November Blog

Autumn woodland scene

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to a new and totally unoriginal feature that I’m calling MONTHLY BLOGS. The concept is simple; I will have a ramble once a month about my writing life, my reading life and my personal life. Nobody asked for this but it’s happening. You’re welcome.

What have I been writing?

Aside from the fiction I’ve been posting here and on Medium, I’ve been frantically working on a whole bunch of other stuff in hopes of making up for time lost during my mental health crisis (we’ll get onto that later).

First, I’ve been cracking on with what I hope will be a final round of edits for my novel. I plan to query it to literary agents again because, well, why not? I’ve made some pretty big changes to the opening and to the ending since my last round of submissions, and the story is certainly better for it. But I’m doubtful that it will get picked up, mainly because I want to keep my expectations low so that I’m not utterly crushed by inevitable rejection it’s kind of half way between the young adult market and the adult market and it’s hard to fit into a definitive genre. Basically, I don’t think it’s something that is ‘trendy’ enough in the traditional book biz right now. So when if I don’t get any bites from agents, I’m going to gear up to self-publish it next summer because I think it’s a good story, damn it. I’ve worked too long and too hard on this book to give up on it.

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Mannequin Chic | Flash Fiction

White mannequins - "Mannequin Chic" flash fiction

One pair of trousers, that’s all June required. She repeated it over and over in her mind as she hurried down the high street: “One pair of trousers, one pair of trousers, one pair of trousers”. The mantra fell in time with her footsteps – “one pair” with the left foot, “of trousers” with the right. It looped so quickly, so incessantly, that it became white noise and nonsense and she disremembered altogether why she’d ever walked into town. Trousers? Forget about it. Not with so many other beautiful garments on display to entice and torment her.

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Hang In There! | Flash Fiction

Illustration of a sloth hanging from a branch - "Hang In There!" flash fiction

Hang In There! says the poster, and just beneath this peppy instruction is a photograph of a sloth hanging languidly from a branch. Its little black eyes gaze out, curious, while a superior half-smile on its mouth shows its true colours. “Oh yeah, you hang in there,” that smug mouth seems to say. “I’ll even provide the noose.”

Gordon wants to punch that fucking sloth right between its beady eyes.

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Quilting | Flash Fiction

Hands sewing illustration - "Quilting" flash fiction

Oh, she’s so fucking old. How is she still clinging on to life? How?

“Morning Mrs Tidpot,” I call as I lug her shopping through to the kitchen.

“Mm.”

She’s quilting as usual. Always bloody quilting. How she isn’t bored to death of it yet I don’t know.

“Working on that quilt again, are you?”

“Mm.”

I put the kettle on and unpack the shopping, wondering who I could get to shoot me if I ever ended up quilting every damn day just to while away the seconds until death.

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The Last Cig in the Packet | Short Story

The Humber Bridge at sunset - "The Last Cig in the Packet" short story

I wrote this story nine months ago and put off publishing it in case it was too morbid or doleful. It’s certainly a lot different to the silly, whimsy fiction I tend to post. I was also scared of sharing too much of myself. This story is fictional, but it is inspired by own experiences with depression, self-harm and suicidal ideation. It’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK right now. I figured that sharing fiction like this might help in one way or another.

Ask for help. Lean on your loved ones. Don’t be too proud to admit when things are getting too difficult.


‘What are things like at home?’

I think of the thick layer of dust that sits on every surface in my living room, the unopened mail which carpets my hallway and the stacks of dirty mugs in my kitchen sink.

I shrug. ‘Fine.’

‘Do you live alone?’

I nod.

Dr Taylor looks away from his computer screen. ‘And how do you find that?’

I shrug again. I’ve lost count of how many shrugs I’ve given him over the course of the past five minutes. ‘Fine.’

‘What about when you need support? Who can you turn to?’

Another shrug. ‘My mum, I guess.’

‘Does she live nearby?’

I nod.

‘You see her often?’

I nod.

‘Does she know about the self-harm?’

My hand automatically moves to my forearm so that my fingers can poke at the fresh wound which lives there. It’s just beginning to crust over. The stab of soreness calms me. I’m looking forward to the inevitable sting that will occur later when I peel away the fabric from sticky, angry flesh.

‘Yes,’ I say.

‘So if you were in crisis you could go to your Mum’s house?’

‘I s’pose.’

‘And do you?’

Course not. When I’m in crisis I wallow in it.

‘Sometimes,’ I say.

‘Good. So your mum is an important part of your support network. I’ll make a note of that.’ He turns back to his computer screen and taps away at his keyboard.

I look at the beige walls of the bland office and wonder how Dr Taylor himself isn’t stir fucking crazy.

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Sucker! | Short Story

Kids on seesaw illustration - "Sucker!" short story

Her chest heaves as she looks at the photograph of days long gone. Her and her big brother, eight and ten years old, throwing sand at each other on Brighton beach. A snapshot of childhood, back when summers seemed to stretch out for years rather than months, giving them hours upon hours of play and playfights to indulge in.

“Alright, love?”

She jumps at the sound of her husband’s voice and the photo frame slips from her hands and lands with a crack on the edge of the hearth.

“Fuck!”

“It’s alright, I’m sure it’s fine.”

She retrieves the frame, leaving chunks of smashed glass behind on the floor. “Fuck, fuck, fuck.” The tears fall fast.

“Hey, it’s okay. We can replace the frame easy enough, can’t we?” He takes the frame from her, swiftly removes the backing and hands her the photograph. “There’s something written on the back of that.”

The world seems to slow down around her. It’s like a spider has wandered across the page, its legs covered in ink. Her brother’s unmistakable scruffy handwriting.

Alright, knobhead! I KNEW you’d drop this frame. You’re so predictable. And stupidly clumsy.

Don’t feel too bad, the glass was already cracked. And it was 99p from Asda — you know me, I love a bargain.

Now, it’s time for a good old-fashioned TREASURE HUNT!

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The Mug | Flash Fiction

Mug illustration - "The Mug" flash fiction

The mug sits unwashed on the kitchen table, a layer of white fuzz growing on the surface of the dregs of tea inside it. A smudge of lipstick is on the rim, and there’s a fingerprint made in chocolate on the handle.

The rest of the kitchen is pristine. Every single other mug, cup, glass, plate and bowl is dutifully washed, dried and put away immediately after use. But the mouldy mug remains on the table, as it has for three weeks now.

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