Writing and Reading for Pleasure: December | Douglas Burcham

Douglas continues his writing and reading for pleasure series with some brief thoughts for the month on clunking, evil and current publishing prospects.


At a local writer’s group, after putting the world to right, we usually sit and listen intently to various readings from members and I marvel at my fellow writer’s inventiveness and imagination. Occasionally a nugget of advice sparks a new train of thought.

“I found your piece a great story but it was rather clunky.” One of our members says about another member’s writing.

I made a note of the word ‘clunky’ and since then it has resonated around my mind. Reference to a dictionary has not met my expectations. Deep in my head, I know exactly what clunky writing is, but I am finding it hard to express myself. Certainly, my writing to 2014 was often clunky and I hope in editing since then I have smoothed the flow. In various dictionaries, there are references to the word meaning an irregular thumping or metallic sound or a stupid person. The former could correlate to the reading out aloud of the particular extract. I think back and question whether the clunking is in the writing or the reading out aloud? 

A distant memory emerges from 1957 when eating breakfast and coffee by the side of a remote railway line in South Yorkshire, after an early start from the south on a house hunting expedition with my elder brother. In the distance, we hear a clunking of an old 8F Utility Freight Locomotive with worn joints.

Nearer and nearer it comes with rhythmic cycles of sound — clunk, clang, clunk, clang, clunk, clang, clunk, clang, massive assaults come and go in the clear, cold morning air on my senses as the train rumbles past pulling forty to fifty trucks. Perhaps even then there may have been unwelded rail joints and fifty sets of double wheels drowning out the arthritic noise of the receding engine.

Subconscious clunking of someone’s writing lingers, coming nearer, passing and receding; beginning, middle and end.

I purchased Make Me and Career of Evil, the latest books by Lee Child and R Galbraith (J K Rowling). I read them with some interest and satisfaction, but the ‘evil’ grisly subject matter in both books stunted my enjoyment. In Make Me, the plot ending, and in Career of Evil, the ongoing and awful revelations of what some men do to women and children. When I think back to my favourite books, I recall them by a single scene or theme I felt special at the time of reading.

Weeks have passed since I finished the books and I have memories of Make Me and A Career of Evil. The memories are not pleasant or special, just troubling, haunting me. I am minded to reduce my Amazon star ratings from four to three out of five to reflect my on-going diminishing pleasure.

Am I alone with my concerns?

On publishing some interesting comments from Russell Blake and those who may comment on his post; the contents do nothing to cause me to want to publish any time soon.

Good writing and reading to you in this month and in 2016 and all the best for Christmas and the New Year.


DouglasDouglas Burcham started writing on 1st June 2010 and self-published under the Allrighters’ name a book of short stories ‘Ywnwab!’ in September 2013. A million words of draft writing reached completion in January 2014, split between 900,000 words of fiction and 100,000 words of non-fiction. The latter being about writing and memories of buildings, trains, boats and planes. Since then slow progress is being made in the conversion of the draft words into final books ready for possible publishing under the Allrighters’ name.

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