Very happy to have two stories up in this month’s Connotation Press, one started in a Kathy Fish Fast Flash class, the other from a prompt from my mentor, the utterly wonderful Tania Hershman. And as write-ups go, this is kinda nice. Thanks, Jonathan Cardew.
This story started in a Meg Pokrass Facebook class – highly recommended, by the way, and terrific fun. Meg’s prompts are left-field and brilliant. It’s undergone a lot of rewriting but finally achieved one of my publication goals by appearing in this month’s edition of (b)OINK. Many thanks to Rob Parrish for picking this one up. You can read Whiteout here.
I spent the last couple of months working on a thing I really wanted to apply for, trying very hard to write The Best Story I Have Ever Written. Turns out that sort of pressure isn’t the absolute best, creativity-wise, but it did result in a clutch of new story drafts, like a little nest of hatchling eggs. That metaphor is going to get weird if I try to continue it, but the upshot is that I’m now trying to rewrite and send out a few of them.
I really, really don’t sub enough. I spend so much time editing and rewriting, trying to drag the story up to be more like something the better writer I want to be might produce. This week I sent out two, the first with an accidentally awful cover letter attached. Happily (well, kind of) it resulted in a speedy, but very kindly-worded rejection, which afforded me the opportunity to write a proper email back to say thank you.
The second sub was via Submittable – easier not to blunder – and resulted in an even speedier ACCEPTANCE. Joy!
All in all, I reckon this subbing business might get to be kinda fun, given time. Wish me luck.
October 10th brought a special writing acceptance for me: a prose poem, the first I’ve ever sent out, and one with a shed-load of meaning for me.
I spent the ten years between 2001 and 2011 working in homelessness and drug work as a support/advice/advocacy worker, mostly with street homeless people.
I worked with some special people. Lots of them died. The average life expectancy of a homeless person in the UK is 47; for women, it’s 43. Some of the stories I couldn’t tell you, because they’re just too hard to hear. Maybe one day I’ll write them, if I can disguise the details enough to protect privacy. Sometimes, for some of them, it felt like it was only us who carried their memory. I don’t know if that was true – maybe we were just presumptuous. I know that there are faces I will never forget.
A Wild & Precious Life anthology is a wonderful project bringing together prose and poetry written by people who have experience of recovery in many different forms. We have our own family story, which didn’t end in recovery, and that has reached into the future and touched everything for us.
The prose poem I wrote, though, was a gathering up of the hope I tried to carry on behalf of the incredible humans I worked with out there – people with creativity, quirkiness, compassion, energy, ideas, intelligence, anarchy, morality, brokenness, the bleakest of pasts, humour, anger, hurt, kindness; a wild take on life, or a desperate need to fit in somewhere, anywhere. All of these and so much more.
There was always hope, for every one of the people we worked with, even if sometimes it was hard for them or us to catch a hold of it and keep it.
The poem is named for a special guy I had the privilege of working with for a while. Kind, shy, soft-spoken, intelligent, sensitive, full of respect for others, facing life with quiet courage and the gentlest of humour. Unassuming and undemanding.
Many of us still remember you, Matt. You were one of the good ones. Wish you were here.
Update 27/6/18: You can support this anthology project at Unbound, now! https://unbound.com/books/recovery/