Redcliffe Future Way Story Walk

As part of Redcliffe Future Way Story Walk, writers were asked to imagine a future Redcliffe:

3 linked short stores of mine about Redcliffe were accepted as part of the trail. The stories are all linked by a sense of smell and this first story takes the point of view of a fox.

You can follow the trail and find the QR trails around the harbourside. (Unless the codes have been taken off – they will gradually fade away……)


Fox stops by the lamp post and sniffs the air on the cool night breeze. He smells man, rancid and sweet from the meat that’s been eaten. Again, he sniffs, nose high; there’s food beginning to turn. He trots to the gates surrounding the flats; too many lights. The pavement is hard on the pads of his paws. The food is in there. He pushes against the gate but there’s no give, no space for digging either. He can’t get in.

Seagulls squabble over-head arching over the harbour. Restaurants and high rise flats block out the stars, the light begins to thin at dawn, he needs to hurry. He turns towards the stink of man’s piss and checks a yellow polystryrene box on the ground. He nudges it and is rewarded with the soft pap of a burger. He hears a rat skitter away, sees a silver scaly tail drape into a hole.

He trots to the back of a building on the water’s edge. Next to a big red box lie some stinking black bags. He rips them open and rummages amongst the stuff to get to the food  – finds a whole cooked chicken. He cracks the bones and gnaws, then pads back to his den in the caves next to The Ostrich. Rich pickings these days.

Grace-Palmer-by-He-Smells-ManJudy Darley and David Rodgers stories also feature on QR codes on objects around Redcliffe.

Judy writes an excellent blog at Sky Light Rain and her description of the trail is here:

David Rodgers is a sci-fi novelist and his work features on the trail too. His latest novel, Oakfield is a taut, creepy and frightening.

Writing a novel Day 1:

Day 1:

I’ve been mulling over this novel for a while. Since finishing the Wish Bone I’ve been missing the irresistible pull of filling the virgin page – discovering what I don’t yet know, and having a novel to work on. Writing is a bit of a compulsion. I need to do it otherwise I feel ‘off’.

So, spurred on by the need to write 3,000 for a couple of competitions and writing course submissions, I’ve started.

I’ve been using, ‘How to write a best seller‘ by Jacq Burns for help with the planning and plotting of the novel before I start to write. I’m also using, ‘Writing without a parachute – the art of freefall,’ by Barbara Turner-Vasselago  which helps turn off my internal critic.

I’ve learned a lot from writing the Wish Bone – my first novel, out with agents at the moment. The main thing is that as Stephen King suggests I’m going to keep the first draft secret to myself, to ‘keep the door closed’ on my writing rather than workshop it endlessly at first draft stage with my writing group. I also think with a scaffold behind me then the words can flow more easily within it.

So, spurred on by this I’m writing possible scenes for the novel on bits of index cards – it’s not linear but a random scattering of ideas, details, character traits. To get in the mood (I am on holiday) I needed to get away from my desk where I normally work and sort out Novel Nights events.

Being a tourist in your own city can be fun. On arriving in Clifton on crutches via taxi I was dismayed to be sharing the @AvonGorgeHotel terrace with Shaun the sheep, and hence lots of children. Luckily my spread of cards kept anyone away from my table and a friendly waitress kept me supplied with food / tea. As the new novel is set in the country a table with a view seemed perfect.

Avon Gorge Hotel

Avon Gorge Hotel

Later that evening I carried on at home, getting myself in the mood with candles in order to take the work seriously.



Day 2: The First Page

A day filled with visiting friends, cooking for family. By 5 o’clock I realised that no work was being done. Where was my inspiration of yesterday?

Back at my computer I typed up the first few hundred words from long-hand notes of yesterday. I know I can write but I need to have made some fundamental decisions on who my character is first to get the work flowing.

I love to write by writing, but I’m getting stuck as I don’t know deeply enough on who my character is or who are the people in her life, yet. So tomorrow, must be a day of planning my characters. I think I may invite her to an imaginary cafe for a cup of coffee in her home town. Once I’ve decided where she lives, of course.



Self worth, honesty and writing


Too often blog posts, facebook and twitter seem to be about projecting an idealised version of oneself. Happy, successful, inspired, creative. This very website began to document a process of my creativity but ended up as a simulacrum of a creative life. Quite simply I don’t know what to say anymore.

With one eye on the possible impression that a visiting agent may get should they wish to publish my novel this blog has become a sterile beast, like a hybrid flower with no sustenance for bees.

Perhaps it’s also my job – I’ve been working in marketing for years  where one has to think about an ‘audience’, creating a message that will resonance to create a plan of communications. It’s all so worthy.

Well it’s stifling me; stopping me wanting to blog for fear of creating the wrong impression. I have of course full-blown imposter syndrome. I used to be convinced that I’d be found out at work – shown up to be the incapable one, the one they shouldn’t have employed

These days the imposter syndrome is fed by the process of being a writer. Every time I receive a rejection it becomes harder to continue. I wonder if I should give up this writing lark that causes so much pain and requires so much effort. Gardening holds none of these dilemmas.

Deep down I know that my self-worth should not be measured by publication. My writing self should be fed by love of the writing. But I don’t want my work just to sit in a draw or on my laptop any longer. Of course I could self-publish, but in my world I want the satisfaction of knowing someone else thinks it’s good enough to be traditionally published. Publication = validation.

These emotional wranglings ignore the root reason I write – because I must – because it’s all I know how to do – because when it flows there is nothing better, and I want to leave something of worth. Also I want to connect with others, as well as myself. But without an audience, what use is writing? Just some self-indulgent compulsion that isolates and takes time from my family. Not being brilliant, not doing it, editing and letting it lie fallow are all reasons for my current unhappiness.

As for blogging, without some emotional honesty, the blog is going to be a pale imitation of art.

This may be self-indulgence, but it feels like it’s important to set down a marker to of where I am in my writing life. I’m not giving up, the only way is to go deeper, and one way of that is to pick off the scab and give my writing dilemmas some air.