Old man climbs a mountain with the New Weird

Good lord, it’s the twenty-fourth of February, already. I hate it when people do that, ‘WOW! It’s [INSERT TODAY’S DATE] already!’ but I do it myself all the time – the passage of time might be linear but our experience of it is so relative that it sneaks up on me all the time. Days might pass slowly, but weeks seem to flood past. One day you’re starting university and someone sneezes and you’re close to a year away from your thirtieth birthday, wondering if you’re really not that bothered about all the things you ‘should’ have done by now. I always have taken my time with things. My mother’s name for me when I was a child was ‘Hurry up!’ and my middle names were ‘we’ll be late!’ What I’m saying is, thirty or forty or fifty, I’ll get there when I get there. ‘Whether it’s writing,’ he said, stroking an invisible, long, white beard, ‘or relationships, or self-actualization, it can take time, but it’s time worth taking.’

I’m in a weird place, creatively, at the moment. I’m struggling to knock projects off my to-do list, and yet making little, unplanned detours to whip out small pieces. My novel continues apace, but it feels like climbing a mountain – bits of it I scramble up like a mountain goat, but other bits I’m clinging on to with my finger tips, legs dangling in the wind, trying to find a foothold. Just so long as I don’t stop, don’t let go, I can’t come crashing down. Then, evening before last, I sat down with my notebook, started free writing and bashed out two thousand words of fairly decent (I think) and very weird speculative, body-horror-ish short fiction. It seems to work, and needs only a little tinkering, which is nice, so once I’ve given it time, once I’ve got some distance, I’ll polish it and start submitting.

On Sunday, I read Grief is the thing with feathers. Great Scot. It was emotionally pummelling and beautiful and disturbing and absolutely worth reading. I’m still digesting, so I’ll have something longer, and probably more rational and less gushy to post later, but for now, I can say I enjoyed the hell out of it. And that I’m jealous. So jealous. Not only do I wish that I had written Grief (Porter, you swine, what’s your secret? Which spirit did you deal with? Does she take referrals?), but I also want to push form like he does; I sat down today and thought about how to do that and came up with a big fat, empty nothing, like a Zen hand clap, so I’ll put a pin in that for now and start reading more boundary pushing authors. If you have ideas, they’ll be greatly received – whether literary fiction or things like the New Weird. I’m still working through my TBR, but I’m salivating over the titles of a few New Weird novels that look really good. Shout out your faves, please, front and centre.

P.S. It’s just been Monday, and Mondays can suck, so here’s what I wish for you for the rest of the week: I hope any vending machine you use drops two of whatever you pressed. May your phone buzz merrily with good tidings from people who love you. May your horoscope be filled with ill-tidings and turn out to be complete bollocks. May blackbirds sing sweetly as you pass. If you live in Wales: may it stop raining.

Music I’m listening to right now: Crosses by Jose Gonzales, I Think I Like You by I SEE RIVERS, Does Anybody Know by Jade Bird.

Reading: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

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