(Image courtesy of GhostStop)
THE WRITER’S LIFE
I’m between stories and need to place a marker between the last and the next one. The latter is drafted but I need to be clear of the last before I can go back to it. There’s nothing worse than a character wandering into the wrong story, like an actor lost on stage. I’ve used that as a plot device before but given the nature of the last story, I don’t want it leaking in.
The story I’ve just finished is called A waltz into childhood and it’s a bit nasty. It’s a lot of nasty in fact: More depraved than COGS and likely to leave an even nastier taste than The elephant in the playroom. It’s a good story though. In fact, it’s kind of a fairy tale. Actually, it destroys a few fairy tales through a character I’ve been told will remain in a few minds for a long time. I needed something memorable to round things off, now that I’ve nearly finished my anthology, The Perpetuity of Memory.
My collection of short stories is still scheduled for publication in August. It will be a mixture of styles, almost exclusively in the horror, sci-fi and fantasy genres. I have modest hopes for the book but I’m confident that it will sell, because readers are more likely to pick up a collection of shorts by a new writer than they are a novel. Of course, the market is crowded but I hope that my particular brand and style of writing will garner some attention. I’ve been told – and I have to agree – that I am especially good at twist endings, tales with more than one meaning, and psychological horror. In a demonstration of my faith as well as my laziness, I’ll self-publish at first, then do the rounds with it afterwards. This is a common and accepted practice and it’s a good one for many reasons. I can’t actually think of a reason not to do it that way.
Of course, self-publishing means that I take on the role of proof-reader, editor and agent, as well as publisher. It’s good to have these skills when you’re an emerging writer like me and it’s a simpler life to keep everything in-house. All of the necessary next stages will take me 8-10 weeks, then I’ll have a print-ready book. I’ll keep writing new stuff alongside because I hate to stop. I’ll always churn out quality pulp fiction for the ‘zines and having The perpetuity of memory published will allow me to get back to my second novel: Infana Kolonia. I miss my characters over in that other world.
That’s the wonderful thing about writing, or one of many: As a writer, I create people, worlds and situations. I control the outcomes. It’s not so much a controlling power that I enjoy, as much as the power I have to simply create; and destroy. The short story I finished before A waltz into childhood was called A tale with many strings: a slightly whimsical tale, inspired by a couple of friends and completed in a day. I actually think it’s a rather lovely story and it’s receiving positive comments for what it is. What I’m waiting for, is for someone to see the deeper meaning of that particular tale. In any case, at the end of last Friday, people and places existed where they’d not been in the morning. And a story (or two) had been told.
Being given the new typewriter was almost as big a boon to my writing as moving out of that fucking pub. It’ll be this new computer which will allow me to publish my anthology much more easily than if I were still relying on its predecessor.
I’m coasting along nicely in The Studio and writing more prolifically than ever, so the little life jolt I had in the week, I took in my stride. In a not entirely unexpected change in fortunes, my re-application for Personal Independence Payment has been declined. The upshot is that my weekly benefit payment has been reduced substantially and I will eventually sit once more before a judge at tribunal, to argue that my mental illness impedes my physical ability to do things. I did it before and I won recognition of what I was due in benefit payments, including back pay. If my appeal is successful again – and there’s little reason to think otherwise – then I will receive another lump sum of back pay at the end of the process. Until then, I have to survive on around a tenner a day. I’ll survive but my belt may need a couple more holes if I’m to have enough money to visit my kids.
The, frankly, disrespectful way I perceive that I’ve been treated by my debtors doesn’t give me much confidence in them having a conscience and realising that if they honoured their side of the agreement when I loaned them money, I might be able to see my children and feed myself. I seem to be way down their lists of priorities. I’ll find a way; I always do. I don’t need people like that. Perhaps they just forgot about me. Maybe I’ll send them copies of The perpetuity of memory to see if they can find themselves. I speak philosophically, of course.
Apart from it being the means to see my kids, money is way down my list of priorities now. Those who know me from old may wonder how I went from running a business to suffering mental illness and a meltdown: That’s what a life of alcohol addiction does. I found my true self after drying out and I learned a lot: I’m a writer; an impoverished one but a busy one and I’m doing what I love. I found a lot more while I was going through all that shit: a conscience, kindness and generosity. If others have seen the latter as something to exploit, then I’ve learned something else.
Everything I learn, see, read, hear, experience or happen upon, I put to good use in my writing. Things around me and which happen to me, give me ideas. I’ve been told that I’m good at invoking emotions. Mainly this is shock and repulsion but I can tug at heartstrings and poke consciences as well. The frustrating lack of money in my own life will have a positive: it’ll garner a story based loosely on personal experience. A draft I have on file is the story of an old gent who’s mugged. Always a writer to put a little twist into my stories, I’ve made the assailants really nice people otherwise: they need the money desperately and they’ll pay it back. I’m a horror writer though, so a simple theft becomes manslaughter, when it turns out that the money was the old boy’s bus fare to get him to hospital for cancer treatment. It’s a revenge-hate horror story and I’ve been praised for others I’ve written in that sub genre.
That one aside, I have sufficient notes and clippings in various notebooks and folders for many more short stories yet. The way things are going, by this time next year I’ll have written another collection, as well as finishing the second novel.
One day, people might read what I write. Then I shall eat well.