I’ve been rather scatter-gun with my blog posts of late. I’ve had to rearrange some ballast on deck, with more attention paid to my doctoral literature review (finally completed) and work. This temporary realignment has reminded me of how much I miss blogging. I’ve certainly engaged with the writing community, but it never feels quite the same when you’re not posting your own content – the only person circling at a party with nothing interesting to say.
With that in mind, I aim to post approximately once per week again. This suits my schedule and ensures that I focus primarily upon quality. I’ll also be looking to expand where I publish my short stories and flash fiction again. It’s about time I started to regularly submit to journals and websites again; it forces me to diversify and to tailor my writing to others’ specifications rather than my own.
I’m off the mark for 2020 – a short story of mine will be published in April in Literally Stories (an excellent place to submit if you haven’t already tried them). Nevertheless, the welcome prospect of having my work published externally has brought to light an idiosyncrasy of mine that I haven’t heard replicated in the writing community.
Please, please let someone else have this literary tic.
I can’t bear to look at a piece of mine that has been externally published. I have never read a story of mine which has been published by someone else in its entirety. I can’t bear to. When editing, I have never read through a draft without changing something, a comma, a semicolon. Reading a story that is beyond that mechanism of adjustment is like torture for me. Imagine a poorly constructed sentence, or, the horror, a typo! Having that outwith the reach of editing software and in front of a discerning public is nightmare made real. I put up the links on my blog. I buy the few magazines I’ve been lucky enough to get into, but settling down to read them feels risky and self-congratulatory.
In the brilliant ‘The West Wing’, there is a fantastic scene where political operative Will Bailey is chiding his sister for tempting fate as they await the result of a crucial election. Will says (and the quote is from memory) ‘there is a moment after the dice leaves your hand but before it hits the table. Breathe wrong and you’ll change the way it lands’. It is precisely the lack of such a mechanism that haunts me. I am the lovelorn teen with his hand stuck in the post box and whose moment of dawning clarity has come seconds too late.
Never mind. Let’s blog, publish, submit, screw up, and let the dice land where they will.
Matthew Richardson is a writer of short stories. His work has featured in Gold Dust magazine, Literally Stories, Near to the Knuckle, McStorytellers, Penny Shorts, Soft Cartel, Whatever Keeps the Lights On, and Shooter magazine. He is an absentee member of the Glasgow Writers Group, a PhD student at the University of Dundee, a lucky husband, and a proud father.
Not necessarily in that order