Tag Archives: Short stories

Head On – the locations

All the stories have been written, and all the heads are in place. Nicola Atkinson/nadfly has now finished drawing up a map of the route through Glasgow, for a walk accompanied by readings of the stories on the 20th of July. I can’t make it alas, but thought I would put up the map here if anyone is interested in following it under their own steam.

nadflyheadonmap1

 

I’ve felt really privileged to be part of this project, and here’s hoping it spreads to other cities soon!

 

Updates

I’ve been making a few updates to the layout of the site, as should hopefully be apparent. All the links to my writing, whether reviews or short stories, have now been collected into a ‘Writing’ page (see the tab above). I have also changed the image on the header, which I can guarantee nobody will notice. I might change this on a more regular basis, just for the fun of it …

In the last month I have written (the first draft of) four short stories, and today I began a fifth. One of these incipient masterpieces is destined to be submitted for the annual Bridport Prize, but I’ve been writing them more with the idea of adding them to a possible collection. I’ve been writing short stories for as long as I can remember, with varying degrees of success (it’s not a form that comes naturally to me), but this is the first time I’ve been working along the lines of a particular theme – in this case, the way objects relate to each other in space, and the difficulty of writing about same. I’ve also been trying to write about what it is in the short story form that I find most difficult, whether that’s how fraudulent I feel when thinking up character names, or how constricting I sometimes find a short 3000 – 5000 word narrative. One of the stories I’ve been working on over the last month is basically a 15-page essay about the frustrations of writing short narratives. It’s a different approach for me anyway, and has kept my mind focused on other tasks while I try not to think about the soul-curdling task of redrafting my novel, which has been sitting in a box file for the last fortnight, quietly fermenting. I’m going to wait until after my first meeting at the Scottish Book Trust before I start tackling it – updates to follow at suitably prevaricating moments …

Jonathan Cape were also kind enough to send me (on request – you don’t ask, you don’t get) a proof copy of the great Gwendoline Riley’s new novel, ‘Opposed Positions’, which will be published in May. I haven’t started reading it yet, but Riley is one of my favourite contemporary writers and I can’t imagine it will disappoint. A review will follow on this site, nearer to the publication date.

 

I hate short stories

By late afternoon today I was almost levitating with rage and frustration at my inability to write a decent short story. After a dozen false starts, the idea I had confidently sketched out a few weeks ago for an upcoming competition began to twitch and shiver with life, but the gap between the concept and the execution felt insurmountable. I never feel like this (or rarely) when I’m writing my novel, but something about the pressure of a word-limit and a deadline makes the whole exercise seem especially phoney and contrived when writing a s short story. I briefly came to the conclusion that I hate short stories – I hate writing them, and I hate reading them. I hate feeble little conventional realist tales with a twist at the end, and I hate pretentious formal experimentation (both of which I have been guilty of in the past). I hate desperately casting about for the right tone. I hate the immense sensation of futility when writing something you know is substandard that you’re going to enter into a competition that you’re not going to win. Hate.

But then, that’s just today. Tomorrow will be different. And at least I got a first draft finished by this evening.