Friday Fictioneers – Old School Dirt

It has been a long time between now and my last Friday Fictioneers effort. I am more than a little over the word count so I may edit this again later on. If you want to play, head over to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and have a go. Thanks to Rochelle and also thanks to Danny Bowman for the image.

As always, I am open to constructive criticism.

Old School Dirt

The truck hissed as it drew to a halt behind the long queue of traffic.  Tony adjusted his gaze to search for the accident over the never ending line of red lights.

He looked down at his mobile and pressed down hard on the power button. It had been dead for the past hour. Dashboard read 20.30. Late again. Cara would be waiting alone, on the evening of their anniversary, for the third year running. No making up for this one.

Tony turned off the ignition and hopped out onto the sidewalk. A beaten up payphone offered little hope before he could even dial her number. A handset broken in two, he could talk but not listen.

“About right” he mused, before returning to the cabin.


What I’m Working On – Click

Stephen’s eyes flickered open as the sleep gave way to a blinking light. A bleeping machine brought him back into consciousness. His blurry eyes tried to focus on the white ceiling and the light bulb swinging back and forth.

Easing his head to one side he watched the green lines jumping like tadpoles up and down the black screen. Wires and drips fed both his heavy arms. Stephen attempted to initiate movement, slowly lifting up his hands. It took it out of him. There was a white gold ring on his left index finger. He tried to picture his wife’s face, but drew a blank as if the memory of being married had been erased.

Stephen tried to move his toes but they failed to engage with his brain. He looked at the clock on the opposite wall. It read 7.30. Damp light seeped through the misty window. Stephen couldn’t be sure if it was morning or early evening. The seconds no longer ticked by, time had ceased a long time ago.

Pulling the wires out of his skinny and pale limbs, he massaged his thighs and willed the blood to bring them back to life. Stephen could not tell when he had gone under or why but he was acutely aware the world was not as he had left it. It was too visceral, surreal and for all he knew he may still be in that coma.

Stephen lurched aimlessly out of the sterile room and into a corridor. Boxes of medicine emptied over the floor, overturned wheelchairs and abandoned trolleys created obstacles for his ailing legs.

“Hello?” Stephen croaked, but only his echo responded. His throat stung.

There was a chill in the air, Stephen felt the cold zip up his spine. He staggered  his way through the hospital corridor in bare feet and a gown loosely hanging over his frame. Recognising the urge from his bladder, Stephen headed to the nearest bathroom. Looking in the mirror, he searched the reflection for something familiar, but it may as well have been a stranger looking back. Pale, gaunt and in need of a clean shave.

His stomach twisted into knots. Stephen knew he needed to eat and drink. He felt lightheaded and his heart pounded. Leaning on a nurses station to rest he helped himself to a chocolate digestive. It tasted like soil.

On the floor were a few handbags and a camera nestled in between them. He picked up a camera, a good looking one with a screen and big lens. There was no film inside nor a place for it. He had never seen one like it before. There was a lead attached which led to the power socket in the wall. Stephen unplugged it and hung the camera and strap round his neck. There was a TV on a wall bracket, he tried switching it on but only got static. Not tuned in, he thought.

Stumbling out into the street, Stephen took a deep breath, refilling his lungs with air. It was not at all as fresh as he remembered, the smell was sulfuric and made him gag as it hit the back of his throat.

Stephen walked into the park with the camera hanging loosely around his neck. It was a placed he remembered, but didn’t know why. He recalled how it was usually brimming with people picnicking and sun bathers. What was once an oasis in the middle of the city, now lay abandoned and not even the hum of traffic lingered in the air.

Knees weak and ankles ready to buckle, Stephen let out a long scream. He wasn’t sure whether it was terror, frustration or an attempt to eject himself from the nightmare. He collapsed on the grass and looked up at the sky. It was blue, but the clouds were yellow. A small rumble rippled across the grass, just as a beautiful rainbow cascaded past the clouds. Stephen stood up, a deep hum demanding his attention. He lifted up the camera and adjusted the zoom. In the distance he could just make out a figure standing near a group of trees. Zooming in closer he saw two more figures in blurry outlines. They were running towards him.

Friday Fictioneers – One Two Three Four Legged Friend

Copyright -Douglas M. MacIlroy

Copyright -Douglas M. MacIlroy

One Two Three Four Legged Friend

I unsaddled Mystic and felt around in my bag for an apple. One left, it was a little brown and bruised from the ride but otherwise perfect. I rubbed it on my thigh and fed it to Mystic. The sun was heating up, telling me to head back to the air conditioned truck waiting to take me home without my horse. I looked around the large paddock. It was more than I could ever offer. She would be happy here.

“We’ve had some good times, haven’t we?”

Mystic tossed her head with a snort.

“Yeah, I know, I’ll miss you too”

I found this one hard as there are so many lovely stories this week, I have found it hard to follow. In fact I was tempted not to post up as was struggling to put something together. Head over to Rochelle’s place if you want to have a go at Friday Fictioneers. Pop over to Doug’s to get the moving story behind the picture.

Do All Writers Hate Their Work?

Yesterday I completed a short story. I had spent two weeks agonising over the editing process and finally, as midnight approached, I sat back with a satisfied feeling that I had finally finished my story. I went to bed content that I had created something that wasn’t half bad.

When I woke up and re-read it on my Kindle app, the cold light of day hit. The well crafted and thought-out sentences were clunky and the story seemed a little dull and ill thought out. I felt embarrassed by my premature optimism.

This isn’t new though. It is the process many writers put themselves through to get the job done. Editing is an up hill struggle. You have to battle doubt and lack of motivation for starters.

I abandoned one short story because I wasn’t getting anywhere and moved on to another that I had better success with. Yet every time I read it through, I pick and pick and cringe. One minute I love it and a couple of hours later I hate it again.

Now I have decided to let it go. I’ve sent it to some family members who I trust to give an honest opinion and not just say it’s good because they want to be nice. Waiting for feedback is like waiting to hear back from a tutor grading an essay. This is a necessary part of editing and crucial when you have lost objectivity. For me, the writing is good when you don’t feel like you are consciously reading. With your own writing I don’t think you are able to get a sense of that.

Do all writers hate their work? Does they ever get that ‘good job, well done’ feeling and easily move on?

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love writing and it gives me a thrill whenever I start something new. But there is something tortuous about sharing something so personal that you pour your heart and soul into. This is probably why a lot of writers have a turbulent relationship with their work. Perfection is everything.

Either way, I’m going to keep working at it and strive to arrive at that point where I know that my work is the best that it can be.

Friday Fictioneers – The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse

Sam rubbed his tired eyes and focussed on the blinking light. All was calm but winds from the dark ocean were starting to gain strength and rumbles from the sky spoke of a storm. He looked down at the net lying on deck and his heavy heart sank. Three days and only a few fish to show for it.  His skin was grainy from the salty air. He craved a shower and a cold beer. The beacon was getting brighter as the winds pushed his drifting boat towards the land.  Sam submitted to defeat and allowed his mind to think of Amy. She would be waiting and tonight, he could do with some comfort.


Here is my Friday Fictioneers. This picture instantly reminded me of a lighthouse. I have never actually been inside one but the spiralling staircase made me think of that. So loosely based on that interpretation  I came up with my story. I have been working on my short stories and editing and not really blogged in a while or taken part in this weekly tradition. Better late than never.

If you want to take part, head over to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and have a go.


George Orwell’s manuscript for 1984

George Orwell’s manuscript for 1984.

I stumbled across this article from the Fiction Desk which details pages from George Orwell’s manuscript for 1984. Over the past few weeks I have been focusing on the process of editing and redrafting. It can been a tedious and depressing task, going over everything you have written with a very critical eye.

As writers we are the first to criticize our own work and hack it to pieces. When I was about to give up, this reminded me that no first draft of anything is perfect. Far from it.

Becoming a writer is all about that painful first read, it is when you start  bring everything together and turn your story into more than just a good idea. I am sure there are some authors who can produce beautifully polished prose first time round, however for most the process is a lot more complicated.




Friday Fictioneers – Nothing to Declare

Hands up, this isn’t my best. It was completed on my 30 minute lunch break. I was partly reminiscing about school, my partner in crime during the school days (who played the cello) and one of my favourite Bond moments. So I apologise to those who don’t get the vague reference, I hope you enjoy it anyway.

If you want to play along, head over to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

2 Double bass in a locker

Copyright Roger Cohen

Nothing to Declare

“Which one?”

“The lighter one”

“Do you think they would notice it missing?”

“Nah, not if we’re quick”

Beth stood on the tips of her toes and peered out of the tiny window. “Snow is looking pretty thick at the moment, perfect conditions”

“You keep a watch whilst I get the case”

Jess dashed into the adjoining cupboard and fought through the various instruments to drag out the cello case. It was nearly the size of her.

“Psst” she heard from Beth “Mrs Newel is coming, get out of there”

Hearing her teacher’s heels walk down the hallway, Jess quickly put the case back and joined Beth back by the cellos.

“We’ll try again tomorrow” whispered Beth “I bet Bond never had this much trouble”