The Codsway Chip Shop, Bushmills, Northern Ireland
And The Buntings Flew, Food, Travel

For Cod, and Ulster – Northern Ireland’s Enduring Love of Chip Shops

This is a post I wrote on my family history blog in July that I meant to crosspost sooner;  it’s a short musing on food and language in Northern Ireland, both important themes in much of my writing!

via For Cod, and Ulster – Northern Ireland’s Enduring Love of Chip Shops

My writing, Reading and Books

2018 Review – Freeing the Flow and Looking Forward

20160717_172111
Goodnight, Sweet Prince

Hi constant reader, I’m still here, in case you were wondering; I took a summer/autumn hiatus from all things writing; my creative outlets were limited to completing a drawing course, gardening, and some pre-Christmas knitting. I promised to read more (and more physical books – Kindle on a tablet makes it way too tempting to stray back onto the internet) , and although I’ve done some, it’s very hard to wean myself from the online successor to what Harlan Ellison called the Glass Teat (television and American TV culture), ironically now available on innumerable devices, not just the thin black box crouching in my living room.)

I don’t know why, but I ceased pretty much all activity unrelated to work, keeping my home presentable and the odd weekend away to nature, or as close as we could get to it. I don’t know why I was able to draw, but not write; my block extended to anything longer than a To-Do list. I didn’t even update this blog with news of another short story being published;  there are some changes I’d like to make in my life but the time isn’t yet ripe, and frustration is ironically making it even worse to pursue what’s really important to me.

So I’ve fought off the funk and I’m back to writing up ideas and looking unflinchingly at my works in progress. Time away from my writing always provides useful, if uncomfortable perspective, and I’ve found lots of low hanging fruit to edit and possibly some major rewrites, but rather than lamenting this extra work, I feel like I’m putting my best foot forward to write the best fiction I can; this makes me feel a bit better for having whiled away the summer and autumn.

So what have I achieved writing wise since my last update?

I had another short story published in Reflex Fiction, as part of their Summer 2018 long list; Let Me Be Your Fantasy is another morsel of real-life inspiration. During my early thirties, I worked in an office next door to a famous London nightclub, and the pull of the music, the wild outfits, and the exorbitant drinks were strong, but I  mostly resisted. My twenties were fresh in my memory, and to be honest I hadn’t partied much then either, but I still had some lingering regrets that I was more of an introvert and that I’d only really enjoy a nightclub if I shared it with just three friends in the room.

Reflex Fiction published an earlier story of mine, The Shore Road, which features in their first print anthology,  which you can find here:  Barely Casting A Shadow Volume One. Alternatively, you can just read the longlisted stories on their site.

I took another trip to Northern Ireland in July,  and visited many locations along the coastlines of Antrim and Down that featured in my childhood, and possibly in And The Buntings Flew. (Watch this space for a post in early January). Catching the 12th July parades in Belfast brought up so many memories and conflicting emotions that I’m still processing them, and if asked if it was a positive or negative experience, I still couldn’t tell you my answer until I’d uttered it. We also made contact with my father’s only living sister; a link between my past and present was reconnected in a nursing home dayroom where the Lisburn train rattles past residents who no longer require transport.

One of the life events that threw me off-balance was the loss of one of our cats, Kenny, who was put to sleep at the end of November. He was nearly nineteen, and the hole left by his absence is achingly painful. He was regal, imperious, affectionate, clingy, loyal, playful, and deeply nosy – our nickname for him was “The Gaffer”, and he was the bane of anyone making a delivery to our house. I miss him deeply, and I’m sure he’ll crop up in more than a few of my stories.

So constant reader, I’m meeting the New Year with a revamped site, some fundamental rewrites in mind and a renewed sense of time passing; I wish you all a happy, productive and creative 2019, and hope to have the craic again with you soon.