Hi everyone. It's been a while.
Well, there's been a lot going on since last we spoke. First off, a shout out to the lovely Cate Gardner for a very pleasant surprise, when the first of her 'someone else Saturday' entries on her blog proved to be about none other than yours truly!
I often think the real acid test of writers is perseverance. It's one of those callings where you're a) going to get a lot of knockbacks and b) where it takes a lot of time, hard work and trial and error (mostly error) to find your voice and hone your craft. It's not something that provides instant gratification (I sometimes wish I'd learned to play guitar and gone the singer-songwriter route- you know immediately if you've bombed or succeeded. Plus there's always the chance of groupies. Ahem.) I've seen a lot of good writing over the years, in small press magazines and elsewhere, and the number of writers who just dropped off the radar, never to be seen again, is unbelievable. Good writers, too. And why? Because: It. Takes. Work. Lots and lots of work.
Which brings me back to Catherine Gardner.
I first encountered Cate's fiction in the late 90s, when I co-edited a small press magazine called Unreal Dreams, and later a small anthology called Oktobyr. Back then you could see the writers who were influencing her, but there was always something individual about her writing that I liked. The second story I took from her for Oktobyr, 'As Though Strangers Passed', really showed that potential coming into action, and it stays with me even today.
Catherine's fiction is short and focused. Sometimes quirky and funny, sometimes very dark, it's never less than interesting. Do yourselves a favour and go check out her story Trench Foot for a glimpse of her in lighter mode. It's a beguiling little tale- funny and quirky, as mentioned before- but with a dark little heart to it. It's strong, assured work, the work of a writer with her own voice and focus. And how did she get there? Hard work. Well over a decade of it.
There's no quick fix, no short cut. You do the damned work.
Now for my mate Chris Wood. Many of you will already know his blog. If not, go check it out. Chris is one of the funniest guys I know- both in print and in real life. For evidence, look no further than Sherlock Holmes And The Underpants Of Death (and then buy the book off Amazon) or the wonderfully demented (or dementedly wonderful) Hunter S Thompson And The Temple Of Doom.
Here you see a writer working away, honing his style. Mark my words- one day soon, Chris is going to find his own voice and will become one of the best comic novelists out there. That's a prediction. (Mind you, I also thought the Sinclair C5 was gonna be big. But I was only about 9 at the time, so cut me some slack, huh?) So remember, you heard it here first.
Right, now go and check out the work of two damn good writers. That's all for now.