Author: Peculiar Things

I write novels, short stories/flash fictions and poetry. I'm interested in the intersection between light and darkness and oddness in all of its forms.

Pretentious

Not a word I like or use. It’s usually levelled at working class people, by other working class people, when they express themselves through art. I expect it’s been used about me, though never to my face, because I write poetry and take an interest in art. Why do we impose these limits on ourselves? The working class in the UK has so many barriers to success without us self-applying them.

It ought to be easy. You enjoy something, you do it. And yet I find when I’m teaching poetry writing there’s a reluctance to write anything that isn’t funny or cute or nice. Just write it, and if the world decides to call you pretentious wear the label with pride.

So come on, fellow working class writers and artists. Let’s be pretentious. Let’s get ideas that are way above our station and let’s never, ever know our place.

Poem For Chris

Our love is this.

It is a smile at a bedside.

Linking of arms and

clinking of glass.

A sunrise. A sunset.

It is ease. Joy. Truth.

Its unquestioned presence

wraps around every word.

Our love is this.

Soft hands held together

and cold feet

warming each other.

Knowing. Feeling.

Hurting. Together. Apart.

It is laughter and it

is sorrow.

Our love is this.

It is you, it is me.

A lifetime and a moment.

Medusa leaves home

Tired of the constant bickering,

the ‘he said’ ‘she said’ never ending

circus. Tired of being the butt

of local gags and sick to death

of being harassed by the local gods,

she leaves. Takes an Uber

as far as she can get on her

Saturday wages and then

hitchhikes the rest. Doesn’t

look back.

They’d met by the sea.

He promised

to shake the world for her

but all she got was

a bellyful of anger and a

head full of snakes. Spiteful.

She’s alone now. Walking

the pier and looking

strangers in the eye.

The waves, his waves

crashing in front of her

like some kind of metaphor.

She wishes she could

turn herself to stone.

She could stand here forever

feeling nothing and

even the sea couldn’t

move her.

Am Editing

Until you have to do it, editing seems like the easy afterthought of the novel writing process. Just like childbirth, the memory of the painful editing process fades once it’s over, compelling you to put yourself through it again at a later date (and having given birth twice I feel I am qualified to use that comparison).

The novel is so close to completion that it’s now more frustrating than ever. I like the beginning, most of the middle and the ending. There’s a section just around the black moment when it all goes very badly wrong, not just for my protagonist but for me and my reader – the writing is dreadful, honestly. So that needs re-doing. I have a missing chapter and I repeat myself quite a bit (thanks, thyroid brain fog).

I just have to force myself to keep going. One of these days I’ll be happy to report that it’s done and I’m happy with it. Then I can start giving it to other people to read, which will involve a whole new set of issues to deal with.

2am

Everything is loud.

The clock’s unbearable tick

Splintering.

Fracturing.

Your hand shakes

as you pass me the glass.

We both know it’s nearly over.

We lived well, or

well enough; we stood

for something.

That’s what they’ll say

if they say anything.

We’re already past tense.

I touch your arm and

your breathing slows.

We’re still here.

That’s all that matters, for now.

The lamp flickers and dies.

There is a knock at the door.

This came from a writing group prompt: 2am. I watched a documentary about the night of the long knives in Germany before WW2 and wanted to reflect the feeling of waiting for that knock.