I tried something new

Crime fiction is not something I particularly aspire to write (although I never say never), but in the spirit of “writing to order” I had a go at a flash fiction competition run by the Hampshire Writing Society at the University of Winchester.

For the first time I went along to their monthly meeting where the most excellent crime writer, Graham Hurley, gave a verbal compendium of his passage through the last twenty years in crime writing. The Pompey crime fighting guru spoke with passion, devotion and high jinks both during his talk and the numerous ensuing questions.

When the competition winners were announced it turned out I got 4th place (out of how many is an unknown fact which I don’t care to discover). Anyhow, I was pleased.

For the last 10 minutes I have sat here slagging-off and re-slagging-off the piece I submitted so I have deleted all that and I am just going to post it below.

My submission for crime flash fiction in 200 words.

Undone
She couldn’t run anymore. Leaning against the rough stone wall her breathing eventually started to slow. She looked up and saw the sun breaking over the tree’s in the park. She felt icy cold in the early morning air, but she didn’t care because she knew she had escaped.

Locked in his thoughts, Brice was unaware of the echo his footsteps made in the streets as he rushed past deserted shops and high-rise offices.  He absentmindedly raised his hand to his face; the sudden smell of her made him retch.

As the congregation slowly trickled out of the crematorium Inspector Foster inhaled deeply and looking at the body of his brother in the passenger seat he closed his lips around the shaft of his gun and pulled the trigger.

Alice was used to taking disturbing calls. Hanging up was not part of Samaritans protocol. People needed someone to talk to even if some of them just wanted to talk X-rated. Brice wasn’t like that; he seemed harmless, just a bit lonely. As he introduced himself to her as she was rummaging in her bag for her keys after returning from the late-shift she started to realise otherwise.

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Today

I am literally directly opposite to where I was last time I was here.

Working or playing, it doesn’t matter how you define it. I am just doing what I am doing.

Less than straightforward

This is not easy.

Changing career is never easy, but the amount of challenges ahead of me sometimes feels overwhelming.

I have made the decision to become a writer and I’m sticking to it, but getting things off the ground is tough.

I have a “to do” list and it starts like this:

  1. Write T&C’s
  2. Research IPR and copy-write statement
  3. Finish business plan
  4. Register with HMRC
  5. Set-up accounts (inc hourly time apportionments for general costs, also see allowable expenses)
  6. Filing
  7. Set up business account
  8. Look into ways to pay
  9. Book HMRC workshop
  10. Work schedule – available productive hours vs business plan

Execution seems to be missing along with a load of other important things such as research, networking and knuckling down.

However, I can’t be too hard on myself; after all I have started this blog!

Business acumen aside, I need to prove I can write.  I need to share my work, I need to get out there and find where I fit.

I’m scared.

Thirteen

(Personal thought:  I am not really sure what today is about.  I feel a strange mix of anticipation, anxiety, both loss and gain of sense and excitement to be here.)

It’s the official start of the new working year, Wednesday 2ndJanuary, 2013 and I am doing a load of things that I never normally do.  I’m at the public library, drinking diet coke and teetering on the precipice of something big.  Actually, teetering on the precipice of something big is not a new thing, it’s something I have done a lot. Teetering on a tight-rope traversing from side to side, but each time I make it to the other side I simply turn back and do it all again.  Eventually I had found that the fear of the tight-rope became so familiar that it was easier to carry on doing what I was doing than it was to step off and tread a more natural path.  The something big is my new life, the one where I finally give myself a chance.  The difference today is that I am taking the first wavering step beyond said precipice to a place where I start to share who I am and what I do.

I’m Sally Wood and I write stuff!

I never normally drink diet coke, not for the last two and a half years since I fell pregnant so why I’m drinking it now, I know not.  In my old life, in my old job, I did drink diet coke, particularly when travelling and in meetings.  As I drink it now I feel transported back to a time when I felt the foreboding trepidation of an impending presentation of my less than understood or supported work to a bunch of very senior executives.  My mind awash with images of their faces hardening with resistance as the presentation revealed unpalatable information.  That familiar rush of adrenaline combined with the unnatural breath of nerves makes me feel sick now as it did then.

When I arrived here today I did a once round of the seating area as I made my way to the counter to buy a drink, all the time surveying my seating options; who do I want to sit near, where am I likely to feel relaxed enough to work?  I chose to join 2 other women on a long table where I am sat in the middle.  One woman looks older than me and the other younger.  It’s quite an informal yet central spot, outside of the main café area yet still in view of it and on the fringes of the main library.  Rather appropriately near the teen section, the age range at which I seem to be residing in today and on reflection, the age at which I felt in those awful quarterly review meetings.

The teenage years that, despite the torment associated with lurching child to adult transitions, are alive with promise, ideas and enthusiasm.  The time when, theoretically at least, you get the opportunity to unleash your essence on the world, to pull forward your connections to the things that matter, your excitement of life affecting discoveries and passions to flower the adult world as you know it.  One of the most influential, progressive and heroic of times of life.

A time for me when I put a lid on myself and solidly stamped it with an EXPIRED notice, the time when I finally found it necessary to close myself down, when I wrote- off all life experiences that had come before it, where I made a pledge with myself to truly forget who I was.  That was the start of the adult me, the manufactured adult projection that the teenage me thought would bring success and happiness.  It didn’t.  That’s why I’m here.  Choosing my position, laying out my tools and starting again.

And what of today?   What is today about?  Starting afresh?  No, there is no starting afresh.  I’m no longer a teenager.  There is no forgetting the past, no carrying on regardless for it.  It can never be laid to rest as a corpse in the ground only as a sleeping cat re-energising ready to re-awaken its limbs and test its agility when circumstance allows.  It will always be there and it can never be forgotten, ignored or written-off.  I don’t know if I will ever be able to make peace with my past, but I do know that I have started to accept it.

Today is not about starting afresh.  Today is about carrying on with a new wholeness of self.