Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hello! I am no longer here at all, I'm afraid.

Please follow me to my brand new, swishy website:

See you there!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Breaking new ground

7936 / 90000 words. 9% done!

Yup. Working. The more I work the less I blog. The less you see me here, the better!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Steamlust ahoy!

Not long now!

Have you read the lovely review at Publisher's Weekly?

Wright’s anthology of sizzling steampunk romance is a sensual, passionate, and humorous collection of alternate histories, fantastical worlds, and time travel romps. The heroines are strong-willed, intelligent, technologically savvy, and elegant in their fashionable corsets. Some are attracted to men who are half-machine, as in Sylvia Day’s “Iron Hard,” Christine d’Abo’s “The Undeciphered Heart,” and Nikki Magennis’s “Make Your Own Miracles.” Others are seduced by the wonders of flying airships and robots in Saskia Walker’s “Heart of the Daedalus” and Sacchi Green’s “Fog, Flight and Moonlight.” There are same-sex affairs aplenty; the best is Anya Richards’s powerful “Rescue My Heart.” Not content to titillate, these passionate vignettes will also satisfy steampunk fans intellectually with nuanced discussions of self-sufficient women and the roles that machines play in our lives.

And have you watched the trailer lately?

750 views, and so far only one person's called it 'a bit weird'!

Preorder the book  here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A couple of good things

~ A new small stone:

~ A new book from an old friend: Beneath Sea and Sky by Shanna Germain - now available on Kindle, (or a Kindle app which you can put on your pc, who knew?!)

~ Ideas bubbling up like a squirt of washing up liquid added to a fountain. (It's probably bad in lots of ways, but oh wow, it's pretty:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reading for the Terrified

This is long because I want to record it for my own posterity. Skip from asterisk to end if you're as bored with my neuroses as I am.

On Tuesday I had the terrifying privilege of doing a public reading of my poetry for the first time ever.*

The fear started when I went in the building and was told the venue was on the 8th floor. Did I mention I am scared of heights? And lifts. So - stairs. No problem - only THE STAIRS WERE SEE THROUGH. Can I repeat that? THE STAIRS WERE fucking SEE THROUGH and Escher-style, extending over acres of empty space.

Dear architects. If someone is taking the stairs up high it is often because they suffer from vertiginous fears and generally neurotic tendencies that mean they can't take lifts. Especially see through lifts. Whoever designed this building, you basically created my own personal worst nightmare. That's amazing! How did you know?

(I have checked with boyf, who is an architect, and he has confirmed that when designing buildings like this very little - in fact practically none - thought is given to those with over-sensitive phobic glands.)

Anyway, I made it up the stairs - after stopping for a bucket glass of wine and squawking lots - and into the venue. On my own, as babe was sleeping in the car while boyf sat with him. I sat down and looked at the bright lights and microphone and reading stand and rows of chairs and my thoughts raced. I think I ran through about all the self hatred-want-to-run-away-can't scripts around forty times, while wondering how red my throbbing face was and how shaky my hands were and how frizzy my hair was. I wondered whether I would pass out before or after I'd thrown up, and hoped that if the latter someone would be kind enough to make sure my hair didn't go in it.

I'm taking the piss only slightly. I reallly am that fucking chicken. In fact, more so.

I'd like to take a moment to thank the stranger behind me who leaned forward to tell me I looked 'really nervous'. Thanks.

Anyway, through the preamble and a first, lovely introductory reading, I mostly sat and tried not to shake. I did a lot of arguing with myself about running away and forbidding self to do so. I thought about the reasons I could give myself for leaving that wouldn't make me hate myself. There weren't any. I tried not to dwell on the silent screamy voice that was saying 'you're an agoraphobe, you can barely leave the house what the fuck are you doing here?' - because that voice is a bit out of date. These days, I am no longer an official housebound agoraphobe, which is thankfuckery wonderful, but does remove the excuse and expose just common or garden cowardice in a rather unpleasant light.

A kerfuffle at the back of the hall interrupted my tortuous imaginary struggles  - it turned out to be a teary-eyed babe clutching ginger stuffed cat, and boyf, looking grim. Luckily babe wasn't looking for boob, but a hug, so shoogled in and sat and I buried my face his hair for a bit. I had vague qualms about being the freaky one with the screamy babe, but he didn't so I swallowed those qualms and got back to the ones about getting up in front of people and reading. It's hard when an unexpected diversionary terror stops you from concentrating on the main terror of the evening.

It's funny, too, how sometimes the smallest things give you courage. I only got through my driving test by staring at the cat hair on my jumper that reminded me of Petra.

Then they started with the poems. I was called up first. And actually relieved, because ho-ho, how sodslaw knewit typical, and also much longer sitting there waiting to do it and I would have started taking the chairs apart in order to self harm.

Then I went and read. It was okay. I walked up like a human being and didn't fall over. I had only mild out of body experience. I felt the cold metal of the podium and I hid a bit behind the microphone, and I managed (I think) not to go too fast. Because you're not allowed to say you're nervous and must look professional, I didn't make any jokes about shitting myself, but I did put my hand on my heart like to still it which boyf said afterwards was as bad.

So I blew the professionalism. Plus ca change.

I did two poems. Halfway through the second I realised it was far too long (a page), so sorry to the audience for that.

But fuck it, I did it. And although you're not supposed to say or feel proud of yourself, I think sometimes nobody else can know quite how much it takes one to do these things that terrify us, so I am bloody well going to. I also got to listen to some wonderful poems and meet some other poets, which was great.

I'm also interested that the night after I woke up from horrible nightmares about territory and accents. I realised that I have a lot of fears to do with being a foreigner, an incomer, to do with the hostility I experienced in my childhood. I realised that I have never felt at home in Scotland, but that I have lived here so long and got so used to being an outsider I never shall feel at home anywhere. I realised something about the audience, how it fascinates and terrifies me, and how we create our own head-audience from fears and ghosts.

*I am going to work on some (short) poems on fear and Otherness now.

Cheers, universe!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Small stones

Somehow my calendar alert failed to alert me when my first small stone went live. So I'm late, but here it is, and do have a look at this lovely site.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011


Things have been whirly.

I've had work up at A Dead Good Blog - my fever dream of Blackpool. I'm thrilled and a bit nervous to be hanging out with real poets lately.

Four haiku featured in p o e t r y z o w n magazine -all bird-related, they were titled: Kingfisher, Swallow, Collared Dove and Seagull. If you're in the vicinity of Ontario, look for the fuchsia issue!

And yesterday my interview went up at PANK magazine. I am all bowled over being let into PANK at all, and I have a feeling I was really probably trying too hard there. Can you tell?

Meanwhile, I'm working on the Steamlust animation. Not much left to do now. I hope to finish that soon, so stay tuned for the unveiling! It's autumn here. Mist and rosehips, baking sweet potato brownies and listening to my son learn new words. Not what I'd call mellow. Hopefully fruitful.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ich Bin Nackt

Look out for 'Nude Studies' in the forthcoming new anthology from Alison Tyler.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Nothing much

For the first time in a long while I have no major work commitments. I have an animation to do, and one story I'm working on for my writing lessons, but otherwise, I am free to think about where I'm going next.

This weekend I mostly slept. I didn't go anywhere, do anything much. I dreamed I'd phoned in sick. For months, I've been working whenever the baby slept or whenever someone else could look after him. I think it might be time to have a little pause.

In the space of nothing much, I'm going to look at the inside of nothing much and see what it suggests. Sometimes the best things are contained within what looks like an empty space.

I could go any of several ways. I don't want to waste time dithering with decisions, but making the wrong choices can end up wasting more time in the long run. I don't mean to be cryptic. This is a vague time right now.

I'll be a little quiet, and I'll write this vague, undecided story I'm working on.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Dawn Chorus

This news definitely made me feel like breaking into song - my story 'Dawn Chorus' will appear in Kristina Wright's 'Best Erotic Romance'! Here's the TOC, looks absolutely delectable:

Introduction: Simply the Best

What Happened in Vegas     Sylvia Day

First Night       Donna George Storey

Another Trick Up My Sleeve      Heidi Champa

Drive Me Crazy      Delilah Devlin

Once Upon a Dinner Date      Saskia Walker

He Tends To Me       Justine Elyot

Guest Services      Angela Caperton

Memories for Sale      Andrea Dale

Blame It On Facebook      Kate Dominic

The Draft       Craig J. Sorensen

To Be in Clover      Shanna Germain

Honey Changes Everything      Emerald

Cheating Time      Kate Pearce

Our Own Private Champagne Room      Rachel Kramer Bussel

Till the Storm Breaks      Erobintica

The Curve of Her Belly     Kristina Wright

Dawn Chorus     Nikki Magennis

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Migrating birds

I'm delighted to have a short story in the London Calling special Brit edition of PANK magazine. I'm kind of nervous, too, because it's the first not erotic story I've published in years. Read it here. It's short, dark and it has birds in it, so I'm pleased.

I was also delighted to be asked to readings in LA and San Francisco. In a few million years, perhaps - meanwhile, I'm dreaming of wearing a trilby and following Alison Tyler's ass around downtown LA, while speaking in Chandlerisms. Imagine flying round the world to read your work! Imagine!

I'll post details of the events when they come up. Meanwhile, I'm watching seagulls ...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I love the sound of breaking glass

I really don't, actually. Especially when I'm under it. When I was an art student, making a super 8 film - because you HAD TO in those days, to be an Artist - I shot a sequence through water - a huge fishtank suspended at the corners between two tables. I lay under it and my friend washed her face while I filmed it.
Moments after I stopped and slid out from under the set-up, there was a crack that sounded like the earth opening up. A four-foot by three foot tank holds a lot of water. Gravity is unforgiving.

I used to think I was particularly lucky but sometimes I wonder if I'm actually spectacularly stupid. Today I had the set up I've been toiling over for weeks all fixed up - light source, shadow frame, camera, props, dolls. (This is for the steamlust animation). I just broke it. Light stand, frame glass, snap crash caboom crack fuck.

In order not to cry, here's a haiku:

words cling to the page
as rain clings to the grass stem
I slip on the path

Oh. I just realised there are very small shards of broken glass from the frame all over the desk. That is what the uncomfortable pricking on my forearms was. Which is now a bit bleeding. God, you really do suffer for art, don't you? 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Demons #1

Sometimes when I submit work I make stupid mistakes. Years ago I spent a weekend working feverishly on a submission for a screenplay competition. It was to be a dark comedy about working in the civil service on a small island. I had, not long before that, worked in the civil service, on a small island. What I wrote was pretty good. Relevant, funny, appropriate. It should have had a shot.

But I added my name to the top of the document as a header. Only afterwards (I think) did I read the guidelines fully and see that entries were to be judged anonymously. All that work for nothing. My screenplay would have been binned immediately.

I still do things like this, and the truth is that part of it is unconsciously intentional. I deliberately screw my chances, pour effort into the work and then at the last minute sabotage it, pretend I don't care, do something fucking stupid. Veer sideways when it was all going well.

And when something manages to get published, I can't escape the fear. Writing is bliss. Publishing is terrifying. But without the publishing - it's not really writing, it's diary-keeping, isn't it?

Audience is part of the work. Connecting, responding, communicating. When we're learning to write, I think part of what we're learning is also how to share, how to perform, even, how to relate to an audience. That, for me, is probably the hardest part.

Writing seems like a secret escape hatch from what you fear. Look, you can hide behind the page, behind the story, behind the words. You are not you, you're an author. But the world has a way of throwing your fears back at you. The only way out is through, isn't it? You thought you'd found somewhere you could whisper your secrets, but it turns out you were writing them in scarlet across your chest. And now you have to answer to them.

So, in the interests of facing demons: Fear of Success, I see you, you hopeless knee-jerk reaction, and I've got your number. I'm zapping you! Pxzap!

(For my next submission, I shall be reading the rules carefully and resisting the urge to add something juvenile in the last line of the covering letter. As I did, only yesterday ... [forehead slap])

{In the interests of full disclosure, the juvenile thing that I wrote - it was a cock joke. Yes. Somebody slap me, please.}

Monday, June 13, 2011

Certainly smells like a Monday

I woke up to a (form) rejection.

Got an email to say the house we were hoping to buy has been sold - to someone else.

And this afternoon, after wrestling the Boo round the shop - no, put it down, no, put it down, not that, no, not for you - buying some fluorescent orange cheese because he'd bitten it THROUGH THE WRAPPER - got back to the car, put the Boo in the front so I could put the bags in the back (I have to go through the front seat cause the lock clicky thing is bust), realised the car was rolling backwards. Quite fast. Boo, at eighteen months, while unable to say his own name, is apparently capable of letting off a handbrake. Thankfully my usual perplexity was overtaken by panic and I managed to push past the confused baby and hoik on the handbrake, leaving the car diagonally across the carpark and my hands shaking.

Still. Also this happened:

Boo fell in love in the library. He met a girl from Canada, gave her a very gentle hug and followed her round, pointing at the heart on her jumper.

I found a new way of putting on eye make up.

The car only rolled a few feet and not over mine.

Roll on Tuesday. Actually, stay where you are, I'll come to you.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It's an excoiypt extravaganza!

Say that in a Brooklyn accent, will you?

Anyway, I just noticed (while reading a little delicious snippet of Alison Tyler's gorgeous novella) that you can read the start of my story 'Now or Forever' on the eHarlequin site! Squeaky cool!

Here it is!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Playing old songs

I spent all weekend listening to old tracks and feeling nostalgic. It seems like forever since I went out to hear a band, got messy drunk and did something stupid.

Here, for those romantics who can't forget how their favourite song feels: an excerpt from the first chapter of 'The New Rakes' for your reading pleasure:

'Hot?' Tam said, standing right at her shoulder. 'Allow me.' Before she could stop him, he had pressed the ice-cold bottle of beer to her neck. The shock made Kara gasp, and she felt her nipples pinch as Tam rolled the chilled glass down over her chest, his fingers brushing her skin as he did so.
Kara gave him a crooked little smile. That was the trouble with Tam. He was moody, unpredictable and frequently obnoxious, but he knew how to make a girl feel good. And Kara still remembered how he tasted.
'I bet you're wet right now,' he whispered in her ear, his breath tickling her. His mouth connected with her skin and Kara fought to keep herself steady. She should push him off, she thought, only the feel of his lips against her neck was delicious. His tongue flickered over her pulse point, sending jolts right through her bloodstream and making her knees weak. Kara closed her eyes. Tam held the bottle against her breast, rolled it over her nipple. The cold and the pressure was such exquisite torture she couldn't bring herself to move. Behind them, Kara heard a clink that was unmistakably a belt buckle being undone, and remembered Jon and Ruby on the couch.
She flinched and pulled away.
'We agreed, Tam,' she said struggling to breathe normally.
'One fuck can't hurt,' he said, leaning in to kiss her. Kara's eyes fixed on the twist of his smile and she allowed herself to imagine how it would feel to have that mouth against hers for just one moment. His lips, she remembered, were lithe and quick. His tongue was skilled. Then she shook her head.
'Bad idea.'
‘Worried you might like it?’ Tam said, slipping his free hand round to grip hold of her arse. He gave a squeeze, and Kara arched her spine before she could stop herself.
‘More worried about the aftermath,’ she murmured, but her hands were slipping around his hips and she was pulling him into her so that his belt buckle and the bulge of his cock under his jeans bumped up against her stomach. She let their bodies press against each other so that she could feel his heartbeat against her chest. ‘Get out here,’ she said finally, throwing open the door and pulling Tam into the corridor.
She shoved him up against the white-painted breezeblocks with a force that made him raise an eyebrow and smile at her, even as she was slipping a hand inside the waistband of his trousers. 

Want more? read the whole chapter

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How to work

Does anybody blog any more? Everybody seems to be hanging out on facebox and twitter. Things are faster there. I've been trying to focus more lately and leave the peripherals be for the moment. By which to say, I'm doing prioritisation.

I want to be bringing up my son primarily and just working a little when I can, without letting it stress me out. As most of you will know if you're writers or work in the creative field, this sounds sort of easy but is not.

The ideas can scare me. So much to write. It's like hunting, with a forest full of strange and remarkable creatures. You're the only hunter and they will tend to slip away if you don't find them quickly and kill them. Leaving a story half done feels like maiming an animal. Maybe that's overdramatic. Still, I hunt stories like trophies, nail them on the wall, forget about them. It's not necessarily a healthy way to work.

Some people talk about being born writers. I am not one of them. I don't believe in talent - only desire and hard work and luck. I believe everyone has innate creative energy and that we can pour it into many things - work, art, life. Lately I've been thinking how good it might be to just be what I need to be - a mother - and let the other stresses fall back a little. I want to keep house, too.

Why is one kind of work seen as more valuable? What do I really hope to achieve, where do I think I will get with one but not the other? Either and all work can be healthy or unhealthy, depending on how we approach it.

This is turning into a ramble. Still, that's okay, because everyone is elsewhere, somewhere faster. I'll keep sweeping the floor in an empty house, see what I find.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dream Lover

Yeah, well, I thought this picture would come out differently. That's probably obvious. Wow. I have a lot of split ends.

ANYWAY - hooray, for Dream Lover has arrived in the UK! At least, I got my copies, and anybody else who didn't can try to prise them out of my cold, dead hands!

The book includes 'Old Fashioned Glamour', an excerpt from an unwritten trilogy of paranormal romantic erotic something novels. About witches. And sheep. And motorcars.

Here's a snip:

' ... there’s no difference between a glamour and a haze and a love spell as far as I’m concerned. And because if I have you, I’ll have you naked.’
He kept his eyes locked on mine even as the blush rose to my cheeks. He lifted his wrists and started to unbutton his shirt. Underneath, his skin was the alabaster smooth, taut pallor that I remembered. Like a polished sculpture. A drift of freckles was strewn over his shoulders, and his nipples were as pale as rose quartz.
‘Without adornment.’ He walked to me, close enough that I could smell the milk and wool of his sweat. He lifted my hair and laid it behind my shoulders. Such a small gesture, but I felt so exposed. Between us, the locket lay heavy on my collarbone.
‘Let history be left behind,’ he said softly. ‘Trust me, Amy.’
I wet my lips. Scott was asking me to let go of everything I’d carried with me for all these years.
To be free of it, to lay down all the enchantments and the regret and the hidden weaponry and meet him as just a woman again, oh, how the thought of it made my bones ache with weary longing. Up above us a violet sunset seeped into the clouds, and somewhere in the forest a woodpigeon sang. 
Without speaking, I pulled down the zip on my dress. I didn’t turn away from him as I removed my clothes. This was only half a striptease, and half a promise. A way to show him that I was willing to lay myself bare for him.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Steam, punks, and lust

I'm delighted to announce (I love annnouncing things) that my story 'Make Your Own Miracles' will be appearing in Steamlust this October! Hoorah.

Meanwhile, fairly dull looking but useful work continues, including making frames for the animation and contemplating how to put together a collection of short stories. Should I self publish or start the long haul to find a publisher willing to take a chance on a fabulous but unusual project?

My heart sinks at the thought of working out the fine points that publishers do such a wonderful job of, such as distribution, but equally, I am thinking more and more that I don't want to be tied to the restraints of a publisher's requirements.

We'll see. Either way, adventures await.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Last day of the wild poeming

I missed yesterday, being away on the island, so here's the kind of unfinished (baby started spinning round screeching) second half of the poem I started. Is it even worth sharing a half written thing? I don't know, but I plan to work on this more, later. It's partly about painting, partly about life.


Vertical aligned with the upright
Elbows at a good L shaped ninety degrees.
Joined with pins. Formally,
this picture is a pair of scales, the kind you hang
from your finger, the kind
that tilt. When it slips
enough to let the yellow in, like the thin
ending of a scream, a tempered one.
The sound one might hear, perhaps,
in a foreign city, out walking
on a dusty summer evening. If a window was open, and
from the shade, you might walk past as
a woman makes supper
in the kitchen, her eldest
child having just left home.

The first part of this poem is today's, and makes - I think - the thirty for this month. It's dedicated to Shanna for being such a fabulous inspiration. Thanks, S!

i )

I would like to give you a painting
I would like it to emanate light.
When you look at it, you should
taste orange ice lollies, the kind
the colour of poppies heads, you know
the crinkled petals still crushed tight
in the good green bud.

But there will be layers, too,
and windows. Keyholes for you
to lean into, sidle through, fold back and emerge
from, ink blue depths to dissolve into, leaving
only salt-rimmed lips and a pair of sandals behind.
Great leaping creatures will dance into the frame,
if you look hard enough, if you squint
into the lengthening rays of the sun.

There may be antlers, or the echoes
of voices singing things
monks ought to sing. Seagulls will wheel.
In this still life, you'll taste the mango
I forgot to bring last time, and the empty
suitcases under the bed will be filled, while
you're away, with unspoken conversations
good poems, better times.

Thanks so much, Shanna! See you next year. Phew!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Top of my head, blown, right off

Wow, only a few days til the end of this poetry marathon. I've absolutely loved it. It's been years since I've dedicated time to writing poems, and to be honest I wish I could/maybe I should do it always. Poems, for me, render life closer, realer, richer, truer. They make me see the world afresh.
I've also been delighted by so many of the prompts, and the sense of community. That's rare.

Anyway, here are today's early crop. I might come back and do a Roundel as per Shanna's prompt, if I get time.


me by the wrist,
I followed,
curious, scenting
treasure. Before I knew it
I was rolled into a tight embrace
from behind, one hand round my throat,
tightening over the pulsebeat
one great dirty fist over my mouth,
smelling of earth and yesterday’s
sunburn, calamine lotion, ragged
fingernails, laments, river pearls, spit,
blood, rust and dandelions,
a voice in my ear
whispering hard and urgent
‘start speaking. Keep
breathing. Don’t

And now one for Patti Smith: 


I went to sleep thinking of Peter,
thrown from his daughter’s horse,
neck snapped like a door slam
to the face, one which would not open
for a year.

Months motionless.
How hospital light
leaks and bounces over
squeaky, scraped-clean floors. If there’s nothing
else, we can look at agitated
air, faces hung in racks, the thin flickering stories
racing across a tv, like waves.

My neighbour, limping home with shattered hips and
a rearing piebald. The woman further north,
paralysed from the neck down. I picture
her splayed on the grass, helmet bumped,
limbs made into a jigsaw puzzle with
missing pieces. Permanently

Yesterday I saw a stallion on the back road,
fluid calligraphy against the green page
of the field.
Suddenly understood the long dark inky poem of a horse,
the neck bent to back braced to legs which are
frozen running flowing to the paintbrush
tail, flicking capricious grace at the sky. It was
a perfect victor, a dancing tableaux, the prettiest
threat I ever saw.

I slept and dreamed, of course
of being on horseback, of riding
into battle, of being carried so high and tall I might even
try to win.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

I'll give you a clue

It’s a deadly game, but taking part
is not optional, I’m afraid. Your
character may vary, minutely or utterly
day to day. You think you’re Miss

Scarlett, but while you slept, Reverend
Green crept into your body, animated
your soul with his own particular blend
of doubt and mistaken belief. You wake

With white hair, and a sense that the past
is replaying itself, has caught up to you,
overtaken, in fact, the same game, only
this time it’s different players or the same faces

in new combinations. Did you dream
your uncle’s face on the cook’s body,
or was it a trick of the light? Who do you
love, anymore, why does everyone look

like you? Attack someone, smear their make-up
obliterate the grease paint, look underneath. Yes,
the mouth is familiar, it tilts the same way yours does
it’s like looking in a mirror, but you can’t tell

who is holding the gun anymore, nor why
it’s smoking, and whether the hole in your chest
is heart shaped, whether the man with the knife
has just saved your life, or is about to take it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Blacksmith's Daughter

Jesus Christ, it's another sonnet.

The Blacksmith’s Daughter


Married quick silver tongue with filthy iron
feet, grew tall and hard and dirty in the forge.
Learned the latin names for cold formed
steel, gilding metal, pig iron, asbestos, ore.

Escaped the hot, dark dust of the smithy
Ran seawards, drank salt water, cooled
her scorched heels in the brimming, cobalt fishy
filled depths. Became a fast-talking fool,

a pearl fisher, a split-tail, a lover of mercurial men
who sailed hard and loose on whisky coloured waters.
Cut her guts open, stitched the carcass into a scare-gull when
she needed to float a surface decoy to fool her father.

Who’d come looking for his lost metal-made daughter
Wishing she’d follow him back, once he’d caught her.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jasmine Revolution

Here's what we got from the chain renga yesterday. I loved the process of doing this, a bit frightening but fascinating to see it unfurl. We managed 26 verses, pretty good for an international spread of writers. (We had two verse 25s, so I made an arbitrary decision and used the one that was numbered:)


Jasmine Revolution

They stand, basking in
The sunlight ‘midst the winter
Of their discontent

The bud furled tight, when prodded,
must open to the spring time.

Cold moving storms
Heading east
Dissipate precipitously

Mud clings to boots, leaves footprints
we can’t control our dreams

muddy footprints blur
against the slated path’s shine
smoothing until gone

dandelions, daffodils
vying for my attention

The petals chatter
whirling beating on the wind
the birds perch nearby

Giddy with the warmth of sun,
dappled shadows play with leaves.

Between wingtips buzz
a clouds of gnats dances high
scattering shadow

my face clouds with remembrance
warm Spring days almost now past

Spike-edged leaves picked for salads –
this sharp spring wonder.
Sun licks dressing from your lips

Don’t spare me the lemon juice
Don’t blunt your mouth with white lies

It’s not the lying
That angers me so much as
It’s bald faced nature

Flowers turn their faces
to the fence. A kind of shame.

Rooting down below
to grasp some dirt-bound essence
required skyward.

Tears of sorrow and of joy,
both nourish the thirsty depths.

Dew upon dew falls,
mist lays down in sheets. Enough
times to rise a flood.

the sudden drumming of rain
splatters judgement in this way

leaves, flowers, trees, none
are excused from nature’s court
all rise for the sun

Bailiff’s gavel summons all;
They answer, save the sleeper.

Sleeping ‘neath the soil
Fruit of judgement starts to heave
Its way into view

Brown eye looks up to gold,
Sunflower turns to greet sun.

Somewhere, summer has ended.
The bee doesn’t know.
She hums, singing, to the blue.

Passing flower to flower
Seeding the generations

Who tunes the bees’ hums?
Who loosens the strings of tides,
rolls thunder like dice?

Lightning wakes the hawk and crow
Reaper and black scavenger

How to Tell the Time

Scratch mitts, rattle, spoon

kite string, sparkler, crayon

bangle, ruler, wave

calculator, scissors, cigarette,

keys, mascara wand, polish

gold ring, cup, shake

nivea, stick, thermometer

spade, fountain pen, knife,

camera, paintbrush, hold

photograph, spider plant, armrest

aspirin, pocketwatch, glove

morphine, buttons, open

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bells! I hear bells!

I just got my copy of With This Ring, I Thee Bed, edited by the Very Reverend Alison Tyler! (And as this is an AT production, I'd like you to know that the polish is 'Royal Red' by Jessica, and the scarlet glass beads were a present from boyf - something along the lines of a ring, I suppose.)

Here's a snip from the bouquet:

I saw my sex life flash in front of my eyes, Charlie. Do you understand what I’m saying?’ I know I’m almost shouting.
Is that worse, I wonder? To have ditched Charlie in front of all his family and friends, to have left him awkward and alone at the church, or this. To tell him the truth, what I’ve been darkly afraid of all along. My lurid, cherry-red, heart-throbbing dirty secret.
I don’t know how I can promise never to have another lover. Me, who’s always been quick to get bored, and quicker to discard unsatisfactory bedfellows. Who’s been first to try every practise and position, whose whole life is punctuated by sex – exotic and romantic and thrilling and brief and heartbreaking. Yes, I love Charlie, and yes, I love fucking him. But will I really be able to sacrifice every other man in the world – every other possible man?
I think about how Charlie is and try and match it against the invisible future. I know it’s wrong, but I’m trying to measure him. Testing, to see how I love him, how much and how far.
Yes, I love how his eyelids kind of slide down a few degrees, so he’s giving me a snake’s gaze, one that slips over my body in a prelude to his touch. I love how his mouth goes tight. How his fingers travel, how he takes mouthfuls of me.
And this. Yes, I’d forgotten how much I love this.
‘Shut up.’
How he is silent. How he pulls me to him and works his way from my wrist to my shoulders. Charlie is gentle. Most of the time.  

Excerpt from 'Now or Forever', by Nikki Magennis

Congratulations to Alison and all the authors. I'm packing the book as my honeymoon reading. 

Daily poem catch-up

Yikes, I missed a couple of days. But two poems on Friday and the one I didn't get to post yesterday -

I am watching you learn
to walk on your own. Blossom
falls like summer snow

(an old recycled pram haiku) makes up the total, I think!

Today we're doing a chain renga - hoorah. The prompt is the Jasmine Revolution, and here's stanza 4. I'm not sure how far we'll get but I'm finding this inordinately exciting!

Mud clings to boots, leaves footprints
we can’t control our dreams

Come along and join in if the spirit moves you. 

Happy Oster!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Game review

Lately when I get time, I’ve been indulging myself playing this new video game – the graphics are flawless. You can zoom down and zoom in and in and in and never see the joins – because there are none. The rendering is incredible. You can see every crumb of dirt, every fingerprint, every pockmark and wrinkle and imperfection.
The characters are incredibly realistic. There are infinite levels. Some fiendishly difficult problems that made me curse and nearly give up! There are more story lines than you could ever explore. 

Downsides? You only get one life. It’s in real time. Everyone dies. 

# something in a series of occasional 100 word flash

Picky eater

Writing a daily poem feels like doing a parachute jump daily. I don't have time to craft these, so they're coming out raw and possibly ridiculous. Something about that is probably good for one's constitution. At the same time, I'm having the most vivid and rich dreams, perhaps informed by the process of poetic writing so regularly.

I offered a poem to boyf the other day, saying 'it's about mother love'. 'Your poems are all about motherlove,' he said. So, apologies if I'm exhausting the theme but it's obviously quite an overwhelming experience and pervades the poetry part of my brain at the moment! Here's another baby related poem:

Picky eater

Once you’ve become
a breeder, you’ll find yourself
also a feeder.
at least - erstwhile

The boy lives on fresh air
and peekaboo, a wind-up
kid running on empty,
one hundred rpm - meanwhile

I make him custard
as smooth as his the plump
silky skin of his inner arm,
eggsoft and velveteen

and ignored. He dashes
from mewl to shriek
and back again, I think
vegetables - carotene

might fill him, ply
him with a plate painted
with strawberry juice,
a veritable masterpiece

of decorative edibles.
He agrees, uses it to prettify
the walls. I offer
a bottle of champagne

spiked with helium, which
goes down well, or
up, oops.
At last, surrender.

I feed him
attention, wrigglehugs, fart
noises, tongue-biting, sugar voice,
sleep hours, my genetic coding, protection,
resentment, worry, pink liquid paracetamol, the rest of my life and
anything else he might ask for.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


today I stood like a pylon
hollow and undefeatable
marching without moving
coding messages in semaphore
sending them east
with my fluttering skirts.
crack was the noise
my heart made, in B flat
four four time

I pinned this emotion down,
pegged it to a wire
launched it, passed it on, recorded
the co-ordinates. Bleached
my soul clean. Here’s a lick
of shame, a gram of horror
swirled in shock and drawn
in pity coloured ink. Yes
I withdraw empathy, like a
professional blood
letter, yes,
I am lying. Yes
it feels good, to you too, admit it

we scratch each other’s itch
til it bleeds.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A 100000 W bulb

The darkened room with the river running through it
I woke, the bed adrift, the pillow scented

with somebody else’s perfume. Cast off
I built my own boat, found my hands

covered with paint the colour of orangeade,
striped like the ginger cat, my figurehead,

tail curled round my ankles as I dropped
anchor somewhere four hundred feet

skywards. Discovered stars in daylight, the moon
in a glass of water. Unbuilt my studio, unpainted

every picture I’d ever made. Went underground.
Lost hope. Until that desperate night when some stranger

smiled and I realised it could be for me. I could kiss
anyone I pleased. I did. Until my mouth

got tired. This time the boat was bigger, and I was afraid.
Eventually I found the horizon balanced

me and not-me. It made a grim peace.
I fell over you. I said yes. I said yes, I said

Yes, and the sun came up all night. 

Christ, writing poems with a fractious toddler hanging off your leg is not fun. No time and no energy today, though I loved the idea of a string of light bulbs. Best I could do. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Kite flying

We chase the big gust
hold loose in your careless hands
our one winged peacock

Sunday, April 17, 2011


First, pluck at your hairline, pull
the skin up, away and back like a surgeon performing a face lift.
Remove your face.
Lay it on the ground in a pile, look back at your features: your plummy mouth; good cheekbones;
deep eyes –still that particular shade of dishwater, like what’s left after washing cold food from chipped china; your nose with its particular angle,
the one you always hated, although now, as it lies
pointing up at you, it seems so achingly familiar,
kind of endearing, in fact, you may even regret the loss of it.
Watch your lips relax as your last words go dry on your tongue, dissolve like swallowed smoke.

Unjoint your hands and take them off. Those blunted, scarred, dry and bone-bent
instruments, leave them crossed below the face. Touching only each other now, only the tips of their symmetrical pointed echoes, unringed, unvarnished, holding onto nothing at all, as if praying.
Now, your spine, the curl of it like a dragon’s tail, a miracle
of skeletal puzzle pieces.
Tear it down and let it coil into place beside the other body parts.
Note how they arrange themselves, grotesque but still
reassuring, related to each other even when
dismembered. It might be like watching a baby fall asleep – how the face, the limbs soften, how everything fades in the bliss of forgetting, tension dissipates, as does

Your feet – step out of them. Leave them there neatly beside each other, pointing inwards, perhaps, pigeon-toed, a little ingrown, buffed
and battered, clinging to the earth.

Last your heart – unzip your chest and take it out.
No picture-book pretty pink Valentine, this, but an old,
tired, steady vessel, rocking itself onwards, grasping the blood and pulling
pulling, pushing and pulling, kneading life.

Feel the oxygen enter your lungs like a whistle and
having nowhere to go, fill you and keep on filling you, so that you
or whatever is left
expands beyond the fields, the trees, the snow-smeared peak of Earl’s Seat, the pale,
blank, luminous sky.

Now turn. Walk away. Don’t look back.

Saturday, April 16, 2011



I love today's prompt. Aram Saroyam blew me away when I discovered his work, so it's lovely to actually attempt a 'pwoemrd'. I'm playing with a few, this one is a bit soppy but eh, so am I. Sorry about the formatting. I did a special font for the poem, and it seems to be contagious.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Daily poem

Daily, fall in love
Every night, kill your darlings
erase every word.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


No time for anything today, deep in edits. A short burst of a poem as I look out the window:

Black ash buds
acid yellow on the willow
forces colour to the surface

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Hmm, fiendish prompt. Writing without any adjectives is very difficult. Especially to such a striking image. Here is the poem stripped of adjectives - I think, I may have missed one or two:


My spoils surround me. I have created
a trove, ranged the necklet beside the raven

‘Where did you find this?’ His
Paws close over the hilt of the blow-pipe
I wrenched from the claw of a fighter
left in the mud. I lift his hand

Remind him: ‘No prize won,
son, if you didn’t risk everything you had
getting it. Now stand, yes, hold.
Don’t flinch.’

I ready myself to shoot.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Recovering, at last. I loved today's prompt - so nice to be reminded of the sensual possibilities of poetry. And life.


Bliss is too easy.
If all it took was the soap fresh tang
of coriander, a long view across the Carse
to where the landscape’s daily opus
plays out on the fells, and somewhere

the knowledge of you

if it was really that simple,
then why
would I have ever buried my head
in dust and tar and the wrong
laps, spent acres of wasted time

desperately begging life
to be bigger

when this inch of afternoon, too
run down to work, too tired
to argue, too pushed to care,

I surrendered, fell across
the unmade bed, mouth open
hair spilling, arm
stuck under my sleeping son, and woke
to find happiness
stuck all over my pins-and-needles numb hand, like glitter.

If all it takes is that long view, I’ll get
up and keep walking,
my soundtrack the memory of a song
dancing crooked around my head:

Sweet Jane
Sweet Jane
Sweet Jane

Monday, April 11, 2011

I am a terrible liar

Squeak. I can't eat much at the moment and I'm full to the gills of pills, so things are a bit haphazard. I have lost my scribbled notes, here is the remnants of what I remember:


My fascination with ugly women
stems from vanity,
runs more than skin deep.

I throw equanimity about
like confetti at a wedding - the bride
is jealousy, the groom regret.

I can hardly stop myself
from turning this wide, stooped,
futile back on beauty

Even though I know apologies
are raincoats
in the face of a tsunami, and worse -
I'm a terrible liar. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Now Let

Oh, I'm not doing so well! Writing from a sick bed in someone else's house with someone else's computer - excuse the sloppinesses. Again, I couldn't really face working with a prompt today, so I've gone instead with a poem that was supposed to be about acceptance and titled 'Negative Ease'. Of course, it's about something else and it's titled 'Now Let', which is not such a good title but I can't think of a better one right now.

Now Let

‘This will be your place.
A handful of sunlight,
on a good day.
The windows are blurred, yes,
old glass slides towards the cill.

But the view’s still
promising, don’t forget –
cloudy days are good
for reflection, or those of us who like
to draw rain.
And at night, well,
the world’s a different place at night, isn’t it?
Sleep crawls into your face
and fascinates your mistakes’

I think that’s what she said. Anyway, she nodded,
turned away
before I saw her face, and I am
occupied with my geraniums, the boxes
of books, how to shift
the household appliances, the great slippery
engines that make so much
noise, shake the walls, work
tirelessly, humming
as they polish tomorrow’s glasses in
busy, cavernous guts.

So clean they’ll sparkle, and if you flick
with your finger, they’ll ping,
a round clear note, almost
loud enough to fill the room
now empty of her dull, quiet song.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Spring Tide

Still sick, so today's prompt didn't sink in as much as I tried to understand it. The haze of painkillers just wouldn't let me grasp the difference between metaphor and metonym - I'll come back to it!

Just a shortie, an image from the harbour today:

Spring Tide

Red crane lifted boat
in cradle-slung beak, turned,
but the sea hung back.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Vanishing Point

Euch, sick and aching today. Still, the first lines of this poem buzzed round my head all day as I lay in bed, and I've hacked out something to follow them.

Vanishing point

Perhaps it’s fitting
I put my faith in small things
having so little:

the bars of my cell
phone, calling to tell
you I’m far from home
and floating
into the telescopic future

where the sky threatens to fall,
and every story ends with a brick wall.
in the face. Still, we can shrink
to the size of dust motes, sink
to a dreaming size, drift as
invisible atoms, swarm into chambers.

disembodied voices tell me
we can split
clean in half
without breaking
god’s heart.

I doubt it, yet I’m willing
to follow my two year old
son, as he tips, and trips
over his own feet, not watching
where he’s going, fixed only
on the brightest thing
in his immediate surrounds.

There he goes
again, face
in the dirt, and me chasing him,
forever, pinning
on his open mouth and crossing
my fingers the last trip
lands softly

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Art of Forgetting

Well, fuck knows. I think I need a holiday.

I loved the prompt, and I'd like to work more on this at some point, but for now I'm abandoning it to try and work on some of the other things that were spinning round my head all night.

The art of forgetting

It’s not just a question of burying the bodies
with your own bare hands, in clay-thick soil.

You must rake until your fingernails are bloody
then tamp the earth, turn the grave invisible.

Flatten it perfect. Excellent. Now, sow it with doubt.
Scatter questions, be awkward, give an unexpected


When shoots appear, lick them, like a bitch
cleans her puppies. You’re a dog now. Yes,

Shape-shifting is essential. Anyway, which
stage we at? Growth. Well, this is the best

part, the waiting, and also the hardest bit. Sit.
For years. Then a few more. Don’t do, just let

The stalks turn to stems, branch and then stick
close by the leaves, watch them thicken. Undress

from your dog suit, be ready with flesh, to split
in two, become a parasol, a raincloud, a less

realistic scarecrow than the last time. Be sure to shit
in the right place, spill plenty blood-and-bone, lest

the plant be starved. You’re a gardener, rich
with superstition, lost in prayer. Rest.

Sleep all you can.

Next, breathe in and summon the bees.
Some will warn you against it, but hold fast, stay loyal

to your calling. Stings heal. Let them come, let them feast
share the blossom, the perfect, worm-riddled fruit of your whole life’s toil.

The grave you dug was your own.
The fruit you ate was your own flesh and blood.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011


With a slight hangover, I read Alana Noel Voth's beautiful and heartbreaking column, then looked at Bill Noble's beautiful photographs of irises, tried to write something about mothers, and instead seem to have made something about erotic love. But maybe it's the sensuality and intimacy of motherhood that I've arrived at. Maybe all love is about cherishing and maybe all love has that quality of fragility. So, here we are, I suppose really it's just a love poem.

'They're all love stories' - Jonathan Safran Foer - I think I'm quoting it right, from 'Everything is Illuminated'.


Hold out your hands.
Yes, like that.
I would like to place there, in the cup
of your patience, this
exotic, tender-skinned, blue
veined gift.
See how it curls against
the heat of your palm? Feel
how it shivers
to all six points of the compass.
How delicate
fireworks in daylight,
how slight
my desire to reach you
as a wave of scent.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Zero Sum

Today, god help me, I decided to try a sonnet. I am working with about a third of Jeremy Edwards' prompt as inspiration - my internet connection is erratic and I can't seem to download more than the top part of the image.

Zero sum

The more I see of your face the less
I know of my own. My fingers knead
your strange curves, run over the crease
in the centre of your brow. I read

the stories in your not-green, not-grey eyes
but I mouth them with my own lips
not yours, so render them – if not quite
outright lies, at least far enough slipped

from the truth to know them uniqely
deluded dreams, our shared myth,
if you will, the things we hear obliquely
or say without speaking, divine from the hiss

of static between us, the blur
of who we are and what we once, perhaps, were.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Shut in the rain

I took today's prompt and fudged it a bit. I chose W.S Graham's Selected Poems, and the words 'us', 'our' and 'listen'. And the poem today is more a note to myself than a work of anything poetic. I'm uncertain about it, but I'm half convinced that uncertainty should be part of this poem, anyway. I don't want it to settle flat, I want it to rock a little like a boat with a bit of a leak:

Do not follow the dogs whose teeth
promise to save us from bloodletting.
Do not lie down, broadsided, clutching each
of our many mistakes like a brilliant-cut ring.

Sit where you are and keep breathing
listen to the music of your spine and how
your lungs bellow air, unevenly, alas -

To take oxygen and give back a clear smile
works okay.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Sunday poem

I have about ten minutes today before I go out visiting, and a wee one banging a biscuit tin on my foot, so I’m going to have to veer away from the prompt. I’ll just use the word ‘slant’ as title and look at that wonderful photo:


Please treat me kindly
today, show me your hidden
heart, one rich with blood.

Mp. Not very happy with that. If I find more time later, I’ll try again. Or rewrite it on the car journey …

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Taboo and more lines of poetry

If you have a minute, please skip over to Oh Get a Grip, where I am guest blogging today with a post about taboos. I'm delighted to be on the blog, but sad that on Thursday Mike Kimera announced his departure from the world of erotica. Wishing him goodbye and all the best.

And here is today's poem, following the prompt (albeit probably in a slightly obstinate direction) from poet Christopher Luna.

One continuous, unbroken line

Daughter, I would show you
where the real beauty lies. Under
rain-heavy, cloud-heavy, aching skies, blue
with the want of a breeze. If you wonder

how you could make your way
in the world, I would paint it for you
or better yet, paint the soles of your cradle
-soft feet the colour of roads, the colour of dew

that clings to the thin, deep grass.
I would write you a bible, girl,
all the secrets written backwards
over pages stretched between you and the tumbling world.

I would show you where
to find the last sweet drop
of courage, how to share
the invisible, how to stop.

I'm not very comfortable with rhyme, but that's partly why I've written this. Working within a form makes me a bit huffy and I tend to think it's a restriction that hampers the images and sounds in a poem - why limit oneself? But still, it's all about stretching this month, right? Even if the rhymes are a little clunky.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Not Without Poetry

Starts today.

I’m working with Sage Cohen’s wonderful prompt as a starting point. I have a fractious, restless baby sleeping fitfully next door, so I guess anything between ten minutes and two hours to work on this. Also, I don't want to keep going on about it, but this is fucking terrifying. I haven't written much poetry since years ago and I feel like I'm standing here with no clothes on. 

Right. Here goes mooning the world:

The night

This room, this square room, fills
with the crackle of burning
paper as you suck a cigarette.
two blue screens reflect in your glazed eyes, bouncing endless static buzz
back and forth. Spilt
ashtray, dirty carpet absorbs voice, mops it up like so much sour milk.
I wear a raincoat over my pyjamas. I hold the lighter in my lap. I am
barefoot. Silent. Counting. In and out. In and out.

A moment’s silence appears. Big enough to leap.
rushes up a thin metal ladder, swarms to dizzy heights, takes a high dive –
overtaken by the scrabble of a key forced into a lock, the shiver and scrape of metal on metal,
a breath from the lungs, focus
to this hand, this minute hand, this second hand, the
as the door opens and night air floods the room.
Stairs fall away one by one to ground level. Dominoes topple. 
Gratefully, I sink into the black like a seabird 
sinks into an oilslick. 

There's the baby. That will have to do for today!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Poems blow the top of my head off

Tomorrow we start writing a poem a day. Actually I've already started. With the proviso they are likely to be unpoetic, at best. This is my last apology, though, before I start posting poems here.

Last night I dreamed my old poetry tutor took me for dinner in a windmill. The building was an open structure, an exciting design. I was looking forward to eating exquisite food. We climbed to the second or third floor and I realised the mill was made out of cardboard, shaking in the wind, and very dangerous.

Then I had to put gloves on and serve the customers.

Something fell away

I can cut a pattern from your hands
I can pin your shadow to the cloth
I cannot stop you from outgrowing this life

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What not to miss

First up, Erika Lust, interviewed at Erobintica's blog.

Also interesting is Erika's Manifesto for good porn, here. She's inviting women to join in the 'pornographic discourse'. Which I'd like to do, sometime soon, when I have some spare time. Whenever that golden day may be.

And coming up this weekend, I'm venturing out of this wee bloggy and over to 'Oh Get a Grip' to talk about taboos. Hopefully what I've written will make some kind of sense. There will also be a film of me confronting a personal taboo. (Which is not nearly as exciting as it sounds, and nothing like an Erika Lust film, I should add. Really. Not even slightly.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Poetry and a a Magical review

What are you doing for April?

Fancy joining us for a poem a day? I imagine I'm going to produce an awful, awful lot of very, very dodgy poems, but it might be fun. Or something. I don't know, but I promised Shanna I'd do it. Who could resist her?

More here!

Also there's a lovely review of Dream Lover at Whipped Cream Erotic Romance Reviews. They had this to say about my story:

'Old-Fashioned Glamour by Nikki Magennis is a wonderfully magical take on the idea of ‘who says you can’t go home?’ Returning home after too many years away, Amy tries to move amongst the villagers in a nearly invisible haze of magic, until Scott sees right through her glamour. The faith that love endures powers this little short, bringing back together a love that was always meant to be.'

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Time, again, always time

While the baby sleeps, I have revised a story, worked on a poem, a film, an essay.

It's like collecting a big pile of wood chips - you start at the edges and pick up chip by chip. If you don't look at the centre, it gets smaller much more quickly.

Lately I'm also learning to edit in my head. This is hard, like trying to remember a dream, but it's good mental exercise, too, I think. Working the brain muscles, stops them going soft. I hope. So when I'm settling the baby to sleep or out walking, I can compose a piece of writing or edit it, ready to make the changes when I next find time.

Working while typing or staring at the words is faster, easier. But I wonder if working while you're looking at the inside of your head, your memory, your thoughts, also has advantages. The ideas seem to be slower to form and different in quality. Who was it that hated writing for the fact it made his disciples lazy thinkers? One of those old Greeks.

Edited to add: 

'...for this discovery of yours [writing] will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves.

Plato, putting words in the mouth of Socrates in Phaedrus

- and imagine what the internet is doing to our memories! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I just got a rejection, the first in ages.  That sounds a bit full of itself, but mostly it's because my submission rate has fallen to practically zero in the past year, and I've often been subbing in response to a direct request, so I've been more likely to score an acceptance.

Anyway, rejection. Funnily enough, it no longer raises even the littlest nosedive of disappointment in me. Why? First of all, Kristina Wright's excellent blog post on an editor's job and how stories are chosen. Read it here. This wonderful article really helped me to dispel that lingering sense of persecution over rejections. I read it and finally really got that it's not personal.

Secondly, and this will sound maybe a bit odd: I subbed a story that I was unsure of. That I was experimenting with, taking a chance on. I'm happy that I took the risk, tried something new, happy that I failed, in essence, because it means I challenged myself. These days I have so little writing time, I only want to work on things that push me. That matter. That may fail. I'm not interested in publishing for the sake of it anymore.

Lastly, it helps when a rejection is nicely phrased. Yes, even a form rejection can be done with grace. I do wish all editors would be so thoughtful.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Is alive in the forked body, an anchor between the legs, irresistible magnetism.

Is sweet in a hungry mouth, wet in an angry kiss, tender against the lips.

Is like gravity.

Is all the flowers in Scotland blooming at once, from the pretty feathered catkin to the dense, wicked thistle.

Is bulldozing through conversation, laughter, misunderstandings, tearing through words like so much wet newspaper.

Is felling us. Pinned and skewered, we scream merry hell. The huntsmen, deer, hounds and dogs all tumbling, howling, fighting and biting - taut, intent, obsessed, devouring scent, inhaling bodies, dismembering each other bone by bone.

Is enough to fill and refill my glass, to sip and swallow and taste the long finish.

Is enough to shake me. Leave me undone, naked in soft, fresh air. Make me sob without tears.  

Is a glorious, blessed, joyful fuck, hallelujah, the first of Spring.

Friday, March 11, 2011


A jewellery case, given to me years ago by an anonymous admirer. Inside, ruby red earrings, like drops of blood. A necklace like a cut-throat. A note, illegible.
I wear the jewels, I step out into the city in ruby red shoes, my mouth lipstick'd. I am carrying letters, marked by my red kisses. A handsome movie star invites me to a shuttered, derelict building, to sit with him at a banquet at a dirty table. He is trying to seduce me. The table is covered in drug dust. Dumb, as one is in dreams, I sit down, I accept. 

occassional 100 word flash

Monday, March 07, 2011


I never could have imagined how much time a child takes. Before I had one I admit I used to wonder, baffled, what it was that mothers did all day. I suppose I thought the child would Play, burble away to itself for hours, at regular intervals I'd feed it and once a day I'd wash it and then it would Sleep, wouldn't it, for hours and hours. Like a little baby.


So anyway, I generally have about two hours a day in which to try to do my work - writing and/or painting and anything else that happens to be on the cards at the present time. Not including the housework, the housework can go to hell (until I feel like I'm drowning in mashed banana and dirty towels, when I shall scream and grudgingly do it), paperwork, any semblance of a social life, etc.

What's this moan for? I don't know. It's just to say I'm tired, and I have no time, and there's so much I want to do. If you listen hard you will no doubt hear similar stories all over the world, from people far less lucky than I am, with more children, less time and even more obligations. So I'll shut up and get on with it, and see what I can pull out of these two tired, sleep-deprived, worrisome, precious, precious hours.

The first thing is to sit for fifteen minutes and try to do nothing at all.