Creative Writing

I’m going to do something courageous.

I have been working on a short story, and I’m going to put the first little bit on here. Which is terrifying for me. *braces self*  Here we go:

The prospect of city life has long enthralled Eileen Lynch. Now, the other side of twenty-five, she felt irrefutable pride on opening her letters; NW1.

By the time she reached her mid teens, Lynch was restless in Cumbria. The hills, divided unevenly by ancient walls no longer exuded that sweet homeliness that engulfed her in her youth. Once, childishly, the hills had been hers. She had rambled daily, lemon yellow wellingtons visible through the densest fog, through a yard, over a style, perhaps through a field of livestock to a miniature wilderness or raging streamlet. She had once vowed never to leave, and, taking her mother’s bread knife, carved her oath meticulously into a birch.

At thirteen, she began to notice the view; how primitive, how unchanging, how tiresome. The dry stone walls had ceased to age years before, and would outlive her. They had endured, and would continue to endure, hundreds of the harshest winters. Each morning brought her that greeting, (two syllables, the first higher in pitch than the second) from people  who professed to know her purely because from a short distance they had watched her grow. She began to wake up already weary.

That’s all for now. I suppose you should tell me what you think. Argh.


Rant #1: Social networking, pros and cons. Mostly cons.

It seems to me that if you’re under the age of twenty and are not the owner of a Facebook account, you are indeed a questionable teenager. With more than 800 million active users, to break away from this mystical cyberworld is certainly to buck a trend. I am no exception; not a day passes in which I do not scrawl through the seemingly infinite news feed, tutting at minor grammatical errors. Keeping up with what flavour yoghurt your friend just ate, or the location of their afternoon’s kite flying, or the latest gloriously witty “awkward moment” scenario is all well and good, but my concern is that my generation is using this condensed form of reality as a sort of shield, a way to avoid social confrontations and actual speech, feeling and consequence; a kind of “get out”.

Call me an old romantic, but I am very much a fan of letter writing (not business, personal ones), communication of emotion and feeling through song (the best are always one voice and a piano/guitar) and talking things out with a cuppa. I suppose what appeals to me with letters is the intimacy; the writer’s hand onced traced the lines you read, and the pen warmed by their grasp. There’s thought, crossings out that are still just legible, which for me gives a sort of insight into their thoughts while writing. Perhaps a section hurried, rendering the handwriting slightly spidery as an idea surfaced and yearned to be expressed. Conversing online lacks these personal touches which are human. Touch backspace, a thought is gone, lost. The font is uniform; it cannot convey impulse, or passion, or even hesitation. The only way to lay down your feelings is with a smiley face. Or a winkey face, and so on. Perhaps my overly romanticized view is naive; it’s outrageous to think you can understand someone by their handwriting. In fact, it’s rather Holmesian. But when a person is concealed behind a screen and a keyboard, surely it’s easier not to feel? What consequences are there? There is no need for sincerity, or self-awareness. How did the other interpret what you said? You’ll never know the truth: you cannot see their face. Which is why we’d do well to limit our Internet conversations to “Were we set any homework today, oh classmate of mine?”


A review of Saturday, by Ian McEwan.

I kinda wanted to post this on a different page, but failed. I am now waiting for my computer nerd friends to come online so they can tell me how to actually use wordpress. But enough of this foolishness.

In wrote September a review of a book called Saturday for an English teacher. He seemed to really like it, so I thought I’d pop it on here. Here we go:

I stumbled across Saturday in a second hand bookshop. I recognized the author (two of his books sat on my own shelf), and at a mere pound I thought “Why not?” I had a whole summer to occupy, after all.

It’s 2003. The protagonist, Henry Perowne, roused from his sleep by a feeling of unease, watches an aeroplane with a failing engine come down. Both his, and my, immediate suspicion was terrorism. I suppose my link was made in conjunction with the approaching anniversary of 9/11. Although the disaster didn’t seem relevant or threatening to me at the time; as a six year old I perceived it with a child’s indifference and lack of worldly wisdom. The Americans in a bit of a pickle, oceans away. Citizens pleading with British cameras, each tower tumbling inexorably to the ground in a shattered, shaken city. It’s taken ten years, and Saturday for this to hit me, to notice an ubiquitous consciousness of terrorism. A recent day in London, descending underground at Oxford Circus during rush hour, I thought “What if?” It would only take one backpack, belt or pocket to rip apart Oxford Street from beneath and wipe out the influx of passengers, all in the name of a God by whom I’d never been touched.

Perowne’s assumption about the plane was influenced by a march set to begin a few hours later, in protest of the invasion of Iraq. It is avoiding the march that brings Perowne into confrontation with Baxter, a key piece in, for me, another issue in the novel: ageing and morality.

Baxter is dying. His body is slowly being claimed by Huntingdon’s disease. He is young and prematurely waiting for death. Perhaps this fuels his aggression, or indeed a vulnerability which instills in him the need of company, or “sidekicks”, who are arguably the only things left that he has some degree of control over. Following a dispute, Baxter and another hanger-on intrude into Perowne’s home, brandishing knives; a reminder of how quickly, needlessly and easily life can be snatched from us by fellow human beings.

As a neurosurgeon, Perowne observes the symptoms of ageing every day, not only in the hospital, but by watching his own mother’s memory deteriorate at the hands of dementia. He feels them himself, too, and as he approaches fifty he acts in the only way he can; he fights the inevitable with gym shorts and a squash racket. The hobby of his youth seems to have become a struggle to prove himself –  he is desperate to win every game, which diminishes his enjoyment of the sport, rendering him bitter towards it. I’ve always liked to picture myself as an active, healthy old woman, often boasting rather prematurely that I’ll be “riding well into my eighties”, but perhaps Saturday has nudged me into the direction of scepticism. Perowne’s lead a reasonably healthy life – run marathons, kept the booze to a minimum, hasn’t smoked, yet an hour’s squash has lamed him. He’s not fifty yet.

What have I learned? Youth, and life in general, is the most valuable thing you can ever possess, but it can be snatched from you by fellow humans, disease, ageing – trifling matters. Apologies, Mr McEwan, if I’ve completely misinterpreted. But I suppose literature is what you make of it. And I did enjoy it, after all.


Here is my first post.

I am Beth Searby, but if you’re reading this the chances are you know me anyway. I am sixteen, I live in a tiny pocket of the world in the form of a tiny rural village called Belchford. It is the only place I have ever lived, and I am rather looking forward to abandoning it. I have started a blog because I want to write stuff, for a job, when I’m all growed up. I’m not sure what specifically yet, but never mind. So, here I shall post reviews, rants, stories, poems (yes, I know, what a dick) and other such things. If you’re from the Guardian, pay close attention. If you’re someone else, stick around. It’s polite.