What She Almost Told Me

My writing process (and what happened because of it):

  1. Look at the keyboard in front of me.
  2. Check what thoughts are in my mind.
  3. Try to clear my head and get ready.
  4. Ignore the hollow feeling in my chest.
  5. Ignore the scornful twist of my lips.
  6. Feel an empty space open in my mind.
  7. Watch to see what’s happening inside.
  8. See the absence of me and get worried.
  9. Decide that some idea is going to come.
  10. Watch for the new idea’s birth pangs.
  11. Push aside the image of Bond (Brosnan).
  12. Wonder why I’m remembering a dream.
  13. Decide that this must be important, so …
  14. Notice that the last point was thirteen.
  15. Decide it’s unlucky to start from thirteen.
  16. Get so bored with writing about my mind.
  17. Decide to write a story so that I can escape … me.

The bullet enters my rib cage just to the left of my heart. I guess it missed killing me outright by an inch. As my lung begin to fill with blood I think of the ants outside my kitchen door. They had been tunnelling into the foundations of the house, removing sand and grit piece by piece. I had been outraged by this invasion of ‘my territory’ and had responded by filling their hole with poison powder. But that wouldn’t hold them.

In my bag is a newly bought tube of Liquid Ant Killer that says, in tiny letters, that ants will feed on it and pass it on to the entire colony. As my breathing becomes harder to do, I start to worry that it’ll never get used. Not by me anyhow. Waste of money. I wonder if I should give to someone in the crowd gathering around me. I wonder if …

I wonder if I’m insane to spend what could be my last minutes thinking about ants.

The urge to cough grabs at my throat. I try to hold it back. I’ve seen people coughing in movies after bullets hit them and I know that it always leads to blood pouring out of mouths and trickling down chins. I’d just put on a new shirt this morning – clean and crisp – straight from the packet. It’d be a shame to get blood on it. Then I laugh. There’s a tiny hole in the front of the shirt. A bullet-hole. A bloody bullet-hole!

I recklessly let the laugh turn to a cough. What the hell – in for a penny.

There’s a little girl standing in front of me when I stop. She can’t be more than five, or maybe six. She has such a tender expression on her face. Sweet and kind of serious. As she looks down at me I feel a lifting sensation – as if a fast moving elevator is starting upwards. I want, so strongly, to carry on going up. I feel as light as the hair snaking around this girl’s face. Strange – why is she glowing?

Her mouth opens and I know she’s going to tell me the most profound truth. I know it will answer every question. Simple, yet …

I feel the most incredible pain slam into my chest. I open eyes that I hadn’t known were closed to see two men crouching beside me. One of them has ripped my new shirt. I’m outraged. I feel something smooth against my chest. Two things. Paddles, a voice whispers inside my mind. Then male voice calls out – calm, serious – we have him.

I look around for the girl, but she’s not there. I  scan the anxious faces watching me. Just a bunch of concerned citizens.

I want to tell them not to worry. I want to explain that it’s going to be okay – whatever happens.

But part of me knows that they’re not really bothered. Most of them will be itching to get home. Aching to tell someone what happened today. One even stops filming me to make a call. Yeah, hi – this guy just got shot!!

A quick pain in my chest and when I look down I see blood flowing through a tube into a bag. Not the best way to make donation. A sharper stab in my arm and I feel myself begin to float. Hopefully, I look again for the girl then realise my mistake. Probably morphine.

Sliding into a soft place in my mind. Couch potato. Quiet calm. Cotton-wool. Safe and …

Good From Bad

 I drew this in the boring part of a meeting. I was going to say that it’s an example of good coming from bad, but now that I look at it – I’m not so sure.

However, I do know that when I’m in a bad mood or when I’m bored, and yet I still push myself to be creative, I can produce some good stuff. Do you ever find that?

Whilst Showering

Finger Shower

When I was in the shower this morning I thought of so many beautiful things to share with you on here my blog.

Here’s a list of what I remember:

  • Beautiful thing number one
  • Interesting thought number two
  • Fascinating fact number three.

Yep, you guessed it – I can’t remember a single darned thing!

How do y’all remember things you think of in the shower?

  • Do you have a water (and soap (and slip)) resistant smartphone?
  • Have you got a waterproof notebook that doesn’t turn to mush?
  • A dry-wipe (wet-proof) board screwed to the wall?

Or do you go for something more adventurous?

  • Do you have a voice activated recorder that picks up your every word?
  • A secretary that sits in the corner, wiping her glasses and taking notes?
  • Or maybe you routinely video yourself in the shower!

Let me know how you record your wonderful thoughts whilst your hands are otherwise engaged so that I can benefit from your sage advice.

Answers on the Comment shaped Postcard, to the usual address. 🙂

Blank Page

I have come to this page knowing that I want to say something but without knowing what it is.

Here are the things I do to enable me to write when I have nothing to say:

  • Trust that I have interesting things lying in wait within my mind, just waiting for the opportunity to get out, which stems from the idea that I …
  • Believe that the voices in my head are not completely under my control but that they have their own life and their own things to say, and so …
  • I don’t have to worry about doing this all by myself as if I were alone in the vast spaces inside my mind with only my memories to keep me company.
  • And anyway, theres always the automatic word suggesting system on this device to fall back on, just in case I genuinely do run out of ideas.
  • In fact, some of the best things I say seem to come from accidents anyway. I’ll press the wrong key and the perfect word appears, which sparks off the perfect sentence and paragraph and before I know it, I’ve written a best-selling novel!
  • And then I’ll wake up with an arm made of rubber and drool all over the pillow.

In conclusion – there’s no big secret to writing. All you have to do is write. The trick is to find the people that are interested in reading it. Any ideas?

Amelia (conclusion)

shadowy face

(continued from Amelia)

When Amelia had been fourteen, Mr Davies had somehow persuaded the-powers-that-be that it would be a good idea to take class 4b to an abattoir.

He’d been a raging vegetarian and had no qualms exposing the children to the blood-splattered, gore-daubed rooms where pigs were routinely bound – squealing madly, eyes wild with terror, only to be silenced forever by the quick stroke of a sharp knife.

Amelia had not been able to sleep for days afterwards and had not eaten sausages or bacon since.

The silence as she opened her eyes in that sunny living room where her babies had been gurgling happily a few seconds before had the same smell – so thick with the tang of metal that she could almost taste it.

Eyes darting madly from wall to ceiling to floor she saw the same patterns as when she had been fourteen. Raising her hands before her, she saw the same colours. Her arms. Her legs. Her clothes. All smeared and splattered with blood.

And the knife in her hand was darkly crusted with gore.

She flung it from her as if it were on fire and tried to stand, to haul herself bodily from the chair; but her foot caught on something and she slipped back. Horror struck she tried again, kicking the object aside so that she could get purchase.

As she saw the mangled little forms lying so silently at her feet, she began to scream, clutching at her hair desperately. And then everything went from red to black.

Amelia jerked as she woke, mind still immersed in blood and fear. The sun was in her eyes and she could see nothing at first. But then she heard them.

Her children. Her babies were crying. Screaming for her attention – maybe hungry, maybe needing to be changed, maybe even frightened by the wild look in their mother’s eyes.

Amelia pulled herself from the chair in a single motion and fell to her knees before them. Thanking God or soothing their hearts – it didn’t matter which. Her heart was full of joy.

Later that afternoon, Amelia lifted her babies from the cot one by one and gave them the freedom of the floor. She relaxed back into the armchair. Muhammad would be home in a few minutes and after a day like that, she was looking forward to his touch.

She closed her eyes briefly as the warm smell of cooked food mingled with the sound of children burbling contentedly at her feet. Her eyes remained closed – just for a moment. A single heartbeat.

When Muhammad arrived home thirteen minutes later, Amelia was still in the armchair. She turned towards him as he entered the room. She smiled as she saw his nostrils twitch at the heavy scent in the air, his eyes widen at the red splashes on the walls and floor, his mouth open wide in anguish at the tiny forms lying so still at his wife’s feet.

Amelia pulled herself to her feet as he took a step towards her, putting down the knife as she did so.

“Don’t worry, my love – I’ll be awake in a moment. It’ll be alright – you’ll see.”

Editing – with Robots


Shall I tell you a neat trick I discovered recently?

I was struggling to spot mistakes (spelling errors, semantically challenged sentences, syntactical slip-ups) in my own writing. Because I had a deadline to meet, I didn’t have the time nor the energy to find someone to read my precious prose. So I did something truly innovative.

Here’s what I did …

I let a robot loose on my literature.

Hidden away in most major systems (I use Microsoft Word and MacOS amongst others) is a snazzy little creature called Text-to-Speech. You might need to alter some settings to prise it into the open, but once you have it – you can use it instantly for finding the errors in your writing – any time of the day, any day of the year – and it never tires!

Here’s how it works – just highlight the relevant text and then click the button to get this cute robot to read to you. Simple as that.

The big advantage of doing this is that the voice will pause naturally when it finds a comma, leave a slightly longer gap when it finds a full stop and stumble over words that are misspelt or even, *gasp*, incorrect.

You will hear these pauses and stumbles and know straight away when something is awry, and you will be able to correct any error instantly – even as your robotic friend works on the next sentence.

It’s amazing how many mistakes are hidden away in our once, twice and thrice edited text – all invisible to us because we wanted to see just what we wanted to see – perfection.

I hope this simple trick helps you with your editing process and brings as big a smile to your face as it did to mine.

Have a nice day! 🙂