A piece of microfiction from Barry’s site:

Barry Lee Thompson

He stopped swimming, and floated in the middle of the pool. I watched him closely, the long thin line of body broken by the blue of his swimming trunks. Then I imagined the trunks gone. It was easy, really, but almost unbearable. He started to swim again, towards me, then tumbled over at the end, and started up the other way. And he kept on, lap after lap. It was good to watch. Mesmerising. But that’s all it was. Over and over. I became a little bored. Maybe not bored, but it wasn’t going anywhere, so I went inside to break it up, and I bought a coffee and a sandwich from the vending machines. I took them back out to the pool, to where I’d been sitting. But it had all changed. The water was flat and still. The pool, empty. He was gone, the swimmer. He would have…

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Margaret Drabble: The Dark Flood Rises

“There is no plot, and there doesn’t need to be.”
A review of Margaret Drabble’s ‘The Dark Flood Rises’ from Jennifer’s site:


Drabble 2

Margaret Drabble’s most recent novel weaves around De Beauvoir’s observation that with people living longer ‘their idleness [is] all the harder to bear . . . mere survival is worse than death’. The main character in this book is Fran, in her seventies, ‘too old to die young’. She is not idle – she works as an inspector of nursing homes and is thus in a position to muse about the various arrangements of the characters in this book – all connected by blood or friendship. There is no plot, and there doesn’t need to be. Each character has a different way of coping with their ‘long journey towards oblivion’, (from D.H. Lawrence’s The Ship of Death).

Drabble 1

The book’s title comes from this poem:

Piecemeal the body dies, and the timid soul

has her footing washed away, as the dark flood rises.

the ship of death 2

The title, for this reader, also suggested…

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Jennifer decides whether or not to plunge into Scrivener

Scrivener is a project management system for writers. You can access it easily on the Internet and it all seems pretty generous: 30 days free trial and those are not consecutive days, but the days you actually use the package.

I heard about it a couple of years ago when a couple of IT focussed guys at work raved about it as a way to write their novels. A story went around that the designer of Scrivener was writing a novel, but Scrivener itself was so successful that he abandoned his novel and lived off the proceeds of his software package. Full of scepticism, I downloaded the package and started to do the introductory tutorial. I persisted for about half an hour, then the ‘instructor’ announced something like, that’s the first part, now go and get yourself a cup of tea . . . This isn’t for me, I thought. I closed everything down and went back to using Word, keeping my work in folders, all embedded in a folder called ‘Writing’. Sometime last year I went to a workshop given by Toni Jordan – a writer I admire very much. She is very keen about Scrivener. If she uses it, I thought, I’d better give it another try. Writers’ Victoria advertised a workshop on Scrivener to be delivered by writer Alison Stuart. I gritted my teeth and enrolled. I took the workshop.

At the end of the full day workshop, I’m still not sure whether I will use it. I’ve got an idea for a novel-sized book and used that as a kind of ‘guinea pig’. I had a new thought about it this morning and went to the newly-created Scrivener file to make a note about it. That’s a good sign. But I still feel very constrained: you start with a Binder (like a big ring-binder folder) and in this you create whatever section you like, but if you’ve opted for ‘fiction’ you get choices such as ‘characters’ and ‘scene’. There’s an editing option (where you write stuff) and an Information section where you can store all the support material. I use old photographs a lot, you could also have pdfs of old newspapers, cartoons  . . . whatever. It will be useful to be able to have a split screen and write with this stimulus material next to the prose you are creating.

Writers are described as either Plotters (plan it all out first) or Pantsers (write off the seat of your pants). I’m a Pantser. The book that I’ve just (perhaps) finished started when I looked at an old photograph and grew with loads of twists, turns, diversions into 90,000 words. I think I’d have to regurgitate a first draft in Word and then sort it all out with Scrivener. Yet – I did go to Scrivener this morning when I had a new idea. So, I’m still thinking about it.

I can see that Scrivener would be excellent for writing non-fiction: you could keep interviews, notes, articles right next to you as you write. It would also be good for a detective story – easy to keep track of clues. And the only way to learn about such a package is to use it – so I’ll give it a try, for 30 days, at least.