Symbiosis

Hi all,

Just had a little nature inspired, creative non-fiction essay published on the fantastic lit mag website The Sunlight Press.  If you fancy a quick read, here it is:  https://www.thesunlightpress.com/2018/06/17/symbiosis/

I’ve had several pieces published on this site in the past couple years, and have to say, to anybody wanting to submit work, they are a wonderfully supportive and professional literary website.  They accept all types of writing, and even photography, and unlike most places, they pay for work.  I’ve found them to respond quickly to submissions and give excellent editorial advice.

As a writer, it’s often difficult enough to find the time to write, to come up with good ideas, then to have the confidence to send out work.  You can then often come up against a brick wall with regards to magazines and websites.  It can be very disheartening to new writers.  But when you come across a website such as The Sunlight Press, run by two great editors and writers themselves, you really appreciate the effort they put in to make writers feel they respect your work; regardless of whether the work submitted is accepted or not.

If you’ve come across any similar wonderful resources, please share!

Best,

Kate

 

 

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Will I still be a Writer?

There’s been a lot of change floating around my world lately.  In the processing of downsizing to a smaller home with my family, attempting to simplify life, taken on part-time paid work and contributing time to a charity.

I’ve plodded along with my writing for the past couple of years, experiencing some really positive successes, such as publications, paid writing work, editorial work, and competition wins.  I’ve also experienced much rejection.  If you’re going to put yourself out there in a creative field, you are going to face inevitable rejection.  I’ve even got to the stage where I don’t take it personally.  Well, mostly.

The loss of some lucrative editorial work I had last year, together with a slowing down of paid reviews, meant I took on more paid part-time work outside of writing, as well as Yoga teaching.

Now, an opportunity has arisen that’s shaken me up a bit.  A more involved role with the charity I volunteer for has opened up.  It’s something I love.  Something I strongly believe in.  But my hesitation at jumping straight in is partly tied up with my idea and image of calling myself ‘a writer’.  What is one, specifically, and can I still call myself one if I’m dedicating more time to other paid work?

The idea of claiming the term ‘writer’ is a tricky one, I think.  Many of my writerly friends will say they can’t even begin to call themselves that title unless they are earning a living from their writing.  Yet, if you are writing, and especially submitting work, doesn’t that qualify?  Does it only count if you’re published; and does online count, or just print?  Or does it depend on whether you’ve been paid for your efforts?

If you don’t need to do another paid ‘day job’ in addition to writing, or you are on the bestseller lists, then it’s pretty cut and dried.  But as with many things in life, there are lots of grey areas.

The dictionary definition of a writer includes many variations, including: “a person engaged in writing books, articles, stories, especially as an occupation; a clerk or scribe; a person who commits his or her thoughts and ideas to writing”.

So in this respect, perhaps it’s time to let go of the pretensions and hang-ups over who can and who can’t say they are a writer.

If you: blog, write letters, journal, act as scribe, apply for grants, scribble poems, submit flash fiction, write reviews, write essays, publish online content, publish in print, or are working on the next bestseller: you are committing your thoughts and ideas to writing.

You Write.  You are a Writer.  Own it.

 

 

Nice Girl

The girl – the other girl – is pushing the stripy pushchair along the pavement. Aldi carrier bags swing from both handles. She almost walks into me. The baby is playing with its feet. The eyes of the child in the pram are his eyes, green and bright.

Those are the eyes that I once fell into, coiled together on that old sofa with the stuffing bleeding out, our hands exploring one another for the first time.
Their baby has snot snaking down towards its lips. They’re his lips, too. His warm lips on mine on that sweaty sofa, the teenage mingle of sweat and aftershave, stolen from his dad’s bathroom cabinet.
I’ve replayed this scene a thousand times – bumping into him, or bumping into her, bumping into them both. Showing him I’m fine, I’m over it. I’ve done all right for myself, thanks. But the baby, this baby with his eyes and his lips has stalled me.
He was a big fish in our small home town, once. He reeled me in, threw his affection around for a while. Before unhooking me, letting me go. Now he’s just a minnow, pulling this other girl and baby along in his wake.
The baby with his eyes, his lips.
I was just a nice girl, he said. She was more adventurous than me, he said. Now she looks like the stuffing’s been kicked out of her, like the stuffing on that sofa, where I first tasted lust and excitement.
In her dead eyes I see my alternate life. The one that got away. Her adventures confined now to a snotty child and budget chicken korma.
When we meet on the pavement, him and the girl – the adventurous one – and their snotty child, the one with his eyes, his lips, I don’t say any of the things I thought I’d say.
I don’t tell him what a success I am. I don’t say Remember me? I just smile. I just stand there and smile, politely.
I’m the nice girl, remember?

First published on Cafe Aphra

Father’s Guitar

Father’s Guitar

His guitar stands resplendent,

Statuesque.  His muse – ethereal,

awaiting him to place it into its tomb-like case.

He strokes it with long, practised fingers,  

caressing the taut strings.

I watch as he takes the instrument into his arms,

gently placing it into the case lined with purple velvet,

as one would place a newborn,

holding the back of the spine until last.

Clicking silver clasps shut, he leaves.

I crawl from my hiding place,

lying myself down on the cheap carpet beside it.

I am the same length exactly

as my rival.

I move close, closer still –

and, like osmosis,

try to absorb a piece of his affection.

Kate Jones ©

Previously Published in sicklitmaagzine.com

Running Girl

Running Girl

The girl glides across the track, feet barely touching dried-out summer turf –

feet like ice slippers.  The woman recalls the speed –

heart-beat racing, efficient legs, the sense of flying.

The girl tries to out-run narrow boundaries –  

it catches her; inescapable.  

The woman, still running, but slower,   

smells the dank river, hears its gush,

breathes oxygen, feet on soft damp turf, wet leaves.  

A heron glides, seamlessly, landing to perch on a high branch;

sunlight filters through trees casting long shadows across her path.

A thrush parts its tiny beak, shattering the stillness.  

We Need To Talk About Social Media

OK, it’s a blatant play on the words of Lionel Shriver.  But it got your attention, so that’s great.

Listen: I know it’s becoming fashionable to bash sites like Facebook and Twitter, and I don’t want to add to the noise of all that.  I’m not a campaigner, or zealot, all about simple living meaning not having a computer, living like a Luddite, and basically hiding in a cave.

Though sometimes that’s quite an attractive idea.

I’m just worried.  And afraid.  Afraid of how we’ve all been led down a path of over-sharing and self-promotion.  Take for example “the selfie”.  A perfectly harmless bit of fun, whereby (just in case you have been living in a mountain-top cave for the past few years) you take a picture of yourself and post it online for your ‘followers’ to ‘like’.  Perfectly innocuous, you might say.

Consider this idea though: pre-social media and Smartphones, would you have taken a photo of yourself, sent it either by post or handed it to somebody you knew (or even didn’t particularly know) and said ‘look at me’?  My guess is not.  In fact, this idea, I’m sure you’d agree, is perfectly laughable.  Yet – isn’t that what we are doing online, really? Aren’t online platforms just a way of self-promotion and ‘look-at-me-ness’?

And yes, including this blog.  I started this blog as a way to follow my writing life, for myself, but also hopefully for others to read.  I opened a Twitter account for the same reason: to promote my writing and to find out about writing opportunities.  But tweeting one day about how awesome I felt at getting two pieces of writing accepted, a virtual high-5 kind of tweet, it struck me how empty I felt.  How I was, in real life, quite shy about talking about my writing, yet I was quite happy to post to anybody who followed me that I had been published.  Yet more proof to me that the persona I was building online wasn’t necessarily the ‘real me’.

Consider another situation I heard this morning regarding the selfie.  On a radio show, a young woman was talking about her Facebook page, where she would often share selfie’s of her day, perfectly innocent pictures of herself, as pretty much the entire youth of the world do all the time.  Unfortunately, a particularly unsavoury follower of hers, (who was a relative, which makes it even worse), chose to take those innocent pictures and upload them to a porn site.  They are still there.  Despite her constant efforts, they are ‘unable to be removed’ by the site.  Now, when she Googles her own name, links to that site and other undesirable places come up, leaving her anxious for the future of any new relationships she may have, or jobs she may interview for.

This young woman was still at school when some of those selfies were taken.  Does this not fill you with fear for yourself or your own children? It does me.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I’m not trying to live like a Luddite.  I get that it’s hard out there, trying to promote your creative work.  And I get that the world has changed and technology brings exciting new possibilities. But it also brings new challenges, and I think we all have to be more aware of these in future.

 

 

 

Arrivals

She keeps her eyes lowered, as she’s been brought up to do. She remembers the strap her father used the time her older sister dared to meet his eye during a conversation on marriage.

She longs for her sister now; for her reliable presence beside her; for the familiarity of another woman wearing layers of hand-sewn clothing and headscarf.

Women, even young girls, race past in their summer clothing. Bare ankles and sleeveless tops revealing alabaster shoulders. She wonders at how they do not feel the cold of this place. She hears strange words emitting from the railway tannoy; she understands very little of what the words are saying. She feels the sharp intake of breath of the young man beside her, in his best suit, a tiny suitcase in one hand, eyes roaming the station platform for a glimpse of his uncle, who is to meet them here.

They are still shy around one another. She certainly has not yet met his gaze, nor he hers. She remembers his eyes looked kind when she saw them in the photograph her parents gave to her. They told her of his plans to cross the ocean, to come to England, where a job in his uncle’s business waited. A prosperous future.

She remembers her parents phrasing the question of marriage to this young man as though there was a choice for her to make. She remembers there was no real choice.

As she stands, eyes lowered in sockets edged in thick kohl eyeliner, she has no way of knowing that she will come to respect and, yes, even love the man beside her, whose white socks she notices peek from below his trousers. She doesn’t yet know that she will come to learn every contour of his body. Couldn’t imagine at this point, four days into their marriage at the age of seventeen, when she hasn’t yet had time to dream what she might become, that she will someday delight at this man’s touch.

That she will be blessed with three healthy children, all of whom they will struggle to put through university, enabling them, at least, to have their dreams met.

But today, here on this cold and damp platform, she could happily swap places with the bearded man a little way off, who shakes a polystyrene cup of loose change in their direction.

Previously published on Spelk Fiction:  https://spelkfiction.com