Jackie comes home. Connor hears him before seeing him, the man’s heavy feet clumping off snow on the stoop of the carpenter’s workshop. Their rooms are above where the carpenter conducts his business; sometimes they hear the whirl of the sander or the crack of splintering timber. They don’t mind the smell of hot wood, pungent as leather, seeping into their home.
Jackie isn’t home and Connor is twisted up inside, though he can’t quite work out why. It’s a rippling, rendering feel in his stomach, and it makes him think of Shawnee, Oklahoma, when the dust came and so, too, the men with pitchforks. Years ago, it happened – he isn’t sure exactly when, just as he can’t remember when they first came north, but Connor remembers Shawnee all right. Jackie had seen the posse first, through a crack in the barn where they’d taken shelter.
Recently, a friend of mine self-published her first novel. The novel was a piece of fiction but also a piece of social history based on the life her family lead in a small village in an English county and the main character’s travels. The main character was drawn from her memories of her grandmother and told of her life from a young girl.
A figure passes the window and Hettie looks up. Night comes early to Stokeland, but the gloom is not so thick that she cannot make out a man’s shape, wrapped up against the cold. Short, stout, bowed legs poking beneath a heavy coat. She can see it is Connor, the fella who is never far from Jackie’s side. Hettie watches Connor make his lumbering way past. She sees how his legs barely hold him and how they buckle outwards, in a way that makes her wince. She wonders how he manages working down the zinc mines, and if Jackie does the lion’s share of the work. She knows they live in town, sharing a couple of rooms above the carpenter’s.
After many years of avoiding the issue and finding excuses I finally bit the bullet, took the plunge, climbed into the saddle, put my best foot forward, hit the road, got on the bus and joined the Figurative Language Society. Actually, that’s a lie, what I did without hesitation, prevarication or deviation is finally join a writers’ group.
To be honest I’ve always had reservations
Ernest sees her before Mrs Naylor and is up, up out of his chair and out of the door, thin arms around her waist. Hettie looks down at him, pleased, but feels an ache as she takes in her son’s white face, hunger hollowing out his cheeks. It is as though his skin is emptying, she thinks, shedding the fat and ripples that children have – should have – so that Ernest seems…oh, not real, somehow.
I have been a member of a writers’ group for about 12 years.
What happened was a previous group member, who left the group due to leaving the area, returned to the area and came along to a group meeting with a view to re-joining. At the end of her visit I got the impression she was not particularly happy and she revealed that the group now was not one she wanted to re-join.
On exploring further she said she had not felt comfortable in the group and it was very different from the group she had once belonged.
Chilli dries in the matting of Gerry the Gin’s beard and Angie resists the urge to lean across the bar with her cloth and wipe it away. She wonders if he has ever known a woman.
As he pokes an overlong fingernail into his ear and twists it around, leisurely, she doubts it. She doesn’t look at the smear of yellow on his skin when he places his hand back on the bar. The clock above the pool table clicks around to two; the dedicated drinkers, the ones who take it seriously, will be in soon. The anchor that has looped around Angie the past week seems to shift, and her mind turns to barrels and optics, checking she has
General advice from all of the writing courses I have attended is that the serious writer should keep a writer’s note book. This is to keep with you at all times – yes, next to the bed at night – and to be used to take notes that could be useful on later writings.
So what sort of things should you record? In my view, it can be anything. A good starting point is to keep diary entries.
And here he is again, Gerry the Gin.
Angie has been waiting for him most of the morning, and finally sees him through the window of Shay’s Bar, his form braced against the snow, arms wrapped around his body in resignation as he climbs down from his battered old truck, which looks incongruous next to the snow mobiles. He tramps towards the door.
A blast of cold air, white flakes skidding haphazardly across the floor, and the man is inside. It’s been a week since Ray Sullivan’s party and Gerry has been trapping again.