Such Small Hands

Yesterday I read Andrès Barba’s novella Such Small Hands, in one sitting. It is absolutely brilliant and utterly horrifying. Barba’s prose really captures the psyche of a child, the terror and enchantment of it, the way nothing makes sense but somehow everything does too. The feeling of recognition I had when reading it was quite overwhelming. The cover’s great, too.

I need to seek out some more Barba.

Goodbye Horses

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I’m currently writing a novel called Goodbye Horses, and uploading each chapter as I finish it to a website called Feel free to go and read it. If you like it, let me know. If you don’t, let me know too. I’m aiming to get the manuscript complete and out to publishers and agents by the end of this year, so any feedback is appreciated.

This novel has been a long time coming. I’m a perfectionist. If left to my own devices, with no deadline, no accountability to anyone else, I go back and pick apart and ceaselessly re-write my work, trying to get it flawless, re-working sentences, paragraphs, entire characters and plotlines. I still end up loathing it. I bin the whole thing. I start again. The cycle repeats itself. And at no point do I let anyone else read my writing. How could I, when it’s not perfect?

This year I’ve decided that enough is enough. No more self-sabotage. I need to let go. I need to just write. It’s going to be messy; there are going to be dud metaphors, tone-deaf pieces of dialogue, gaping plot-holes. So what. Those can be sorted later. The main thing is just to get it done.

So I’m doing it. I’m writing, and I’m letting people read it. This is a hard thing. The first few chapters I uploaded, I felt physically sick. The thought of people I knew and admired and respected reading my work, examining it, judging it – and therefore, examining and judging me, because writing is so much a part of how I see myself – was almost unbearable. Writing has always, in my mind, been the thing I was good at. What if it turned out I really wasn’t any good at all?

But people were kind and encouraging. I could breathe again. And now, it feels great to hit that ‘publish’ button. Each chapter is a small victory. As soon as one chunk’s uploaded, it’s done; it’s out of my mind. I have the impetus to move onto the next piece of the story, to keep laying the tracks. Plus, it makes me accountable to all my friends and family who are reading the story and nagging me to get the next chapter up.

So please, go and read it, offer constructive criticism, nag me to keep writing, give me any feedback you like. It all helps.