Today I finished a new short story I’ve been writing over the past couple of weeks: ‘The Electric Fence’. This will be my submission to this year’s Elizabeth Jolley prize. It’s the first short story I’ve done since ‘The Signal Box’, a year ago.
This story, I think, continues a style I found in The Signal Box. I’ve had a feeling I’m starting to find my ‘voice’, whatever that is. A style or kind of story that feels like mine; like I’m no-longer just doing my version of what someone else does. That’s probably been a big part of the journey over the past three years, so its good to feel like I’m arriving at that point.
Like The Signal Box, The Electric Fence can probably be read as a sort of allegory. Neither story is concerned with the time or place in which its events are set. There are also, I think, clear themes of occupation, entrapment and escape. Developing on from The Signal Box though, I think this one is more minimal. Also, it’s way less dark than The Signal Box, which for me is a refreshing development.
My next plan is to get back into ‘The Worm’, and write chapter 8. I also have an idea for continuing two earlier experimental stories: ‘Get Away’ and ‘Forever’ by tying them together in another sort of experiment. This would be a departure from the style I’ve been exploring and discussing above, but it’s an experiment that interests me. The working title for this latter work is: ‘Europa’.
I finished Greener Pastures last night, and sent it off today. It’s my entry for the Noosa Arts Theatre National One Act Playwriting Competition. I also entered in 2014 and 2015. Neither of those entries were shortlisted. When I started writing my first entry: “Final Performance” in 2014, I had the idea that I would do a play each year for 3 consecutive years. I think really the point of this activity has been for me to try and learn something about writing plays. Have I learned anything? Well, I think Greener Pastures is probably the best of the three. I was never sure which of the previous two was better, but I’m pretty happy with this latest one. It has, I think, two pretty engaging, pretty interesting, believable and relatable lead characters in Satya and Verity. I had a similar mutual-outsider vibe happening with Io and Hermes in my 2015 Story: “A God From The Machine”. I think Greener Pastures also has some rich themes weaving through it, and I think its a decent little yarn. So, we’ll see. The judging process is pretty long. I think for last year’s competition, I didn’t find out I’d missed the shortlist ‘till some time in January.
Next things… well, I’ll be getting back into The Worm. Chapter 6 awaits, in which poor Viktor and Eva spiral ever deeper into the existential abyss. I also have the beginnings of an idea for a short story, which I think is pretty interesting. It’s another sort of allegory, along similar stylistic lines to The Signal Box. I’m not sure if I might have already mentioned it on this blog, but anyway… It’s called “The Electric Fence”. Also, I have some interest in doing a non-fiction piece to be titled: “The Speaking Clock”. This would be about Pat Simmons, the voice of the United Kingdom’s telephone system, Speaking Clock from 1963 to 1985. There are some pretty interesting facets to this story and I think it might be worth writing, but there’s quite a bit of research required, including writing to some people who might not want to be bothered.
Probably my most pressing creative commitment now, however, is to complete the soundtrack for Phoebe’s animated film, which I have another 2 or 3 weeks to do. Then, at the start of November I’m heading to New Zealand with Brian for a week, to hike Milford Sound. So, busy as usual, and plenty to look forward to!