All posts by Jed Edwards

About Jed Edwards

Outdoorsman, Nerdpunk. Southwest England, East Scotland.

Short stories

I’m having a good day. I found a quid on the way to the supermarket, and nearly everything on my shopping list was on sale. I helped a friend, I’ve been complimented on my writing and my appearance, I listened to a favourite album for the first time in ages and I set a new personal best on my regular run around the park.

My tutorial with Kirsty, yesterday, went pretty well too. She said she liked my work, picked at a few nits, asked what else I was doing. I said I’ve been writing short stories, and this is partly true. I’ve been writing short stories for years, and just because what she had read was the best thing I’d written in months, didn’t mean I hadn’t written others. Short stories have been on my mind a lot. They came up in conversation with Ever Dundas, whom I was interviewing on saturday, and I spent a little while talking to Nathan about the subject, then and since. And Kirsty was entirely positive; encouraging even, in my storywriting, however short.

The thing is, I’ve never been one to second-guess good fortune. I’m running with it, it’s got me in the mood to gamble. I’m taking steps, I’m submitting work for publication, I’m shaking with nervousness, I’m making lists in my head with what I can spent the money on if it gets published, I’m trying to hold onto this wave and channel it into creative fever, I’m wishing I hadn’t made my coffee so strong, I’m…

 

yeah. A few months ago I did a little digging around for magazines that would buy and publish science fiction stories. I settled on one named Clarkesworld. I read their submission guidelines, a few things they’d already put out. I bookmarked their page and fretted about it for a bit, until today’s furore.

I know it’s not that big a deal. I know we’re all writers who deserve to be confident with our work – many of us have been and continue to be published. Regardless, this is the first time I’ve submitted a piece of fiction with a mind to it being published, anywhere, and it feels exciting. Plus, I could really do with the ~$200 they’d pay me for the story I sent in…

Let’s hope the good luck’s not quite out yet!

Three Moments of an Explosion

Making inroads into my Bespoke reading list, I’ve started reading Three Moments of an Explosion by China Mieville.

Being a fan of Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman, Mieville has been on my radar for a while now, but I’d not managed to pick up anything yet – Three moments is a collection of short stories and feels like an easier place to start than a full-length novel, or diving right into his Bas-lag trilogy. Accessibility is important here because the fiction is, in a precise sense, weird.

I don’t mean weird as in surreal or structurally experimental, although the writing style is plenty fresh so far, nor do I mean fantastic or escapist in setting or genre, but weird as in uncanny or just a little bit unsettling. For example, one story is told from the perspective of a professional poker player who uncovers a phenomenon of ‘hidden’ suits that will appear in game, if the circumstances are just right. One might be dealt, mid-round, the Four of Chimneys, or the Two of Scissors, or even (giving the story its title), the Dowager of Bees. There are special rules which appear and vanish from the rulebooks as needed, as do the cards themselves. Like I said, weird.

I’m enjoying the collection so far. I was pleased to see Mark Bould, who was a lecturer during my degree, named in the acknowledgements. Moreso, I think this’ll have an effect on my writing. Look out for things getting Weird.

sharing: review from elsewhere

In the name of self-promotion, I wanted to share a review from another blog I contribute to- this isn’t quite a ‘today I wrote,’ but an insight into my nonfiction work. It’s with a new blog called The Perfect Pack, which has grown out of an online community obsessing over backpacks. I know that’s quite a niche appeal, I have a few pieces in the pipeline with these folks, but probably won’t share them all in the same way. Have a look, or don’t.

More Here

Writing, grinding, working away.

The main thing I was looking forward to with this course was having time to write. Not struggling to fit it in between dinner and bed, or misusing my work computer during quiet periods. Time where I am meant to be writing, without distraction or other priorities.

Not pictured: stacks of paper and other junk on another table in my spare room.

The problem is, of course, that distraction doesn’t go away. Writing ceases to be the distraction, and becomes work. And we have so much of it! Homework, from week to week. Poetry. Reviews and interviews. Essays to reflect or challenge. I want to prioritise my own work, my novel and short fiction and the review work I like doing, but there’s only so much time in the day. I came to Dundee 136 pages into a manuscript, and now I have 139.

I sometimes equate writing fiction to pulling a thread – the right amount of pressure and things will unravel smoothly, until you hit a knot, and then I have to stop and untangle it all. With this many threads to pull on, I can usually find something that writes freely, but my attention is all over the place. By evening my head has become a cat’s cradle. The days when I wrote to escape my daily stresses are halcyon, already.

Today, I’m working on the creative assignment for our core module. That’s a 6000 word target – I decided I wanted to write three short stories, which have evolved into three chapters of the same story. I’ve cheated slightly, lifting characters and setting from the above manuscript, particulars I know well, have had time to round out and think through. My first knot has just reared, which brings me here, writing elsewhere while I chew through events in my head. I’m past point A, and point B is within touching distance, but I can’t make the words join up. Coffee hasn’t helped. Lunch might; exercise usually does. If not, I’ve got plenty more that needs to be written.

more Goblin

I’ve just finished reading Goblin. The ending is quite emotional, although I’ll say no more about that.

seen next to Archetypal by Joe MacKinnon, and Nursery Rhyme by Lee Robson

The story fits across time and space but is told by a central character, Goblin, whom we meet as a nine year old girl in London at the outbreak of the second world war, and simultaneously as a woman of eighty-one in Edinburgh, in 2011. As a narrator Goblin is tricksy and creative, lending the book a level of Gaiman-esque fantasy and more classical unreliability. We read the story of her life through the book, but are rewarded with new morsels of information each time the tale goes around its axis. Goblin’s identity warps over and over (especially in her younger years) but the character stays the same, constantly growing. The book has adventure, humour, romance, mystery and heartbreak; all the good stuff.

As a debut novelist, Ever Dundas’ personality, ideas and values feel clear to me through the text. There’s a strong animal-rights theme; I feel like half the named cast in the book must be non-human, and looking past the end I catch a “thanks to all who work to eradicate speciesism” in the acknowledgements. I’m looking forward to meeting her, I’m hoping my impression of the person behind this book is correct.

My only regret is my own impatience, buying the Kindle version rather than waiting for a hard copy to come in the post. ebooks can’t be signed, and worse still they can’t be lent out or passed on as gifts, which means I’m going to have to buy at least one more copy.

New books to read

I’ve done very well over the years, at collecting books that I mean to read. The list grows.  When I moved to Dundee I deliberately left all my books, including a respectable collection of comics and graphic novels, in a box in my generous mum’s attic, bringing only my laptop and Kindle as reading material. Even with that I have several unread texts, works that I’m midway through and picking up from time to time, the most recent focus being on Archetypal by Joseph MacKinnon. Until today:

Three new texts have come into my hands, two of which in paperback. The third, Goblin by Ever Dundas, is new and wasn’t in our local Waterstones yet. As I sit to write now I’m half-way through it, and it’s great.

Ever will be speaking at the First Writes event as part of the Dundee Literary Festival later this month, and I’ll be conducting an interview with her afterwards, which will hopefully make its way onto the Dura website.

 

Jed Edwards

Hi, readership.

My Name’s Jed. I’m working towards the MLitt Writing Practice and Study at Dundee.

I’m new to Scotland; moving here from Cornwall, I’ve lived in Southwest England up ’til now. I already write for a couple of blogs, contributing towards The Perfect Pack, Packconfig, and Southwest Gear, writing on the subject of outdoor and ‘everyday carry’ equipment, specifically backpacks.

Indoors, I write fiction – short stories with a novel in the works. I enjoy noirish science fiction, dungeons and dragons, punk rock and doom metal.