Today I’m thrilled to welcome author Mark Stewart to my blog. Mark is the author of the short story collection The Absence of Wings, and has written a great guest post about why he writes short stories for my blog today.
Speaking up for the voiceless – why I write short stories
“I’ve enjoyed and admired the stories of Mark Stewart that I have read: they strike me as fine bonsai pieces, strong in their structure and dense in their grain, full of surprising drama.”
Robert Macfarlane (Author of “The Wild Places”, and “Landmarks”)
Short stories just don’t sell, especially short stories written by unknown authors. This is the refrain I have heard in response to every submission I’ve ever made to an agent or a publisher. “I’m sorry, luvvie, but your stories just aren’t right for my list. Good luck elsewhere.” And yet in spite of such feedback I carry on writing.
There are plenty of nature books around but how many of them really tell the truth about mankind’s impact on the natural world? Humanity is running out of time to re-discover its sense of compassion, to finally stop its long and abusive relationship with nature. The oceanic biosphere is now heavily polluted, perhaps irreversibly so, with fish stocks dangerously near to collapse. Life on the land for animals in factory farms is no better; they must endure lives of unimaginable cruelty before suffering an early death. Other creatures, perhaps nobler and certainly far more innocent than humans, are being hunted to the point of extinction. And yet, in spite of a sense of impending ecological collapse, a sense that we are all standing on the gallows with the trap door about to open beneath our feet, I carry on writing.
I don’t have the enormous luxury and privilege of writing for a living. As a working dad I have to find time to write in the early hours of the morning or late at night. Either way it’s a hard slog, a struggle to find both motivation and inspiration. My mind won’t focus and my body wants to sleep. These lonely hours are what Tolkien referred to as “the bitter watches of the night”, when the dream of securing a mainstream publishing contract seems as remote as the Moon. And yet I carry on writing.
My stories are despatches from the front line of humanity’s war with nature. And like all war reporters I have been appalled and discouraged by what I’ve seen. But I won’t stop reporting back. The idea that nature is a commodity that must be exploited and consumed, that the creatures we share this world with are no more than disposable items, has to be challenged.
I was taken to task by one agent because my stories weren’t cheery enough for her taste (perhaps it was the same agent that claimed my short stories contained too many words). And yet I refuse to put down my pen or walk away from my keyboard. Because in the end I want to believe that things will change. Not just in the insular world of publishing which may one day come to value indie writers. But in the real world, where many of the animals described in my stories are struggling to survive. It is their stories that matter. They don’t have a voice and so must rely on others to speak up on their behalf. That is why I carry on writing.
About the Author
Mark Stewart is the author of two collections of short stories designed to highlight the plight of captive, endangered and mistreated animals. His first collection (The Screaming Planet) can be found online here:
The second collection (The Absence of Wings), which has consistently attracted five star reviews, is available on Amazon.
A third collection of short stories (“The Fire Trees”) is due out in June 2017.
About the Book
The Absence of Wings is a collection of short stories intended to show the world through the eyes of some of the Earth’s most endangered and persecuted animals.
The collection is an ark of sorts, offering a literary refuge for creatures that may one day exist only in story books, fables and myths.
Here you will find, among other stories:
•A mariner snatched from the deck of his ship by a sea wraith
•The lament of a whale dragged onto the killing deck of a harpoon ship
•A caged polar bear whose only taste of freedom comes from a racial memory of the arctic tundra
•A shark that can swim into the sleeping minds of human beings
•And a dolphin whose only chance of returning to open water lies in the movement of the tides on one particular night of the year
These are stories that will change the way you look at the natural world.
The Absence of Wings is available on ebook and in paperback from Amazon and is out now.