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Writer’s Blog: Hamish McGee – The Idea Behind “Doubting Thomas”

Hamish McGee talks about what inspired his short story ‘Doubting Thomas‘ published in Breve New Stories Issue Two.

What inspired “Doubting Thomas”? Let me think. Mmm … In fact, that’s pretty easy.

I was brought up in a small Scottish village where I met one of the most wonderful men God created. He changed my life in ways I am still discovering today. He is the inspiration. He was the village greengrocer and he did run the local Gospel Hall. He did give me my first Bible and he was truly wonderful.

When the time came for me to leave the village and make my own way in life, we corresponded throughout the years. No matter where I was, a few miles away or the other side of the world, no matter what I was doing, he was constant. Every letter I wrote him was answered promptly in his beautiful, handwritten script. I opened the envelopes slowly, prolonging the anticipation of the inner contents, reading each page so often that I could recite them from memory. Even if his descriptions of what was happening in the village were, to others, banal in the extreme, to me they were gold dust in my impoverished world, the sweetest wine in my desert life, a veritable feast sustaining and nourishing my lean existence. Every word resonated with beautiful imagery. I could all but hear that lilting accent.

Only once did he fail to reply. I knew immediately but refused to accept, that he had died. The mould was broken.

Hamish McGee

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Authors/New Voices Notes of Inspiration Writing/Reading

Writer’s Blog: Michael Hampton – On the Act of Writing

In his last post, Michael Hampton author of ‘”A” Death’ published in Breve New Stories Issue Zero, reflects on the act of writing.

from Unshelfmarked

In declaring writing to be an ACT consisting of modes and exercise (eg the jargon of art criticism), before it is a definitive profession, and therefore closer to Derridean écriture, or the presence of writing, I would like to return to the ground and issue of writing at its most fundamental level, that of mark-making. Starting out once again from the primordial human impulse: to articulate signs in language systems, or para-language systems such as cuneifrom and hieroglyphics, re-sets the way words are perceived, and therefore used; forever bearing in mind that their order and meaning can always be fatally scrambled.

 

The emergence of so called art writing (see my thoughts on this phenomenon in Letters to the Editor Art Monthly #352, Dec-Jan 2011/12) has taken place at the interstice of these psychic domains, the literary turn in fine art of the 1990s exemplified today by migratory figures such as Tom McCarthy and Katrina Palmer, or the calligraphic modernist painting of Cy Twombly. Personally I try hard to confound the way society and the market force us to become wholly defined by our job descriptions, hence my endeavours over the years to produce verse, book & exhibition reviews, philosophical discourse and occasional short fiction, with a current leaning towards conceptual writing.

I’ve been assembling a set of prosthetic extensions to texts already in print. Here the term ‘extension’ is suggestive of its modern usage, applicable to hair, building, ballet movement and web addresses. Typically these extensions will derive from sources at the edge of the popular, but not necessarily high brow either. For instance in ‘The Holmes Doppel’ I combed through dozens of cheap imitations of Conan Doyle stories in the British Library and extracted instances of cross-dressing or disguise, which have then been aggregated as a list or anthology, illuminated by an endnote. In ‘Pulled from the Wreckage’, fragmentary material is lifted from Wreckage, 1893, a collection of short stories by the now forgotten symbolist writer Hubert Crackenthorpe, which gets butted up against technical data taken from the report into the Concorde air crash of 2000, and then blended with the diary notes of a London flaneur, in act of unlikely bricolage; a reminder that no text is ever finished absolutely.

Michael Hampton

Michael Hampton’s Unshelfmarked: Reconceiving the artists’ book ISBN 978-1-910010-06-8 is published by Uniformbooks www.uniformbooks.com

 

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Introducing Breve New Stories Writing/Reading

The Emerging Writer

Breve New Stories seeks submissions from new and emerging authors.cropped-cropped-cropped-img_0476.jpg

Despite the vagueness of the term emerging, we received many entries from writers that recognised themselves as such. Conventionally, an emergent author or artist is one that has some evidence of professional achievement but not a substantial record of accomplishment and who is not recognised as established by other artists, curators, critics and industry insiders. This description focuses more on the financial/professional status of being an author than on the individual development of the writer per se, the process of learning the craft and the daily challenges of creation.

The term works as a sort of barrier between writers published by medium/big publishing houses that have plenty of press coverage, who market aggressively for their authors and can therefore often guarantee them a consistent compensation, and all the remaining authors in the most different places, be that writing on-line or self publishing. At the same time emergent writers represent a pool of talents from which the mainstream industry often outsources the best, freshest  and most innovative works of literature. There is also no way to deny that in this process are involved, other than talent, lots of luck and lots of politics. It is a sad but widely known truth in all creative environments, but one that doesn’t stop writers from writing and wanting to ’emerge’.

Breve‘s look on this is this: the writer is the one who writes, who consistently strives to refine one’s skills by giving time and energy to one’s work. The writer is the one that is brave enough to embrace the challenge and takes the risk not only to write, but to be read by others. Emerging writers, as new writers, are not second class authors, they can only be good or bad writers, and together with the so-called ‘established’ authors, are writers in progress, working everyday on their skills, styles and inspirations. The literary quality of a work does not necessarily run parallel to the hierarchy of establishment.

Today there are many ways to pursue this goal: the Internet,  self publishing, MFA in creative writing  and literary projects such as Breve. All these opportunities are viable but all of them ask writers to look beyond their ambition for status to what writing means to them, they all ask: how bad do you want to write? That bad? Then be a writer.

Two different intakes on the emerging writer:

 https://overland.org.au/2013/05/pity-the-emerging-writer-or-not/

http://www.emergingwritersfestival.org.au/2013/06/emerging-writers-festival-2013-keynote-astrid-lorange/