Thursday, December 22, 2011

National Short Story Day and Words for Christmas

The shortest day today and what better way to fill it with light than to celebrate National Short Story Day, and what better way to wish my readers Happy Christmas than to direct you to the website, where there's a feast of stories, and many short story recommendations. My own favourites (here) are Grace Paley's 'A Conversation With My Father' and 'The Universal Story' by Ali Smith: click the recommendations link on the home page to see choices of a host of others.

Speaking of recommendations, I was going to recommend to you Mark Forsyth's Etymologicon, the book from his erudite and witty blog on etymology - I'm a sucker for such things and I'm putting it in stockings - but it's clear I don't need to: it's book of the Week on Radio 4 and currently Amazon's best-selling book - pretty amazing for a book from a small publisher. Meerkats one year, the origins of words the next - there's no accounting for the British!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Crossposted with Fictionbitch

Monday, December 12, 2011

Stand magazine

Recently I've been keeping my head down, busy writing short stories again, and I must say I'm finding it a peaceful life. I used to say that writing a series of stories was harder than writing a novel, because once you set a novel in motion it carries you along, whereas each story requires a new effort or burst of ideas and inspiration. That's true, of course, but at present I'm loving the containment of the creative process on each story: there's the same excitement and total immersion, of course, but then the gelling and completion - and consequent sense of satisfaction - come so quickly (by comparison), and, if I want I can then rest and have a period of rejuvenation. I'm not having to put my whole life on hold the way you often have to just to get a novel done - either that, or feel torn to bits between your writing and all the other demands on you, which (for me, at any rate) usually means that the work suffers.

Anyway, I'm very pleased to say that one of the recent stories has been taken by Stand, one of the longest-running and respected literary magazines. I owe a great debt to Stand: two of the stories in Balancing on the Edge of the World, 'Star Things' and 'A Glossary of Bread', were previously published in Stand, and it's a magazine I'm most thrilled to be in. It was founded in 1952 by the poet Jon Silkin with the mission to create a platform for writing that is 'simple in expression and human in its context'. The new story won't be in the magazine until 2014, but it will be worth the wait.