Photo Credit: Unsplash, Clem Onojeghuo
Alison buys a new hat from a bustling market stall at three o’clock on an overcast Sunday afternoon. She likes the way the feathers wave in the breeze and catches sight of herself in a window, admiring how slants of fluorescent light turn cobalt to turquoise. The coquettish perch of the hat on her head is instantly pleasing. It brings colour to a damp, dishwater day. People smile at her, say, what a pretty hat and for a moment, she is beautiful.
Alison doesn’t want the hat to get ruined, so she puts it away. Without it she becomes invisible. People walk through her, muttering about crowds and the relentlessness of rain. The new hat gets knocked from Alison’s hands and she tries to pick it up, but her fingers slide off the bag. Her body becomes liquid and flows with the dirty rainwater into the city’s crevices and cracks.
At four o’clock on an overcast Sunday afternoon a girl finds a discarded bag. She opens it and looks inside to find a truly magnificent hat. She puts it on her head and people stop and smile. They complement the glorious colours and tell her how splendid she looks. They are all so distracted by the way the feathers shine, that nobody notices a small hand reaching out of the gutter, searching through puddles for a way to be seen.
On this blog I intermittently share music that features on my writing playlist. You can check out the recommendations under the 'Music Inspo' tag. Today I'm listening to Arlo Parks and highly recommend this blissful offering from her forthcoming EP.
Arlo Parks, Second Guessing (October 2019)
Why: Parks is a poet and singer based in London. The sublime "Second Guessing" is the first track from her forthcoming EP, Sophie. Her debut EP Super Sad Generation was released earlier this year. This dreamy piece of pop music contemplates the challenge of constantly trying to meet other peoples expectations and second guessing yourself along the way. Much like the quiet, understated video, this is the kind of song you want to listen to at night, staring at the ceiling and imagining a sky full of stars.
Favourite Lyrics: Do you remember / when you broke your arm / tryna climb your way to paradise?
Welcome to the second in my Stories I Met on the Internet series. To get into the spirit of Halloween, this week's picks feature the uncanny, surreal and/or darkly humorous. You can find my recommendations under the cut.
Welcome to the first of my music inspo posts. I plan to intermittently share music that features on my writing playlists. You can check out the recommendations under the 'Music Inspo' tag. I'm kicking things off with a song that has been playing on repeat for the last month or so.
The Highwomen, If She Ever Leaves Me (September 2019)
Why: Sometimes with country music I stumble across a song that grabs me and never lets go. This is one of those. The Highwomen is a quartet made up of Brandi Carlile, Maren Morris, Amanda Shires and Natalie Hemby, all successful artists in their own right. This song is my favourite from their debut album. It has that immediately distinctive country sound and Carlile's vocals are as lush and captivating as ever. Lyrically this song also hits all the right spots for me, from the way it avoids being overly sentimental to the queering of the 'woman meets man in a bar' trope. Love it.
Favourite Lyrics: I've loved her in secret / I've loved her out loud / The sky hasn't always been blue / It might last forever / It might not work out / But if she ever leaves me, it won't be for you
Welcome to the first in my Stories I Met On The Internet series. I have been reading widely online and have found so many terrific pieces of flash fiction, I decided to start a series of regular posts spotlighting three stories that have particularly moved me in any given week or month.
You can find the first of my recommendations under the cut. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.
I've always loved words. I used to have quotes on Post-Its around my room, lyrics scrawled on walls and notebooks, snippets from poems jotted down in a book full of sketches and scribbles. I still keep a collection of quotes like the one above from The Swimming-Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst, in my head, written in the margins of research notes or tabbed in books with well-thumbed pages. Because I have hoarded quotes like gold over the years, many remind me of specific people or certain moments in time and take on a deeply personal and nostalgic quality. I have always been fascinated by that affective power of words, the way they make people feel things when they're put together just so.
Stories are never a one-way street, they are a dialogue between author and reader. Reception is tied to the way readers approach stories with their own experiences, preoccupations, desires and relationship to reading. I started writing, speculatively, because part of me wondered if I could wield words in a way that might one day mean something to someone else. I continued writing when I realised how much putting words together on paper means to me.