In some respects, writing fiction is harder when it’s a job. In between the tax and benefit forms, the business of writing guides and Yearbooks, you find the market listings: the who’s publishing what this month, and how much hummus they’re paying. I simplify writing to market by thinking of it as homework, which is okay for a while. Then again, I’m not my favourite tutor, and I’m certainly not the five of them handing out this semester’s work. So I read what they’ve wrote, and I search to see if I’ve done something they like that’s in the story bank of eighty odd tales and pomes. My first six months I kept a short-list of competition deadlines which I wanted to write for. It was harder than it seemed. Sometimes, chasing the assignment can grind everything to a halt. Often I’d write up down cul-de-sacs, or Schrodinger’s cats. It’s a challenging work, like a fierce sea, writing things for people you don’t know, to a short 1,500 word count. Sometimes it pays off. I’d been meaning to write ‘The Call’ shorts for eight years, and I think I nailed it. ‘Green Desert’ came to me brilliantly, and it’s still good, but some of the essential character got lashed out in the count down.
Lately, I’ve been very lax about this working scheme. February 29th, for example. In the morning, I attended a creative writing class where we began with a read through of a fifteen minute radio play. A delight, as the readers involved were open to the text, and laughing in all the places I hoped they would. We looked at poems by W. H. Auden and Don Paterson, and each wrote two. The play forms part of a book I’m scribing, based on experience, and I’d arranged to interview a friend about those times early that afternoon. As luck had it, we were joined by another, and soon the three of us were laughing our sides off and spinning enough yarns to satisfy a sequel.
Next I got a few pages of the graphic novel script finished up, and packed these off to Ruairi Coleman. It’s probably called Watch Thief, and there’s rarely a tale like it. Then some proof-reading for a website I was commissioned to build. I was also hired to write some content on the subject of polytheism and the multiverse: announcement next post!
Some days are just good days, and it’s a delight to swim in those rivers. I think there’s room for two vastly different approaches to both be the right answer.