Short Story: Forever

The following is a short story I wrote a few years ago.  It’s funny revisiting old work, but I think I quite like this one. Short Story: Forever.

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Writing Groups and Quick Sketches.

Sketch #1

The cracked paint flakes from the window frame, settling like cigarette ash into a small pile on the sill. The wood is dark with damp, rotted and pitted with woodworm. I can hear the gentle shuffles and coos of a pigeon somewhere nearby outside and think it sounds quiet, as though the bird is young and unsure of the world around it.

The Scarecrow walks past, his small black dog stretching its lead to its full length. I call him the Scarecrow because his grey, wiry hair is wild, striking out at all angles, and his ruddy face is a complex map of deep crevices and lines; I imagine him perched up in a field, arms outstretched and face to the sun. I wonder how he ever came to look like he did if this wasn’t his existence, because I only ever saw him walk past this window, imagining he was off to the field.

I hear the tired hiss of a bus’s diesel engine before I see its dark bulk; it struggles around the corner and pulls its way up the road towards my vantage point. Time is still for a moment – a fraction of a second extended way beyond its normal parameters – and I see the faces of the people inside, busy with handheld gadgets that can pull them away from their realities, if only for a moment. The next moment, the faces are gone and time has corrected itself. I can see a dirty cloud left in the bus’s wake and a man on the pavement lets out a single cough.


This last piece was written for a writing group I have recently joined up in Keswick in the Lake District.  A few souls meet up every fortnight to go over works, critique our novels and come up with some new pieces.  This has been really beneficial for my work, and the feedback has allowed me to see things that I would have otherwise missed.  I was always a little wary of putting  my work out there for others to read, but now realise that it is just another – very important – part of the writing process.

One of our briefs was to write a sketch of a place or moment in time.  This was my contribution.  The idea here was to write something quickly with very little editing.  Any feedback is always welcome.

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It all Starts With the Beginning.

I had been struggling with the first few lines of my novel for a while.  It’s so important to hit the page with the right tone from the outset, and to draw your readers in, but all I seemed to be able to spew out was a load of wordy nonsense that didn’t really even make any sense to me.  But thanks to Ruth, a member of a writing group I attend, I think I may have got it (or close anyway).  I have posted it below and would like to hear any thoughts on it, if you could spare the time.

Chapter 1:

It was Friday and the winter was beginning to lose its grip, but the nights were still long and the air cool. I stood in the hallway and fastened my jacket. The mirror there threw my reflection back to me and for a moment I didn’t recognise those eyes as my own; it was as if the image of myself I could see matched my scattered thoughts – fragile, brittle, as if it might fall apart at any moment.

Any comments would be much appreciated, Rob.

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Back Again. Preparing the Query Package

Well I just checked my last blog post and it was from over a year ago – wow.  I didn’t realise how long I hadn’t been here for, and how easy it was for things to slip.  I’m currently on draft number 4384 of the novel and it’s going well!

Only joking, of course, but I am trying to secure an agent at the moment and keep spotting pesky typos that I seem to have become almost blind to.  Also part way through another novel – about forty-thousand words – which I am hoping to get a first draft of completed in the next few months.  It has taken while to put together a decent query package, having to condense a story which seems so big into a few sentences, and making a synopsis informative whilst trying to not be dull, but I think I am beginning to get somewhere.

I’ll try not to leave it so long before I post again next time.


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Here is the second of my character introductions for my novel Tidemarks.

If you like this then check out my blog for the novel here:


‘Cheers, Mike,’ Farrer said as he tucked the package into his rucksack.  ‘They’re going mad for this shit, man – seems to be the time for Ketamine!’ he smiled.

‘So I’ll be seeing you again soon, then?’ asked Mike.

‘I reckon so.’  Farrer handed over a roll of notes before slipping the bag on his back.  ‘I’ll try to let you know if I’m running low ahead of time, so you’ve got some notice.’  Farrer stuck out his hand.  ‘Nice doing business with you, man.’

Mike took his hand and shook it.  ‘You take care now, Farrer.’

‘You know me!’

‘Yeah, I do.  So like I say – be careful!’

Farrer said his final goodbyes and headed back out into the night.  He wheeled his pushbike out from the shadows, straddled it and then pushed off, taking a deep breath of air and smiling to himself.  This city was good to him.  It gave him the life he wanted, and he rarely stopped to question whether dealing drugs was the right thing to do or not.  It was just what he had always done.  He lit a cigarette and let gravity pull his bike gently downhill, smoke trailing out the side of his mouth as it did.

He thought back to what Mike had said just before he’d left – You take care now – and decided that he should probably accept the advice.  He’d been selling more and more lately, and he supposed it must be taking trade from some of the other dealers in the area.  But they were people you shouldn’t really fuck about with; they sorted things out their own way.

The blue flash of a police car’s lights caught the red brick of the terraced houses.  Farrer heard the stressed engine first, then the car rounded the corner, tyres rushing against the tarmac; he turned off and took a back street, joining the main road again once he thought it had passed – couldn’t be too careful, not with his cargo.  He was already looking forward to the weekend ahead.  Another party, another excuse for hedonism.  Not that you needed much of an excuse in Leeds; there was always somewhere to go and get fucked up.  It was a city that thrived on it, and it supported a major drug problem, which was perfect if your business was selling them.

He pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialled a number.  ‘Alright, Jay, it’s me, man’ he said.  ‘Fancy grabbing a beer?’

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Jay’s Character Introduction.

As the novel nears completion, more content goes onto the blog

Here is Jay’s introduction:


‘Well! What are you going to do about it?’ asked the customer, pointing at the space on the shelf where the Bicarbonate of Soda should have been. Jay looked at the man’s pink, jowly face, and watched as a small bubble of spit vibrated on his fat lower lip each time he drew or exhaled a breath. He wondered how someone could get so wound up about something so inconsequential.

‘Sorry, but I’ve already checked out the back and there’s no more stock in store,’ Jay replied. He tried to smile, but it felt forced; he knew it probably came across that way too, but his head was still hurting – the lingering effects of the weekend – and he couldn’t summon enough energy to pretend he felt any different. The man raised his eyebrows and walked off down the aisle, lifting his hands slightly in a gesture of despair. No doubt he was off to bother another member of staff.

Jay picked a bag of sugar off the cage, placed it on the shelf, and began to wonder about the sort of state his body must be in. He’d been pushing things too far for too long. That was just how his life had turned out; it was as if it had already been written that way and he had no choice but to follow its narrative. But, just lately, he’d been sensing change in the air. Something felt different. It was as if a shadow was trying to surface in his mind, and he realised that it was an answer that he needed. But he had no idea what the question was yet?

At the end of his shift, Jay was glad to leave the supermarket behind, glad to be away from the synthetic lighting and out into the cool night air, where he lit a cigarette and began the walk home. A thick blanket of clouds hung low in the night sky, making it unseasonably warm, but shielding the light of the moon, and the sparse street lighting as he near his flat allowed the darkness to creep into hidden corners and crevices. He stopped. Was that a noise coming from behind him? He turned to look back along the road he had just walked down. The deep shadows seem to harbour movement, glimpses of things, half-truths hovering on the edges or worlds. Perhaps those shadows contained the questions that needed answering.

Perhaps it was time to start looking for them.

The communal door to the apartments let out a sharp creak as he opened it, and his footsteps echoed around the empty hallway as he made his way up the stairs and towards his own door. Once inside, he flicked on the television, and an old black and white film came on. Jay sipped at a beer as he stood by the window, looking out over a city that seemed to be growing malevolent, a city that seemed to be out to break him.

He thought he saw the shadows moving out there again. Must be his tired mind playing tricks on him, he thought to himself.


If you fancy reading more, check out the tidemarks blog:


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Simon Sylvester

This is what happens when tree rings are rigged to turntables and a bit of programming. Absolutely beautiful stuff.

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Tidemarks Book Trailer.

Here is the first trailer for my forthcoming novel Tidemarks.  Find the Tidemarks page here:


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I Thought I’d Cracked It!


I put the final correction to the last page of my novel, sat back, and sighed a breath of relief.  Finished, I thought. All that was left to do was to enter the corrections into the computer, print out the new document, and then my readers could start their job.  Wonderful.

So I began to update the manuscript, starting from the beginning again.  But what’s this?  No, this isn’t right!  This doesn’t work!.  Bugger.

It can be a little disheartening when you realise that you have to do more work when you thought you were finished, but it has to be done.  I have always been afraid of letting things go until I am sure they are perfect, and this story is no exception.  At the other end of the  scale, though, I am beginning to grow a little tired of this project now, which is inevitable when I have spent so long with the story and the characters.  But I’m still excited about it, because it is nearly there, it is nearly ready.  My readers will just have to wait for a couple of weeks longer.

Then there will be the rewrites from their feedback of course, but we’ll deal with that when we get to it.

So I’ll stick with my mantra of “nearly there” and crack on.


P.S as a little note to other WordPress users: I can’t seem to get the related posts option when I write posts anymore – I’ve made sure it’s on in the system menus, but still no joy.  Any ideas anyone.

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We’re All Just Arseholes!

Sometimes it is easy to forget who we are.

I have just moved house.  It’s a stressful experience, but now we’re on the other side of it, it feels good.  But the writing has been interrupted, old routines broken and thrown to the wind, as the places that I’d  made for the writer in me have been replaced with new places and new routines are going to have to be forged: this is what made me an arsehole.

So the time came in the new house, the time to seek out a corner for myself – somewhere quiet where I could “get in the zone” or “find my muse” or whatever other terminology might be used to try to justify my own selfishness.  I seemed to make such a big deal of getting this space right (whereas in the old house I just used to write on the bed, the same one as I would sleep on), and it became all consuming that it was just right.  Arsehole!

I think that sometimes it is easy to forget that I am not the most important person in the world, and that probably most people don’t feel like I do about my work, and that maybe all of those hours spent on a piece of writing don’t make it a masterpiece that must take precedence over all other aspects of my life.  I mustn’t become the arsehole!

So now that new space is in the spare room, wedged in between some plastic bags, some bunk beds, and a load of junk in cardboard boxes.  Who knows, perhaps that is where I belong – with all the junk – but perhaps not.  Perhaps writing in all that junk will give me the drive I need to actually get things moving.  But being an arsehole isn’t going to help anyone.  I must stop being an arsehole.


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