Monday, 16 April 2007
Another Blast From The Past.
Last year I had a short story, Things You See in the Dark, published in Chroma #4, Spring-Summer 2006. Chroma is Britain’s leading Lesbian and Gay Literary magazine, it’s one of Britain’s few Lesbian and Gay Literary magazines. It was a privilege to get one of my stories in it. I wrote Things You See in the Dark especially for them. I saw that they were looking for pieces for an edition themed around the cinema, I’d had the idea for Things You See in the Dark for ages, so over a mad weekend I just sat down and wrote it. The story is about a man growing up in suburban Liverpool and the influences the portrayal of gay men in films has upon him; firstly the negative and homophobia images from Hollywood films, then the moment of revelation when he sees a positive and honest portrayal of a gay relationship – in the film My Beautiful Laundrette. I sent it off to Chroma and then thought little of it. With writing there’s far more rejection, or total silence from publication I submit work to, then anything so I try not to get my hopes up – beyond that point is madness.
When they said they wanted to publish Things You See in the Dark I was over the moon, a literary magazine of their standard actually wanted to publish something I’d written, it was amazing. Shaun Levin, Chroma’s editor, worked with me to re-write Things You See in the Dark and to knock it into shape. That was also something new to me. Prior to this I’d had so little feedback from editors, mostly it was just them telling me my writing wasn’t their “style” or wasn’t what they were looking for – without any indication how I could write something that they were looking for. Shaun was a great support, helping me to rein back my tendency to over-write and to get to the heart of the story. Good editors are worth their weight in gold and can so help a writer make their work shine; it’s such a shame that I’ve met so few of them so far.
Chroma had a launch for that issue and followed it with several readings to promote it. I read from my story at both the launch and at a reading in one of London’s largest bookshops. I’d never read from my own work like that before, at a public event were people had come only to hear authors reading. I’ve taken teaching session to all sizes of groups, I’ve given speeches on more then one occasion, often to large audiences, and I was never so nervous as when I read at those two Chroma events. Suddenly I was there, in front of all those people, and reading something that I had written, all my own work. It was scary and exciting at the same time, when it was over it was so humbling because those people there had been listening to my words.
At the end of the day, I’m still very proud of Things You See in the Dark, as a story it works well and I like what it has to say for itself, that films have a great power behind them, especially their negative images.
Link to this edition of Chroma: http://www.chromajournal.co.uk/ChromaCover2/4514793029?version=long