Things I had to Research in 2020 | Blogging

I had a great deal of fun at the end of 2019 when I reviewed all of the research I’d had to carry out for my short stories throughout the year. Thorough inquiry is no guarantee of a good narrative (my wife, an excellent editor, has put several exhaustively researched but poorly written stories out of their misery), it is an end in itself.

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2020: Reflection

As a subdued Hogmanay draws to a close here in Scotland I thought I’d drop a line to say thanks to all my friends here on WordPress (I can’t abide the term ‘followers’ – there’s something far too messianic about the implied relationship!). I’m fortunate enough that after two and a half years of blogging my short stories and updates on the progress of my doctorate, I’ve met and engaged with some wonderful writers.

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The Western Wind | Book Review

The Western Wind

Samantha Harvey

Grove Press

ISBN: 9780802147721

£8.99

‘“Man is a foul thing, little and poor, a stinking slime, and after that a sackful of dung and, at the last, meat to the worms. In his final hour he lies with a shooting head and rattling lungs and gaping mouth and veins beating, his fingers cooling, his back aching, his breath thinning and death coming. His teeth grin grimly in a bony head, maggots make breakfast of his eyes. Man is weak and fruitless, a clothed cadaver clutching at his worldly things, a skeleton that will one day clack for want of blood and flesh; a festering mound of skin and nail, and after than an unlubricated heap of bone. Is man the master of his life? Does he own the moments that make it up? No, those moments are God’s, to add to or subtract as he wills. Man is a sinner whose life speeds him day by day towards a tomb, not a master of his body but a slave to it; his red lips will turn black and his eyes will fog over and his feet will stiffen and his tongue will slacken and his ears hiss with death.”

Amen, they said, as they trailed up the nave with gifts for the dead.’

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Zenith | Short Story

The app notification took the edge off the vista, but it was nothing really. Tim shifted the vibration in his pocket to the back of his mind. It was important to stay in the moment, and what a moment it had been.

Tim had felt the seawater slapping against the wooden pier underneath his feet. He had smelled drying seaweed and salt and gritty sunscreen. The low-throttled thrum of a water-ski in the distance had mingled with the babble of his children playing in the sand, arguing softly about who was in charge of building the sandcastle. A wisp of cloud trailed across the sky, its presence only serving to illustrate the expanse of blue above it.

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Thomas Cromwell: A Life | Book Review

Thomas Cromwell: A Life

Diarmaid MacCulloch

Allen Lane

ISBN: 1846144299

£30

Review

There have been many biographies of Henry VIII’s Lord Privy Seal, but surely few so weighty or well-researched. Like many, my interest in Thomas Cromwell was catalysed by Hilary Mantel’s brilliant Wolf Hall, Bring up the Bodies, and the Mirror and the Light. Cromwell is atypical of Tudor dignitaries in that he was lowborn. The son of a blacksmith, he was self-made and self-educated. From these inauspicious beginnings he rose to the right hand of a capricious and unstable king. Cromwell bullied lords and dined with dignitaries. He liquidated a centuries-old religious order and ushered in political foundations that remain to this day. Not a bad biographical subject.

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A Storm-Topped Sky | Short Story

Eternal rest, my father told me when I was a bairn. The long sleep, he had soothed. It hasn’t proved that way for me – there is little rest for those lost at sea. It isn’t the spring tides or the curling undertow that trouble me – vagaries of current are no longer my concern. It is the yearning that keeps me from my rest.

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Ayr Writers’ Club | Writing

I’ve wanted to expand my writing skillset for some time now. I’m comfortable with writing my short stories, flash fiction and haiku, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that my narrative creation goes down the same neural pathways, that I’ve made for myself a little story niche. It was with this in mind that I decided to join Ayr Writers’ Club.

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