Friday, August 28, 2009

Cheer up



"Not too soon, but not too damn much after"

- Hemingway, I think

You know

It's probably best not to piss off a woman who is twenty nine weeks pregnant and has just given up her last remaining vice.*

Apologies for the lack of a substantive post today. I am having one last teeth-gritted determined effort to finish all the shite that needs to be finished before I give up even pretending to be part of the human race and go and dribble over some blue chintz curtains.

As I was just telling Shanna:

Yes, normally I am sweet and polite and patient but oh my god in heaven I need to motherfucking NEST.

Right. Am off to phone the tax office. Hoorah.


*caffeine, aka tea, drink of the fucking gods. Which I can't have anymore either for fucking sweet fucking Jesus's sake.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Somebody else's shorts, and also

I'm knackered and losing the power of speech today, so instead of one of yesterday's half-done flashes, here is a fabulous flash site. All the stories are written in six sentences, which maybe rather obvious given the title ...

There's a whole free online magazine that is beautifully presented, too.

***

Also, here's an interesting article on sex in fiction. The author is asking for a return to coyness. Could we not perhaps find an elegant balance somewhere between prurience and blushes and actually have sex in fiction at least somewhat as it usually is in real life - an important part of the whole? Oh maybe not even elegant, fair enough. Just acknowledged.


***

And Shanna Germain writes a storming post about genre here. I'm an ex genre snob. Luckily I'm curing myself of it - in part by reading fabulous writers who are considered 'genre' and in part by growing up and admitting to my crime habit.

I mean, crime novel habit.



Anyway. I have just burned the hot chocolate I was making. If you don't believe that it's possible to burn hot chocolate, likely you haven't ever been seven months pregnant. Am off to open the windows and think about word patterns. Back soon.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Add it up

Our eyes met across the dance floor and locked for forty-one seconds. You licked your lips twice.
Over the next five days, we kissed six hundred and two times, with tongues two hundred and fifty. You ran your hand over my left breast with sixty-three urgent strokes, like you were trying to polish my heart.
We fucked four and a half times, you came twice, I faked it five times but retracted once. I think we came out even.
I watched the phone for twelve long nights.
Afterwards my heart hurt for fourteen months, three weeks, two days and counting.



Friday, August 21, 2009

Noah's wife, name forgotten

Dropping her coat on a chair she went out into the back yard and turned her face up to the sky. The rain was a soft drizzle.

She remembered all her mistakes, the hundred sandbags she’d gathered and stacked around her sandstone house built on the thick slipping local brown sand. She remembered the regrets she’d borrowed from others and hoarded like treasure.

She remembered most of all whispering over the drone of an engine that she’d been broken, hasn’t everyone been broken? And she realised, as the sun broke like honey, that ‘yes’ is the hardest word to say.




I realised the other day that I keep posting these little flashes with mostly no explanation. All the short short pieces I write are 100 words long, not including the title. It's an arbitary discipline, but I enjoy working within that restriction. Right now, with hormone-brain sapping my concentration, 100 words is also about as much as I can manage ...
Anyway, I was saving this piece for the collection I'm (secretly) trying to put together, but I thought it was somehow relevant to the discussion about Bukowski and the artist and the work and whatnot, and I wanted to say thanks for all the fascinating and thoughtful responses to that post.
The title is as yet uncertain.


Edited to add: In fact, the whole piece is as yet uncertain. Heh.

And also: Sorry if you came by looking for erotica. I appear to have taken a side road this year. I'll probably circle back there at some point.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Insex




Like they're painted on the wall. And just in case you can't see the image well - it is quite delicate - here's the technicolour version:



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Everything is poetry

I went to look for Bukowski poems and found a film of him kicking a woman and calling her a whore, complete with canned laughter.



Underneath the clip, the comments are brutal. Bukowski's face is brutal, and broken.

Someone says they'll throw out his books now they've seen that clip.

Can one seperate the writer from their work? I suppose this argument resurfaces every so often - Ezra Pound, Gunther Grass - writers with dubious political affiliations or loathsome personal lives. Picasso burned one of his wives with cigarettes. Hemingway was a misogynist shit, wasn't he?

Even so, I don't think I can lose Bukowski's work no matter how foul he was. There's a good discussion of his work here.

I can't quite tell - is Bukowski a skewed creep, or is he just so honest it's both awful and sublime? Maybe the key is in being unable to tell, when someone is so openly broken and unsettling, when they are cruel but also sometimes tender, when at last all you can really probably say is that they are human.

The future

Since Black Lace folded, I've felt a bit like I'm flailing around.

Yesterday I went for coffee with a friend who's a book rep. He travels round bookshops and other places touting his publisher's stock. His thoughts? Bookshops are sinking. His job is dying 'the death of a thousand cuts'.

I love bookshops. But I don't love the big shiny monolithic chains. Nothing allowed in there without a Richard and Judy sticker, no space for grubby little curiosities. I think they're successfully killing themselves off, really, by squeezing all the pleasure out of reading.

What's next?

Alison Tyler has launched a series of ebooks, available as pdfs or for the kindle.

Shanna Germain has launched Mindfuck Fiction, also selling ebooks, including a collection from Jeremy Edwards that I'm just about to nip over and swipe, 'Laura the Laugher'.

Because I'm now two thirds of a mother and because I'm about to get up and start packing to move house and because I'm not sure what the future really holds, I'm thinking and listening. I hear iPhone thoughts and long tail rumours and the possibilities of a brand new brave new world.

I still love books, I'll always love books, only it seems that books are about to change, along with just about everything else in my life.

I can't wait to see where this is all going.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tripping



Sorry for the silence, have not fallen off the face of the earth. Have been on a Road Trip.

Went up and a little to the right with the lovely Shanna to explore Scotland, eat sweets, talk the hind legs off a field of donkeys and see family.

I can't think of a more charming travel companion. It's such a treat to have good conversation with a fellow writer, especially one as thoughtful and intelligent as Shanna.

It's a shame that there seem to be so many miles between me and most of the writers I've met online. I think everyone needs time talking about their work, about writing, without a keyboard inbetween and with the opportunity to make rude gestures when necessary.

I can't wait for the Eroticon in Iceland.

(No, it doesn't exist. But one day it will when we are all rich.)

(That in the background is my shiny little stallion, that got us there and back mostly in one piece. Well done wee car!)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The tenth muse



Sappho, found at Jupiter Artland today.

The sculpture's by Ian Hamilton Finlay, who created an incredible garden full of poetry and sculpture at Little Sparta.

Apparently Plato gave Sappho the title the 'tenth muse'. Hamilton Finlay describes her here as 'the poetess of erotic lyricism.' It was nice to find a friendly face in the forest.

Anyway, as well as high brow arts and scultpures, there was dirty trees.



I don't know, those filthy beeches. Right out in public, completely shameless.

I asked Sappho nicely to help with the idea I've been working on for a collection of shorts. I didn't ask the beeches for anything, because they seemed quite occupied.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Actually ...

I think my previous post was a 'hurt but magnanimous' phase. Now I'm moving into pissed off territory. Let's just say I read some more of the blog that critted my work, and I'm not going to dwell.

While I still think it's valuable to consider criticism, and while I believe that
'you can be the being of being
only if love should pierce you deep inside.'

[- Salvatore Quasimodo]

- by which I mean I think it's worth being open to being hurt - I also think it would be disingenous to give away all one's self respect to any random person who tries to tear you apart.

In short: screw it.

Next!



Oh, and just for balance, here's a nice review for The New Rakes at GetmePleasure.com:


Rock n Roll gasm!

"fast paced, sexy and extremely erotic"

Hoorah!

Criticism

I know you're not supposed to talk about bad reviews. But I think sometimes it's almost dishonest not to.

Ego is like an open wound. Easily soothed, easily stung.

I spend so much time writing, editing, rewriting, considering ideas, and then also trying to self-criticise, self-edit, judge what I’ve done. I get lost in uncertainty. And then I go trawling for reassurance, validation – google-hunting. And sometimes I find a lovely review, and sometimes a really fucking bad one.

Erotica attracts the worst from our writing brethren and a few examples slipped under the radar of Alison Tyler's normally excellent editing. The worst was 'Madrid', by Nikki Magennis - an interminable erotic contrivance that was both pretentious and amateurish to boot
.

I can’t pretend it doesn’t hurt. Last night I read that and my heart pounded and it felt a bit like I’d just been attacked. Of course, the reviewer is attacking the work. But it’s hard for a writer/artist/whatever to separate the work from themself, from their life, because in some senses there is no line of separation. So I’m dropping the pretence of professional detachment for a moment, and just saying, yes, no matter who it’s from or why they’ve written it, harsh criticism does hurt.

I wouldn’t want it any other way. Of course, a certain amount of distance is necessary. But if one is not involved on more than a detached, professional level, the work gets a bit dry. I wrote this story the other day, for example. There’s a lot I like about it. But it’s almost more of a technical exercise than a story with a beating heart.

He calls the story pretentious. What does that really mean? I think it means dishonest. Grandiose, perhaps? Takes itself too seriously? As in – will obsessively dissect a three-and-a-half-line review in order to prove or disprove its great worth? Fair enough.

Maybe I’m just trying too hard here to disprove what the guy said. And maybe it does just fucking hurt, whichever way you cut it.

Then again, hurt is not always a bad thing. Usually when I feel like crying it means I’m approaching something worthwhile. Because what matters most of all is not good reviews. It’s making work that excites me. That is unutterably selfish, isn’t it?

Maybe work isn’t worthwhile if it doesn’t translate. If it doesn’t reach further. But how does one find a place between selfish and detached? Between honesty and artifice? Is it possible to be honest without being self absorbed? Could I learn a new way to write?

I don’t know.

Maybe today I’ll try.



The point of this post is not to plead for sympathy, although yes, my instant reaction was that kind of "say it isn't so" denial. The point of the post is to illustrate, and record, how writing works for me. It breaks things down, it allows them to fall apart. And then there’s a fabulous still point, and it opens up the possibility of somewhere new. It’s all that matters, really.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

And so they rejoiced ...


... Because in 2010, all the very naughtiest fairies and elves declared a book would be published and it would be with Harlequin Spice and the Queen of the Book would be Alison Tyler and it would be called her Wonderland ...


And just look who's coming to the ball!



The Red Shoes (Redux) by Nikki Magennis
Fool’s Gold by Shanna Germain
The Three Billys by Sommer Marsden
David by Kristina Lloyd
Managers and Mermen by Donna George Storey
The Clean-Shaven Type by N.T. Morley
The Midas F*ck by Erica DeQuaya
Sleeping with Beauty by Allison Wonderland
Unveiling His Muse by Portia Da Costa
Always Break the Spines by Lana Fox
An Uphill Battle by Benjamin Eliot
Moonset by A.D.R Forte
Mastering Their Dungeons by Bryn Haniver
A Taste for Treasure by T.C. Calligari
The Broken Fiddle by Andrea Dale
The Cougar of Cobble Hill by Sophia Valenti
Wolff’s Tavern by Bella Dean
Slutty Cinderella by Jacqueline Applebee
Kiss It by Saskia Walker
Let Down Your Libido by Rachel Kramer Bussel
Dancing Shoes by Tsaurah Litzky
Gold, On Snow by Janine Ashbless
After the Happily Every After by Heidi Champa
Cupid Has Signed Off by Thomas S. Roche
The Walking Wheel by Georgia E. Jones
Rings on My Fingers by Alison Tyler
The Princess by Elspeth Potter


(Yes, you may have a special occasion sweetie. Just leave me the red stripey one, okay?)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Apologies ...

But I just can't stop playing this.



Go on, admit it. You love it too.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Sad Refrain




The pearl of her lipgloss against a perfect tan. She has a well turned heel. Impossible wasp waist. Outside her husband walks back and forth behind the lawnmower, laying down strips of sleek green.
He longs, as he treads miles and goes nowhere, for endless lawns. The right balance of sun and water. A glass of gin to take away the dry thirst. He looks up, sees her at the window, and lifts his hand to wave.
Every time he kisses her the colour sticks to his mouth. It tastes sweet. He licks his lips. Shadows stretch across the grass.

Repeat to fade

I recall a room with green walls, yes dusty green that unravels into a forgotten series of Sundays, days set up like dominoes, the way you hardly had to tip your smile at me and I’d tumble, repeatedly, like a chorus without a hook, yes you only had to ask
- I’d make the same mistakes again, yes I’d kill for another shot at that afternoon, when you put your hand in the crook of my legs and tried to stem the flow of time, but all you did was make my knees weak and goddamn you, break my heart.

Repetition



Oh you would take it in the morning in the fag-ash haze when the day hurt your face, wouldn’t you? You would lie back there and think of everything you’d lost as I bent over and my hair made a curtain and hid from view what I was doing.
What I was doing was taking your prick in my mouth and milking it. For kicks, for old times sake and for the chance I might squeeze a drop of real emotion out of those soft balls. Even your contempt was like a salt lick, and me the poor hungry cow.



(Unfortunately there isn't a better quality version of this song on youtube)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Morning

Oh, I have Things to Share!


First of all, a lovely review of 'Pleasure Bound', edited by Alison Tyler, in which the reviewer says:

"Nikki Magennis kicks off the collection with "Handfast," a half-page reminder that bondage doesn't necessarily have to involve whips and chains – and also that it can be utterly romantic."


(Thanks to Shanna and Alison for pointing that one out.)

I never can be sure where my work fits on the love/sex/romance spectrum. Or even the proper differences between being a Romantic and being romantic. (And it's far too early on a Monday to try and work it out.)

***

Publisher's Weekly has an interesting article on the state of eros/romance/sexssay books, here.

***

Shanna Germain has just announced the launch of MindFuck Fiction - which promises to be an organic, hands-on, interactive, lolapaloozalovely type of press. And for which I shall write stuff.

(Once the wreck that is my train of thought has realigned and does no longer just say babybabybabybaby all day. (Yes, I know that may be some time!))

***

And lastly, boyf and I went and bought some baby stuff. I don't know the last time I felt less adequate and more bewildered. Anyway, although baby clothes for the most part fail to move me, I thought this little thing was really cute. Unfortunately, in the picture it seems to look mostly sinister ...



Black Lace books contain fantasies. In real life, always practise safe sex or you, too might end up lost in Mothercare ...