Richard Wright

author of strange, dark fictions


The Last Ditch 8: Making Shapes

You know how this Last Ditch thing goes by now. I’ll write though the week, and keep a sort of diary to keep myself honest. On Sunday I’ll share it with you, come what may.

Straight to it then.


The week starts in a hotel in London, in the shadow of the Millennium Wheel. Having travelled down last night I woke early, grabbed a buffet breakfast, and dashed back to my room to do a little writing. I’m glad I did, as the dayjobbery and travel home to Glasgow in the evening was such that there wasn’t much more opportunity to do so (being in company, it would have been rude to sit and write at the airport, even if I had the willpower to do so). Not much done in total, about 551 words added to the Monday novelette, but happy to have got that on a travel day.


Woke up this morning to the aftermath of Manchester. I’ve one friend that I know of who was caught up in the attack with her daughter, and her Facebook post last night minutes after the blast was the first I heard about it. Until this morning I didn’t understand what had happened. I don’t really know what to think or say about all that, and so I’m going to say nothing at all for now. Days like this are difficult for me to write during (and isn’t it horrific that there are enough days like this to know that to be true?) because of the weird guilt that comes when you try to turn off the world and make up a story. People died in the world, children, and turning away from that to indulge my own interests feels disrespectful. Fortunately this week I hadn’t planned to put any new words into the novella, but instead reread what I’ve done already and join the segments together as I hit the discordant joins of the thing. Even that was half-hearted today.


Reread and rewrote this evening, pushing hard to gain ground on yesterday. We’re at an odd stage in our relationship right now, this story and I, where the initial glam has worn thin and all I see are flaws. I’ve been doing this writing thing for long enough to know that I can’t actually trust what I’m feeling in this regard. All stories are bad stories to a writer on a second draft. Still, it’s the very opposite of a joyful experience.


This evening I finished off the reread and informal redraft of the first two acts of the story, and feel ready to charge into the third. There’s still much work to be done before the book flows properly, but it’s taking shape, and reshaping a thing that exists is far easier than inventing something out of nothing.


Switching to short stories for the last writing day of the week, and starting the first of two now commissioned stories for upcoming anthologies – a pretty privileged position to be in. Struggled with the heat throughout the day, the weather being ridiculously fine and my study somehow sucking in all the heat and holding on to it, but managed to break my synopsis down into workable scenes, and made a couple of hundred words head start on the first.

And there we are – an odd week with few new words, but with what feels like a lot of progress made. The Monday novelette, a Ridiculous Idea which I’m writing for the sake of it, has a nice energy, and it’s good to get started on the short story. The novella feels much more advanced too – like a thing, instead of just an idea of a thing. If things go well, I might even have a finished draft inside of a fortnight.

Total projects complete:

Novelettes: 0

Novellas: 0

Short stories: 0

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