I wrote this story 8 years ago. At the time, I felt a bit old to be writing something about teenagers, but I used to be one, so why not? I’ve submitted it to a few outlets over the years, with no success – persevere, and all that – but I had another look at it recently and thought about updating it. The story is told by a narrator who is 19 at the time I wrote the story (2009). This is obvious from the dates on the obituary, I thought about changing these dates, so the story is being narrated in 2017, but realised that this would make Arthur’s (and the narrator’s) date of birth 1998: I was 27 in 1998. I think on balance it’s time to stop submitting this particular story. Feel free to have a read of it here:
This story was published in The Ranfurly Review a few years ago. I have previously posted a link to the online issue, but it seems the magazine has gone to the great magazine graveyard, where it will be remembered by the editor, contributors and perhaps a few readers. This makes me sad.
I don’t remember how I had the idea, but there are three things I do remember about writing it:
- It took me ages to find an anarchy symbol to pasted into the document.
- The original version finished with the narrator getting home and going to bed. I had him think back over what had happened so the story would end with the joke it had been building up to. This feels a bit ungainly, but was the only way I could make it work.
- I submitted it to another magazine, before The Ranfurly Review. It was rejected, but the editor sent me an email saying if it had been just her decision, she would have included it.
Anyway, here’s the story: To The Jubilee
A word is worth a thousand pictures, I think. Or, should that be the other way round? I’m a writer, not a mathematician, which explains why I might not be entirely sure. It doesn’t explain why I took three attempts to spell ‘mathematician’, before giving up and using the spellchecker (a word which, ironically, the spellchecker on my particular browser doesn’t recognise).
Anyway, I often feel a compelling urge to set my fiction in places I know, usually Wolverhampton. I’m fascinated by the combination of dereliction, restoration and construction that can be found in this and other cities. Often this comes out as slightly outlandish similes and metaphors. The scene below I would probably describe as ‘ looking like a cheap toy garage in a particularly untidy adolescent’s bedroom’.
Does this help the story come alive? Does it get in the way of the story? Is story that important anyway? Depending on your answer to these questions, you are either my ideal reader, a potential agent, or one of 7 billion reasons why no commercially-minded publisher would touch me. Whichever you are, feel free to get in touch.