I lay on my back with a sheet laid claustrophobically over my face. An area cut out of it over my right eye, which comically had a bandage stuck above it with an arrow pointing downwards. I didn’t feel a thing, the surgeon was excellent, and I’m enormously grateful for the wonderful NHS. Privileged to receive such great care. But still, I lay there in the dazzle, watched dark shapes flicker like birds of prey above me, listened to the buzz of, presumably, a tiny saw, and I mostly wondered about torture scenes. The spy always seems to be strapped to a chair and then beaten up a bit and electrocuted. He can scream in a way that shows he’s enduring great pain, then leap to his feet shortly afterwards and kill everyone, walking away possibly bruised but essentially unscarred. Lay him on a table, do what that brilliant lady was doing to me, only without the anaesthetic, see how well he copes with that.
In other news in this eventful week, I’m shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story prize. Very pleased. I do love the short story, the challenge of opening a door into a world and leading the reader in, then having that world vanish after a few thousand words but trying to make it linger in the reader’s mind, trying to leave them still half behind the door, still tangled in the lives you’ve created. Most writers don’t get much encouragement, so it’s nice when it comes along. Also won a Northern Writers’ Award earlier this year, another very encouraging, and very practically helpful thing. It’s allowed me to focus on completing a draft of my YA novel, The Impossible. Writing fiction, writing TV pitches, teaching writing – feeling fortunate.