New Writing by E.R. Murray on Terrain.org

Terrain.org, a journal of built and natural environments, is one of my favourite journals that deals with how the environment impacts our lives and how we impact it in turn – its content is so varied but always fresh, exciting and of an exceptional standard. So I’m truly delighted to have a piece of flash fiction, Discrimen, recently included.

Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments logo

Set in West Cork, Discrimen is a tale of loss, love, and hope. It’s a short read, and free – so please share with people you think might enjoy it! 

Publishing fiction, non-fiction, poetry, interview and letters, Terrain.org is a real treasure trove, so have a good look around – and do share any of your favourite pieces you discover in the comments below.

And if you’re looking to submit your own work, you can do so here:
https://www.terrain.org/submit/

Happy reading, happy writing! x

Staying Motivated: Writing Across Genres

IMG_4339I’ve always hated labels and I’ve always loved variety; moments in time, new experiences, the unexpected – that’s what makes me tick. Routine makes me feel like I’m trapped in a bog, struggling my way out. It doesn’t work for everyone, but change makes my soul soar.

And that’s why I write like I read – across a variety of age groups and genres, styles and lengths. Although I’ve been coined a children’s author (which, of course, I am!), it is actually only one part of what I do. I also write essays, short stories, story for radio and flash fiction – for both children and adults. Typically, however, when you write a work of longer fiction, i.e. a novel, the other stuff seems to pale in comparison. But if I had to label myself as something, then I think I’d identify with plain old ‘writer’.

BookofRevengecoverDon’t get me wrong; this is not in any way to belittle the fact that I write for children. Ask any children’s writer and they’ll tell you all about the time(s) they were asked the question – when are you going to write a proper book? It’s so common, the wonderful champion of children’s books and authors, Sarah Webb (who writes novels for both children and adults), even created an event for aspiring children’s writers with this as the very title.

So let me start by clarifying: children’s books are proper books, and for anyone rolling their eyes, answer this… How many people come to reading for pleasure as an adult? Not many. Children’s books are at the very core of reading and readers, whatever age you may be, and I cannot stress enough how important they are. How much I love writing them and proud I am to be part of that community. How much it makes my soul soar to be in front of a room of children enthusing over books.

autonomy

However, I also love writing other things. Lots of other things. Why? Because I enjoy the challenge. And also, projects and ideas come to me in different forms. Sometimes an idea might require a poem, other times the story might need flash fiction, and other times only an essay can shape the words I want to say. Some of these things will be published and some will not. But that doesn’t remove from the joy – writers write. That’s what we do.

And I’m certainly not alone. Some of the writers that I adore and admire that write across several age groups and/or genres include Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Nuala O’Connor, Roald Dahl Emma Donoghue, E.B White, Stephen King, Zadie Smith and Joyce Carol Oates.

So why do some writers feel the need to keep switching? I can’t speak for any of these prolific and talented writers, but I am pretty confident that every piece they write comes from the heart. You only need to focus on the quality to realise how much each publication meant to them. And remember, for every piece we see, there’ll be reams of stuff hidden in drawers, discarded, that didn’t quite make the grade.

Like I said, writers write. That’s what we do.

elysian

For me, writing a book takes a long time and I have limited capacity for intense focus on a single work in progress – about four hours per day maximum. I find that writing shorter pieces alongside the novels helps to keep me motivated. Instead of taking a break when my concentration on a single piece is up, I switch to something else to keep those writing muscles in full flow. To give you an idea of what I’ve been up to, in the last six months, I’ve had the following published:

There are a few more awaiting decisions, a few more binned for now, and more on their way, all at different stages, edging forward like racehorses until one needs to push ahead to the finish line.

arlenI don’t know why a piece nags at me, demanding to be written, and in a certain way. It’s all about the story is all I can really tell you. But I do know that each piece requires focus, time and dedication, and each carries a little of my soul.

Sometimes a short story can take as long as a novel, if not longer, as I often require more time between edits. I also know that every piece comes with its own challenges and frustrations and sense of achievement as the final words/edits fall into place. Each provides me, in its own (sometimes cruel or meandering) way, with joy.

 And so, if you’re finding it difficult to motivate yourself, or you’ve fallen out of love with your current work in progress (it happens), or you feel like you’re banging your head off a brick wall (that frequently happens), then have you considered writing something fresh and new, in a different genre or style or for a different audience?

It might not work but what have you got to lose? I’d love to know how you get on. 

Short fiction – A Homelessness theme

Dublin

Dublin

Whenever I visit Dublin, I notice an ever-increasing number of homeless people on the streets. Things have certainly changed since I lived there, and not for the better.

I’m currently trying to put together a charity book, with the proceeds going to a charity for the homeless, but I seem to be hitting lots of dead ends. In the meantime, I thought I’d post a piece of short fiction that was shortlisted for a competition back in December. It’s only a small gesture and does little to help, but hopefully my bigger plan will come together soon.

This is dedicated to all the homeless people in Ireland and across the world…

Another Day

The young woman is tired and clammy as she reluctantly heads home, pushing against the revelers in Santa hats and slinky outfits. Under the Christmas lights on O’Connell, their gentle blinking, she can almost pretend that she too will celebrate until the small hours, in a silver party dress, unburdened by the illness she still denies, not ready to wear the label just yet.

The young man is cold and homeless, but insists on smiling. Slumped against the humped city bridge, he watches people hurry by, imagining them to be friendly while they pretend he’s invisible. He marvels how the padlocks that the council had removed are starting to return – as though love can only work if it is shackled.

When the woman hears singing, the unmistakable force of Handel’s Messiah wending its way through the air, she changes directions, resists the urge to hurry like she would have even one month ago, before symptoms or diagnosis. The music warms her, and she fantasizes about what it would be like to tell just one person of her sorrows.

When the man hears voices spiralling, his heart starts dreaming. Memories of a young boy’s Christmas when he still believed in the gifts of angels. He follows the melody until he reaches the edge of a crowd in Temple Bar. He forgot his mother’s face long ago, but he remembers how sweetly she hummed this, her favourite oratorio, and how she swayed in time to the tune.

They stand side by side, their eyes locked on the choir, as though looking away might shatter the beauty. As the woman stumbles, the man catches her arm, forgetting to be invisible. ‘Y’all right, love?’ he asks. ‘Yes.’ ‘Are you sick?’ ‘Yes.’ The words escapes and hovers between them. The man doesn’t ask any more, but holds her until she’s steady. Then slowly, without thinking, he leads her in a shuffling dance.

The man hasn’t gathered enough hostel money anyway, so he invites her for a drink. She says it’s her shout, it’s the least she can do, and wonders – how can a person do more? They go to a place neither of them knows. The music is too loud, and they only make it to the dance floor, where disco lights dapple them with silver. They stay an hour longer than they intend and say goodbye without touching.

On the Luas the next day, the woman touches the spot where the man caught her. The pain is different now. Tender, like the bravery growing inside her. Maybe she could tell just one more person? She wonders where the man will sleep tonight, whether she would offer him a bed if their paths crossed again. She walks home via Temple Bar, even though it’s out of her way.

And the man is still cold and homeless, but last night he danced with an angel dressed in silver lights that glittered with possibility, like the ripples on the Liffey on this, another day.

 

A quick story… Discrimen on 1000Words

thai decoration gardens

This is how happy I’ll be when I finish my book edits 🙂

I’m currently editing my book, so things are quiet on the blog front. I hope to get back to my Thailand adventures soon – especially with a Cambodian adventure booked for January – but as I’m sure you’ll understand, these edits have to take priority.

After having read through my editors comments, I should also copy Mel Sheratt and expose a few of my blunders via the blog – there are some corkers in there! What do you think? Would you like to hear some of the most embarrassing ones?

In the meantime, here’s a piece of flash fiction that I wrote, ‘Discrimen‘, kindly published by 1000Words. If you’re a reader, they have lots of really good, bite-sized fiction for you to read. If you’re a writer, why not consider submitting?

I hope you enjoy the story – thanks for reading if you get round to it – & I’ll be back with more blog posts soon.