New Writers Awards 2018: Beth Cochrane

Fiction

Beth Cochrane has a MSc in Creative Writing (distinction) from the University of Edinburgh, having graduated in 2015. She is also the winner of the Sloan Prize; a prestigious Edinburgh University award given to a fiction writer working in Scots dialect.

Beth was part of City of Literature’s Story Shop 2016 programme, where she was given the opportunity to perform her fiction at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

She regularly performs at live literature events, and produces spoken word shows through her spoken word night, Interrobang (co-produced by Ricky Monahan Brown), which won Best Regular Spoken Word Night at the Saboteur Awards 2017. Beth has performed her work at Hidden Door Festival, Edinburgh Student Art’s Festival, Oxjam, and Shoreline of Infinity, among many others.

Her fiction has been published in Gutter (fiction, 2017), Bella Caledonia (non-fiction, 2016), the Dangerous Women Project (non-fiction, 2016) 404 Ink’s Error (fiction, 2016), The Inkwell V (fiction, 2015) and Until Only the Mountain Remains (digital, fiction, 2015).

 

Writing Sample

The water spreads across the floor, foam topped waves waltzing across the ocean surface. I twist the mop into a corner, grinding it against the intersection between floor and kitchen cabinet.

I make a list every morning. ‘Things To Do’. ‘Things’ to get through. Important things.

The bathroom’s been cleaned and the kitchen is well under way. I’ve scrubbed and buffed and polished each and every surface and ticked off each task as I go. Soon there will be nothing left on the list and the paper will be lines and scratches; a mottled spider web tracing a map back through time. 

But then I’ll add more ‘Things’ and in that way there are always ‘Things To Do’. ‘Mop Floor’, for example. Under subsection: ‘Clean Kitchen’.

The radio’s on and I pretend I know the words. It would be nice to know something solid: something happening right now that I can follow with a sure foot. Something that others know as fact and truth and can’t be, objectively, otherwise. Lyrics, for example, that others could be singing along to beside me; singing the same words in the same seconds all together but unaware of the distant choir accompanying us. So I stumble through some lines, imagining the foregone family I’d never meet. The mouths making the same shapes as my own in that very moment, but soon my imagination closes in on itself as I open my ears and hear the sound of my voice and I grind my teeth together.

I cut my chorus short with a snort of derision and a decision not to embarrass myself in front of myself.

 

Beth says:

"I cannot wait to get fully immersed in the New Writers’ programme. I’m seeing the award as a turning point: I’m finally going to get The Novel completed and sharpened, no excuses. I’ve also not slept properly since getting the phone call…"