//Short story : ALL THE RIGHT MARKS, IN ALL THE RIGHT PLACES



Tonight, the artist is in his studio alone. He sits slouched in his chair, elbow resting uncomfortably on the arm, the upholstery worn to the bone, his fist pressing into his cheek.

He stares up at the row of large charcoal drawings he’s pinned to the wall. He studies them, scrutinising every thick, energetic, arching line, every frenetic scribble, every pressing scrawl. He’s looking for something, but he doesn’t know what it is, doesn’t even know if he’d recognise it if he saw it. But he knows there’s a chance it’s there, hidden, waiting for him to find.

He grips tight on the charcoal stick in his hand, black dust crumbles onto his trousers.

Rubbing his other sweaty hand on his trouser leg, leaving five smudgy black lines down his thigh, he shifts in his seat. He’s not seeing it, not in these pictures. None of them remotely show a trace of it, the thing he’s spent years of his life trying to capture.

The shows, the galleries, the buyers, all of them were just a means to an end. He hasn’t had a show in almost a year.

It’s been like trying to remember the details of a dream after waking. It’s elusive and ethereal. He doesn’t want to manipulate the memory with his interpretation, he just wants to channel it through his body, to let his muscles remember the vision.

But today he could have sworn he felt closer to it. He was sure he’d glimpsed it, but then again that’s how he feels most days.


He knows the thing he’s striving for is universal. When he sees it, it’ll change everything, paradigms will shift from it. When it reveals itself to him he will unlock the secrets of the universe. It won’t be quantifiable , you won’t be able to measure it in numbers, it’ll be a truth that surpasses mathematics, that only some special part of us, separate from
the brain and body, but part us all the same, maybe the soul, but he doesn’t want to put a name to it, only that part will understand it.

Turning, he picks up his packet of cigarettes from the long table littered with sheets of drawings and broken
charcoal sticks. He places a cigarette between his lips, pads himself down, where did he put his lighter? He rifles through the pile of drawings on the table, looks around the studio but all he sees is half finished canvases leant against the walls, easels with works in progress, he realises all of this, all of what he sees, this is his legacy. This work, it’ll survive a lot longer than he will. He thinks it’s funny how people spend more time and money preserving art, inanimate objects, than they do trying to preserve their own lives.

There it is, his Zippo lighter, tucked precariously on the little brown ledge of the easel of painting No.803.

He needs to come up with better names for his artwork, that’s what his dealer keeps telling him. His dealer says this is why he’s having trouble selling them, he needs to be more poetic. His dealer doesn’t understand he doesn’t see his paintings as works of art in their own right. They are experiments. Attempts at striving for that perfect piece. Once he achieves that, he will name it, or try to name it, he can’t promise anything, it may not be up to him.

He lights his cigarette, inhaling and watching the end glow and burn towards him.

The painting he’s been working on for the past week is a commission, for some businessman, up town, some stooge with a corner office. His dealer at the gallery begged him to take it. He’s willing to pay a lot of money she said, it’ll keep him going until things pick up.

He paces up and down, from one end of his studio to the other.

The Artist, he hates the business side of things, he thinks how shallow it is. He thinks about the businessman. He thinks about his painting hanging in his corner office. He thinks how it’ll just end up as some conversation piece.

Hey, look at this painting I bought, see how rich and cultured I am, aren’t you impressed?

That stooge will never get it, he’ll never understand what he’s really trying to do. Maybe no one ever will. He can
barely understand it himself, it’s why he does it, to try to understand, to find it and just marvel at it.

Moving to the large window at the back of his studio, he rests his elbows on the windowsill and blows a cloud of smoke out into the night, listening to the peeling of tires on the wet tarmac from the street below. The city beeps and barks at him, sirens fade out into the distance. He imagines those stooges in their suits scrambling around in their skyscrapers like termites.

He’s so close to it, closer than he has ever been.

Looking above the concrete mounds to the stars above. The sky is infiltrated with an orange aura, spoiling the vast blackness. If only he could replicate that hue. That mysterious black of the night, the deep black of space.
Yes. That is what he must do. That black might be the key that will unlock reality, at least that’s what he hopes.

Flicking what is left of his cigarette and watching it briefly as it cascades through the air in a fiery streak. He
hurries to a collection of large, blank canvases leant against the wall. He grabs one, lifting it easily off the ground, it should be as heavy as it looks but it is not. He positions it attentively onto an empty easel, the void of whiteness towering over him. He collects up his paints and begins squeezing them out onto his palette.

Scooping up a lump of Hansa yellow light with his palette knife, he spreads it into Napthol Red, then he slaps in a splodge of Ultramarine blue blending them together. No. Its not right. He counters with a slab of Phthalo Blue, and adds Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium Yellow Deep. He thins out his mixture with some spirits. He whirls the palette knife through the viscous pigments until a bottomless, dark void appears on his palette. Perfect. He flicks through the collection of brushes poking from the empty jam jar on the drawing table next to him. He plucks a large, flat hog hair out. He loads up his brush and with a sharp flick of his arm he tears a black line across the canvas. Taking a step back and tipping his head to one side he calculates his next strike. He lunges forward, whipping the brush up in a semi circular motion leaving a glistening trail of dark oblivion in its wake.

He is so caught up in the movements, the moment, that he loses track of time.

He doesn’t know how long he’s been at it. He steps back from the towering canvas. By now covered in thick, criss-crossing black lines that curl and twine around one another. His hands and legs are trembling, he feels the sweat beading on his temple, this is it, he knows he needs to make the final mark, but how, and where?

He notices a tiny area up there in the top corner.

Dragging his ladder, still gripping the loaded brush in his other hand, he positions it in front of the painting. He
climbs the first three rungs, reaches his brush up, hovering it over the vacant area. The sweat now stinging his eyes, he closes them. With A blind twitch of his wrist he makes contact with the canvas. He stays there, not willing to open his eyes, not willing to move.

A deep reverberation rumbles throughout the studio, shaking his easels and rattling the wooden frames of pre-stretched canvases. He opens his eyes, gripping the ladder to save himself from falling. He doesn’t quite believe what he’s seeing. The black, painted marks are moving, squirming and uncoiling before him. The artist steps down from his ladder.

Sparks of thin electrical webbing shimmer and crackle across the canvas.

His lighter spasms on the table next to him, besides the fluttering stack of papers. The black brush strokes bleed onto the floor and snake their way towards him. He steps backwards until he presses himself against the cold glass of the window. The painting has become a dark, writhing portal of leathery tentacles reaching into this world from some nightmare world beyond.

Looking down, eyes wide at the black tendrils reaching now for his paint speckled boots.

//Flash fiction : THE VESSEL

During my long time here I have mastered the mimicry of the enemy and I am able to move freely within this doomed species.
The security guards at the facility greet me now with polite recognition. Bob, the overweight one, even attempts to make what they call, small talk with me upon my arrival at the outer gates. I have found this to be incredibly infuriating. I do not wish to hear how your kids are doing or how your weekend went, I especially do not find it appealing to reveal to you details of my own private life, but this is a part of the deception I must play. Based on his level of intelligence, social standing and overt political opinion I was able to develop a rapport with him based on his grievances with a group of his species he referred to as immigrants. Based on this information and their behaviour, I would also like to point out that an invasion may not even be necessary as they may exterminate themselves. I believe it is only a matter of time.
The lab technicians are less talkative which is a relief. The military personnel keep to themselves apart from the General who occasionally confronts me with queries regarding the completion of the modifications to the recovered craft. I am not sure how much longer I can delay these. I suspect the General is beginning to raise suspicions.
I must inform you, I grow tired of wearing this body and of keeping up this facade of conformity. The only thing that stops me from tearing forth from this disgusting vessel is my duty to the mission.
If it we’re not for the heavy burden of responsibility I bear I would shed this hollow carcass and return home. Instead I continue my plot of infiltration.
Patiently awaiting further orders

//T E N E T , and why it’s amazing.

[Spoiler Alert]

Dammit Chris! You son of a bitch, you did it again!

Pardon my french.

I don’t know about you but I thought TeneT was pretty incredible. I know it was a disappointment for a lot of folks but I think that’s because they were expecting some mindless, Hollywood, summer blockbuster but instead they got a cerebral, instant cult classic.

As you might tell I have a fondness for words and I especially enjoy a little word play now and again. I think this might be one of the many reasons I love this movie. Now, I don’t know which came first to Mr Nolan; the title or the story, but what I love is the idea of using the title to essentially structure a story. If you have watched the movie then you will know what I’m talking about, the inversion of time and how this is illustrated by the use of a palindrome ( a word spelt the same backwards as well as forwards).

This movie is just superb on so many levels. It is difficult to understand after only one viewing, but this is not a bad thing, in fact it might just be the best thing about this movie. I am a bit of a film fan and whenever I watch a film I’ll remember it for a long time and will only watch it again after the memory of that first viewing has faded.

Not TeneT.

I had to re-watch this film about four times in one week, each time understanding a little bit more.

I think the major issue the majority of the critics had in regards to this movie is it wasn’t explicitly an entertaining movie, it also made you think, and I guess some people don’t like to think when they go to the movies. There was no barrage of CGI effects culminating in some epic final scene that ties the story in a nice bow, as is expected in most Hollywood blockbusters. No, the spectacle of this movie wasn’t flashy, seizure inducing special effects, it was the lingering questions and ideas that the movie was built from and raised.

With TeneT it was also about the negative space of the movie, like in a painting or drawing how the empty space around an object helps to define it. What I mean is how the audience had to fill in some of the blanks after the final reveal that the Protagonist and Neil have been performing one big temporal pincer movement (watch the movie, I don’t even know how to begin to explain) with Neil apparently moving backwards from the future and the protagonist beginning his journey as part of the shadowy organisation TENET from the outset of the movie.

Much how Mr Nolan did with the ending of Inception he gave his audience the possibility of being apart of the narrative, a way for each person to make the movie what they want by raising the question, Is Cobb in a dream? You decide, yes or no, there is no wrong answer, it’s up to you.

In regards to TeneT, some of the questions that were sparked in my mind were: What do the Protagonist and Neil get up to in the future? How do the both of them meet?  How does the Protagonist recruit Neil? Is Neil really Max, Kat’s son, but older and from the future?Who are the unknown enemies from the future wanting to invert time? When did ‘The War’ happen between the normal time and inverted time forces, the one in which they are finding all the remnants of? Is there a rogues gallery of bond like villains that they go up against in the coming years? There are just so many questions. A part of me hopes there are no sequels or prequels made, but then if they are made by Chris, Mr Nolan sorry, then I might not mind.

I love unanswered questions, it’s maddening sometimes, but it’s also great. I aim for this ambiguity and openness in my own stories. I personally feel it gives the reader (or audience/viewer) an added bonus of feeling like they can help to finish the story by deciding their own interpretation, it raises discussions and debate. It gets people thinking and talking and that shouldn’t be a bad thing, should it?

//Flash fiction : MACHO

His voice is raised a little more, he says, “Ten more reps bro! You’re killing it!”. The instructor’s crotch is right near my head, I can almost see up his shorts.

I do the ten reps. The instructor, he says, “Bro, I think you can beast this, gimme one more set”. He’s leaning over me and his tiny gold chain with a cross on it dangles above my face.

After I’m done with the set the instructor helps me put the barbell back, his hand strokes against mine. I sit up and dab the sweat on my face with my towel. I catch people looking over in our direction, when they see me seeing them, they look away. 

“Man, you’re a machine”, he says. Yeah, a machine, but I know he really means a “Freak“. The instructors arms aren’t as big as mine but he has better definition on his forearms, he has beautiful ravines between his muscles. When I stand up the instructor is a whole head shorter than me.

“Chicks must be throwing themselves at you”, he says, looking up at me. Yeah they throw themselves at me. Truth is, most women when they get up close, they’re a little intimidated by my size. Most women, they’re attracted to the idea of me. In the animal kingdom most females are attracted to the strongest males, it’s about survival, nothing more.

I tell him I think I’m done for today, that I’m gonna head for the showers. He says, “Yeah of course bro…”, he looks around to make sure everyone is watching us. Which they are, which they always do. I’m the guy that everyone wants to be, big, broad and bulging.

“…see you next week bro”, he grabs my hand and pulls me in for a slap on the back, like we actually are bros except he can’t reach his arm all the way round me so he just slaps my shoulder a few times, he presses his body against mine making my shirt stick to my sweaty body.     

Whilst I’m walking away he shoots me with his finger and makes a clicking sound, I don’t get it. Is it supposed to mean something?

I shower and get changed.

I’m walking across the car park carrying my gym bag when a trio of housewives, cougars in yoga pants pass me.

“Hiiiii…”, they all sing in unison, waving, carrying their mats under their other arm, puffing out their chests and doing that thing they do; meticulously placing one foot in front of the other so their butts swing from side to side like some kind of mating ritual designed to get my attention.

In the animal kingdom it’s mostly males who do most of the pageantry to attract a mate. I saw a documentary about birds in the rainforest, them jumping around and flashing their feathers, saying look at me, look at me.

I nod and curl my lips, forcing a smile.

I get to my pick-up and chuck the bag on the passenger seat. 

My body aches. I just sit there soaking in the soreness. I can see the instructor through the window of the gym. He’s helping to stretch out one of the cougars, pressing his body against hers. The others just stand around watching, waiting for their turn.

It trickles down my cheek, over my lip and I taste the salt. I start taking short, rapid breaths, the salty water and snot starts pouring out of my face. Why am I so weak?

I start wailing, like really moaning. I’m happy I paid the extra for the tinted windows. I wipe my arm under my nose and there’s a long shiny snail trail from my wrist to my elbow. Seeing it glisten I think to myself; I need to work on my forearms. I’m gritting my teeth so much I’m afraid I might break them.

I don’t know after how long but I start to calm down. I reach for the box of tissues in the glove box and dry my eyes. I take a look in the rear-view and my eyes are all red and puffy. The instructor is standing in some Yoga pose and the cougars are copying him as best they can.

“I love you”, I say softly.

On the way home I buy a box of donuts, glazed ones, the ones with all the coloured sprinkles on top. It’s ok, I’ll work it off tomorrow at the gym I tell myself.

//Flash fiction : DELIRIUM

[The following piece is a an idea I would like to develop into a short story]

Malcolm blames himself for the accident, I can tell. When you’ve been with someone this long you pick up on these things. It’s like I can read his mind. 

We’ve been married for almost seven years,and we were together six more before that. Our seven year anniversary will be this September. Your wedding day is one of those big events in your life you’ll always remember, like giving birth or your mother’s funeral. 

Then why is it that the little girl that’s sitting outside waiting in the taxi, the one everyone says is my daughter, how come I don’t remember her?

The doctors said it was common after a head injury, especially ones that result in a prolonged coma. Most likely there’ll be some memory loss they said. But give it sometime, those memories should hopefully come back. But what if those memories weren’t there in the first place? 

I’ve gone over the events leading up to the accident again and again, reliving it and I just don’t remember a creepy little girl being in our lives. 

I remember packing up the tent and putting it onto the back seat with the two sleeping bags, I remember having to show Malcolm how to attach both of our bikes to the roof rack again, he forgets everything, which is ironic really, considering my present circumstances. 

I remember Malcolm driving and being upset about something I’d said. I remember him taking his eyes off the road for just a second. I can remember right up until I saw  something in the corner of my eye in the headlights, maybe it was a deer, and then I’m screaming and reaching for the steering wheel. 

The next thing I know I’m waking out of a coma and every time Malcolm comes to visit there’s a little girl who I don’t know and then later, when I’m feeling a little better the doctors and the nurses are telling me how sweet my little girl is, the strange little girl dressed in adorable dresses who comes everyday to visit her Mommy. I didn’t buy it, something wasn’t right. 

I wanted to go home, I didn’t want to stay another night in the hospital. So I tell my husband I’m feeling better. I tell the Doctor that it’s all starting to come back to me. Hannah, yeah, my daughter, I’m starting to remember things now I say. But it’s not true, not really. 

The taxi driver helps Malcolm lift me out of the wheelchair and into the back seat, my legs are still a little weak. 

The girl sits next to me and just looks at me the whole time. What a weird kid, or whatever it is.

Craning his neck round the front passenger seat to look back at me,at us, Malcolm says “Hey Hannah, tell Mommy how excited you are to have her coming home”.

She doesn’t say a word, she just looks up at me with those inhuman eyes of hers. 

Hannah. I don’t like it, it’s not a name I think I would have picked for my child.

She doesn’t say a word to me the whole way home. 

The taxi driver offers to help bring me inside but Malcolm politely says, “Thanks, I’ve got it from here “. 

Honestly, I’m starting to feel sad about how guilty he feels about all of this. 

Malcolm gently drops me onto the sofa, the way his arms started shaking I thought he was going to drop me in the hallway. Can someone gain weight whilst being in a coma? 

There’s a handful of cheap party balloons pinned to the wall and a shiny, silver welcome home banner, hanging across the TV.

He fusses over me, which is quite nice. 

He gets me a pillow from the bedroom and the blanket. He cooks me dinner and helps sit me up so I can eat it, asking if I’m OK, if there’s anything I need or anything I want. I tell him no, I’m fine, that’s its just nice to be home. 

Then I catch “Hanna” staring at me.

I just want her to get out of my house. I don’t know who or what this imposter is but I need to keep up the charade, mother and daughter, yeah, sure, why not. Other wise they’ll lock me up and medicate me again. This kid’s got everyone fooled. I need to play the slow game with this sneaky one. 

//Flash fiction : WILD THING

That boy was a wild thing, that’s what they tell their guests who ask how they’re doing. The mauled remains of dessert still on some of their plates.
They say they’ve started him on a new course of treatment and it seems to be working.

They say the boy must have been doing drugs or that he was watching too much TV, the shows nowadays have so much violence in them, they say it was the music he was listening to, it just encourages violent behaviour you know, that’s what they say.

They take a sip of wine.
They compliment each other on how well they’ve handled the boy, yes, yes and others agree.
Yes they say, it does take its toll.
They just wanted their baby boy back, they say, dabbing dry eyes with an unused napkin.
They wanted him to be the little angel he was before all of the trouble began, before the boy started screaming at his poor, parents when they searched his room for drugs because they heard there was a crisis. That the Hendersons had found a tiny bag that looked like herbs in the back of their daughters underwear drawer and that their boy had been spending too much time with that one.

Yes they say, it’s been a difficult time.
Swallowing a mouthful of wine, they don’t understand why he turned to drugs, where he got them or where he hid them for that matter. They take another shot of wine and they just don’t understand why someone would do such a thing they say.
One of their guests announces, through their pineapple flavoured vapor, that they blame the schools.
An agreeing chorus of nods from everyone sat around the table. Yes, the schools are too Liberal these days, they teach their children ridiculous things.
Things that back when they were kids you would be beaten for, but for Christ sake you can’t even do that. There’s just no discipline in schools nowadays, that’s the problem, and you can’t hit your child any more because it’s “abuse” they say, making bunny ears.

They say when they were younger their parents used to hit them and they all turned out fine, right?
Another chorus of nods.

There aren’t any side effects? someone at the other end of the table asks.
No they say, not really.
He cries a lot but they aren’t really tears, no he doesn’t really get sad anymore,they say, he’s always smiling.

His behaviour has changed, that’s the important thing, now he listens to what they tell him to do. Sure he spends a lot of time in his room but this is the real world, they say, he needs to get used to it.
Maybe he’s lost a little freedom they say, but he’ll be thanking them in the future when he’s a respected, well behaved member of society.

He never learnt how to fit in, that was his problem they say, he always wanted attention.
Their hand quacking, they say he was always me, me, me.

They gave him everything, he never wanted for nothing, they say. Money doesn’t grow on trees, you need to work to put food on the table, he never understood that, he was lost in his own little fantasy world, all he ever did was twirl and prance around the house.
No, they wouldn’t pay for him to study dance, what type of man does that? No, their little boy was going to be a real man, like his father.

//Flash fiction : IF NOT NOW, THEN WHEN?

It starts around the age of four or five. I don’t remember when exactly. We’re holding hands in the playground until she notices and she goes “Ew, get off”.

She’s seven years old and for some reason I’ve been invited to her birthday party, there’s cake, balloons and games, but I don’t get to see any of that because I’ve broken my collar bone trying to show her my army role in the first fifteen minutes of being there. I mess up the landing and spend most of the day in A and E. I don’t get invited back for anymore of her birthdays after that.

I’m eight and my older brother tells me a surefire way to make a girl like you. So after he tells me, the next day in the playground, I go up behind her, cupping my hand and I swing it as hard as I can.
She screams so loud my brother heard it on the other side of the school, she cries for twenty minutes straight and I spend the afternoon sat outside the headmaster’s office and the rest of the week in detention.

I spend most of my ninth year trying to tell her I’m sorry but she doesn’t want to be friends, not ever.

We’re ten years old and she’s become a bit of an obsession, just look inside my exercise book if you don’t believe me.
She’s in the corridor by the drink fountain, that slimy Phillip Collins is standing next to her. She’s smiling and twirling a strand of her blonde hair around her finger. Her eyes light up when she sees me and she waves, I’m frozen and for a second I don’t do anything and then I raise my hand but it doesn’t come up in one smooth motion. My arm moves like I’m a dried out rusty tin man. She just looks at me funny.
Lisa and Tiffany come up behind me, they say something to me but I don’t really hear it, I don’t really hear anything other than a deep thumping in my head. Then they’re all stood around the fountain and they’re all staring at me funny, like I’m from another planet. I can’t move, so we’re just all there, standing, staring.

Eleven and I’m at the school disco. She’s standing by the drinks and snacks table with her girlfriend’s. I’ve waited for this moment for months, I figure it’ll be just like the movies, I’ll say how much I love her and then she’ll tell me she loves me too. But it’s not like that, not in real life.
I just spend the night leaning against the back wall of the hall, in the shadows, watching her dance with Matthew Townshend. It’s OK because no one can see me crying.

Thirteen and she’s kissing Dave Cheetham behind the bike sheds, it’s like the sixth time this week, third time today. Today, he slips his hand up her jumper.
Later, during cross country, Dave Cheetham and his buddies are kicking the crap out of me for being a perv and a creep. The mud and leaves against my face are really cold.
She’s standing with Lisa and Jodie (Tiffany got leukemia and no ones seen her in a while) They all have their arms crossed and they’re all laughing. The other kids are just jogging passed, splashing muddy water over me, trying to not make eye contact.

Sixteen and I guess she’s seeing some guy who drives an adult sized toy car. Everyone at school says he’s a drug dealer, but he also works at the Cinema too, I’ve seen him there. He’s about the same age as my brother, so I don’t think it’s legal.

After we take our GCSEs, I don’t see her for a long time. It’s only after a few years of being at University and then after I’ve dropped out, realising I won’t be the next Quentin Tarantino. After I’ve been working at the cinema. After I’ve moved out of my Mum’s bungalow and gotten my own flat, after that I’m the general manager and I buy a new BMW.

Now. It’s been about two months since I bought my BMW and I’m cruising to work, feeling pretty great about my life actually. When I see her alone, pushing a pram. It’s definitely her, she’s a little fatter and her hair is a lot shorter and not so neat anymore and she has these big hoop earrings and she’s wearing pink running bottoms that have dirty stains on the back of them. But it’s definitely her.

I suddenly have all these moments from my life play themselves before me in my mind, reeling off the greatest hits of my misery years.
I think about all the things I wish I’d said to her. I think about all the nights I was alone in my bedroom.
I think about all the pain and the sadness and the anger and the love and the passion I had for her, then I think about my life now.
The car is just rolling next to her and she’s noticed.
I think to myself, if not now, then when?
I have to tell her how I feel.

I keep the engine running, she’s just standing there, frozen.
I press the button above the door handle and with a hum the window starts moving down. I lean over the hand break and look up at her, she looks down at me and I see in her eyes that she’s been crying. Through her puffy, glazed eyes I can tell she’s trying to figure out who I am.
I smile. “Remember me?”

//Consider this an introduction…

Image result for consider this book cover

Yesterday I read all of Chuck Palahniuk’s ‘Consider This: Moments in my writing life after which everything was different”, in less than six hours.

 I think that was a new personal best.

 I’d ordered it online and had been waiting over two weeks for it to arrive. I was eager to get my hands on a new Palahniuk book.

Honestly, I hadn’t read anything of his for a long time, the last book of his I had bought was a collection of short stories; ‘Make Something Up: Stories you can’t unread‘ and that had been a few years ago .

Most of his books I’d previously read had only taken me on average a few days to finish. 

I remember in high school I read ‘Choke‘ in two days, that was my previous personal best.

I’d always been fond of most of his writings. ‘Pygmy‘ and a few of his shorts in ‘Make Something Up‘ being the exceptions, but only because at the time they were a little too experimental for my tastes. His style, for the most part anyway, had been easy to read and so absorbing of my attention.

If it had been any other writer I’d probably have skimmed ahead to see how long the chapter or short story was and if I had deemed it too long I’d have tapped out.

I have a short attention span.

I bought ‘Consider This‘ because I had decided to teach myself how to write short stories, I had consumed all of Chuck’s craft essays on ‘Lit reactor‘ and was ecstatic to find out he was finally bringing out a book on writing. I was entirely aware that I wouldn’t magically become an amazing writer just from reading his book, I don’t think any book has that power, but I knew his book would have some incredible insights, and it did not disappoint.

I especially found the section on Authority very useful. My present concern for my own writing at this stage is how to make my stories believable and have the characters appear authentic. Now this sounds a little contradictory as Fiction is essentially a fabrication, it isn’t real , it never happened.

By believability and authenticity I mean to be able to make the reader surrender their disbelief and just be consumed by the story that no matter what you write, whether it’s a story about aliens, or ghosts or monsters, they will be compelled to keep reading it.

I’ve written a list of writing commandments from Chuck’s advice, I’ve named them ‘Tenets of Minimalist writing’. I’m not going to tell you what they are because they are for me, not you. Also, go buy his book and write a list of your own commandments.

Anyway, I’ve stuck mine on the wall above my desk next to a piece of Ray Bradbury’s advice; “Don’t Think”. He was referring to what Chuck said Tom Spanbauer describes as “shitting out the lump of coal”, the struggle to write out that raw first draft.

I’m trying not to think Ray, really, I am.

But I can’t.

So for now I’ll just think out loud.