Monday, 19 December 2011

My Year in Stories

It’s been a pleasing year for larding stories into esoteric but beautiful literary magazines. It can feel fruitless being published in these venues since you never know who, if anyone, is reading you. But that’s something even well-known authors and geniuses face, so shut up me. I got stories published. I should be grateful, and I am, even when I’m not.

First stories published this year were How to Wreck a Human at The Literary Burlesque and The Manifesto For Exploding Televisions at Metazen. The former is a homage to Gilbert Sorrentino where I blatantly aped the voice he uses in Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things. Fortunately, the Literary Burlesque closed their website and my story no longer has any online presence, so this rip-off is no longer open to your scorn. Hurrah!

Next was my first ever audio publication Fingers in Our Ears at Liquid Imagination, read by the husky-voiced former movie announcer Robert Eccles. This story, once again, takes up the Sorrentino influence but attempts to use cynicism as a more wrenching emotional spanner.

Becoming a Bandit was published in Feb 2011 in the enormous collection Winter Canons. It’s a coming-of-age tale of bandits-in-training and assorted incompetence in the Wild West. The book itself is accessible to Americans only, since the cost to ship the tome Brit-side is frankly ludicrous. The Easily Persuaded Killer is a crime story of some description, in the satirical mould, as that’s what tends to happen with me. It takes potshots at Ian Rankin Denise Mina types, and it’s in the collection Ransom (scroll down lots).

The strangest story of the year goes to man/woman in a collection of “apocalyptic erotica” called This is the Way the World Ends. The piece is actually a split-page formal experiment which happens to involve one scene of simulated sex between a homosexual man and woman. The story was improperly formatted in the book, which ruined the design somewhat, but Freaky Fountain Press have some quirky books in their staple, so I forgive them. The story itself slightly embarrasses me now, but hey ho hum.

In April, my first creative non-fiction piece Instruction Manual For ‘Burntisland Beach Disaster’ was live at Shaking Like a Mountain. Then in June, The Ante Review published it again with an incorrect title and no response to my emails asking them to fix it. Thanks!

More authorial angst was published in Glint Literary Journal with The Little Book of Nothing where I aped Lucy Ellmann’s style with mixed results. The story features the sexual abuse of trees . . . and dribbling. My favourite publication of the year, Prime Mincer, published my story Downfall of the Dans: A Comic Opera. I used the form of an operatic aria to structure the story, and I seem to still be happy with the results, so all is well.

In September I had another short in Metazen, Ffion at the Fjord. I used a ‘reader key’ to give the reader three reading options, short, shorter, shortest. There’s also a little flash piece in the online Edinburgh mag Broken Doll Collective, Ffion at the Funfair. It was a good month for story success, as Frankie & Johnny, the piece I adapted for a class exercise, was printed in Duality 5: Style. The editor misspelled my name, which took the pleasure off somewhat. But I got published so shut up shut up. I’m such an ingrate.

I also love Barge Journal, who published the first in a cycle of pieces using a fragmented narrative approach. The technique involves a series of thematically linked mini-stories, digressions and stylistic quirks to create a “disquisition” of sorts—something that raises a number of interesting ideas and discussion points on an off-kilter topic, a caffeine rush of ideas and anecdotes. The first, A Disquisition on the Importance of Scottish Heather was published there. The second, A Disquisition on the Centrality of Sandwiches in Corporate Britain went up this month at Eyeshot.

So thank you to all these fine venues, a special thank you to my indispensible proofreading bitch Christopher Allen, and a special thank you to me for writing so much pap. My current stack of unpublished material, by the way, totals ten freaking stories, so I have a strenuous year ahead. Good luck me, and good luck to you with your writing endeavours!


  1. I pop here once every 2/3 months to see what you've been up to. Love the the little book of nothing in particular: such a sad/cynical ending. Can't believe you put madame bovary on the reject pile nor that you put D Ugresic on the keeper shelf. tsk. Well, carry on your stories

  2. Thank you for popping by! Bovary didn't quite ignite my loins, but Ugresic always does. Have a great start to the year.