Standing on the edge of a new decade, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the last few years and my journey as a writer.
I struggle to identify as an author, as a writer. There is a huge mountain, of feeling like an imposter that somewhat colours that self-image. I find it difficult, to say it out aloud. I can tell you, that I’m a counsellor, a teacher; that I have an allotment. Yet, telling you that I am author, that I write books, will be done somewhat sheepishly.
2020 sees book number seven be published, there are a couple of books events that I’m going to be involved in. So I have a lot of focus on, as a writer. My plan, beyond that, is to spend 2020 writing. I have a stack of notebooks, pens and ink. There are plans for works. So I won’t exactly be twiddling my thumbs.
I won’t start writing til January; January 6th is the date that I contemplate sitting at my desk to write.
It’s Epiphany, the day the Three Kings arrived after their journey having followed the star. The notion that we have an epiphany, a moment of deep-seated clarity, that is also part of it.
At the moment, my head feels like it is full of squashed flies. I did write two books this year, and I choose to rest as we move towards the festive period. I plan to do little during this time of family, feasting and merriment. I need to recalibrate my soul a little, do some reading. I’m currently half way through Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, so we shall see what else I read.
I also need a dictionary slash thesaurus. That has been on my mind a great deal.
The 10’s have seen seven books. Well, technically, it’s the last five years; that’s when I first published a book. So I have been busy;I have pushed myself in a ridiculous fashion at times to get things written. It has taken that time to figure out what my writing process is.
I hand-write most things, the first draft of them in the first instance. Hence the notebooks, my pens, a box of ink too. I have a bittersweet memories of Fragments. Two massive great big, hardback notebooks and black biro. I bought my ink pens right at the end, I felt a though I had found my magic wands. They’ve been my trusty companions ever since. Fragments, gave birth to my writing process. Researching, writing, constructing; and feeling too. Of being immersed in something, so much so, that your soul permeates through it, every fibre of it.
There is a cost to writing; the intrinsic one, that perhaps gets missed. I know not to write when exhausted; it physically hurts.
That said, I have works for next year. I’m conscious that I have the tendency to get absorbed into a project, almost a though I have blinkers. The challenge, is that I have three that I would like to work on, concurrently, in parallel. Something that I haven’t done before, and it does feel overwhelming, The sensible thing, would be to take one at a time. Yet, this feels intrinscially different. I want to take my time, I’ve yet to set myself a deadline. Ordinarily, I would give myself a year for one project. A year is a long time, and I have yet to set my a strict deadline.
There is something whimsical about the writing plan for the next year. To write in bits, fragments, I guess. To listen to my brain and soul, as to what could be written. I have plans, stories mapped out.
The key is not to put pressure on myself, to kick myself. I like to write, I like to create these universes.
With that comes some excitement. What I plan to write, makes me smile. I have a sense of joy about it.
Here’s to it actually happening.
In the mean time, some speculative, flash-y fiction.
Copyright 2019 Punam Farmah
Tapping his toe to a blues riff, Gorbind nodded as long as he stared at his pint. He’d been asked to get to The Gunmakers after he had put Mango to bed.
It was his daughter who had relayed the message. Something about the cat speaking to her, having had a fight with a squirrel. The squirrel, had lost. Padmi had screamed blue murder at the carnage that covered her kitchen floor.
Gorbind had resisted calling Forensics.
Given who had sent the message, this wasn’t as strange as it sounded.
“Ah, you came,” Hades pulled up a wooden chair on the opposite side of table. A tumbler of Kraken rum slid across to sit next to Gorbind’s.
He was still trying to figure out his poison.
“That cat of yours,” pronounced Hades, “Is a sandwich short of a picnic.” Taking off his long, Mulberry coloured overcoat, he draped it over his chair.
“Not my cat,” said Gorbind, picking up his pint. “Can’t stand him. He’s machiavelli in a fur coat. Padmi’s. Send her your feedback. See what she does to you. Whatcha want?” He asked, sitting back.
“To tell you were right “ Hades pulled his drink closer. “Christmas, Advent, the Mr.Bleu De Chanel adverts. Brings magic. Oh, and she’s doing that thing…”
Gorbind closed his eyes to let out a deep breath.
“She looks at all the pieces “ he said softly. “Puts corners in place. Starts putting things together. Fragments had diagrams, post-its. Kangana, a trip to the mill. Think you, Hades, were an exam. You just wait til she add the human condition.”
“I’m not human-“
“No, you’re a God,” said a third voice.
A woman in scarlet had appeared by the piano. She moved slowly towards them, her silken skirts rustled.
Hades snapped to his feet. He bowed, to take a gloved hand and plant a kiss near knuckles.
“The Lady Aurelia,” he beamed, stepped aside and pulled out a second chair.
“Shit, the Vampire,” Gorbind stood, holding onto his pint.
“Stand down, Detective Inspector Phalla,” Aurelia smirked as she pulled off her gloves. “I’ve no inclination to eat you. His Unholiness here, tells me you’re one of the colours on the wind. A thread in fabric of the universe. A White Knight, sent from The Powers That Be.” She lifted a veil frok her eyes, unpinned her hat to set it down onto the table. “I know of you, and of your young lady, Mango. Her real name, Gorbind. Altogether very fitting, I must say. A good choice.”
Clicking her fingers, she conjured up a scarlet-hued merlot.
It was definitely merlot.
Wiping his hand across his jacket, Gorbind remembered his manners. “How lovely to meet you,” he added a smile; more out of curiosity than anything.
She knew about Mango. That would do.
“Take a seat, Gentlemen,” Aurelia flashed a toothy grin. “We have much to discuss.”
Needless Alley, Birmingham.
“What take are we on?” Yawning, Hades stretched his eyes open. “I’m cold, wet, and that Christmas Market; it’s all a bit trippy.” Pulling up a fur-lined hood, Hades sunk hands into the depths of deep pockets. He’d overlook the fact that it was maroon, toggled and made him look like a hipster trying too hard. “Oh, and I could do with a stiff drink. Gunmakers isn’t that far away. We could skive.”
“Cold, wet?” Gorbind screeched loudly . He narrowed his eyes to open his jacket. His shirt was slashed across his stomach, there were two gunshot woods in the centre of his sternum. “You’ve not been shanked and shot, having ran down the stairs of the Floozie whilst trying to catch a bad guy.”
“That’s true,” nodded the Lord of The Underworld. “I tend to just evisc-“
A glare from Gorbind told Hades to quit whilst he was ahead.
“Take six, seven, nine and a half,” grumbled Gorbind, pulling his own coat closer. Knee-length, blue and quilted, his was a bit more sober compared to Hades. Rain was coming down in sheets; it had been all day. “She won’t commit anything to paper, unless she has proper sequence of events for the opening salvo. There are just snatches for now. She’s waiting for a tipping point; to stitch all the fragments together. Get to the point where our paths collide.”
“Meh,” Hades shrugged to root around in a pocket. He grinned to pull out a hip flask and a packet of Jelly Babies.
“Those,” said Gorbind, “Are mine.” Grabbing the bag, he tore away the corner. “Tell Padmi about these, and you’re a dead man.”
Scoffing, Hades flicked the lid of the flask.
Gorbind bit the head off a green jelly baby. Looking left and right, he checked around. The muse wasn’t to be seen for now.
“It’s okay, Mercury slash Hermes, is otherwise engaged,” commented Hades. “He’s had a rough patch lately. The world, his wife and every single writer in this world is out to brain him.”
“Gunmakers,” sighed Gorbind, stuffing the jelly babies into his pockets and making a move.
“Gunmakers,” smirked Hades, following the man fated to become his wing-man. “But Street Food Place first. Line your stomach. I can drink til hell freezes over…”
Rolling his eyes, Gorbind walked passed Tesco’s and into the blurry mass of market goers.
No one would see them, hear them; they might feel a breeze, a buzzing that they couldn’t decipher.
A zombie copper and the Lord of the Underworld. An unlikely alliance.
Savouring the taste of Ragu, Padmi pulled a face. She dropped a tea-spoon into a blue bowl, to reach for a pepper mill. It squeaked as though in pain as Padmi ground the contents.
She was alone this afternoon.
Gorbind had taken Mango out; he was enduring jelly, ice-cream and party-rings.
Padmi and Gorbind were also in the middle of a fight.
She was wrong; he was right.
Football, be damned.
Padmi had no plans to concede defeat. She was holding Gorbind’s stash of Jelly babies hostage until he gave up. Until he bent to her view and her view alone.
He could stew a little longer.
Behind her, the kitchen door swung open. She felt a cold, cutting breeze across the back of her deck. Padmi caught a reflection cast across shiny kitchen cabinets.
“Finally,” she said, her lips parted into a smile. “Sweetie, you have a face.” Lowering the heat beneath the pan, Padmi turned to face her visitor.
“Meh,” pulling at his cheeks, Hades shrugged. He passed a hand across coarse, dense stubble. “And a get-up,” he parted his jacket-tailored as it was was-to reveal a Waistcoat covered in pastel-pink poppies. “It’s a start.” He sighed, sinking his hands into his pockets. Hades looked down at his feet; he wiggled his toes within the confines of teak-coloured Oxford Brogues.
“And we know hows this ends, Hades “ Padmi looked the Lord of the Underworld up and down. “You’re a bit…rakish,” she squinted, to incline her head. “Skinny. Not my cuppa tea,” Padmi frowned, shaking head. “You should be a little…beefier.”
“The feeling is mutual,” Hades poked out his tongue, to laugh. “I’d worry if I was your cuppa tea, Padmi. It really wouldn’t work. Reckon you will ever have a face; the women of the Fragments universe? Aditi too.” His question was a distraction. He was suddenly feeling very vulnerable; exposed by having a face, an identity.
“No, never,” replied Padmi. “We’re any woman, and every woman. Oh, and Dracula,” she crossed her arms to leave against the work top. “You don’t have to see us, hear us to feel our thrall, our magic. It hangs in the air, our presence is pulled taut as thread in the fabric of the universe.”
Raising his brows, Hades hung on her every word.
Any woman and every woman.
Padmi was right. They both knew how this would end.
At least now, he had a face.
Saturday 15th February 2020
Gunmaker’s Arms, Birmingham
Peace Betrayed: A Peace Series Novella
The third and final instalment of the Devan Coultrie Saga from The Peace Novella Series will finally appear in January 2020. To celebrate this and in fact all three books, The Gunmaker’s Arms in Central Birmingham will host a book launch.
During the course of the evening, we will hear how it all started with Retreating to Peace, see what happened with Postcards from Peace to the final act of Peace Betrayed.
Peace Betrayed is part of the Peace Novella Series. A series of romance novellas set in the fictional town of Peace Novella. A town that has come to life using the many, diverse talents of over dozen authors.
Devan, as fictional as he is, actually from Rugby. These three stories see how he lands in the USA and makes a new life for himself.
There will also be the opportunity to hear works by other Birmingham Authors during the course of the event.
Devan Coultrie has found his Peace. He has a home, a business; his relationship with Aditi is ready to move to the next stage. They have plans to start a family, their life together could finally settle down properly.
Retreating to Peace was the first stage. The next was to make it all a picture perfect postcard.
Only Devan and Aditi’s relationship isn’t that straight forward. Its strength is about to be sorely tested.
Devan Coultrie has a decision to make.
He could keep and enjoy his ‘Happily Ever After’ in Peace, Montana.
Or will he betray it and lose everything that he has ever wanted?
If you have a kindle,
can click the link on the side bar to pre-order your copy.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself reflecting upon my journey as an author. A journey that has had many twists, turns and been a really valuable process of development; it still is. I don’t think, for one moment, that this process will ever stop in terms of development.
There are, of course, the gardening books. I’ve diversified into fiction, and experimented with both fiction and non-fiction. A lot has happened over the course of six, soon to be seven books.
There has been a big career change that has straddled across those texts, across the last five years. I’ve been a teacher for ten years, and throughout that journey, I undertook another in parallel. I trained to become a person-centred counsellor. A process, that isn’t for the faint-hearted. I can safely say, that I am not the same person who started out on a level two listening skills course all those years ago. I think it was 2012, my memory escapes me!
In 2017, in I published the book that you see above. I spent 2015-2016 writing it whilst studying and teaching. I’ve written before, as to my reasons why. I experienced two significant bereavements through the course of writing that book; these impacted upon so many different aspects of my life and being. To write about a book about that process was somewhat interesting, and I guess-in hindsight-an aspect of grieving. I know that after the second bereavement, I found it physically impossible to pick up a pen to write. I had to give myself permission to finish what I had started, to complete a cycle, move on and through what I had experienced.
Fragments is a work of fiction, yes. It does however, have some basis in theory. Mourning and bereavement, to be more specific. To this day, I remember learning about Worden and his four tasks of mourning, to be acutely aware of how Fragments was written with those four ideas in mind. I kept them in mind, as things that ebb and flow. I don’t, for one moment, profess to be an expert. There are some, that say all counselling is about loss. This is certainly something that has echoed and permeated through my practice, and I can see how that would be the case.
- To accept the reality off loss
- To work through, process the pain of grief
- To adjust to the world without the deceased
- To emotionally relocate the deceased whilst embarking on a new life.
Each of these four things is a part of the fabric of Fragments. Each of the six stories touches on these four principles. Each of the stories is also linked by Marcy the counsellor. A character, who herself, has a story about grief. There had to be a counsellor, I was training to be one, I saw one too. I tried to distill into the pages, what I was learning, experiencing and feeling.
The characters are deliberately diverse, they reflect real life. There is Nandini, an elderly woman of Indian-ascent. A character who has a very private grief, a process that she struggle with on many levels. She is someone who might not, in real life, go to counselling. It pains me, makes me angry too, that there are communities out there, for whom counselling is unavailable, or not part of their frame of reference; it’s not the done thing. Nandini echoes to me. She is the type of client that I would want to support in my private practice-another story, another day-to help improve access to talking therapies and also the stigma around mental health.
I deliberately wrote about Chris, who loses his dog, Adelphi. Man’s best friend, a relationship just as important as all others; this had to be written too. There are children; teenagers, actually who feel pain and need someone to talk to.
That’s the key here. To talk.
People tend to pull faces at me, when I say that I’ve written about grief. My response is always the same. We don’t talk about grief, we hide it; so why not read about it? I could, very easily, attach a health warning. I choose not to. I see value in what I’ve written. I see, know, that it’s not an easy book; it’s long too. I also think that talking, about grief, is important. It is part of those four stages, least of all part of my practice as a counsellor. It’s not a textbook, not by any length of chalk. I’ve never intended it to be one either, but it does have a purpose. It certainly had one for me.
I hope that by reading it, someone else will find that too.
You’ll need tissue.
And a big mug of tea.
Look after yourself, though.