Its been a long time since my last blog and I’m not going to lie – there have been some seriously challenging times for me living up my garden, shielding from this awful virus that has taken so many lives. As I’m lucky enough to a have wonderful garden (see left), and as the weather has been mostly kind, the practicalities of day to day living have been not so bad but I’ve missed people, places and being busy doing ordinary things. Seems like I’m never content though because now England is standing down to mostly unlockdown status due to falling death rates and without any measures other than instructions to keep 1 metre away from each other, and without trace and track technology in place or very much science behind what the Gov are recommending, the world still feels scary to me, and a second wave, a definite rather than an avoidable perhaps. I feel like I’m not so much scared of the virus anymore just the uselessness of the people in charge, and as I have no control over them I’ve been throwing myself into gardening, reading and writing.
On the bright side now lockdown is more relaxed I’ve also seen some friends and family including my wee grandson and my friend Clarey who rocked up on Saturday to the garden with the lovely flowers here and we did socially distanced chatting without coming up air.
I’ve also done quite a lot of reading and was deeply moved by the memoir ‘A Song Inside’ by Gill Mann which made me cast a different light on my current not-very-difficult-really situation. Here’s a link to the review I wrote about it in case you fancy getting a copy https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53889889-a-song-inside?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=GvkOadmiRi&rank=1
I am currently reading White Fragility by Robin Diangelo, in an attempt come to terms with the gut-wrenchingly shocking murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. White Fragility is essential reading for anyone who wants to unpick and ‘see’ the personal prejudices perpetuated by a white-centric education system and cultural and social constructions that cast white as the default setting and blackness as something ‘other’ and ‘less than.’ Here is the link if you want to find out more https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Fragility I would call it essential reading for anyone who wants to start seeing outside the box of white privilege and anyone who wants to better advocate for change and stand with Black Lives Matter.
On the Writing front, I’ve started a new novella-in-flash which stands at around 11k words at the moment and will probably be 15k words when completed. I’ve not subbed any of the new flashes I’ve written for it yet as I’ve been focussing on polishing and subbing short stories and short story length creative non fiction from my (yet to be published) collection of short stories, working title, Intrusive Voices. I’m hoping that any competition wins/placings/listings will help me when trying to get a publisher for the whole collection. I haven’t won anything yet but here’s me reading an extract from ‘The Reassessment’ which was a finalist in the Dinesh Allirajah Prize https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-DClVUDmiA The anthology it’s published in, is for sale here – its only 99p! https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B085S922PM/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0https:/
My piece of Creative Non-fiction, Voices and Real Monsters came second in The Fountain Magazine competition. They’ve not published it yet but here’s the link to the announcement https://fountainmagazine.com/blog/2019-2020-essay-contest-winners I’m super delighted with this not just because this is a well-respected free comp in a magazine with a large progressive readership that had over 1000 entries, but also because the second prize is $500! And as my laptop has spent the last month crashing at least 20 times a day in these cash-strapped times, it will enable me to either get my current laptop fixed or buy a new one!
I’ve also had a story short-listed in the Writers’ Alliance of Gainesville annual competition which means said story, entitled ‘Splinters,’ will be published in the Bacopa Review. I’ll find out if I’ve won any money at the end of the month. On the whole then my short story subbing is going quite well. I’ve entered a couple more UK comps too which are yet to be announced so fingers crossed.
One of the loveliest things I’ve been involved in this year is Fictive Dream’s Flash February. This wonderful litzine published a flash fiction every day in February accompanied by different original artwork by the wonderful and talented Claudia McGill. The artwork was then available free of charge to the authors. Here are the pictures that illustrated my story which I have put into clip frames and which now sit in my makeshift temporary bedroom bringing me such joy. Writing is such a blessing for me, it lets me express joy, my darkest fears, brings in the odd bit of cash and sometimes conjures up added extras like these wonderful artworks.