‘Henry’s Garden’ – FLASH FICTION FOR THE PURPOSEFUL PRACTITIONER: WEEK #24 – 2016

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The first one was a surprise. The second too. The third produced a snigger. The fourth a chortle. The tenth, a flinging down of the spade.
‘Whatever’s the matter, Henry?’ said Beatrice as she rushed into the garden.
‘It’s these bones. They’re flipping everywhere.’
Beatrice looked at the ever-increasing pile. ‘I see what you mean.’
‘Any idea what they might be?’
She picked one up and rubbed the smooth surface with her fingers as though it were a genie’s lamp. ‘Ostriches.’
‘And how did ostriches end up buried in a Scottish garden?’
‘I’m sure there’s a logical explanation, dear.’
Henry remembered the odd comment made by the estate agent when they purchased the house.
‘You won’t be able to plant anything there, sir.’
Poppy-cock, thought Henry, but he suddenly realised that the previous owner must have owned an ostrich sanctuary and buried each dead bird in the garden.
There was no choice. He’d just have to keep digging until he’d got rid of the whole damn lot!
And so he continued while Beatrice went to stay in a hotel ‘until he came to his senses.’
He never did and six months later was admitted to a mental asylum, where he was often heard counting. 1,567, 1,568, 1569…

Written for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: Week #24– 2016

‘The things that daddies do’ – FLASH FICTION FOR THE PURPOSEFUL PRACTITIONER: WEEK #21 – 2016

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https://pixabay.com/en/people-boy-music-brown-finger-arm-316500/

The opening sentence for the May 19th Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: “This can’t be that hard.” Please use this sentence (or this thought) somewhere in your flash.

The Things that Daddies do

This can’t be that hard. Daddy plays the piano every morning and he says it’s easy. He zips his fingers along the keys creating the most beautiful songs and music, and people clap and sing along and tell him how wonderful he is and what a talent he has. He tells me that I must take after him as my fingers are as thin and lean as his, and that that’s a sure sign that I have the gift.

I started lessons last week. With an old lady called Mrs Bradford, who says ‘good, dear,’ ‘more slowly, dear,’ and stuff like that. She gave me a piece of chocolate cake afterwards and said I’d done well.

I want Daddy to teach me, but he says he can’t as he’s my dad and dads don’t do things like that. Dads do things like take their boys fishing and climbing. Only he doesn’t do those things either. I’m hoping that if I practise and get as good as he is, then he’ll do those things that he says that daddies do.

Written for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: Week #21– 2016

‘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. 😀

‘The smell of spring’ – FLASH FICTION FOR THE PURPOSEFUL PRACTITIONER: WEEK #15 – 2016

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https://pixabay.com/en/meerkat-fur-small-face-mouth-316736/

The opening sentence for the April 7th Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: “What is that peculiar smell?” Please use this sentence (or this thought) somewhere in your flash.

The smell of Spring

It had been a while since they’d ventured outside – the winter had been particularly gruesome this year and neither meerkat cared much for rain, so when the dark clouds finally dispersed and blossom appeared on the trees, they were relieved.

‘What is that peculiar smell?’ said Toby.

Reginald stuck his little brown nose skyward and sniffed. ‘I’m not sure. It’s kind of familiar but I couldn’t tell you what it was.’

‘Hmm,’ said Toby. ‘It’s peculiar but not unpleasant. I would even say it’s verging on nice!’

And when Toby said that, Reginald looked at him in surprise as Toby seldom said anything positive. The two of them sat there for a while thinking, watching the clouds drift lazily across the sky until a perfect azure sky remained, and in that sky a shining golden sun.

‘The smell is stronger now,’ said Reginald.

Toby nodded and there was silence as they absorbed the new season; the warmth of the sun on their fur and the bright light of the heavens above.

‘Got it,’ said Reginald eventually. ‘It’s the smell of spring. It’s finally here!’

‘I think you’re right,’ said Toby and a big smile spread across his face.

 

Written for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: Week #15 – 2016

‘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.

‘Nothing matters till now’ – FLASH FICTION FOR THE PURPOSEFUL PRACTITIONER: WEEK #14 – 2016

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The opening sentence for the March 31st Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: “Stop saying ‘It’s just the circle of life’…” Please use this sentence (or this thought) somewhere in your flash.

Nothing matters till now

The calmness belies the danger. I lie on my back, wiggle my toes & stare out into the cloudless sky. Here I can forget everything. The past; the future; the present even. The beach is distant. A few waves away; people mere stick figures. Nothing matters. Until I feel the current and I’m caught in a rip; now survival is all that matters. Survival.
Forgetting that I came here with no cares, no worries, no insurance, I struggle frantically against the tide, the wave, the force that is wrangling, dragging, trying so desperately to upset the life that I’m supposed to live, the life I now might not live. I wish people would stop saying, ‘it’s just the circle of life; people live, then they die.’ I’d like to think this but can’t, as I’m not ready to die yet. I’m too young. Here for just two weeks then home to start the life I’m supposed to live, the life that’s been vaguely mapped out for me, the life that I hadn’t given much thought to till NOW.

Written for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: Week #14 – 2016

‘The Jump’ – FLASH FICTION FOR THE PURPOSEFUL PRACTITIONER: WEEK #13 – 2016

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The opening sentence for the March 25th Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: This week’s’ challenge is an apology for the difficulty of last week’s challenge… Please include the words “a blinding light” somewhere in your flash.

The Jump

I’d only been there for three days when I first attempted the ‘jump.’ They say in Calais that you never forget your first one, but I firmly believed my first would be my last. I figured that the others had just been unlucky, and those who were still there after a few months, very unlucky! I was different though; things had always gone well for me.
So as we set off towards the motorway on that chilly November evening, I felt strangely optimistic. When we began to smell the sea and hear the rumble of traffic after a couple of hours, I laughed and picked up the pace a little, but my friend, Zidane, merely raised his head slightly and said, ‘you won’t make it tonight, you know that don’t you?’
I opened my mouth to reply but decided against it. The poor chap had been there three months already – he was bound to feel defeatist.
A few minutes later the motorway appeared like a blinding light out of the darkness. I felt a rush of excitement as I half walked, half ran towards it.
That was six months ago. They say you never forget your first attempt.

Written for Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner: Week #13 – 2016