Hello again one and each.
Another busy and interesting week at LS and, as always, a few unexpected twists and turns.
It goes without saying that we’ve had five more brilliant stories (more about those in a bit) but we’ve also had a whole host of wonderful submissions that have already filled up slots for the next few weeks.
That last line requires context – or perhaps perspective – in order to carry its full weight. A theme we’ll be touching on quite a bit over the next couple of hundred words I suspect.
The majority of writing sites dotted around the wonderful world of the internet operate somewhat differently to the way we do. Some publish a story a week. Others opt for the Monday, Wednesday, Friday thing. Some bold folk even publish a story every day but for a limited period before having a break.
Since 2014 we’ve pretty much put up five a week without fail – barring the odd week off around Christmas. We’re very proud of this, particularly as we’ve never compromised on what we believe makes a quality story and that we’ve thrown in 175 weekly roundups into the mix (a load we’ve shared equally of course – I reckon I’ve done at least 5 to Hugh’s 170). What it does mean however is that we’re generally in a constant state of being eight days or so from going out of business. Having several weeks in the bag – very much the norm for some sites – is complete luxury to us.
When it comes to words, perspective and context matters a great deal. The very act of writing something down means you’ve stripped out voice, tone, body language and a whole host of other contextual triggers. As writers the danger of being misunderstood is both a blessing and a curse. The fact that a reader has to fill in the blanks we leave behind is what makes, and sometimes breaks, a story. From a bad perspective or the wrong context words can mean anything.
By now you’re probably wondering what this is all about – and no doubt pining for Hugh – so let me fill you in.
Or rather, let me let Diane fill you in.
We have recently received a private communication about the Saturday posts. The writer in question did not wish to be associated with some of the comments in those posts and we respect that. In today’s world where strong principles are in short supply it is a great thing that someone will make a personal sacrifice (in this case the offer of publication) to stand for what they believe in.
It is a common conception that you should ‘write what you know’ I am sure that is great advice. But, I think it is even more important to write what you care about. Even Lee Child (one of my writing heroes) who openly admits he started writing because he needed to make a living, ultimately writes about truth and justice. Yes, it all comes in a package with a great big hunk of a man (Tom Cruise you are really not Jack Reacher – sorry) but at the end of the day it’s about doing the decent thing.
If you don’t care about the content then the work must surely be flippant, shallow and of no real importance, entertaining possibly, but a bit of candy floss, sweet and sugary but ultimately of no real use at all.
I believe that when you spend a lot of your life with the people that most of the rest of society don’t really want to ‘see’ then that will colour your view of reality.
When you care about the homeless, the desperate, the drug addicts, the dispossessed, the mentally disturbed then you will more than likely a) grow a carapace that will help you to cope, because if you can’t cope then what use are you to them, and this will often manifest as black humour, and b)You will see the world as it is, not as most people would like to pretend it is.
That said, I would suggest that if you look past the ‘fruity’ language and the – often hilarious – descriptions of body parts, see beneath the ranting and the ‘fury’ you will see that it comes from a place of genuine care for those people that many of us will not encounter except as a quick glance in a shop doorway or outside the station, sitting in a filthy blanket, numbing the pain with whatever is at hand.
Our editor Hugh is a special person and his life has given him a different world to comment on than many others. He would be the first to say that he does not want to cause offence just for the sake of it and, like the rest of us he wants people to love the site as much as we love running it. Also, I believe he wants to shed light on the darker truths. So, look beneath the surface of his stories and his update posts and then, if you have an opinion, please don’t keep it to yourself. Let’s hear about it so that we can discuss things that are truly important.
I won’t waffle on much more but it would be remiss of me not to echo Diane’s sentiments. I believe Hugh to be one of the bravest writers I’ve ever come across. He tackles subjects that I shy away from both in stories and often in conversation. He is brutal, graphic, passionate and unflinching. He is also funny, kind (sorry pal if I’ve shattered their illusions of you) and has a perspective on life that only comes from someone who cares deeply for those we too often ignore.
Let me make one final thing clear – this isn’t a post so that we can praise Hugh and ask you to do the same. It’s a post from three ordinary people who happen to write and happen to edit a website who take people’s opinions seriously – particularly when it that opinion has been communicated respectfully and professionally. So please – as Diane has said – go and dig around in the posts and let us know your thoughts, whatever they might be. We truly value your perspectives.
And so to this week’s stories. We had an LS legend, a rising star and three new faces in the mix – and so we give a very warm LS welcome to R Harlan Smith, Kevin Counterman and Peter Caffrey. We hope you stay long and prosper!
The incomparable Frederick Foote kicked us off with the third instalment of his timely and brutally accurate reflections on modern day America – The Talk Part Three, Driving While Black.
…you read this stuff and it makes you so bloody angry…
…the horror is not so much that it is happening but that it’s allowed to happen…
Peter Caffrey took care of Tuesday with The Black and White Of It and his take on the highly traditional and oft written theme of a possibly imaginary panda in a microwave.
Absolutely bonkers. The writing is good and I’ve never read anything quite like it…
…the panda in the microwave, I definitely didn’t see that coming…
R Harlan Smith is a writer you’re going to see more of on LS and we were very pleased to let Wednesday go to the dogs with What Follows (The Chair).
Great rhythm and dialogue throughout…
This guy can really write – it felt easy to read from line one…
Thursday brought us to our final new author. With his piece, The Funeral, Kevin has shown himself to be a solid writer of dialogue and, as with Peter and R Harlan, we look forward to seeing what other tales he has to tell us.
Some stories of this ilk make the mistake of trying to explain every scenario and reference. This didn’t. It let the reader fill in the blanks…
This was so very welll observed. It had all the stuff that really goes on, the awkwardness, the forced humour, the insincerity and the secrets…
We ended the week on a high with another fantastic tale from L’Erin Ogle – a writer who is fast becoming an LS favourite and is most definitely on a hot streak. Memory Drive is L’Erin’s eighth piece here on LS in a very short space of time and we truly hope lots more of her work will arrive on our doorstep.
This starts of almost calm and normal and then the spook starts to come in and by the end there is real madness…
Very cleverly done – L’Erin is becoming one of my favourites!!
That’s it for another week folks. As always we welcome anything you have to say – so keep reading, keep commenting and, of course, keep sending us your stories!