I’ve attempted a couple of flash fiction challenges lately to try and keep myself writing but I’m beginning to wonder if I should care more about creating. Finding the right words is one battle, but creating a story and creating something worth writing about, well, the battle begins here.
I’m forced to command this battle between my imagination and my writing all the while fighting Field Marshal Self-doubt who’s keen to destroy both.
Hmmm. I’m not sure this metaphor is working.
Anyhoo. At some point – usually quite quickly – my writing peters out. That flash of momentum, that writing spark is simply gone. Words I’ve already written seem clumsy and I can’t move on from my core idea, extend it and grow it. So I go back, I reread and then get trapped into editing what I’ve already written.
So I ask my writerly friends, these questions:
How do you keep a forward focus?
How do you encourage your ideas to grow?
How do you stop yourself from editing as you go?
I did manage to submit one story to Flash! Friday, helped by a very inspiring prompt and the achievable but precise count of 150 words . You can read the cut-down version here. The full version (which is not much longer) became this:
She walked with her hand wrapped in her father’s fingers unable to see beyond the other waists and legs moving with them between the parapets. She pressed herself to his side, the sword sheathed on her father’s back nudging her as he strode – one pace to her three. No one spoke. A distant drum kept the march steady, to belie the panic they carried with them like a silent scream.
She counted. In four drumbeats and they passed under the stone arch back into the mountain’s wall. Muttered whispers echoed down the tunnel as the last of the survivors jostled towards the promising light.
The sun did not belong here. She could smell urine and something else that replaced her hunger with nausea. Trees lay crudely hacked for their timber. People gathered around makeshift tents. Some carried water, some tended those on stretchers. Some slept in rows, others wept at their side.
The drum fell quiet.
‘Sanctuary’ they called it. Her father called it ‘home now’.