Category Archives: Uncategorized

Friday Quick Fic: Mattress Topper

mattress topper

Sometimes something silly just falls out of my head and onto the page.  Thats where this little Friday Quickfic came from.

I was thinking about silly writing prompts and, having watched the epsiode of ‘Lewis’ which involves Lewis having a bad back, forcing him to buy an orthopedic mattress, I wondered if I could get anything out of ‘orthopedic mattress’ as a prompt.

I know, I know.

Its a bit obvious, right?

Anyway, I hope it makes you laugh.  You can read it here, at AO3.

Happy Creating,

EF

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New Fiction: The Groupie Situation

lorrie fox guitar

Laurence Fox

One of my writing goals for this summer is to clear the decks of as many of the half-finished stories lurking in my computer files as I can.  I’ve got three or four outstanding Lewis stories hanging about, and since I have a quiet week ahead of me this week, I’m hoping to tinker with them to the point of some form of completeness.

‘The Groupie Situation’ is one I’ve been working on since Laurence Fox started touring with his latest album. I’d been thinking about a story I’d heard of Japanese fans having his lyrics tattooed on their arms, which seemed a bit extreme to me.  I wondered what he must think of that.  And thus this story was born.  And I’ve been playing with it ever since.

I have to admit when I was typing out the synopsis, I suddenly started having qualms about publishing it.  It talks about a woman having an obsessive and paranoid mental illness, after all, and I reckon some people will criticise me for making sweeping generalisations, not least about women.

There will also be those who will criticise my (potentially inaccurate) depiction of medical procedures.  That always happens.

I’m not a doctor.  I don’t want to be a doctor.  I don’t think its necessary to exhaustively research a little story’s details to the point of knowing what size needle a stitch is made with.  The point is to paint an impression for the reader.  A few details should tell them all they need to conjure up a treatment room, whether from their own experience or from TV medical dramas. But any more than that?  No.  Its just a fanfic, after all.

I’ve also decided not to publish on Fanfiction.net anymore.  I’ve had such mindless trolling there, its just not worth it.

I’m putting this fic out in spite of my fears of criticism.

Its a brave act to publish any work of art.  Especially when you are feeling vulnerable.  But I’m increasingly of the opinion that this is my Truth, and I intend to Speak it.  I believe, trust and hope that there will be others out there who will enjoy it in the spirit in which it was created.  I hope you are one of them.

You can read ‘The Groupie Situation’ here at AO3.

Happy Creating,

EF

New Fiction: A Kind of Proof

908820_originalI’ve been going through what has turned out to be quite a substantial backlog of unpublished stories, and I thought I’d share this little bit of fluff with you today.  I wrote it in response to the debate in our household surrounding the commercialisation of particular holidays, specifically Valentine’s Day.  I hope you like it.

Dear James,

I’m not much good at this sort of thing, as you know. You’d probably have a poem on the tip of your tongue to say just the right thing. The best I can do is this:

You’ve made me happier than I ever dreamt it was possible to be again.

So this year, will you make a miserable old bugger happy and be my Valentine?”

You can read ‘A Kind of Proof’ here at AO3, or here at FF.net.

Happy reading,

EF

 

Writing is not a Performance Art

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Sometimes, we write what we most need to hear.  And this is one of those moments.  So pull up a chair and a cup of coffee, because I have something I want to tell you that I need to hear:

A friend was publishing a new story in a new fandom. The fact that she was not getting the readership and the number of comments she wanted was causing her great distress. Her predicament got me thinking.

So often as artists, we base our self-esteem, our value of our own work, on what other people think. The family who surround me, for example, do not view me as a ‘proper’ writer because my work does not come neatly packaged between two cardboard rectangles with the name of a reputable publisher stamped on the back. I do not make money from my work. Therefore I do not ‘work’, and I am not a ‘proper’ writer. I am not a stranger to the humiliation of being told at a family dinner to move over because: ‘There’s a writer at the table’, when another relative, a talented journalist (whose work I greatly admire and whose success I happily delight in, I should point out) arrives to sit down.

At our recent writing retreat, my fellow writers and I had a long and animated discussion about the ever-present problem of how other people react when we tell them what we do. One friend told the horrible anecdote of an acquaintance’s response to the news that she was a writer – ‘Never mind, I’m sure you can get a job at Tesco!’

(I know, right?)

I suspect that writers are second only to actors in the low opinion the public has of our earning power. Either you’re Benedict Cumberbatch or you’re unemployed. This completely ignores the thousands of jobbing actors who make a reasonable, if somewhat precarious, living doing low profile but necessary jobs in voice-overs, radio, small TV parts and rep. Indeed, Benedict Cumberbatch has spent a substantial proportion of his career doing exactly that. (If you watch and listen carefully, you’ll see and hear him pop up all over the place!)

The point I am trying to make is that creative people don’t do it for the money. And if you think that, you have missed the whole point.

Modern society, where success in any endeavour is measured in filthy lucre and TV appearances, clearly has failed to read the memo.

Another friend, who has been a visual artist as well as a writer all her working life, which I suspect helps, responds to the dreaded question about earnings thus: “I don’t do it for the money. I do it because it keeps me sane.”

And that is the point.

Writing is not a performance art.

At least, fiction is not. (Journalism obviously is, and I’m still on the fence about poetry!)

Writing is not about the number of comments or reviews you get.  Its not about the number of ‘shares’ on Tumblr.  Its not about the number of hits you get in a day.  Its not about being published by Harper and Collins, or getting an agent from a top agency, or being on an arts programme on BBC4, or giving author readings, or getting your picture in the paper,  or winning the Booker Prize, or making the bestseller lists on Amazon or the Sunday Times, or getting a three book deal, or selling your script to Warners and getting a theme park made out of your book, or making £100k a year.

Writing is not about how many people like you.  Its not about applause.

Writing is about making stories.

We do it because we have to. Because we have a compulsion to tell our stories.

I am delighted to tell you that my fanfiction friend soldiered on against the tide with writing and publishing her new fanwork. Over time she accumulated a substantial following, but more importantly has rejoiced in an explosion of creativity, producing more works and excelling in other art forms as a result.  And I’m thrilled for her.  She is going through a renaissance of creativity because she refused to give up.

“How people receive your gifts is none of your business. You were given a unique set of gifts, life experiences, and passions. Your only job is to share them.”

Rebecca Campbell, ‘Light is the New Black’

When it comes down to it, it does not matter whether family notice that I get over 100 readers a day, a tally that most conventionally published writers could only dream of. (I’m the only person who is hung up about that, after all!)  It does not matter whether they read my work. (Actually, I’m quite glad they don’t!) It does not matter whether they like it. It does not matter whether they think I am an idiot not to charge for it. It does not matter how much I earn or don’t earn, or what other people think of that sum. It really doesn’t matter what people I meet at dinner parties think when I tell them what I do.

And really, it doesn’t matter what my audience thinks either.

The point is to make the art.

And to keep making the art.

To keep on speaking my truth.

Because the people who need to hear that truth will find me. And the rest don’t matter.

Or, as Elizabeth Gilbert puts it so beautifully:

“If people don’t like what you’re creating, just smile at them sweetly and tell them to GO MAKE THEIR OWN FUCKING ART!”

Happy creating,

EF

New Fiction: How to De-Special Your Relationship

john and sherlock

John and Sherlock – Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC’s ‘Sherlock’.

I haven’t written a Sherlock fic for absolutely donkeys, but this one just jumped up and bit me.

I was reading about the theory posited by the book ‘A Course In Miracles’ about Special relationships, in which we invest a particular person with almost god-like powers over us.  We believe they are perfect in every way, and of course, when they turn out not to be, the world as we know it comes crashing down on our heads.  The relationship John has with Sherlock struck me as being a prime example of just such a relationship.  And I couldn’t resist writing about it.

But then the fart jokes happened and it sort of got away from me.

Anyway, I hope you find it funny and silly and just a bit touching.

You can find ‘How to De-Special your Relationship’ here at AO3 and here at FF.net.

Happy Reading,

EF

New Fiction: The Luscombe Dilemma

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Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox promo shot for ITV’s ‘Lewis’ series.

Sometimes, you want to give someone a gift to cheer them, but you don’t have the right thing.

So you make them something.  Or you give them something that you have already made.

I wanted to cheer up my friend, WitchRavenFox, but I didn’t have the right thing handy.  But I had this fic.  I hope you like it, my dear.

Read The Luscombe Dilemma here at A03, or here at FF.net.

Happy reading,

EF

 

It’s OK to be Different

bowie

Bowie as Ziggy

I guarantee this is not the post you are expecting.

In fact, I suspect its probably going to be the most contraversial post I have ever written.  But I’m going to write it anyway.

David Bowie died today.

Amidst the media hysteria and blanket coverage, amidst the tidal wave of mourning on social media, I ask you to spare a thought for those of us who are different.  For those of us who, while recognising that he was a cultural game-changer whose contribution to altering the way society views androgyny and the transgender community was incalculable, just never really liked the music.

(Cue cat calls and howls of disgust.)

I was not one of those teenagers who lay on their bed in the dark, listening to his music and wanting to be him.  He did not appeal to the need to be different in me, mainly because I didn’t have one.  I was too repressed. I didn’t like his voice and I found the majority of his songs rather boring.  I still feel that way.

OK, I like ‘Let’s Dance’.  But Major Tom left me cold, and lets not even go into the whole gnome thing, however satirical.  When ‘Ashes to Ashes’ came out, I remember the misery and boredom of it being at the top of the charts for week after week after week.

On the other hand, I do have an important Bowie memory, one that in many ways affected my life.  It happened in 1986.

Before I go on, I want to explain a little bit about my life before that time.  It was only four years after the Falklands War.  I lived in a Naval town, and most people I knew at school had fathers in the Services.  All my parents friends were in Naval jobs of some sort.  I knew people whose fathers were killed in the sinkng of HMS Sheffield.  I knew boys, whom I had grown up with, boys from my street, who came back from that war irrevocably changed.  While other British kids were struggling with the issues of poverty and unemployment created by the Thatcher government, I was worried about war.  We lived  between two major installations which we had always known would be prime targets in the event of nuclear war.  That sharpens the senses of a sensitive child no end, let me tell you.

One day in 1986, I was in the art studio at my college.   I was working towards my art A level.  The radio was on.  We heard news of the US air attacks on Gaddafi’s Libya.  The air went still.  You could feel the fear.

The lad whose cassette radio it was switched the radio off.  He rummaged in his bag and pulled out a tape.  He put it on.  It was David Bowie’s greatest hits.  And yes, it even included the gnome song.  We played that tape all day, only breaking off to listen at the top of the hour to the news.  We worked quietly at our paintings, and we listened to Bowie over and over again.

That experience taught me two things.

One was how music can transcend fear, can bind a group of people together and rescue them from their worst worries about the future.  Because yes, we really were afraid that Armageddon was about to begin. (Remember, this was a time before America was habitually involved in wars in the Middle East.)

The other thing it taught me that Bowie, however trendy it was to like him, however much I was told I SHOULD like him, sounded a bit boring to me, and I didn’t much like his music.

This latter fact I have hidden, along with not liking Kate Bush, throughout my life, for fear of relentless torment by the trendy and the snobs.

But now as I reflect on his life, I suspect that Bowie would have championed my difference.  After all, he stood for those who stand up to society, for those who are unashamed of diverging from Society’s norms.  He was truly a great cultural icon.

I just didn’t really like his music, that’s all.