bed! More about my work with Kate in a future blog post.
During the same holiday, I had other pieces of good news. One was a little 150 word piece I had written for Ad Hoc Fiction had won their weekly competition. It is called “Breaking Dad” and you can find it by clicking on the link on the My Writing page. (Incidentally, I had submitted the piece about the Manchester bombing to Ad Hoc and that one didn’t win).
Next was that Rattle Tales in Brighton wanted me to come to their event on June 15th and read the story I had submitted to them, which was “Death in the Nest”. This had made the longlist of the Bath Short Story Award 2015 (goodness, is it really that long ago?) and had never been read anywhere before so I really wanted to give it an outing. I was thrilled to be chosen. I have read locally in Stoke a few times but this event in Brighton was a little different. More of that later too.
Just after I got home from Mexico I got the message that my little flash “This Fractured Night”, which is the one I wrote to bleed the demons out of Manchester, was accepted as part of National Flash Fiction Day’s Flash Flood on 24th June. You guessed it… more about that to follow. In the meantime you can read the flash by clicking on the link on the My Writing page.