A Year of Writing: Days 111-120

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Day 111 of #ayearofwriting and sometimes you don’t have to show the horror. Saul has done something evil in a bid to protect his family. The sad thing is that the safety he has found in the forest has only been an illusion. One reading is that Martha has goaded him to do this but the real truth is that his fear of the modern world has done that. They are scared and now through his action they are forced to run, and you begin to realise why Martha takes Saul’s son from him. For the act is so cruel, so brutal that it can only be seen through the light of the dawn and a man bathed in red, that doesn’t fade as the sun rises.

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Day 112 of #ayearofwriting and all day I have been haunted by the fact that in The Tin Grasshopper I liked Saul, for all his teenage whining, and now in this story I came to him with the same affection. He seemed such a lovely old man, an old man who had survived a world of climate change, and then you begin to realise as John Christopher did in The Death of Grass, lovely people don’t survive. There is a brutality that is revealed, not just in the action of the villages that kill Saul for heresy but hidden within Saul’s own past. A secret so well hidden that only now can he started to come to terms with it. That is the beauty of writing a character that develops, a character that you drop in on with a seventy year break. It means you have to question everything they have done to get this far.


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Day 113 of #ayearofwriting and yea, it did come to pass on the unlucky number 13 that Andrew did start to experience a feeling akin to wading through mud. Yea, it was not mud for it was sugary and sticky, and yea it was treacle. 113 days in, goodness know how many hours, I am covered in treacle or so the story of Saul feels like at the end. We do not see the horror but it is there, in his past, a realisation that he killed a child, killed a family, killed people as they slept to save his way of life only to become a monster and lose it all.

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Day 114 of #ayearofwriting and I have a busy week. There is often a hard choice between paying bills and being a writer. Cyril Connolly pointed to the pram in the hall way but old Cyril was wrong, and forgotten, bar his rather insensitive jibe about writers and families not mixing. As if the act of writing is to be outside all emotion and connections. Anyway, busy week and even thirty minutes at the keyboard is better than not having those thirty minutes.

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Day 115 of #ayearofwriting and the Saul story stands at just over 10,000 words. That’s long for a short story but as I have returned this form, forgoing poetry for awhile, though there are poems on my desk (they gather dust), I have questioned why we are obsessed by short stories being 2,500 words. This is a product of competitions but there are short story competitions out there for long short stories. It is more about fashion and I think the short story has been done a great disservice. Flash fiction is something else, another form, but short fiction should revel in the space up to the novella. This doesn’t often sit comfortably with some writers or even publishers, it’s hard to take a punt on someone who writes fiction that is 10,000 words, that’s three short stories, three writers in an anthology, three chances that one will strike gold. There is the fashion. Photo is of three short stories striking a rich vein of original ideas.

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Day 116 of #ayearofwriting and part of my ritual over the last year has involved writing and then watching Babylon 5. Now the series is over and I am bereft, there is something glorious in the epic.

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Day 117 of of #ayearofwriting and Saul is trying to block the image of the girl in the forest in favour of his boy leaving him. It is in this moment we discover why Martha, his wife, leaves Saul behind.

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Day 118 of #ayearofwriting and I am taking time to reflect, research magazines and use a notebook in the garden. I have been joined by two feathered friends.

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Day 119 of #ayearofwriting and the religion that has arrived in the village reveals its ugly side. This is more rally than revivalist, more hatred than love, more blame than acceptance. This is how fascism takes hold not with a declaration of hatred but through the tropes of being in it all together. To be sheep. To be a congregation. To be one. To be powerful. To be strong. To have all wrong done to you corrected. To find someone to blame for you. This is how a world is turned upside down. This is how easily it becomes the norm.

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Day 120 of #ayearofwriting and I am nearing the end of the second draft of Where Late the Cicadas Sing. It has not been an easy draft. The reason for that is the change in direction for Saul halfway through the story, the realisation of what he had become and what he had hidden. Sometimes I lie can become so part of your past that you imagine it was real. Like a story that you tell and embellish to your friends, of things you and your friends did, each of you add a bit more and a bit more until that drunken night became carved on stone tablets, carried down from the mount, or until it becomes myth and fable. That is Saul, a part of him is now myth, he is the blind seer, the Greek prophet from antiquity, Tiresias, the unconverted sinner from the Bible still on the road to Damascus. He is all of us. He is a denier. He is not to blame for what he is or what he did. The world is. People are. Not Saul. He is an analogy of a climate change denier who states they have no impact on the world, for they are myth, legend, a thing that flits in the corner of your eye. A story.


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