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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Out Stealing Timber I

I was going to call this novel Unedited.


A short novel for the internet.

Although, with a nod in the direction of Per Petterson, it might be called Out Stealing Timber, because that’s what I was doing when the idea came to me.

We were basking in a heatwave during the summer and I set the saw-horse up in the shade of an old silver birch. When I worked there I could see the waters of the fjord over to my left. Every day I would walk up into the forest and find suitable fallen trees and branches, drag them down to the cabin and saw them into good sizes to burn.

The forest belongs to RĂĄde Community, and not to me, hence the title, Out Stealing Timber. I hope it’s not a hanging offence.

The old folk used to go up there and take out healthy trees once they grew high enough to block out the morning sun for their breakfast table. But that was then and I wouldn’t want to claim immunity by citing the sins of my forebears.

Out Stealing Timber is, of course, a metaphor, the timber standing for, well, whatever suits your purpose. You are expected to contribute a little effort if you want the novel to work for you.

I have a woman who says about her ex-husband, ‘We share only a bairn, a dog, and a car.’

She’s in her thirties, say middle thirties, and she has a soft smile which works for her with both men and women. I’ve written elsewhere about how fictional character is accrued and the woman with the smile is already beginning to don the robes of personality, those traits and individuations which mark her out from other women with other smiles who are also living in the never-never-land of their middle thirties.

Let us linger with the smile in which she puts so much faith. It is capable of seducing men and women of all ages, even children when necessary. She is a woman alone with a young daughter and needs to interact with the world. She no longer has youth, though she does not consider herself old. She needs affection sometimes, and her smile is useful for that, and other times she needs friendship, and the smile can lead that way too.

It is a soft smile in a rounded face, surrounded by blonde hair and a fair complexion. It lends an air of vulnerability to this woman who is alone. It says, ‘See me, I represent no threat. Treat me well. I have something to offer.’

The people who receive this smile, strangers who have not passed this way before, do not hurry on by. They want to know more. If they can they stick around. At least for a time.

. . . . . . . . . . to be continued

2 Responses to “Out Stealing Timber I”

  1. Bill says:

    Thanks for start… looking forward to the next part.

  2. wood says:

    looking forward for the next part