Older writer? Smile, your time may yet come


When I read those author interviews, you know the ones,

the ones where the successful writer claims they ‘always knew they were going to write’, that they wrote their first word before they were out of nappies, their first short story before their first spoken word, their first novel before leaving junior school – those interviews – I read them with a mixture of resentment and admiration.

Admiration because anyone who is together enough to have a life plan at a young age is truly blessed and resentment because I … didn’t.

I drifted through school, got kicked out of college, fell into retail (hairdressing, measuring old ladies for corsets, selling extra strong cider in an off licence, waiting tables in a cafe that closed a week after I started) … I was hopeless.

When asked what I wanted to do when I grew up I shrugged. Drift, drift, drift …

Floristry came along and was a reliable way to earn a little money, but it was only after I put myself through a degree and the studying was over that a hole opened in my life that needed to be filled.

And I filled it with an old love – writing. And I realised – I had found it. I’d found my one, true love. 

Nine years and a LOT of writing later, I’m starting to feel vaguely competent. I’m not sure if I’ve completed Malcolm Gladwell’s fabled 10,000 hours yet, but I don’t think I’m that far off and there are days when I feel I’m at a publishable standard.

But at 48, have I left it too late for a career in writing?

If you’re an older writer like me take heart from this article in Author’s Publish Magazine.

There maybe some hope for us yet.




Brush up your Shakespeare


If you imagine that Shakespeare should be delivered in an accent resembling that of the Queen’s, watch on. It seems if you’d sat in the Globe Theatre in the 16th century, you would have heard something that more closely resembled Pirates of the Caribbean than The King’s Speech.

Loving it.













The death of Jesse


Image : Pixabay


Others are up ahead, a clump of black silhouettes, paled by a haze of sea spray.

I check my instinct to call Jesse to heel. Stupid dog’s too far away, closer to them than me. If I call they’ll see me.

There was a storm last night. Idiot! I stumbled from the shack just as the cold sun was lifting over the bay, only half awake, unprepared. If only I’d made coffee, got the stove going, sparked some brain cells to life. But the wood store was empty, the coffee jar too.

I watch Jesse for one second, two, as he jogs towards the hunched figures, his tail swinging. Only now do I notice wreckage littering the sands – a plastic bottle, half full of  something blue (shampoo? mouthwash?): sodden paper: a splash of red cloth, bright as spilt paint. The others will have been out all night scavenging for what’s left of the boat’s crew.

One last glimpse of golden fur and I turn back, walking fast, forcing myself not to run, not wanting to draw their attention. I sink my hands deep in my pockets, feel the bag I’d brought along to collect Jesse’s morning mess – a hangover of more civilised times.

Stumbling over a silver belt buckle, a boot with no laces, I hear Jesse bark, growl, yelp.

Poor Jesse. I bite my lip hard, blink away salt water.

I determine to find more coffee.

Not sure if it’s the hunched, hooded figure in the foreground that turned my thoughts to the dark side, or just the fact that I’m a miserabilist.  What do you think of when you see this picture? Is it more cheerful than the way my tale went?

As the Valentine’s Day rush of roses and desperate paramours is upon me, I find myself absent from the screen for a few days. So here’s a tale I penned a year ago.

Apologies to all who comment in the meantime – I shall reply once the madness is over.


The Big 5 – 0 – 0

Gold star on red and blue background

Image : Pixabay


Well, my dears I’ve been looking at my stats and noticed something pretty big has happened.

A few posts ago I passed the big 500 mark here on WordPress.

In my twenty two months of blogging I have written, proofed and posted just over 500 posts, much of it nonsense rambling – a bit like this post actually – the rest fiction.

I’ve explored words, explored worlds, from fantasy to sci-fi, to historical and domestic with a bit of creepy horror, blood and guts thrown in.

It’s a bit of a landmark, whichever way you look at it.

It means – at a very rough estimate – I’ve written around 150,000 words on here. Both a good, lovely thing and some might think a bad thing, as if I’d used the same time writing novels, I would have stopped prevaricating and finished the current book by now.

Still, I wanted to take time out to say Ta Muchly, because without people to read my writing, to be positive and encouraging, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have posted so much and so often.

Thanks all and you never know, maybe one day I’ll be here celebrating my thousandth post.




Sunday Photo Fiction: Work in progress


171 09 September 4th 2016

Copyright Al Forbes

When was the last time she walked along the towpath? Six months ago? Maybe seven?

Strangely fitting that the destruction at her feet – the mud, the gravel, the lengths of pipe and wooden planks – reflects how her own life has been taken apart.

She smiles at the ugly surface, the rutted soil where a clean, compacted walkway used to be. The rushes and irises, the rose bay willow herb and arcs of bramble are gone, no doubt composted or tossed into landfill.

Other people might seen an eyesore, a sweet idyll destroyed, but not her – she sees a work in progress.

One day the irises will return, the rushes too and with them bees and butterflies and water voles. The canal will come alive again.

She holds a word on her tongue, tough as gravel, sweet as clover.


Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. See the pic and write a tale. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

Death be not proud

Barn in a thunderstorm

Image: Pixabay

‘You know what to do?’ asks the old woman.

Connie nods, fingers tensed around the cup. The stench of the liquid catches in the back of her throat – vinegar sour, metallic – turning her stomach.

The old woman scuffs to the fire, tosses herbs into the flames. ‘Drink and they will find you.’

The liquid scalds Connie’s stomach. Heat spreads across her skin – hot needles turning to pokers skewering her heart and lungs, stealing her breath. She chokes. Gasps.

A giggle – another. One small body snuggles against her side, the weight of another on her lap.

‘Oh, my loves,’ she says.



Written for Notina’s Moral Mondays, the theme this week being Love Conquers All. Pop along to see the rules and to join in.

FFftPP: the haunting of the snake pass



Mark grips the steering wheel, the blinding headlights of oncoming cars making his eyes water. The stereo’s turned up loud, bass vibrating the dashboard, a beehive hum with every drum beat.

He tries to make the road his focus – the scrubby hillside, the moorland sweeping away to his left. Wind barrels across heather and squat grass, buffeting the car and Ladybower Reservoir lies ink black to his right, a hole punched in the world.

Passing the first wreck – an Alvis Silver Eagle, windscreen a spider’s web of splintered glass – he knows the body’s inside. There are more as the bends grow tighter.

He’d like to speed past the worst, for that scene to become a flicker in his peripheral vision, but the road’s too dangerous – he doesn’t want to join the dead. Besides, he has to look. To remember.

The car slows and he sees the shattered glass, the crumpled bonnets … Smashed bodies. Then what he’s been dreading.

A teddy bear in the road.

His instinct is to swerve, to avoid driving over the plush fur, the button eyes. But it’s just another past echo only he can see.

He drives on.


Written in response to Roger Shipp’s Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner. Use the photo and the phrase for a story in under 200 words.