This is my writing blog, where I will be shamelessly posting my work. Poems, short stories, flash fiction, extracts from novels...they'll all be here. And if you don't like any of that, just play with the tiger.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

One small step...

You may have noticed over the past several months that I found my last OU course something of a challenge. More accurately, the kind of challenge that results the inability to string two words together, coupled with overworked cranial matter dripping slowly from the ears. I chivvied myself along with the delightful notion that once the hell of study was over, I could spend a happy few months writing before the next course (in creative writing - insert appropriately hysterical noise here) begins, but I was thwarted by the aforementioned brain dribble. Even when, as recently, I had an idea, I just couldn't get the words out: I would sit, ignoring the blank screen and inwardly screaming I can't be arsed!! Frankly, this was disturbing, as I had never conceived that it could be possible for me to get any lazier.

However, by the cunning application of self-bribery ('write for 10 minutes, then you can play all the spider solitaire you want'), I finally managed to finish something. 5,000 words of pretty mediocre stuff isn't much to crow about, but it is a relief to be back in the land of characters and dialogue rather than in the scary real world. Besides, this story got me back in touch with Tyrone, and it's always a blast to spend time with him. Just don't tell him I said that.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Another Tommy Atkins

October 18th, said Tommy’s handwriting. Had it really been three weeks since his last letter? Molly Atkins settled into her rocking chair, and set it into gentle motion. She knew it was silly to worry; Tommy was so busy out there, and of course he would see to his men first, censoring their letters and tending to their needs just as she had taught him to take care of his little brothers.

She tried to read a few lines, but the words swam before her eyes as she recalled an image of Tommy newly decked out in his uniform, looking tiny and lost like a boy in a new suit that must last him several years yet. But as she clucked and exclaimed over him, Tommy’s blue eyes had filled with calm purpose, and Molly felt sure he would get through all right. It didn’t matter that the letter now blurred before her; she knew its contents by heart. Tommy’s cheerful descriptions of the wonderful, motley assortment of lads around him; jokey remonstrations against army food, and a little list of the things he hoped she would send.

Of course, she had scuttled into the village immediately and bought all the cigarettes and chocolate she could, then she hurried home to finish knitting those warm grey socks. She knew he’d love them.

A barely-glimpsed shadow passing the window startled Molly. She half-raised herself from the chair, then sank down again. The doorbell rang in unusually sonorous and respectful tones, and a gush of anguish speared through Molly’s stomach as the certainty flashed into her mind. It was Bobby Stewart, the telegraph boy.

She heard Martha clattering down the stairs to answer, and gripped Tommy’s letter more tightly. Suddenly the words leaped out at her with all the clarity and solidity of life.

Cigarettes, please – as many as you can send. And chocolate too; it cheers the lads up a treat. And you know how I am with socks!

A list of futile little comforts that had not helped him at all. Then, a line below:

Lastly, my dearest Mother, send me your prayers.

Molly shook her head slowly. Not even this last item had reached her boy in time.

With thanks to Graeme