Polishing the Pebble: Editing

Call me masochistic, call me an oddball, but I love editing. Perhaps it’s my long-missed vocation as a substitute English teacher talking, but if I can’t look at a piece of raw writing and make it better then I might as well take up watercolours or piano.

This is where the art of writing really begins for me. Due to the aforementioned masochistic streak, I keep all of my drafts upstairs in a filing cabinet. Just occasionally I’ll dig out the first draft of a piece like ‘Tagged’ and, once I’ve finished shuddering at the raw product, I’ll marvel at just how much it has changed from its original form. For me, a first draft is a chunk of stone hewn from a rockface. When editing, it’s time to park the plant equipment and bring out the hand chisel. Here are a few tips that I’ve found useful when adapting my first draft…

Continue reading “Polishing the Pebble: Editing”

Better Safe…

The nearer Jacob gets to his home, the longer the streets seem. Every day after work, he powerwalks the pavements, hugging the building lines, all the while envisioning the interior of his one bedroom flat. Over the ridge at Mimosa Avenue he catches sight of the indistinct facings and closed blinds of his apartment. Safe. Secure. Shut away.

Jacob doesn’t even look around him as he dives into the darkness of the common close. He feels the lock click into place behind him and strides up the stone stairs one step at a time. One more door, two more locks, and he is in the cool hallway of his flat, the bustle and traffic and chaos left behind. Jacob sighs and lets his shoulders sag as he leans against the inside of his front door. Continue reading “Better Safe…”

Out of Sight…

First down was the family goldfish. Flaccid and limp-finned, it had been surreptitiously slipped down the plughole as Sean’s daughter slept, shortly to be replaced by Goldie Mark II. Sean was aware that protocol demanded that the long-serving Goldie Mark I be flushed down the toilet with full military honours, but the en-suite was a chemical toilet and dissolving a family pet in what was essentially a pit of bleach felt a bit…premeditated.

When it came to the disposal, there was remarkably little fuss. Goldie did a couple of laps of the sink before finding his eternal rest and…was it Sean’s tired eyes playing tricks on him, or had the plughole widened ever so slightly in anticipation of its feast? Pulling the light chord, he went back to bed. Continue reading “Out of Sight…”


Garth has an unusual talent and like all unusual talents, it doubles as a curse. That’s the way it’s meant to work isn’t it?

You see Garth can predict how near something is to breaking. That rusty swing in the park? Still 21,638 arcs left before the iron oxidises enough for that bottom-left link to come away from the seat. That toaster? Only 252 more slices of burned-black toast (that’s the way that Garth likes it) will pop up from that old, chrome warrior. Continue reading “Countdown”

Book Review – Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain

Annie Proulx

Fourth Estate Publishing

GPB 3.99

‘Dawn came glassy-orange, stained from below by a gelatinous band of pale green. The sooty bulk of the mountain paled slowly until it was the same color as the smoke from Ennis’s breakfast fire. The cold air sweetened, banded pebbles and crumbs of soil cast sudden pencil-long shadows, and the rearing lodgepole pines below them massed in slabs of somber malachite.’ Continue reading “Book Review – Brokeback Mountain”

Building up Resistance

I was one of those kids that put batteries in their mouths. I used to like the big 9V bad boys. The ones that give you just a hint of a tingle, going right to the root of your tongue. That’s how it started.

It was the choking hazard rather than the electricity that concerned my parents. Didn’t bother me, though. Every time they would extricate a saliva-covered Duracell from around my gums, I would wait until they left the room before slipping it back in again. Buzzzzzzzzzz. Eventually, once they could safely disregard my swallowing the battery, they let me be. It was just a phase, and better a little sulfuric acid than LSD, right? Continue reading “Building up Resistance”