Well, a quarter of 2016 has flown by already. If anybody knows where the time goes, and has any ideas on how we can all slow it down, please let me know.
2016 has been pretty good to me so far. I’ve had two acceptances and both works should be published over the next few months. I still get a buzz when I see my work in physical print, or E-print.
Acceptances can be scary though. When a story gets rejected a handful of people will have read your submission. When you get an acceptance your work is scheduled to be exposed to the entire readership of the publication that said, YES! It’s a sobering thought and it’s exactly why you shouldn’t submit a story until you’re 200% happy with it. As a writer you should take pride in your work, and you should strive to deliver your very best for your audience.
I’ve worked on six issues of Firewords Quarterly and it still surprises me that we get submissions with really basic errors: Missing full stops, spelling mistakes etc.
Spelling mistakes is probably my pet hate. Pretty much every word processing package out there will highlight spelling mistakes. Ms Word underlines the offending articles with a big red squiggly line. There’s no excuse for an author not to make those corrections. It’s lazy writing.
The perfect submission probably doesn’t exist, and I’m not asking for it. I’m pretty sure that some of my own submissions are guilty of having a misplaced or missing comma. But is there any excuse for really basic errors?
Anyway I’m going off topic. The words have been flowing lately. Although, not exactly as planned. Quite a few times I’ve sat down to write Project A, or B, and nothings really happened. Then the muse will give me a painful elbow to the ribs, and I’m writing something completely new, completely unplanned. Two stories have come to fruition thanks to the muse: Shush and A Brief History of Doozer’s Cyclic Theory of Re-Invention. Both were seat of the pants creative outpourings and I had no idea where they were going.
I’ve also been busy with re-writes and submissions.
The Ending has been re-titled as Beautiful. The prose has been cut and submitted to Anti-Heroin Chic under a different pen name.
Dancers was tweaked following some useful feedback from my buddy Dan Burgess. I’ve entered it into the annual FictionDesk, Ghost Story, competition. I hope it does well. Any writer likes their work but sometimes a writer can’t help having favourites, and Dancers is one of mine. The standard at FictionDesk is high though, so it’s going to be up against some strong competition. Fingers crossed.
The Man On The Train has been sent to The Starving Artist. I’m pretty confident that I can place this one somewhere. Feedback has been universally good. It’s just finding the right market.
Wiped Clean has been re-titled The Remote Control Love Affair. I’m re-writing this one at the moment. This is an accepted work, but one that was never published. These things do happen.
I’ve added the new stories to the My Stories section of the blog. Rather embarrassingly I also noticed that two of my stories weren’t listed. So The Man On The Train, and A Quiet Retirement have now been added to my canon of work.
I was having an online chat with my writing buddy, and fellow Project 13 collaborator, the immensely talented J T Harrell.
JT was telling me how he'll initially attempt to write out a story idea as a 250 word piece of flash fiction. If he manages to get to that limit, or below, then the story stays as a piece of flash fiction. If it just can't be done then he sets about writing a short story, or possibly even a novella.
It's an interesting technique / process.
The feisty fellow also laid down a flash fiction challenge: Write a max 250 word story. The theme was voyeurism, but we agreed we were able to interpret voyeurism in any way our muses demanded.
Prior to the challenge I'd never managed to finish a story in under 600 words.
The challenge turned out to be a great piece of creative fun.
It wasn't without it's frustrations. I aborted the first attempt. I was thinking about it too much, trying to be too clever, and failing.
I then did what I usually do best. I emptied my mind and just wrote. Those who know me well will tell you there's not a lot to empty!
The end result was "The Man on The Train" completed in 220 words. I doubt anybody would call it a masterpiece. It isn't. But it's very me. Simplistic and above all it's tongue in cheek. Nothing more than a bit of fun.
Creatively, I took a lot from the challenge. 250 words isn't much. I found myself ruthlessly editing. If a line of prose wasn't moving the story forward then it became history. I loved some of the lines I had to delete. I can honestly say that I've never been so hard on myself in any previous story edit. It was a real eye-opener and I know that all my future edits are going to benefit.
I doubt I'll work in the same way as JT but I wanted to share the experience.
JT came up with a story that had more depth than mine. A kinky tale about a blind man who shares his wife with a sighted man. The sighted man has to describe what he's seeing as the blind man's wife reaches her climax. I loved the concept. As a writer it's an idea that can be tackled in many ways. My only complaint is that he thought of it before I did.
I'm beginning to understand, and appreciate, flash fiction to a much greater extent.
A lot of the story can be outside what we see on the page. The trick is to use the right words to make it so.
I won't be neglecting the longer short story, but I can see my flash fiction output increasing.
M J Wolfson - That's me.