A Fictional Start


A few months ago I was asked to write something creative for a new web project and decided I would try a little bit of fiction. This wasn’t entirely new, I had dabbled with poetry and, well before writing Time’s Up! wrote something called A Last Toast to the Old World, which ended up being the Epilogue to that book.

The very short story I ended up writing was called Wound, which had two meanings – one related to harm, the other to the concept of time. You can read it here if you really want to, but I know it’s not terribly good. Two reasons I know: first, it didn’t make me cry. Not long after writing A Last Toast… I read it out at a meeting, I think it was a Dark Mountain event, and the first time I ever met Paul Kingsnorth. At the last paragraph I started to choke up, and almost couldn’t read the final words.

This isn’t ego, I must add. Writing fiction is something I do very little of because, although I think I can, it takes a huge emotional investment. Those tears are in reliving the moment of writing – the unfolding of lives in a deeply meaningful way, at least to me. If I don’t feel an emotional tug when reading things back then I know it’s not working.

The second reason I knew the short story wasn’t very good is because a dear friend of mine told me so. I trust her judgement implicitly. It moved me a little, but it was immature; not the complete package by any means.

So, when I decided to embark on longer writing in order to try and express ideas in a slightly different form than my previous work,  it was with a fair amount of trepidation. I had, and still have, an idea for a semi-autobiographical novel – that stays in the bag for now. There was also another idea, about a world that is now, but a culture that is not; about potential loss and the need to prevent it; about still having time, something we have so little of now.

That was to be the short story, as practice for the novel. I wrote it. I showed it to a few people and they liked it. They wanted to know how it carried on.

You won’t get to see that story, at least not for a while.

But you know how ideas take on a life of their own? That short story, which is complete in its own way, is now becoming a novel. I don’t know whether it will work in the longer form, but I’m 5000 words in and getting the hang of it, and rather excited as to what will happen to my main protagonist…

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