Bitter Leaves

By Tabatha Stirling

A novel that will bring you to the dark heart of Singapore's maid culture

Thursday, 29 September 2016

On The Hard Art of Writing

Most of my writing tends to be on the dark side.  Twisty tales and damaged goods leaking from a thin brown bag.  See, I can’t stop myself.  But sometimes, I do write a bit of comedy, particularly poetry, like My Partner Joan.  


My Partner, Joan

I'm not the most attractive bloke

Some might say I'm quite the joke

Education was never my bag

My brain's not big and inclined to sag

I've got a belly the size of France

You'd think that I could never dance


My partner, she is not that pretty

And you wouldn't call her very witty

Her nose is long and inclined to drip

She has no hair and a gammy hip

An odd shaped lass, with massive hands

Not fat exactly, just dodgy glands



But when we step ou on that dance floor

Joan and I become a Force Majeure

My dodgy pelvis no longer creaks

Her feet, a silken, graceful treat

Swirling, twirling, a sensuous pearl

Joan, the exotic Brazilian girl.



I find that poetry requires less emotional effort than long fiction projects.  There isn’t the excruciating middle bit when my Lower Fifth latin teacher’s voice echoes in my head snapping about how I never finish anything.  Sometimes, writing a novel can feel like a trench. You can’t clamber out of it and the mud at the bottom is awful, bloody cold.   


There are plenty of writers who find the writing experience exhilarating and fluid.  Thousands of words pour out of them at one sitting and books are finished in 3/6/9 months.  If I sound bitter, I’m not.  Awestruck and envious, definitely.


Richard Bach who wrote Jonathon Livingstone Seagull said in an interview that on some days,  he would rather sharpen thousands of pencils than  actually type any words.  I don’t feel that much rancour towards the  physical process of writing but sometimes it’s close.


Social media is not a poisoned chalice for me.  It keeps me in touch with other writers and publishing news but allows for short, multiple breaks which suit my working style and my teeny, tiny attention span.  

As I write this, a strange boarded up camper van just drove very slowly past my window and down our narrow street in Edinburgh.  This type of vehicle is out of place and it looks wrong.  I am starting to wonder who is driving , who is restrained, screaming into the oily rag that has been shoved into their mouths, and which broken down farm building in Largs are they being taken to?


On the other hand,  Babs and Reg Littlejohn, are starting on the adventure of a lifetime after buying a second-hand camper van that is need of a good makeover. Bab’s has promised Reg that he can drive this time but her attention is making him nervous so he anxiously crawls down the street hoping not to hit any side mirrors.


Do you see my problem?  I’ve already created two stories as I’m creating this one.


Luckily, none of this will go to waste.  Babs/Reg or the campervan will turn up in a short story or side character in a novel somewhere.   Maybe yours if you pledge enough!!  


Blood On The Banana Leaf has now reached 41 percent with 85 supporters.  I still find your generosity and support astonishing and the fact that this will be recognised once the novel is published makes me happy.  Thank you so much.



Watch out for the first October Shed Update with news and details of a spooktastic competition.

I know right?  #baitedbreath   ☺

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