‘That was the day’ – FFfAW (69th challenge)

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This week’s photo prompt is provided by phylor.

         They’d been cooped up inside the hotel all day so when the rain finally stopped, both were desperate to escape; Dana to soak up the sights of this fabulous city and Jack to send yet another text message.
After a few minutes of ambling, the pair came across a park, its trees and shrubs glistening from the earlier rainstorm.
‘Wow, Jack. Look!’ cried Dana as she spotted an exquisite cherubic statue shining in the dazzle of the late afternoon sun. The armless child was gazing heavenward, a beatific smile etched on the poor mite’s face.
‘Who on earth could have done this?’ murmured Dana as she spotted the arms lying nearby.  She picked one up and slipped on a string of brightly coloured beads that she’d bought at a flea market earlier in the week.
‘That’s better,’ she said and took a step back to admire her handiwork.
‘Sentimental old fool,’ muttered Jack, who’d been pinging text message after text message while puffing petulantly on a rolled up cigarette.
Dana stared at him. He’d barely said a word all holiday so how dare he make fun of her now. She opened her mouth to say so but before she could, a pigeon swooped down and landed on his head. But Jack was so absorbed in texting that he didn’t even notice.
‘Jack,’ said Dana. ‘Jack.’
But Jack carried on texting and when he eventually raised his head and said, ‘what?’                                                                                                                                                            Dana quietly replied, ‘It doesn’t matter.’
So that was the day that Jack wandered obliviously around Paris with pigeon poo all over his head and that was the day that Dana finally decided to leave him.

This post was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

‘Moving mural’ – FFfAW (65th challenge)

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This week’s photo prompt is provided by S. Writings.

The festival tickets were 200 each. Car rental 300.                                                   ‘Only 100 each if we split it,’ said Anna.
‘I agree,’ said Jane. ‘Imagine how cool we’ll look, driving there in that!’
The car she had her eye on was a moving mural, covered with bright images of bridges, houses and exquisite birds, and two against one, I had to agree.
On the day of the festival, we donned trilbies, sunnies and maxi dresses and headed off, basking in the admiring comments that accompanied us there.
‘Funky car.’ ‘Cool motor.’ ‘Love your style!’
‘See, told you!’ said Jane. ‘It was well worth the money.’
We parked up and took out the tent, but two hours later when the sun had set and the bands were playing, we were still putting up the tent, while our previous admirers ambled past sniggering.
‘Not so cool now, are we?’ I said.

This post was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

‘Man on the Cliff’ – FFfAW (64th challenge)

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This week’s photo prompt is provided by momtheobscure. 

Man on the Cliff

‘Mum, there’s a man on the cliff; a big man.’

‘Quiet, love. I’m reading.’

‘But there is. Look.’

Anna glanced upwards, squinting as the sun caught her eye. But all she could see was a cliff.

‘Go and play, Max. I just want to finish this chapter.’

So Max picked up his spade and wandered nearer to the water. He looked again. From this angle the man seemed scary, as if he was about to pounce on Max, grab him and hit him over and over. But when Max took a few steps into the sea, he could see the man’s face. Now he looked sad and fearful. Not scary at all.

When Max saw this he ran back to Anna. ‘When can I see Daddy?’

‘Soon.’ Anna put down her book and wrapped her arms around her son.

This post was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

‘Inspiration’– #AtoZ Challenge

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I think that the less you write, the more you wonder where successful writers get their inspiration. I always figured they were just more imaginative and creative than me, until ideas started coming to me and then I realised that it wasn’t so difficult to be inspired if you were curious about the world and if you’d cultivated the habit of being creative.

There’s a fantastic Ted Talk by Ken Robinson called Changing Paradigms where he speaks about the way we are educated. When we are very young, we play and are therefore allowed to express our natural creativity, but this disappears the more educated we become and Robinson puts this down to the effects of standardisation.

I must admit I always hated school, and it was probably for this reason. It didn’t help that I was quiet and shy and therefore misunderstood by most teachers. I found it difficult to learn as part of a group and it was only once I’d left school that I slowly started to be inspired by the world around me and that was when creativity truly began for me. We are all naturally creative but it’s something that can’t be taken for granted. As we grow older, it tends to fade as ‘real life’ takes over and we end up operating in a default mode, which doesn’t allow for ‘out of the box’ thinking.

Last year I did a mindfulness course and one aspect of mindfulness is curiosity i.e showing an interest in life and what’s going on around you. This necessitates fully engaging with the present moment and in so doing, you become inspired as a tiny, seemingly innocuous moment can provide sufficient inspiration for a poem, short story or piece of flash fiction.

I strongly believe that if you nurture your creativity, inspiration will follow and I’d recommend the following:

1/ Read a short story or chapter of a novel
2/ Watch an indie film or short film
3/ Visit an photography or art exhibition
4/ Participate in flash fiction challenges, especially those with prompts or themes.

I’m sure that if you try these things, ideas and words will naturally arise.
The great thing about regularly nurturing your creativity is that it has a domino-like effect. The more you create, the more easily you’re able to do it. 😀

‘Flash Fiction’– #AtoZ Challenge

F.jpgSince I started blogging at the beginning of this year, I decided to focus more on flash fiction, partly as a break from the novel I started in November (see yesterday’s post). I’d dabbled in flash before and thought I knew what I was doing, but quickly realised that I didn’t have a clue! I always imagined it would be  much easier to write a short short story – I mean, how difficult can it be to come up with 150 or 200 words? But when I wasn’t getting very far with the stories I wrote, I decided to focus a little more on the genre. I read a fantastic book by experts in the field, and this helped immensely – The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction.

In it Randall Brown says that the demand of the flash fiction form is

to view the constriction of time and space as a need for urgency and profundity.

So there’s no time to mess about, yet as Robert Olen Butler says,

a short story in its brevity, may not have a fully developed plot, but it must have the essence of a plot, yearning.

Lex Williford writes about flash fiction beginning in image. He says that

‘the story must have a complete reversal of some sort, and that reversal is usually carried by powerful, unforgettable images.’

Indeed the pieces of flash that stand out for me are generally those that paint clear pictures, that stay with me long after I’ve finished reading, and according to Jennifer Pieroni,

memorable images are natural elements of a scene that are developed to shock readers out of a routine feeling, mood or expectation.

Pia Z. Ehrhardt refers to the ‘load-bearing sentence,’ the sentence which feels like a mistake or change in direction, the one that makes you a little uncomfortable. She says you should trust that sentence as this is the sentence that the whole story hinges around.

One great thing about blogging is the blogging challenges and there are a few I’ve started to do regularly – ‘Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner‘ and ‘flash fiction for aspiring writers‘ to name two. I love the discipline of doing these and even more I enjoy reading what others have produced.

Another great little competition is ‘Ad Hoc Fiction.’ Every Wednesday we are given a word and asked to write a short story of 150 words or less including that word. The stories are all published in an e-book a week later and participants vote for the ones they like. The writer of the story that wins the most votes gets free entry into the The Bath Flash Fiction Award. As there are often around 100 entries, there’s little chance of winning but it’s free and fun to see what other people come up with, and trying to predict which story is going to win.

For the next two weeks I’m taking part in a flash fiction workshop run by a well-known flash fiction writer, Kathy Fish. Will keep you updated as to my progress; I’ve heard great things about her so I’m really looking forward to it. There’s clearly a lot to writing flash fiction, but it both intrigues and challenges me in equal measure.

‘Something sinister to hide’ – FFfAW (60th challenge)

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This week’s photo prompt is provided by pixabay.com.

The house was like a head, with its crop of scarlet and green ivy hair, rectangular windows for eyes and teal door for a nose, while the walls, its cheeks, were covered in a mass of red leaves producing a bushy beard-like effect. It was like something out of a children’s book and we imagined a Willy Wonka type character living there.

Unfortunately, the man who did live there was morose, laconic and dark; dark in the sense that he wore only black and had a weird heavy energy. We soon lost interest in the house – the exterior brightened up the street somewhat, but we simply couldn’t equate its vibrant appearance with its miserable occupant, and when the woman, his slave emerged from its cellar after years of being locked away, everyone was gobsmacked, yet it kind of made sense. There was no way a man like that could live in a house like that without having something sinister to hide.

This post was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

‘Paradise Regained’ – FFfAW (59th challenge)

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This week’s photo prompt is provided by S. Writings. 

After the terrorist attacks, there was an unsettling calm. An eerie silence that lasted for days. The city was bleak, sad and gloomy, with few signs of life; drained of all colour like a black and white war film. Few people ventured out and those that did were cautious and fearful.

Then one day the cows arrived. Big, bright, bold ones daubed in vibrant primary colours. Painted with hearts, flowers and smiley faces. We saw them everywhere; outside tube stations, in parks and at the entrances to international banks.The sun came out and people began to smile again. Paradise was regained.

This post was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

‘A strange name for a disco’ – FFfAW (58th challenge)

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This week’s photo prompt is provided by Uday, with the blog, Udayology.

The paint was scuffed and the place deserted but the entrance remained as I remembered, with its keyhole-shaped door and bold white letters above. It was years since I’d been there – a relic to my teens. I tried the door; it was locked, but I peered through anyway. A big disco ball was hanging from the ceiling and chairs were stacked up along the side of the room. Little had changed, from what I recalled.

We always wondered why they called it the ‘Photo Centre,’ a strange name for a disco, yet it was memorable. I remembered the day it closed down for good. It had been threatened with closure for a while – underage drinking, then drugs were to blame. I secretly liked the notoriety, but soon even my hippy parents said enough was enough. Just after that came the rape; my best friend, Rosa. She never spoke about it and later moved away, but it entered my list of bad 80s memories, one of those things I would rather forget.

This post was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

‘The wrong kind of steepness’ – FFfAW (56th challenge)

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This week’s photo prompt is provided by Louise with The Storyteller’s Abode.

Once you’ve ascended the steps, there’s a fabulous view of the village. The walk up can be difficult though. The steps are the wrong kind of steepness, the type that make you wince at the lactic acid shooting through your legs, and make you wish you’d said no to that beer the night before.
We always went there but this time it was my suggestion.
“Let’s stop by that nice cafe,” she said, “Our treat on the way back down.”
I readily agreed; figured it might be easier somewhere like that. Might cushion the blow; make what I had to tell her easier to bear.
But then I saw her. She was blowing on her hands, looking around for me. She seemed so happy, expectant almost. I couldn’t do it to her, not today at least. So before she caught sight of me, I turned around and ran. Back down the steps and back to my safe, little life. Descending was always so much easier.

This post was written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers