Witness the Fiction

Wasn’t it Thoreau who said a writer is someone who, having nothing to do, finds something to do?

And wasn’t it Pitching the World’s mum who told him at the weekend about how Barry Manilow is really into making music, that he gets up early everyday and is just totally immersed in it and consumed by it?

And does the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook have the contact details of 66 publications that accept fiction?

Yes to all three questions (And yes to a fourth too: isn’t this a terrible – and terribly pretentious – way to start a post?) but those three colourful strands came together this morning and I realised it’s high time I started writing fiction. I just want to get into something, you know, get immersed. Like Barry Manilow. I desperately want to become Barry Manilow. For one, it’ll make a pleasant break from drawing chronically unpublishable cartoons and sending begging letters to Red Bull. For two, it might make me some money. For three, the sooner I pitch all these magazines the sooner we can all get out of here.

So, short stories. I’ve got ideas. Oh, I’ve got ideas; if anything I’ve got too many ideas. The following three are among the best and written up from my notebook:

1. “Perhaps write something about a dog that goes back to college” – Or so I’ve said in my notebook. I don’t know why I’ve chosen for this dog to go back to college, rather than simply to college, but there seemed to something more poetic about a dog returning to college. I don’t really know what happens once the dog is actually at the college, but it doesn’t really matter. Look! It’s a fucking dog! Going to college! Or back to college. If I knew what an allegory was, I have a feeling this could well be one. (note: could work equally well with a bear or horse).

2. A first-person piece about a character, reminiscing about the time he first met a peculiar fellow called Stan Rummage. “Write it punchy, like dialogue in a play” I’ve written “Like: I don’t remember the first time I met Stan Rummage. Who remembers this stuff? ‘The first time I met Brenda she wore these shoes and this dress and the light did this to her hair’ – bullshit. All of it. People can’t remember that. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast, let alone…”  That’s how I’m planning on writing it. I know: not bad. Anyway it turns out that Stan Rummage is HIM, the actual narrator, it’s like he met HIMSELF. And guess what: turns out he’s murdered someone. I know: brilliant.

3. My final idea was about a 35-year-old man who used to write speeches for politicians but now lives in his Nan’s dining room in Boscombe. This one will be surreal, more surreal than the dog (or possibly bear or horse) going to college (or back to college). The hero of this short story, Steven, writes a blog – even though he hates blogs – and has sex with women in big bins around the back of supermarkets because he’s reluctant to bring them back to his Nan’s dining room. Steven dreams of moving to an island in the Mediterranean (he doesn’t know which one), where he’ll catch his own fish (he doesn’t know how), grow his own vegetables (he doesn’t know how), and work on his novel about a dog who goes to college. The centrepiece of this short story will be the assembly and varnishing of a bird table.

What do you think? Seriously. Because I don’t have time to write all three up I thought I’d like to hand it over to my award-winning readers to decide. Whichever one you think has legs (and it’s tough, I know) I’ll write up and send off this week. And I’ll probably post it up here later in the week too. Unless it’s terrible. Which, clearly, it won’t be.

Over to you:


11 responses to “Witness the Fiction

  1. ” (note: could work equally well with a bear or horse).”

    Ummm – put together a dog, bear and horse going back to college and you’ve got yourself a full-blown fable. And I’m pretty sure there’s a magazine called Aesop’s that’s gagging for some new ones.

  2. A dog, a bear AND a horse going to college? Or rather, back to college. Seems a bit far-fetched, Rundfc, but thanks.

  3. That’s right, let’s have less of the “far-fetched” suggestions.
    Keep the subject matter believable, like, say, a small girl with a dog meets up with a Scarecrow, a Lion and a Bloke made out of tin cans and they all go off to find a Wizard.
    Or, a journalist happens to be loitering on a South London common when a huge saucer shaped space craft lands and starts disgorging tripods. . . . . which can walk.
    Fiction like that would never sell, would it.

  4. Bessie Barclay

    Dear Pitchy

    Could you by chance be the son of an ex member of the British Armed Forces? Your drawing of Terence looks remarkably like a young man I knew who would slam your Nan’s kitchen knife into her breadboard any day of the week. Subconscious ….. hero …… etc. perhaps a behavioural psychologist could help you here.

    I wouldn’t try to be Barry Manilow – he never looks to me as if he gets enough to eat.

  5. I like College Dog, I have an old sketch here I have written about Bad-Blind Dog, he is very badly behaved and causes all sorts’s of trouble. Just say, he isn’t blind, his owner is. Anyway – perhaps he can go back to Blind Dog College.

    Pitchy – how about we do a modern day this, this whole blog is building to it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castaway_(book)

  6. If college dog doesn’t win, I’m going to write it. HIS STORY MUST BE TOLD!!!!!

  7. Rust The Third

    I have an idea for a blinder of a short story:-

    The two main characters have significant intellectual and spiritual growth via the process of constructing an L shaped sofa bed in a dining room. There is a lot of hinderance and misfortune along the way culminating with a brother discovering the nearly finished sofa bed and attempting to take partial credit for the construction of the troublesome piece of furniture.

    Ultimately the two main characters bond and realise that though this was a seemingly mundane task, they have both grown and changed in ways they thought were impossible.

    What do you think?

    P.S. Thanks for the birthday card/present – exactly my style!

  8. OB, I hear you, I really do. But a DOG? In COLLEGE?
    Miss Barclay – How astute you are. My father was indeed in the forces. And he was called Terence. And if that isn’t my subconscious going crazy – although it is – my stepfather was called John. Nuts. I need help. And quickly.
    Are you suggesting, Lisa Williams, that we move to a tropical island, I get my leg infected with ulcers, you flirt with two naval officers and then, after a year, you just swan off? Hope so.
    L – Yes. Yes, it should. Perhaps we can have a College Dog writing competition.
    Rust – How lovely to have you here. And I like what you’re saying. I think you’re saying that this L-shaped sofa that we assembled represents our relationship. Or a dog going to college. Glad you enjoyed what is probably the finest birthday card/present I’ve ever given.

  9. If your imagination’s not up to it, somebody has already written out a lot of stories for you in picture form (your fave) here: http://collegedog.tumblr.com/

    Was it you?

  10. Oh, fucking hell. Thanks Rundfc for drawing my attention to a rival College Dog, but fucking hell. I thought that was going to be my ticket out of here, but turns out some other animal has done it.
    (Also, and perhaps more importantly, how did you come across the US College Dog? Were you searching online for “college dog”? Don’t you work?)

  11. Pitchy – I realise now it might not seem so appealing. It was more the original idea. I remember reading about how the guy advertised in the back of Time Out to find a wife to join him on a Tropical Island. Sounded so adventurous and amazing. However, on reflection I don’t want you getting ulcers and me nearly dying for a good freelance article.

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