My latest module has been a joy to study. Uncovering the history of the short story, from early myths and fairy tales to the joy of magical realism and the simple beauty of post modernist work. Work for my degree covered many of these aspects, but never in relation to short fiction. I’ve read so many great stories, Gogol, Poe, Katherine Mansfield and Raymond Carver are just a few that spring to mind. I’ve also revisited my beloved Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who has a gentle yet fierce way of expressing the reality of oppression and of mental distress. Reading so much and so widely has given me a new excitement for the power of short fiction.
My own work for this module was a struggle. So much inspiration left me not sure where to start, as well as rearing the ugly notion of inadequacy. Writing is the only way through this and after dozens of false starts which saw me producing pale pastiches of my favourite stories, I’ve finally created something I like. Many of my stories focus on what I feel is a forgotten voice. There is a generation of silent,often compliant women who are at best ignored and at worst derided, with little understanding. The recent #metoo campaign has highlighted the scale and reality of sexual harassment and accepted abuse of others. Ensuing discussions are dominated and diluted by arguments based on a previous culture of silent acceptance and we seem to be faced with a situation where women are being pitched against each other and a weird scale of ‘seriousness’ is being developed. The reality and impact of daily abuse rarely attracts attention.Often it becomes so normal that we do just put up with it. It is these scenarios that populate my current short fiction.
I’ll see how successful I’ve been when it gets back from my tutor. And yes,this particular tale does feature a magic tortoise.
I’m reading and writing more poetry too. Two new books from Nine Arches Press are giving me great joy. I’m struggling with my health at the moment, averaging one/two ‘up’ days out of seven, which is much less than last year. The poetry in these two books is short enough to be manageable, and challenging enough to be satisfying. And the obvious consequence is that it sparkles up my poetry writing brain too. It’s incredibly frustrating not being able to do all the things I want to do, but I am determined not to give up, even though progress is so painfully slow.
Thank you for reading. Please comment or leave a like so I know you’ve seen this. Your waves and hellos cheer me on!
Sending peaceful thoughts.
Find out more about the wonderful Nine Arches Press here