Tilting at Windmills

The personal wafflings of Cyran Dorman

“This Milk’s Bad.” June 7, 2010

Filed under: Fiction,Journalish — cyrandorman @ 8:43 pm

This year has been rather kind to me. I’ve gone from being an aspiring author to being weblished thanks to the Liverpool Daily Post Live Read Literary Festival, and now I’m about to have the first chapter of my novel “Down To Hades” published in an anthology thanks to being a finalist in this years Writing on the Wall Pulp Idol Competition.

And so not for the first time I return to the first page of Down To Hades, the first line, the first word and ask myself, is this a good enough opening?

I can still remember when it was all white pages. When these 80,000 or so words where nowt more than just a trickle of an idea. I can’t remember the exact first words that I typed but I can remember where I was. It was all so exciting then. The idea was like nothing I’d written before and so there was also a great deal of trepidation. At that time my main character was called Rachel and she was utterly alone. I think that she may have even been human then, but let’s not spoil things.

Since then Rachel has become Hanya. She’s skipped dimensions, attempted suicide 67 times, owns a dog, has a best friend and is just about to kill her boyfriend. And yes, I say that she’s done it. It’s an odd thing when you get so immersed in a piece of work, the things in your imagination start to take over and almost develop a will independent of your own. There are constant surprises as you find characters acting in ways you wouldn’t imagined them capable of just the day before. Taking great personal journeys and sometimes making heartbreaking sacrifices. Others trick you just when you thought you knew them best of all, and we constantly find ourselves falling in love with our antagonists and wanting to make her or him just a little more human. It little wonder that this is the part that I, and most other writers that I know like most of all. If only this was all there was to writing.

But soon the journey ends. You have a finished manuscript. You might want to print it out and hold it in your hands to get the feel of it. You’ll undoubtedly want to tell everyone you know that you’ve written a novel. Some will share in your joy. They’ll be the other writers. Most however, will ask you when you’re going to get it published. No, they can’t just be happy for you.

So, when are you going to get it published?

Well, first things first. Hemingway once said, “The first draft of everything is shit,” and I’ve yet to find a writer who disagrees.

The first draft of Down To Hades was written in 30 days three years ago. Since then it has had one full redraft and numerous partial edits. If I don’t find a way to stop somewhere I could be editing until I’m literally blue in the face.

This time however I have support.

The editing I’ve done solo hasn’t been particularly productive. I can see this now because for the past couple of months I’ve been part of a writing group. They are my first audience and as such they are who I need to please. So when they tell me that they’re rapidly going off my main character I know that she needs some major work. When they pointed out the number of times I used the word had I was shocked. And the overuse of my main characters names is frankly embarrassing. But it would have taken me another redraft to notice these things for myself because I would have been far too busy looking at something else. And these are just a couple of the things they’ve pointed out.

So here I go again, tearing down my work to build it up again and hoping that it’s one of the last times for this novel. Experience tells me otherwise. Happily the last two months experience also tells me that I’m not alone. This time, I may even get something approaching a final draft.


“I told you I couldn’t write a straight forward romance!” February 18, 2009

Filed under: Fiction — cyrandorman @ 12:42 am

Below is the first short story I have written in over 10 years.

It came about from a challenge set by my writers group, Liverpool Wrimos Anonymous, after realising that none of us had any real desire or apparent aptitude to write ‘romance’.   The remit was simply to write a Mills & Boon inspired short story.  1000 words fitting into one of the Mills & Boon catergories (listed here).

Mine doesn’t.  I tried.  I really did, but I got nowhere until I gave in to my darker side which seems to be the way of me.  Heck it’s worked for all of these years, who am I to change it now?


Straight To You by Cyran Dorman

Filed under: Fiction — cyrandorman @ 12:01 am


Lacey Godwin had known that he’d be trouble from the start.  Even before he’d told her to keep out of his life just two hours after they’d met.  The threat may have carried more weight had he not whispered it in his velvety deep tones into the crook of her neck as his body pushed hers hard against the wall of her office, in the blind spot of the security camera. 

He’d reiterated the point a week later, when he’d laid out in horrific detail all the ways in which he could destroy her life if she stayed around long enough for him to let her.  By then her body was pushing back.

She’d known it all then, two years ago and yet she hadn’t let him go.  What on Earth made him think that she would abandon him now?

“Lacey and Mike?  How the hell did that happen?”  It had been the fifth time she’d heard the expression or something similar to it in as many minutes from the gathering crowd outside.

‘Lacey and Mike.’  Until this morning no-one had ever said it out loud.  And the first time it had been uttered it had been accompanied by the mother of all question marks.

Lacey stood with her back against the wall in the same spot where the two had made love three, sometimes four times a week and pressed her palms against the cold plaster.  She closed her eyes and the immediate thought of him brought the familiar pain which only he could sooth. 

“I’m a bad man Lacey,” he’d told her that first time.  His hands had held her face next to his, their flushed cheeks pressed together as she tilted her head upwards and his lips had fallen against her neck and instinctively they’d searched out the most delicate flesh upon which to feast.  A hand sliding down her face to briefly touch her collarbone and then down and to the side of her breast.  Lacey had moaned at the taunt and for this transgression Mike’s lips had shied away from her neck.  He pulled her chin down so that the two could see eye to eye.

“This’ll end badly for both of us.”  He’d promised.

She’d cared about it then.  The career, her social standing, even her family would be affected by what she was about to do.  She’d cared enough to look deep into his eyes that next week and consider another moment without him.  The moment had lasted too long and she’d reached out for him pulling him into her and when he’d hesitated, her moans of frustration were met only by his closed eyes and confessions.

“I’ve done things, things a man doesn’t come back from Lacey.” 

She’d thought that he’d wanted absolution from her but it wasn’t hers to give so she gave him everything else that she had instead.  And when their clammy bodies finally came to rest against one another he opened his eyes and with them told her that her chance was gone.  There was no escape now for either one of them.

The noise outside of the office door grew to a growl and Lacey opened her eyes knowing that eventually she would be expected to go out there.  But not yet.  This time everything would be on her terms.

She’d surrendered to Mike so easily that for far too long everything had been on his.  But he knew she was nobody’s fool didn’t he?  Hadn’t he known that it wouldn’t stay that way forever?  Lacey wondered if he’d ever really doubted that that she would do everything it took to keep him.  She moved a hand across her thigh and once again closed her eyes against the world.  She pushed her head hard against the wall as her hand moved inwards and the memory of his hand took the form of hers. 

Mike’s hand were easily twice the size of her own and she had been made well aware of this fact on the number of occasions when he had had to place one across her mouth to stifle the moans for which he was solely responsible.  He could have taken her life at any time.  It had been a shock the first time she’d realised that she would let him.  But those same hands had gently and skilfully probed the flesh deep within her thighs as she was now, reliving the last time and the time before that Lacey pressed her fingertips further still and squeezed her eyes closed against the commotion which was steadily building outside.

She tried again to remember as she had on many occasions over the last twelve hours if there had been a clue.  What had tipped her off?

“I don’t know where I’d be without you Lacey.”  He’d said it over and over but it was what people said.  It was no indication that he would be putting it to the test, so how had she known? 

The last time they had been in this office they had made love only once.  Mike had been slow and deliberate in his need for her supple flesh.  His lips pressing down into her neck as firmly as his fingers had pressed into her and her need had easily matched his.  Was that it?  Did they know each others touch so well now that she could tell from that brief interlude that Mike was saying goodbye?

There had been some tangible suggestion of panic and it had been enough to lead her first down one road and then another until she had ultimately come to realise that Mike wanted out.  And there was no way that that could happen.  She’d put everything on the line for him and she was about to do it again just as he must have known she would.  He must have known her the way she knew him.

Her hand moved back and forth, the pain of his absence coming fully to bear upon her fingertips now as somewhere in the background she heard the voice that she had been expecting all morning.

Lacey opened her eyes lazily and pushed herself off the wall at the cursory knock at the door.  She unlocked it to let the interrogation begin.

“Warden?”  The visitor enquired.  Lacey moved forward and offered a hand.  “I’m Lieutenant Gates, I’m here to question you about your alleged affair with the prisoner Mike Sheen and your part in his escape attempt.”

Lacey smiled.

There’d been no escape attempt and she’d make sure they knew that whatever the cost.   She’d put a stop to it before it had even got that far.  The last words she’d said to him echoed in her ears and she realised now that they had been directed at herself.

“Parole in five Mike.”  She  remembered the line as the handcuffs where placed around her wrists.


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