Over the past year or so I’ve written a handful of short stories. They are:
They are more or less true stories, apart from A night at the border, which is half true. I enjoy writing them, which is the main thing. There’s no financial gain involved, obviously, and they won’t be published anywhere apart from this blog. They could benefit from being edited by someone else, but in that case they would probably end up following a formula, and I wouldn’t be in control. As it is, if I want to write a short sentence, I do. And if I want to write a more complex sentence, with various asides, references, sub-paragraphs and so on, and meander from topic to topic or change course as I feel fit, or even stick in extraneous bits (and even bits in brackets like this one), and such like, then I can, and do.
I know little about short story writing style, and this probably shows in the results. If a few kind people sometimes Comment that they’ve enjoyed a story, then this is extremely gratifying.
Some people of my age write or attempt to write books, but if I tried to write a book I doubt if it would be very good, and it would be restricted as to style and content. I prefer this blog format, which allows stories to be long or short, relevant or not, and have a good ending or not.
In the past, before I retired, I wrote a few scholarly articles and also many other articles for various library and information trade magazines, as can be seen from the Background to this blog. The writing style for all of those was quite different to the short stories.
Writing a scholarly article for a peer-reviewed journal took a great deal of time. When, at my work, they stopped including library contributions in the university’s Research Assessment Exercise, I lost interest in writing for peer reviewed journals, and concentrated on writing for magazines where the audience was likely to be much bigger.
The first article for a peer reviewed journal that I wrote, with Elisha Chiware, was about Information Technology training in a Developing Country academic library. We described how we’d introduced a programme of training to UB Library, and it always amused me that the programme was based on the exact opposite of what had happened at the university library I’d worked at before UB. In the previous library, no one had received a grounding in computers or even typing, and we were all just told to click on various keys or combination of keys, in order to checkout books and whatever. I ended up trying to supervise staff who had no previous experience of computers, who couldn’t type, and who didn’t understand what they were doing or why, and this was the reason for my first fallout with the idiot boss of that time. In UB, Elisha and myself made sure things happened quite differently, and it worked well.
Later on, at one time there were several scholarly articles to be written at the same time, to describe project work done for JISC and the RDN, etc. I’d write the first part of one article and then pass it on to my colleague Linda, who would write the next bit. In the meantime, Linda had written the first part of another article, and she’d pass it on to me to write the middle bit. This worked quite well and ensured that, even when we were writing about similar subjects, the end products were different.
It became obvious that the articles we wrote for non-peer reviewed journals had a far greater readership, so we concentrated more on these.
I once wrote a column for a magazine, and then the editor contacted me to say she’d sent me a cheque as payment. Well! That was a bonus, as there is usually no financial reward expected or received.
I then started editing other people’s articles for a journal that is now published by Taylor & Francis, and later on for a reference book that was published by K.G. Saur. The first language of some of the journal authors was not English, and on occasion a great deal of editing was needed. On the other hand, one or two authors were so good that not a single comma needed to be addded. These people were always librarians, such as Stephanie McKeating and Christine Middleton.
I also wrote or co-wrote a few chapters for various information-related books. Usually, the writing was relativelyy straight forward, but there was one book chapter I got stuck on, and it was fortunate there was a co-author.
It’s always special to see something you’ve written, or contributed to, published. The articles were not significant in any way, though I hope that they helped keep some people informed about developments in certain areas. I’ve kept copies of all of them.