Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Brendan Gisby Spreads the McWord

Being a writer requires strong determination and drive to persevere against the odds. Fellow Scottish writer Brendan Gisby tells about his frustration trying to get his work published and the positive action he took to not only help himself but many other writers in Scotland. Read on as he spreads the McWord!

Although I had penned the odd short story over the years, it was only about two or three years ago that I began to write them in earnest.  Like every writer who lives and breathes, I wanted to see my carefully crafted pieces published in a proper literary magazine.  So I began by looking – long and hard – for suitable outlets for the stories in my home country, Scotland.  Finding practically nothing there, I proceeded to submit the stories to a multitude of magazines both in the UK and the US.  My success rate with the submissions was absolutely dismal.  None of those places seemed to “get” the stories, to understand the “Scottishness” of them.

Scots wear their heart on their sleeve

It occurred to me that many other Scottish writers must have been experiencing the  same frustrations.  That’s when I said to myself: Why not set up an outlet for yourself and those other frustrated writers, something with a distinctive Scots flavour?  Hence, McStorytellers
was born.  It’s a website dedicated to showcasing the work of Scottish-connected short story writers.

That was back in October 2010.  Since then, the site has published well over 200 stories by more than 40 writers, or McStorytellers, many of whom are regular contributors.

So what does “quintessentially Scottish” mean?  Well, for a start, many of the stories are autobiographical or semi-autobiographical.  They describe real people and real events, and are poignantly written as a result; our
McStorytellers aren’t afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves.

Wry Scots humour
To celebrate the site’s first birthday, I published its maiden anthology in November 2011.  Called The McCollection, the anthology contains twenty stories picked out by me as quintessentially Scottish.

In many cases, too, the writing is what I would call “muscular”, usually with no holds barred.  Swearing is de rigueur, because that’s what real people in real situations actually do – in Scotland, at least.  And PC belongs to another planet.

Then there’s the humour.  Most of the stories are shot through with that wry, dry Scots sense of humour.
Swearing is de reguer!
In a nutshell, therefore, each piece selected for the anthology either is emotive or it’s powerfully written or it’s underpinned by wry Scots humour.  It might even demonstrate a combination of all three qualities.
Available here:

Paperback The McCollection Amazon.com
eBook Amazon UK  Amazon.com  

Enjoy a roller-coaster ride through the Scottish writing psyche!

And if The McCollection gives you a taste for Scottish writing, you might want to check out some of my own wares while you’re on Amazon.  You’ll see from my Author's page that in the last few years I’ve been busy writing books as well as short stories.

My latest work just happens to be about Scottish writing.  Called The Preservation of the Olive Branch, it’s the story of an older writer from Scotland who comes across the complete typewritten manuscript of his first novel, a Cold War thriller, and decides to preserve it on his laptop.  But is the novel any good?  There’s only one way to find out! 

Then there’s The Island of Whispers, which is really the Scottish version of Watership Down, but with rats instead of cuddly rabbits. They live on the little island that's tucked under the Forth Railway Bridge. They've been there for centuries.  Then a group of them attempts to flee to the mainland.  They just happen to go in the middle of the bridge's centenary celebrations.  Do they make it?  

But my absolute favourite is The Bookie's Runner, my little biography of my late father, an ordinary man who was destined to lose.  With15 reviews averaging 4.9 stars on Amazon.com, the book was recently ranked in the top 200 in Paid Kindle on that site.  One reviewer has gone so far as to say that this is a book you must read before you die. 

Anyway, thank you for indulging me in this article.  I hope in some little way it helps to spread the McWord.

– o –


Graham Smith said...

Great article.

I've saved the site to my submissions folder and am off to write something suitably Scottish.

Phil Gisby said...

Well said cuz!
How on earth do the major publishers expect new talent to break though?
And - if you know where planet PC is, I've got a few nominations for folk I'd like to send there!!!

Brendan Gisby said...

Thanks, Graham. I'll look forward to seeing that submission!

Brendan Gisby said...

Thanks, Phil. Add my nominations and together we could populate that planet.