Grid North, True North, Magnetic North

Morrab fountain detail

It has been a long and difficult summer, but the plans I’ve been working on for the last couple of months are beginning to bear fruit. The heat has abated somewhat – trying to work in an airless attic in sweltering heat was almost impossible – and I’ve been writing solidly for weeks now. The Ferocious Night has been with the editors of Fearful Symmetries (Ellen Datlow’s new anthology) for some time and I’m expecting an answer one way or another in the next ten days. There will have been a massive pile of manuscripts to trawl through in the open reading period, so the chances of getting in are slim. After some further sharpening up and some ‘method writing’ involving an experiment with some chicken bones to test part of the story, From The Bones is with the editor of a British transgenre fiction magazine. The ‘nice’ story I’d written, and had so much angst about, was rejected as the story was ‘a bit too weak’. It was a fair criticism; while I think I have the style right for the magazine in question, I knew the plot was flimsy, but I needed to see how it went. I will have another go as soon as time allows – while my finances are now on a slightly better footing, there’s no room for complacency.

Widdershins has made it to a properly typed up first draft and stands at around 7700 words long. There’s more fleshing out to do in places, but the story is complete. If ever I wrote a story for younger people, then this is it. It is not a horror tale, more a darkish fantasy. Perhaps my next piece should be full-on horror, to redress the balance.

Next week I’ll be interviewing two wisewomen for Curve magazine. This is something I’m very excited about. They live in a village on the Penwith peninsular and I’ve been aware of their activities for many years. To meet them and hear about their work first hand will be a privilege. I do know someone who had a wart charmed away by a wisewoman at the other end of Cornwall. This happened around thirty years ago and it’s fascinating to know that the craft continues. The feature should appear in their December issue.

And, after trying different types of mediation over the years, I seem to have found a way that suits me, so I’m meditating most days now, mostly in silence, but accompanied by appropriate music/sounds on some occasions. It won’t stop my nightmares (and dreaming about giving the Grim Reaper a shiny, silver scythe and having him address me by name has been one of the more frightening) but nevertheless it’s having a positive effect.

*Photo by Julie, camera courtesy of Utherben. Many thanks!

2 thoughts on “Grid North, True North, Magnetic North

  1. Glad to hear summer’s challenges have not kept you from writing. Stay dedicated! Look forward to the wisewomen interview. I’m also intrigued to hear about how you find a way to meditate; I’ve always been very high-stress, and know that it would be helpful, but have somehow resisted making the time to sit and do it for many months now. It seems that just doing it is key, as they say. Happy that it’s been so positive for you!

    • As you say, TLP, making the time is most of the battle. I suppose it’s a matter of seeing it as an important and essential part of the day, rather than (as I’ve done in the past) a luxury or even a sign of laziness. Clearing even a short amount of time each day will help you relax even before you meditate, I suspect. I got this method from seeing footage of meditation at a Buddhist retreat on the Scottish islands and through using an MP3 of ‘mindful breathing’: the idea that I could clear my mind of everything has seemed (and probably is, at least at this level) an impossible task. So to concentrate on simply breathing clears things and as the download says, you haven’t failed if thoughts come to mind, just let them go. The downloads are very cheap (a couple of English pounds, available from this site: and several of them have worked very well for me, although I know it’s a very individual thing and the tone of the person’s voice (I use the ‘female, no music’ one) makes or breaks it. I began with ten minutes, then upped it to fifteen, which now seems quite short, so I’ll up it again soon. Good luck!

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