Pangolin Issue 39

Welcome to my first Pangolin of 2019 and the third anniversary of this writing blog. Christmas was celebrated in rumbustious style with our eldest and her family in Scotland. Three years ago they introduced the idea of a themed Christmas. We have done pirates and Robin Hood, this year we were a circus. I went as a clown (of course), my mindful soulmate was a bearded lady. I bought her the beard, for probably the only time in my life. I was particularly impressed by our daughter’s sister-in-law who went as Madame Claire Voyant. Claire had a very authentic outfit, crystal ball, Tarot cards and, at the end of a convincing delve into the future, each of her customers were invited to choose a tumblestone.

I chose a tiny pebble which looked like a landscape on one side, divided by what could have been a conifer tree, suggesting two mutually-exclusive routes for the future. The other side of the stone had no such implied dilemma. ‘Tumblestone’ was a new word for me and refers to the way these often semi-precious stones are transformed by mechanical tumbling, imitating the actions of a stream bed or seashore. This could be a metaphor for editing. I hope my editing is less random, but there’s no denying the beauty of the end results of tumbling.

I wonder whether this new year will see any writing breakthroughs. I’m looking forward to the Cinnamon Pencil mentoring for novel 2 in the Spring, Jan Fortune’s e-mail told me I was one of ten people selected from a field of over one hundred, so that’s encouraging. Last week, a mild flu-like illness gave me the excuse to be relatively sedentary and line up the events for the novel’s denouement. It now works for all the characters so I want to crack on and get the first draft finished. We have only two more sessions of SJ Bradley’s Comma Press short story group to go. I will miss it – SJ and the group have helped a lot to improve my short story writing, perhaps there’ll be more submissions, and even successes, during 2019.

I am not a poet. I think poetry is a higher art form to which I rarely aspire, but my concrete poem ‘Wiikwemkoong’ was highly commended in the Leeds Writers Circle ‘Anything Goes’ competition, judged by Andy Humphrey. I didn’t publish it on this site earlier as I submitted it to Strix. There are some mighty fine poets in Strix, a Leeds-based magazine, so I wasn’t surprised that Wiikwemkoong didn’t make their cut. Click here if you would like to read it.

As it is three years since I started writing these pangolins, it is worth mentioning again that the name refers to some ground-breaking software developed by Thomas, one of the characters in my first novel Yetunde’s House. He chose the name because pangolins are flexible and roll into a defensive ball when threatened. I started reading about the plight of real pangolins, the most trafficked animal on the planet, and always encourage my readers to do the same by looking here.

May I wish you, dear reader, health and happiness for 2019. We may not all be as beautiful as tumblestones, but I think it’s often true that the process of being tumbled by the exigencies of life can make us more resilient.

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