Out of the woods?


As those who have read my previous posts will know, since suffering a devastating personal loss last year, I have not been able to write - having neither the motivation nor the concentration required to create a story, much less to hone and edit until it is fit for human consumption. But I have been recording snippets of how I have been feeling on my phone, and once Christmas was over I listened to them back. 

They are, as you might imagine, quite soul-wrenching and I wept many new tears as I listened, but it also occurred to me that perhaps they should be transcribed into a form which might pass for a book. I have read several books on grief over this last year, but because grief is such a personal thing, and everyone reacts to it differently and in their own way, in any one book there tends to be only a few passages that chime with you. So while you can appreciate and empathise with the writer's own experience of loss, it does not necessarily mirror what you are personally going through. So I thought that perhaps it may be of use to others if I could throw my own set of experiences into the mix.

I began by simply transcribing the recorded pieces as they stood, with no editing except for cutting out the myriad 'ums' and 'ers' that pepper them like shotgun pellets. These I have replaced with ellipses, so that the raw, disjointed nature of the pieces remain exactly as they were recorded. What you won't find in this written version, of course, are the many times my voice cracks; the many times I break down; the many times I dissolve into tears - and perhaps that's for the best.

Once the transcriptions were done - though I'm sure there will be a couple yet to come, as we are not quite at the anniversary, and I wanted to document my grief 'journey' (horrible phrase, but I can't think of a better one) throughout the whole of this first, awful year - I began to write a short commentary on each one, looking back on each recording with the benefit of hindsight. This part of the project is still a work in progress.

I said earlier that it might be of use to others living through a similar experience, but currently I have no immediate plans for the work to be anything other than therapy for me. I am enjoying (if that's the right word) the process though, and it has got me back to the keyboard, re-establishing the discipline and routine of daily writing, which can only be a good thing. Whether it will ever see the light of day, in the sense of becoming a published entity that people could read, I have no idea. But I can see that it could.


In other writing related news, I have begun sending out stories again. As I haven't written anything new in over a year, these are works that have been sitting, forlorn and unloved, on my hard drive, and which really deserve to find a home. So I have once more embraced the persona of hopeful author sending his babies out into the cruel, harsh world of genre publishing to fend for themselves.

So far I have had two rejections, both interesting in different ways. The first was the fastest rejection I have ever received... I sent the story out at about 4pm on a Wednesday, and when I awoke and turned on my phone the following morning, the rejection was already glowering at me from my inbox. Less than 24 hours turnaround, most definitely a record. 

The other was probably the loveliest rejection I've ever had... normally you get a blunt message saying you've been rejected, and that's that. But in this case, the lovely editor of Allegory magazine (yes, they deserve the name check) not only told me that out of 900 submissions, mine had made the shortlist of 65, but went to great lengths to tell me how good he thought my story was, and that it only hadn't made the final cut (of 12 stories) for reasons of magazine balance. Finally he asked if I would give my permission for him to include my name and story title in the 'honourable mentions' section of their Main Page, which I thought was a lovely gesture, and went some way to sweetening the bitter pill of rejection.

Finally, there will be one of my stories coming out shortly in an anthology from Other Worlds Ink - 'Earth 2100' - which I shall post more about when it has a firm release date.

So I might not be out of the woods yet, but I can see signs of a path emerging from the tangled undergrowth. And in the meantime, I am about to begin a course of bereavement counselling which hopefully will make that path a little clearer. So wish me luck...


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