Category Archives: Blog

On memories and missing friends

I don’t know how much sense I’m making. But I’m writing this just because…I don’t really know. I guess I need to.

It feels odd, still. As my housemate said the other day, it still doesn’t feel like anything’s happened. Like he’s just going to walk in the door again one day. He doesn’t feel gone.

And yet there’s a hole in my heart, and an empty seat in the house, and gaps in my day where there should be an email or a text or a smiling face at the train station.

It’s the little things that hit me the most. The ones I expect I can usually deal with – but it’s driving back along the ridge at night, singing loudly, and then feeling the tears start because I just want to be able to turn around and see him there in the back seat, smiling. It’s reading a line I wrote and thinking how much he liked it. It’s stepping out of the front door and hesitating a moment before I lock it, because surely there’s someone else coming to the canal with me?

He still walks beside me. I am so grateful to have known him, despite every moment of heartache it gives me.

Some people walk through life so quietly that most people don’t notice they’re there until they’re gone. And then – they aren’t there, and there’s a hole.

So I guess what I want to say is this:

If you think you’re worthless; if you think you don’t have a place, you don’t make a difference, you don’t matter….

You’re wrong. You do.

I only knew Ryan for a year. He wasn’t someone who made the world shake as he walked; he was quiet, thoughtful. You wouldn’t have noticed him in a crowded room, and you probably wouldn’t have glanced twice at him if you saw him on the street.

He didn’t think he was important. He felt so small, so tiny, so powerless. He didn’t think he was special or funny or different or clever or beautiful. He didn’t feel that he was anyone.

You think you can’t make a difference. That you don’t matter.

To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.

You matter.

I have suddenly lost someone who meant a lot to me, even though he didn’t think he was important.

I miss the smile. I miss his long fingers, his quiet words, his interested glance. I miss the man who was always up for a walk or exploring, the writer who experimented in so many worlds, the fanboy who was always up for talking about anything that interested him. I miss the small things that made up everything about him.

You matter.

I miss my friend who didn’t think he was brilliant or funny or clever or intelligent or wise or amazing, and who was every single one of those things.

And yes, I did tell him that he was, regularly.

(He was a derp, too, and an idiot. I told him that on a regular basis as well, although mostly when he drilled through water pipes and stayed up until 3am because the cat fell asleep on him and he didn’t want to move it.)

But you matter.

He didn’t have a choice in life. He got taken away just as he was getting started.

You matter.

If you’re feeling small or worthless, if you’re feeling unimportant, if you’re just feeling grey and nothing.

Don’t choose to end things.

You will leave a hole in too many hearts that will never entirely heal, no matter how small or insignificant you think you are.

You matter.

Progress: No Man’s Dawn

Writing feels like a jigsaw puzzle sometimes, except you have to make up the pieces yourself.

I start off with some of the edges, and a few bits of tree or whatever, and then realise that maybe the pattern is a kitten in a basket and that’s some of the basket, and I’ve got the kitten, plus I found a few more bits of edge, but maybe it would look good with a puppy in there too? And then the cat sits on the board and I lose a few of the pieces down the back of the sofa and the sky seems to be a weird mix of blue and cloud, and it’s all a weird mess within a few random edge pieces.

Also, I think metaphors can be taken too far. But you get what I mean.

I didn’t feel that No Man’s Dawn was quite right; I was missing something. Dee was boring. While the outline was good – someone running away from a problem, making a new life, discovering secrets, murder mystery – it didn’t have the spark I wanted.

Well, I came up with a solution.

I added Luk.

I came up with the idea in the car, and my housemate just gave me a Look when I started giggling.

This is now the start of the book:

“Fuck. Fuck, fuckitty fucking fuck. Fuck!”

That last one echoes off the rock ahead of me, and I glance over my shoulder to try to spot my pursuers.

Of course, I can’t see anything.

“Fucking invisible bastard fuckers!”

You see why I was giggling?

Adding Luk adds depth and familiarity. I’m doing alternate chapters, Luk and Dee; it means I can add an extra plotline, add an extra thread to my murder mystery, and I don’t necessarily have to explain everything to the clueless Dee as Luk is already experienced. He’s also a complete bastard, and it’s been great fun to play out some of the consequences – especially on Dee. I’d already planned for him to come into the story, but having half of it from his perspective is definitely the right thing to do.

The spark’s back. I’m loving this almost as much as No Man’s Land; it hasn’t got the same snark factor, but hopefully it’s going to have a similar Not Nice feel, along with a twist at the end.

I’m also doing some work on No Man’s Sky; I’ve got ideas for some fill-in sections thanks to my beloved alpha-reader and aunt, and it’s been through a couple of other readers who have also given me ideas and encouragement. I’m waiting on my other alpha to finish writing Suddenly Lesbians (working title) and then she can focus on it, but that’s definitely got some spark back too.

So it’s getting there! (Again). Yay!

So many books, so little time…

So therefore I obviously need more. Duh.

This is a shout-out to two of my favourite bookshops – one physical one and one online one!

The physical one is Books on the Hill in Clevedon. I went there for Sophie’s book signing, and dropped in again on my way to a wool shop with a friend a few weeks ago. Ali’s lovely and the selection is always interesting, plus they do tea – what’s not to like? If you’re in the area then they do events, too. (Also, I am reliably informed that they’re setting up an online bookstore…watch their webpage for info!)

medusa books logoAnd the online one is Medusa Books, run by one of my lovely Swindon friends. They do classic sci-fi and board games, so if you’re into cheesy 80’s pulp or vintage sci-fi, check out their stock! It changes a lot so is worth keeping an eye on – they’re on Twitter too @medusabooks.

My reading list has already grown ridiculously…so therefore, of course, I’m currently re-reading Going Postal. To give myself some leeway, I have read 102 stories in the last week and have two-and-a-half novels sitting in my inbox, waiting for beta reading or editing. I’ve started working on Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell again, plus some of the books on my Discoverability Challenge

That doesn’t mean I’m not browsing longingly, though!

On doors and opportunities

I feel that I’ve had a lot of doors slammed in my face recently.

[Insert cliche here about one door closing and another opening, or “just keep going”…]

But it hurts. It frickin’ sucks.

I’m suffering from writer’s block at the moment, which isn’t helping. I’m not feeling delightful enough to write GreenSky and I’m struggling to get into the world again. I’m pondering No Man’s Sky and No Man’s Dawn, which isn’t helping me actually write. I’ve got a stack of short stories, but can’t make progress with any of them.

I’ve just had two short stories rejected; shorts that I was honestly confident about. I liked them and I thought they were good stories. And while I know from the editing side that it isn’t often possible to write more than a standard rejection letter to authors, from the author side it really sucks to not know why you’ve been rejected. I don’t know if my story didn’t fit, wasn’t quite right – or, as my fears are telling me, was simply crap. And that feeds back into the rest of my fears, particularly about Not Being A Proper Writer.

I’m struggling with home life too. I’ve got a whole load of doubts and fears circling. I’m on my own a lot at the moment and while in some ways I quite like it, it does give me far too much time to listen to my own thoughts and worry about what I’m doing or feeling.

I still don’t know what I’m doing with jobs. I’m three months into my six-month break and I feel that I haven’t done anything. I’m worrying that six months off will completely screw any future jobs I try to get. I’m worrying that I’ve done the wrong thing. I’m wondering if I could have coped with the anxiety to stay just a bit longer in my last job (and that’s when the rational voice pipes up with “hell no!” so at least there’s some sanity there). I’m wondering which direction I want to go in. I feel like so many doors have slammed on the job front that I’m facing a wall of missed opportunities there, too. I know most of them have been out of my control, but I’m still very much blaming myself for all the failures.

I’m walking on quicksand in every area of my life, and still feeling completely lost. I’m still walking, but it’s tough when I’m not sure where I’m going.

But hey. I keep writing, keep submitting, keep walking. I just have to make the decisions as they come up, and do what’s right for me. I’ve got some wonderful people supporting me, and I’m grateful for them every day. I just need to keep going.