January 31st

29th 753

30th 508

31st 980

Between the 22nd & today I have written 6843 words of new fiction, plus my blog posts. I’ve completed two new stories, one of which has been submitted (and not yet rejected!)

This is vindication for restarting my 500 per day.

Next month Im working on a month total of 14,500, but hope to blast that in the first 2-3 weeks, as I have a story to edit for a end of Feb submission, and I have a suite of stories to edit & proof for self publishing.

Beyond that I’m also about to start Couch-to-5k, a diet, and 25 days of teetotalism (I’m away with the good lady for our anniversary at the end of Feb – not staying dry for that – there’s champagne to be drunk!).

So, January has been a month of hell, but I accomplished some new writing and that’s good.

Tomorrow counts as my official start to the year 2016, I aim to hit the ground running.

January 28

524 words.

That’s now 7 full days of daily writing. I’ve written 4,602 words, an average of 657 per day, 131.4% of daily target. Go me.

More importantly than that, I’ve completed two stories and taken part in two flash challenges, so this has all been writing with a purpose, a focus.

One of the stories has even been submitted. The other needs to lose just over 1000 words before I can send it to the call I wrote for.

 

On other things than writing:

There’s been a small furore in the media recently about the All White Oscars, and the ensuing discussion wound it’s way to a forum I follow where someone asked views on actively choosing to have non-SWM (straight/white/male) writers in anthologies.

I’ll be honest. Up until a few years ago I was a straight forward ‘quality of work should be the only criteria’ kind of person. It appeals to my innate sense of justice, of fairness. And of course, in some things that is a perfect ideal. Where the only qualifying factor is a certain skill, then choosing on that skill alone what to do.

But what about choosing who goes in an anthology? Again, you can say only quality of work should matter, and things like a blind reading panel means only the good stories can be selected. But here’s a thing. Choosing a story is all about the subjective. Sure there are obvious skills, but most anthologists will receive a plethora of entries – I know of one who is currently complaining about the task of selecting a final line up from the stories that survived the on-going cull which occurred through the submission period (I didn’t make it that far).

So if it is such a subjective process, why not choose to have more non-SWM’s?

Someone objected to this idea, suggesting it was denying us poor SWM’s a fair chance. Really? How? We have so many opportunities open to us, and this isn’t closing them, just giving others a better opportunity at being heard.

I do not believe that the majority of bias for SWM is conscious. Some of it definitely is, but my belief is the majority is unconscious bias. That means it is lazy bias. It means people aren’t engaging with the world around them and considering what inequalities they see, and thinking about what part they can play in changing things. That’s why I am all in favor of conscious bias. If the upshot of that is I have to submit a piece more times, or have to develop my writing skills to a greater degree, how am I hurt? If an anthology is going to have twenty stories, and last year they were all SWM, but this year at least 50% will be non-SWM, I still have better odds at being selected than my non-SWM compatriots, I’m still getting a benefit.

Choosing based on characteristics rather than skills is not nice. It’s objectionable. But it happens every day, and most days the results go my way. Maybe not for me, but for my SWM type. We get the job, the free pass for being over the speed limit, the promotion, the raise, the well, let’s be honest, majority of things. So let’s try a little conscious bias, start leveling the playing field a it.

January 27

510 words.

Just.

But it’s good stuff.

Wish I knew where it was going to end up going. Who’ll take a story about a woman knitting a golem to replace her dead husband? (I lie. I have a target in mind.)

 

In other news, I need to start this earlier so I have time to do a decent blog post, instead of scraping one in just before midnight.

 

January 25th

Today I wrote 628 words, and finished a story.

The story is 3,049 words long. To be ready for submission it needs to be 2000 at most. Derp.

Ho hum. Main thing is ‘I finished a story.’ which is pretty genius for me right now.

Other things:

I read back over some of last years entries. The ones I like most were the ones that went of on something not related to writing. I intend to restart that tomorrow. The subject? We’ll start with ‘White Oscars’ and go from there.

See you then.

January 24

641 for the day, all on a piece that is for a prompt with a 2k word limit. My effort now stands at just under 2.5k, and there’s still about 500 words to go, maybe more. Good job I’ve got until the end of Feb to cut it down.

 

Now, I’m going to watch the end of the NEvDen game, and go get some sleep.

January 23

300 words for Cracked Flash Fiction

711 words for the same other project as yesterday.

That’s nearly 1700 words in two days. I got this. I got this. I can do this.

 

But, I’ve rediscovered my need to be working to a prompt, and a deadline. They give me a focus which is otherwise lacking. It’s why my files are littered with started projects. Nope, give me a prompt, and a deadline, and I can rock on. Not that the completed story will be suitable for the prompt, but hey-ho, no one’s perfect.

That’s it for today.

If you’re experiencing snowpocalypse, please stay safe.

 

January 22

672 words

100 words flash fiction for Microcosms

572 words for another story I’m working on.

 

There is, for the writer, a requirement to write, to put words one after the other on the page, the screen. It’s about the flow, that zone where there is a clarity to the ideas and phrases which need strung together to make a story. Not to say those words won’t need re-arranged at a later date, but you can only clarify butter if you have butter to start with.

I’m churning the milk, making some butter.

Onwards and upwards.

January 21

January already feels about eight weeks long, and I hate it and want it to stop now. That’s mainly because it’s contained my Nanny’s funeral, and about 2,800 miles of driving (and our car is not comfortable). A corollary of the driving was my back going out. On Tuesday if I stood straight up my torso tilted from the waist up by about 15 degrees. Stage one of straightening me out happened yesterday, and session two is next week. Now I just feel like my back has been used as a punch bag.

With all of this, I haven’t been able to concentrate on writing much. I’ve done bits and pieces but thought maybe editing would be worth focusing on. For that I pulled up some files from 2014. I’d forgotten how focused the first 9 months 0f that year were (the last 3 got really gluey, and are in no small part responsible for our move to Cornwall).

I want to get back to that. I am going to get back to that. I’m starting tomorrow. And I’m going to do daily word count updates. Kinda boring, but needs must. I need this.

When I’m writing regularly again, then I’ll start worrying about actual writing projects.

 

 

January 5

My nanny died last week.

That’s the last of my grandparents. My parents are now orphans. Cast alone into the rest their lives. It’ll happen to me at some point. It’ll happen to you.

Shit.

I wasn’t with her at the end. Had my Dad been later in arriving I would have, but when he (and mum) turned up I didn’t need to stay any longer. I left. She died about an hour later, while I sat alone in an Edinburgh street and ate a poor kebab (my first sustenance in fourteen hours). Her death was hard.

When I was in my late teens I would head up to Nanny’s (so I didn’t have to arrive home) at late hours, and a bit squiffy. She never judged, just let me drink tea, have a sandwich, and crash. But often, we sat and discussed our differing views, political, religious, etc. She was strident (an inspiration) and never gave way to bullshit. At the same time, she never decried my views, but gave them credence. It was a powerful lesson.

Giving others the power to own their beliefs, while holding your own, takes strength, power, and compassion.

So much of the shit we see on the internet today is about people regarding their beliefs as sacrosanct, inviolable. That is wrong.

I will discuss my beliefs with anyone. I’ll explain why I believe them to be correct. But I will not demand that others believe the same. We have free will. Whether you believe (like me) they came from a deity, or not is pretty much irrelevant. When you demand that others hold your belief system, you are in the wrong.

Hopefully I can retain the same equanimity in the face of my own mothers difficulties. Today I learned that she has a(nother)lump under her arm. Having just out my 90 year old nanny, the prospect of a similar occurrence with my mother is hard. Tonight I am drinking more than I should.

But here’s thing – and I don’t know if it is my Asperger’s, or a defense mechanism, or an aspect of sociopathy – but what I remember from the process of my Nanny’s death are definite, finite, moments. The first I saw her in the hospital bed I knew she was dying (I’d seen my wife’s grandparents at a similar juncture). When her blood pressure crashed and the nurses turned the monitor off I knew her demise was imminent. I was ahead of my aunt. It wasn’t fair to try and tell her so. About midnight my aunt lay her head on Nanny’s pillow and wept. The image is clear in my head, I locked it there. I consciously thought of the emotion on display, of the withered and fading mother, and the grief drawn daughter weeping with out succor.

The next time conscious grief grasped me it was more personal. Driving with my wife and children towards my Nanny’s house my youngest asked if we were stopping for lunch (she’s ten, but autistic). The response that rose within me was ‘No. We’re going to nanny’s first.’ Then I caught up with myself. We weren’t going to Nanny’s. She wasn’t there, would never be there again. I wept. From the Meadowbank Retail park  to Jock’s Lodge I wept (I wept writing this).

Never to have such a key part of your life interact again is a tragedy. Next week is my Nanny’s memorial (she’s being cremated). I’ll listen to a minister who didn’t know her waffle on about things that are non-scriptural, and weep again because I loved her and she meant a great deal to me. In six months, or a year, or more, I’ll be at another funeral. This will be the funeral of a friend, not related, and I’ll weep copiously. Not for them, but for my Nanny. All the memories I screwed down deep will demand a release and that will be it. It’s what happened with my grandad.

And all the time I’ll be locking emotions away, screwing down the things I’ve seen and making them part of a narrative. The narrative won’t be my Nanny’s demise, or my response to it, nor my Aunt’s. It will be the death and response of a character in a story.

Unless my mum dies.

Say what?

Yeh, I got a phone call from Dad this PM saying Mum has found lump, and is off for tests. This isn’t the first lump, or tests, or even medication. It is the first time I’ve been told at this stage of the event, and not well after (btw, I’m the firstborn, the oldest child).

I’m kind of worried. Two bottles of wine, and the writing stories, worried.

Thing is, I’m locking away memories of how it feels even now. Putting fingers to keyboard is part of the process. Whatever happens happens. But I never want to forget the depth of emotion, the rich breadth of feeling and action which comes from the end of life struggle. Until I write it out that is. When It comes out as words, the pale imitation of memory, then I’ll be happy to let it go, until I need it again, and again, and again. Constantly writing things I once felt, or imagined I may have felt, if I was another person, in another place, at another time.

I miss my Nanny.

She died last week.