Anyone who knows me well has heard me say “I don’t have time right now”. It seems to be my catchphrase. I always seem to be juggling multiple tasks and scrambling to get them completed by their deadlines. So one of the things I like best about Christmas is that I finally find some free time during the holiday season – after I finish the Christmas cards and put up the last of the decorations – I do have the tree up. Just don’t mention last posting dates – I know, I know, I know…
It’s great to just relax and chill out but I’m not one to do absolutely nothing very often – I have to be very ill to stop completely. So my favourite way to unwind is to curl up beside the fire and read. While I always have a novel on the go too, I’ve found that short stories and novellas are great when you are pressed for time or aren’t ready to focus on a longer read. I’ve read Heather Richardson’s Chilled and Other Stories and Tim Hodkinson’s All The King’s Thanes on two separate bus journeys to Belfast recently. The former borders on horror and the latter is historical fiction. They are very different from each other but that’s another plus for short works: you can jump from one genre to another quickly as the whim takes you.
I’ve been involved in writing and publishing three anthologies this year and that has also given me a greater appreciation of short works. I co-edited Fermanagh Miscellany 2012 with Seamas Mac Annaidh. The book is a mixture of local history articles, reminiscences and short stories; I love finding such a variety of material in one book. I stepped back in time as I read a couple reminiscences about the war years and I learned facts about the area where I live in historical pieces – so I had to remember to keep my mind on the editing and not allow myself to get completely immersed in the book. I contributed stories to Tuesdays at Charlie’s and Foreign Encounters and got my copies of the books as soon as they were launched. I’ve had both books for several months but I’m still finding gems within their pages as I dip in and out of them. It’s great to keep going back and finding another story that captivates me.
As you may have concluded by now, I’m very much a fan of short stories. So this summer, when I was casting around for something else to do with several of my previously published stories, I decided to release a short story collection. I hated to think of the stories languishing in a drawer (or more likely under a stack of papers in the corner of my study…) after fleeting appearances in weekly magazines and newspapers so Dancing Shadows, Tramping Hooves was born.
If I disappear during the coming week you’ll know where to find me. Tiptoe into my living room and you’ll spot me in the frayed armchair in the corner with one of the cats on my knee, a pile of books beside the chair and the Kindle reader on the coffee table.
So I’ll take time now to wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful year in 2013 – in case I get lost in a story later and forget to send my greetings.
I hope all my friends and family have a safe, happy holiday season!