Week 175 – Perspective, Invective and Uncharted Waters

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!

Nik

15 thoughts on “Week 175 – Perspective, Invective and Uncharted Waters

  1. I’ve always taken the Saturday posts in the spirit in which I thought they were written — with passion and humor and without malice.

    Nik, I love your statement that “The fact that a reader has to fill in the blanks we leave behind is what makes, and sometimes breaks, a story.“ Reading that is sending me back to edit a story I’m now working on.

    Finally, let me just say “All the very best my friend!”

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for the comments Dave.
      I do write with a lot of spirit.
      Although, it’s normally in me!
      Yep, Niks comments about the blanks is so true. There are no smiles, no winks, no tone of voice when reading so there is a lot of responsibility on the reader.
      And all the very best to you too my friend!
      Hugh

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoy Hugh’s posts. They would be profane if they didn’t contain the irony that screams from them.
    I don’t resent opinions contrary to my own, but I would rather see what the conflict is about than just assume it exists thus unable to do nothing. Love you Hughm You’re a delightful 🐀bastard.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Leila, you are poetic to a fault!!
      I love opinionated people as they normally state how strong their convictions are. That then opens them to challenge and if they bite, well, they should probably question those very convictions.
      Thanks as always, you make me smile!
      Hugh

      Like

      • Happy to hear from you. Too many people are nowadays so easily offended. There will always be a percentage who are that way, but the amount that presents itself seems terribly skewed. Ispy guile in that. It’s getting to be like the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers in cyberspace anymore. All types of ignorant joker’s going around pointing and making that terrible Snatcher noise. Take care. Looking forward to Saturday ( not to dis erudite Nik)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I echo what David and Irene have written. Hugh speaks his truth. Isn’t that what writing is all about? And, I must admit – I admire his use of swear words, because I, myself, consider swearing an art form and strive every day to be the best there is.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Sharon,
      Thanks so much for your comments.
      Billy Connolly spoke about profanity and he stated, quite rightly that there is no alternative that works.
      If you accidentally hit your thumb with a six pound hammer, an ‘Oh darn it!’ Doesn’t quite work.
      It’s always a pleasure to see you around!
      Hugh

      Like

  4. If the Hugh (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) and cry is about offensive language or subject matter I have a brief comment.
    I know that our written words reflect our various realities and that our respective visions of the world will offend some readers. Hugh is one of my favorite writers because he dares write about the shunned and shuttered realities of our time in the language of those settings.
    Hugh, please keep on keeping on.
    Fred

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Fred,
      Having read all of your work, I would say that the one thing that cries out is realism, in no matter what form, there is something to relate to. You are quite correct, we all have different experiences of what is real to us. But the problem is when you ignore other experiences and leave them to other people. We all need to look, face and consider what all of us are dealing with.
      All the very best my friend.
      Hugh

      Like

  5. Thanks all for your thoughtful and supportive comments. Normal service with our favourite daring rat-bastard will resume next week no doubt! Hope the editing session was a productive one Mr Henson!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have to ask Nik,
    What is the image about.
    I’m used to Diane’s literal concept (And avoidance!!!!) but am at a loss with this.
    Is this something you are going to explain and I will need to drop my cone???
    Thanks to both of you!!!
    Hugh

    Like

    • It’s what happens when it’s late on a Friday night and you type “perspective” in to a search engine on an image site! At least I think that’s what I typed…

      Like

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