Week 111 – Writers, Story Tellers And Virgins

We’ve had some great comments regarding last week’s post with the stats. Nik did a brilliant job collating them. We do hope that they offered some useful insight and maybe encouragement to those of you who might have been thinking of submitting again.

But now on to Week 111.

There is a vast difference between a story teller and a story writer. If you are both, well, you are in a minority. It’s a bit like script writers and actors. If you know a comedy and you read the script, you naturally hear the actors’ voice in your head. If you didn’t you wouldn’t find it so funny. It’s very difficult to write timing!

So in that aspect, you think that the story teller is skilled. But get him to read the code of practice from your work place and I guarantee that they won’t be able to make it funny! You need the material and when the two of them come together, there can be something magical.

The reason that I’m mentioning this is because we had a story submitted to us this week that I commented on. I mentioned that it would be enhanced by being read around a camp fire. This is an old dying art as well as conversation, making Paris Buns, and getting on with a fecking job. No-one talks, no-one makes Paris Buns and no-one can do their work for red-tape, recording and analysing the shit out of it.

If you are of a certain age you’ll have sat around a fire as the old yins of the family told a story. You’d have heard it a hundred times, but there was something soothing about your grandfather’s voice. And I am not talking ‘soothing’ as in those creepy Werthers Originals Adverts! I bet that auld guy had some puppies for you to look at!

Even at your first job just after leaving school, you always had some colourful characters who would tell all your workmates a story. Their timing was impeccable as they waited until the laughing died down, silence prevailed and then they would ask in a loud and happy voice ‘Are you still a virgin?’

Oh how everyone else laughed!

The same with a pub. There was always someone holding court telling stories. They were the guys who never had to buy a drink. They could also get out of fights due to their wit. And on the odd occasion that this didn’t happen they had all the locals to back them up.

Ignoring the clergy and politicians – The truly great story tellers are the 17 year old boys who talk about their sex lives. Frequency and exaggeration replace fact. Their brag of ‘The next time I see a ….’ can be interrupted with ‘Don’t you mean…The First Time you see a ….’

I enjoy writing but if I ever had the guts to do it, I would love to do an open mike. But that won’t happen as I am setting myself up for a fall. My material could be good but my delivery could be terrible. My material could be terrible and my delivery good, or let’s be truthful, them both being crap is more than likely. And if I want to be booed, I’ll show my wife my bank balance or my mother, well, basically anything!

Onto some very good story writers.

This week we have a very literal bunch. The topics are all in the titles. That actually doesn’t happen often for the whole five days. But every story we’ve had this week, the clue of what it is, is in the title.

Two newsters to add to our ever growing family of authors. And as always our initial comments follow.

First up was an old friend. The wonderful Tom Sheehan added to his amazing stats with ‘A Soldier’s Crusade‘ which was first up on Monday.

‘When Tom is in full swing, his knowledge or research is awe inspiring.’

‘I was utterly and beautifully lost in this.’

‘The last line was a cracker.’

On Tuesday we had a returning author. Lawrence Buentello had his second story ‘The Kite People Of Ang Thom‘ published.

‘This had the rhythm and feel of an old folk tale.’

‘I loved the imagery of the kites.’

‘I think in the Far East they fly kites to entertain the Gods and have a good harvest – I guess this is what he has based this on.’

Another returning author but for the fifth time. The quirky Ashlie Allen added to her back catalogue on Wednesday with ‘I called My Alcoholic Friend Sad Satan.’

‘A very strong last paragraph.’

‘Powerful’

‘Ashley does give us some very interesting work.’

Thursday followed Wednesday, so no difference there. We had our first new writer of the week and we extend the usual greetings, pleasantries and appeal for more stories to Mr Tom Roth. His short, ‘A Day In The Life Of A Sandwich Artist’ was next up.

‘Good atmosphere and tone.’

‘This appeals to me and the writing feels real.’

‘Tom captured the hopelessness very well.’

Our next new writer was Debra Brenegan. We hope that she enjoys the experience and also sends us in more stories!! ‘Shaking Hands’ finished off the week on Friday.

‘A powerful piece of flash fiction.’

‘This was full of fear and emotion.’

‘Different and very vivid.’

That’s us again folks. And not a statistic in sight! I actually think we are all the less for that. (Based on a survey of the one person who is writing this! So if that is classed as a statistic, then ignore this paragraph)

Back to story tellers, I may look out for John Laurie as Private Frazer telling the tale of ‘The Auld Empty Barn…

There was nuthin’ in it!’

But I reckon I’ll really spoil myself and dig out an old CD and listen to the greatest story teller who also wrote the material. That’ll be Mr Billy Connolly doing ‘The Crucifixion’

…We are the Romans

…We hate the Christians

It really is murder to try and write timing, but I’m creasing myself as I can hear the words in my head!!

Hugh

Banner Image: Pixabay.com

Week 108 – Pride, Pot Noodles And Jellyfish

I’ve decided this week to write about pride.

Not ‘In the Name of Love’ even though that is a cracking song. Not as in the film about the Gay Pride / Miner Strike match up even though that was a cracking film. And not as in loads of big pussies, even though they are braw beasties!

Pride commeth before a fall. That’s a phrase about a disappointed lady called ‘A Fall’ and the problems she had with her husband Pride.

Yep more nonsense before I get to a point.

I’m a very proud person but in a shit sort of way. Not asking for help, cutting my nose off to spite my face and stubbornness are the realistic terms for my pride!

For example I’ll never ask for assistance when I need it, I would rather say ‘This is pish’ and give up. Writing is a bit different as I have other folks to state that…So, so many!!

To explain my stupidity I would like to share this. I had the best time of my life in 2000 when we were in Toronto, I tip my hat to Canada, I loved the place. We tried so many different things. The Swiss restaurant was excellent. I thought it would have been three courses of Toblerone, nougat and almonds but I had a lovely fruity and mildly spiced chicken type dish.

One night we ended up in a traditional Chinese Restaurant. I am a rather adventurous person when it comes to food so when I saw ‘chilled chicken wings with shredded jellyfish’ I wanted to give it a go. I probably should have twigged when the waiter asked me:

“You handle this?”

My pride (stupidity) kicked in!

“Of course I can handle this! I’ve ate Pot Noodles and Crispy Pancakes which just goes to prove that God doesn’t think we should bother with anything tasty…I’m fine…Go for it auld stockin’!”

So the waiter brought my food and he was sniggering…I should’ve sussed.

So I began to eat. I turned green. Ironically this was the same colour as the jellyfish. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be that colour but it didn’t matter whether it was fresh or on the turn…It couldn’t have tasted any worse. But did I leave it? Nope, although at one point, I did think I would spew. I chewed and swallowed, heaved and retched but I finished it.

When the waiter returned I saw his face fall. I puffed out my chest and my greenness changed to a more acceptable yellow.

He asked,

“Did you enjoy?”

“Well I could have done with a little more jellyfish.”

“You want more?”

“Sorry auld champion but your establishment had its chance to impress…Just bring us a bog standard Chow Mein and we’ll say no more about it!”

The point to this is Pride!! And swallowing it!

The reason that I am mentioning this is due to feedback we gave to a writer. They took it, didn’t go in the cream puff and decided whether or not our comments helped. That is the thing, don’t spit out the dummy if anyone says that something is wrong. Look at it and THINK!

I’ve mentioned before when I have a story in mind, it’s so strong in my head, I can’t understand how anyone doesn’t get it. (My story this week was an example of this. )

But when it is pointed out, don’t be like me and eat the fecking jellyfish, consider changing it to something more palatable.

I am shit at metaphors but hope you all get the point!

OK on to this weeks stories!

As always our initial comments follow.

We had two new folks this week, (I’ll need to ask our resident statistician exactly how many authors we have.) one third timer, an old campaigner and me.

Our first new person began the week. We extend the usual welcome and plea for more stories!

Ellen Kibbe had her wonderfully titled short ‘A Cosmopolitan Epiphany Regarding a Certain Cecil ‘ published on Monday.

‘What a weird wee piece, I liked it.’

‘I enjoyed the ride and found the ending quite sad.’

‘This had a charm to it.’

An old hand graced Tuesday. The talented and quirky Mr Adam Kluger had his story, ‘High And Low‘ next up.

‘A longer story than Adam normally sends us but he skilfully kept the pace and the points relevant.’

‘Strange but quite compelling.’

‘Some great lines and interesting characters.’

We had a third time published author on Wednesday. Julie Howard was our key-stone of the week with ‘Hunger

‘The flow was good and the prose most enjoyable.’

‘Concise and well put together.’

‘A good self-help / self discovery type story.’

Tabitha Sterling was our last new author of the week. The same welcome applies to Tabitha, we hope both these writers have a lot of fun with the site. On Thursday her short story ‘Plague Song‘ was showcased.

‘The back story fuelled the understandable bitterness between them.’

‘Excellent writing with an interesting choice of main characters.’

‘You are left with a tiny doubt at the end about whether or not the murder was due to the ‘illness’ or their strengthening resentment.’

And on Friday, well I put together my usual happy little tale. ‘In Five Years Time‘.

This was first shown to the other editors the middle of last year and it had been refused due to the ending. It took me around eight months to work through the issues that they had raised. I thank them all as always for making me a better writer and not being so focused in what I know compared to what I have written!

So week 108 is done and dusted.

I am going to access some jellyfish and completely ignore it.

…Pot Noodles and Crispy Pancakes, they are a different matter!

Hugh

Banner Image: jellyfish Salad – By Bình Giang (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Week 106 – Stitches, Bells And Advocaat.

Well folks, that’s the festivities by for another year. I hope Santa’s sack was plentiful and The New Year Whisky Pixie was just as generous.

New Year is very relevant in this part of the world so I made that my inspiration for this weeks post before next week when it wouldn’t be just as relevant!

You see, the powers that be (Sky) in their wisdom decided that they wanted an Old Firm match (Celtic and Rangers) played on the 31st. Now the clubs didn’t want this, The Police didn’t want this, the hospitals didn’t want this and any sensible folks from Glasgow didn’t want this. However, the old saying that ‘Money Talks and to hell with sense’ kicked in.

So I would like to give you a walk through that day for some. Well, since New Year fell on the weekend, it actually started on the Friday with some social continual excessive drinking. On the day of the match, those who follow football…Who, to be fair aren’t always the problem and those who don’t, who can be, would either go to the match or find a pub where they could racially abuse their family and friends who they’d been drinking with the night before. At the end of the game they would toast the coming New Year, toast the pope or the queen and then glass each other. They would all bond once again by being sick all over A&E.

The lucky ones would be released from hospital or jail in time for The Bells. They’d be friends again and drink more, laugh at each other’s stitches and sing Auld Lang Syne at midnight. A breakfast of steak pie and peas would be consumed at around 1.00am. This would begin to sober people up so they’d have to drink copious amounts of lager and whisky until the time of the morning came that required another traditional breakfast. At around 10.00am they would enjoy a large plate of bacon and eggs. The eggs wouldn’t be poached or fried, they would be in the form of half a pint of Advocaat. They’d then watch the highlights of the football on the TV to remind themselves why they were all in stitches, and the result.

The weird thing is, we never hear much about the blood count, there are never many figures shown about hospital / ambulance / Police involvement or reports of domestic abuse, we just know that is there!

Now here is my very anorexic link to writing…This is one thing that all writers have avoided here in this country and that is using these social problems / acceptance as inspiration for a story. They never do and I just think that everyone has a fear that they will show sympathies for either one side or another. (Catholic or Protestant)

Me, I have tried and failed and really don’t care. And before I go on I know that I am actually talking about Church Of England but for whatever reason, one side of Glasgow swears allegiance so…I just wish that the queen is caught in a compromising position with the pope and it would shut both sides up!!!!

OK now onto our stories. They have been lying in limbo over the last few weeks but we hope that you agree that we have the year off to a cracking start.

We had some religious / business satire, Death Row, A lost love, a knowing partner and a bit of mystique to entertain you.

As always, our initial comments follow.

On Monday, we had a returning author. Raymond Hopkins was first up with his second story ‘Sandra’s Christmas‘.

‘I like the style and it made me grin.’

‘Good voice throughout.’

‘Well crafted and amusing.’

Mitchell Toews has shown himself to be a very hard working writer who is dedicated to his stories.

He had his fifth for the site published on Tuesday with ‘The Business Of Saving Souls

‘The characters were well drawn.’

‘The title was a very good fit for the content.’

‘Well constructed.’

We had a new author on Wednesday so we welcome Lewis Carter and hope he enjoys the experience. As always with anyone, we ask for more stories!

Departures‘ was next up.

”Lewis has hit on so many recognisable traits.’

‘Well paced.’

‘The twist at the end was perfectly positioned.’

Titus Green was next up. His second story ‘Profiteers Of The Second Chance Saloon‘ was published on Thursday.

‘Hard hitting and bitter.’

‘An uncompromised piece.’

‘This was bleak and honest.’

And even though it is a New Year, the end of the week is still Friday.

We had a second new author to complete our reading list. Again we welcome Andrew Miller and we hope that he enjoys this experience. Oh and that he sends us more work!!

After The Party‘ was last up.

‘This was really well put together.’

‘I was hooked.’

‘This intrigued.’

That’s the first week done and dusted.

So here’s to the next old firm game which I will ignore. I’d rather read some Grimms and listen to ‘The House Of A Thousand Corpses’ but I’ve got to admit, I’m partial to a large Advocaat!

Hugh