As the current story I’ve chosen to work on turns into a morass, last night I was feeling completely uninspired. The only way I could finish something last night was to start something new. Feeling a bit desperate, I resorted to my collection of prompts and came up with “Write about a hat.” So I did. Much to my surprise, I even finished something. I’m calling story #11 “A Hat, A Hat, I’m Wearing a Hat.” It refers to a rather familiar story, so I’m just going to give it to you right here.
Just when I had decided not to worry about writing flash stories in order to catch up to the story a week pace, I wrote a flash story. It’s about 400 words that I guess are all right. I’m calling it “Special Delivery”.
So maybe I can stop using exclamation points. Story #9 is “Moving Out”, about 700 words about making a big move.
Actually I finished it a week ago. Last week, I was sort of hoping to write a bunch of flash fictions. So I went back to my Boskone notes for inspiration. This year, one of the events I went to was a “writers’ warmup” session on Saturday morning run by Elaine Isaak. We did a few writing exercises, and afterwards she recommended a book of prompts called Take Ten For Writers, by Bonnie Neubauer.
The book offers some excellent advice for keeping the words flowing when you’re drafting. The way the book is structured is appealing: just generate a couple of random numbers, and you have a prompt. The exercises in Take Ten are often fun. But some of the formatting tries too hard to be fun. I can’t read small print on dark colors. Sadly, only one of the exercises led to a story for me.
So this week, I’m not trying to catch up. I just picked a half-drafted story that’s been talking to me, even though it feels too big to write it in a week. One can always hope I turn out to be wrong.
Your basic magnet on the fridge
As it’s about 400 words, that’s about 50 words a day. Which feels like about what I did. Bit by bit, adding up until I decided I was done. I’m calling it “Animal Magnetism”, not the most original title for a story about a lonely monkey.
For this one, I used a set of random words I wrote down trying to remember a dream:
I still have no idea what the dream was about, but I’m positive that the story has — aside from six words — absolutely nothing to do with the dream. But that’s not the point, is it? The point is I finished a story.
Pretend Polar Bear on pretend ice in a pretend ocean.
And it was only a quarter past midnight last night, as opposed to the early weeks of sleep deprivation when I stayed up until 2 am on a couple of Sundays trying to meet the story a week deadline. The story I began fifth turned out be to about 6700 words, called “65 Million Years To Earth”. Since I’m waiting for comments from my critique group, I’m not going to say anything more about it.
While I was working on it, not only did I skip ahead to story #6, but I forgot to tell you that I also finished and submitted story #7 to a flash fiction contest called Three Minute Futures. My Three Minute Futures Story is about 600 words, called “The Dream You Had About Polar Bears.” It’s about a researcher trying to figure out how to make plastic ice floes for the polar bears.
So now we’re on Week 13 of the Story A Week challenge. That puts me 6 stories behind. As I said before, this is NERAX week. (Have I mentioned over 100 casks of beer and cider lately?) Hopefully, I’ll get at least one flash fiction done this week. Next Monday, I’ll regroup and see what I need to do to catch up.
Yes, it is possible to burn a candle on three ends.
For the last month, I’ve been burning my candle on three ends. First, there’s the challenge of trying to write a story a week. Second, there’s the spring Real Ale festival that I help organize, NERAX. And the third is spreading the word about native bees, with Friends of Bees. So it’s probably not too surprising that it’s going to take over a month to finish story #5. And it’s probably even less surprising that it’s still not finished. But it’s really close!
Since NERAX starts next week, I plan to finish story #5 by this Sunday. During the week of NERAX, I’ll aim to write one flash story. But after it, maybe I’ll do something crazy like write a flash a day for a week. Who knows?
One of the writers I like but haven’t read nearly enough of is an Israeli writer named Etgar Karet. There was a very good reading of one of his stories at end of the latest episode of This American Life, called “Happy Accident“.
While I’m still working on story #5, I thought I might write something quick. So I checked Twitter for #writingprompts and found this:
@Kelsye: In SIX WORDS or fewer, can you write an inspiring story?
So I did.
Half a loaf is better than none
Well, story #5 is only half done. At this rate, I’m averaging more like a story in two weeks. Not as exciting as a story a week, but if this is a sustainable pace, I’m happy with that. It’s still infinity times faster than I was finishing stories last year.
Like the saying says, Half a loaf is better than none. And having comforted myself with that thought, I better go finish the current story.
A pond I like to visit during Readercon
I only stayed up until 12:30 last night finishing story #4. So I suppose that’s progress. But I’m still a week behind. And I still want to write two flash stories in a week to get caught up. Anyway, this one is called “For We So Love The Worlds”, 700 words about a soul working up the courage to be born. It takes place in the same universe as story #3, and there is a connection between them, but it’s not exactly a sequel.
There’s a pool in the story which doesn’t look anything like the pond in this photo, but it’s a pool of imagination, so I don’t have a picture. I like to visit the real pond during Readercon, which is a great con for writers, so I think this is an appropriate enough image to represent story #4 in the story a week challenge. Or something.