Finding Resolve

I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I believe in resolutions, of course, but I simply don’t understand why they need to coincide with this human-made temporal construct.

I don’t like thinking about time in this fashion because sometimes people consolidate it, label a few bad events as a ‘bad year’. Some events are really bad and their effects can be all encompassing for weeks or months or, indeed, years, but even for that, I think it’s really important to try and take life day by day. Also, ‘resolve’ shouldn’t need a clock, it should feel free to occur at any time.

Having said that, I can see it’s sometimes nice to have a starting point, and well, New Year’s Day is as good as any. So, in that spirit, here are some of my aspirations for 2015.

d897cc4c23b0bbebfd60fe566d6880fe

I’m going to make lots of mistakes.

Get back to blogging weekly. I have let this slide lately, though, you’ll note, I posted on Christmas day and with posting again today I’m already off to a great start and it’s not even next year yet!

I hope to write. I’d like to finish my long-running WIP and give myself permission to suck. It will suck, but that’s okay because it will also be finished (first draft, at least) and that would be an amazing personal achievement. I’ll try and participate in as many Friday! Flash challenges that I can and get into the habit of free-writing to encourage me to write and think less about it. All writing is practice.

I aim to read a book a month. ‘Only one a month?’ you ask. I know most of you wouldn’t view this as a challenge or a task that even requires resolve. As I’ve said before (apologies for my repetition), although I love books and have surrounded myself with bookish friends my entire life (and would even consider them to be my people), I am not a reader. Maybe I could be, I certainly want to be, especially knowing it will help my writing. You never know, maybe ‘a book a month’ will lead to two. Suggestions welcome.

Delete Candy Crush Saga from my phone as it feeds my procrastination. Can you have retroactive resolutions? I actually did this before Christmas knowing I’d be too busy to be distracted by it then. And now? Now, I have this list of resolutions to occupy my time, dammit.

Make mistakes. I’ve come to realise a little bit of mistake-making is a good thing but I always choose the safe road. My mother says, ‘we don’t bounce’, we don’t spring back from failure as easily as some people so we cling to caution like a raft in the middle of the ocean. I need to learn when it’s safe to let go.

See you next year, my friends.

Whatever you do in 2015, be your best.

Advertisements

Checkmate

A new Flash! Friday. I had fun writing this one because I didn’t take it too seriously. The original photo was withdrawn due to copyright issues, so the replacement picture is a little less relevent to my story, although my focus from the beginning was the game and not the players.

 

ilia-chavchavadze-and-ivane-machabeli-playing-chess

Georgian writers Ilia Chavchavadze and Ivane Machabeli playing chess, 1873 St Petersburg. Public domain photo.

The element to include was ‘a nemesis’.

 

Resignation

Eirwen paced, “So it is true?”

“Yes, my Queen. The King is set to admit defeat, if you do not intervene-

“Forgive me,” The knight’s bow deepened as he heard the insolence in his own voice, “but the King does not know we have secured King Kali’s west tower. Despite our own losses, we have infiltrated his defences.”

Bishop Bai moved to The Queen’s side, “Are you sure this is wise?”

“I’m not made of glass.” Eirwen silenced the bishop with a raised hand. ” I must go.”

“But The King insisted-”

“The King believes he’s protecting me, but he underestimates my strength.”

“There are few horses,” The knight said moving to his feet, “Please take my own.”

“I can move faster without it,” The Queen smiled, “Your horse can’t keep a straight line-“

 

“Olivia!” Jack snapped, knocking over his king, “Play properly!”

She jumped to her feet with Eirwen raised to the sky, “The Black King surrenders!”

 

Have a great weekend! Happy writing.

Slow Flash

I hadn’t participated in a Flash! Friday for ages, so I was quite delighted when I managed to muster this one. Same rules as always – you had 140-160 words to play with, the element to include was death and the picture prompt was this…

No Sunshine

She handed me a breathing mask as we met.

“He wanted you to have it.”

“What?” I said, “Today? It doesn’t really match my suit.”

“Be nice, Stephen. Please.”

Studying her more closely I raised my eyebrows.

She sighed, “It’s all I had in black.”

I held the mask up to my face but hastily lowered it when I caught its acidic scent.

A smile formed at the corner of her mouth, “He did like you.”

“That’s debateable” I muttered, taking another tentative sniff.

Her eyes drifted to the small gathering on the docks where a woman in a oversized hat carried an urn.

“He would’ve wanted you to wear colour.”

“Yes, but Mother…”

“Ah.”

“We should join them.” she said, not attempting to move.

After a moment I said, “You know it’s not raining, don’t you?”

“It’s a parasol.”

“It’s not sunny either…”

She took my hand. “No,” she said, “But it will be.”

The Writing Mood

Writinginspirations

Jo Seated on the Old Sofa from “The Most Beloved American Writer” Woman’s Home Companion, December 1937 oil on canvas, 32 x 25 in. Collection of George Lucas

My flash fiction writing has preferred to flail lately. It’s also worthy of note that I haven’t spent much time on this blog. Generally speaking, I haven’t written much of anything. All this has left me pondering my writing inspirations.

The first truth is, I rue not learning about flash fiction sooner. I discovered it by Googling ‘techniques to help you write’ about two years ago, but undoubtedly these existed pre-internet. Even so, despite my interest in writing at school and (early on, at least) selecting subjects in this field, techniques to prompt creative writing remained untaught. We were simply told to ‘write a story’ and predictably I’d fall into an idea vacuum and choke on the panic of ostensibly having nothing to write about.

Rather than learning to write, I trained myself to dismiss ideas. I didn’t launch into flash fiction as soon as I discovered it either. I stood back sceptically for a good six months and marvelled at the flash writing of others before attempting a few challenges myself. I secretly believed that I was incapable of creating anything from them, especiallywords/images that might as well been pulled from a hat.

I admit, I’ve surprised myself. Of course, I’m hardly a flash fiction/writing prompt expert. I’ve completed barely a dozen writing prompt challenges, but writing prompts have shown me it’s easier to work with (and grow) ideas if you have a focal point. An enforced focus from flash fiction challenges, be it an image or words, works especially well for someone like me who’s far too quick to throw out my ideas than wash and rise. The advantage is they absolve me from the original idea and make me work and persist with something I may have otherwise rejected. Rather than ‘nothing’ to write about, there is everything to write about – it’s a matter of finding that spark.

Reading others’ creative writing also inspires me to write, especially if I find the writing particularly powerful, emotive or beautifully phrased. Watching films can do the same. They make me want to write something; practise capturing moments with words.

Then there’s mood and music or is it music and mood? I never know what comes first. I use music to manipulate my mood and assist the tone of my writing. I couldn’t say how those musical choices are influenced by the mood I’m already in. For better or worse I write more and (arguably) better when I’m in a darker/confused/conflicted/sadder emotional place. When someone asks me how I am and I answer, ‘I’m really good’ the voice in my head invariably adds ‘I must be, I’m not writing much’. There are a couple of levels to this though – when I am ‘good’ writing less is more a consequence of doing more non-writing stuff. I also have a life-long habit of writing when I’m down because it helps me process all my ‘sads’.

What inspires you to write? Is there anything I’ve missed?

Imposter Syndrome

I’m not good with success. It’s a double edged sword. I am capable of that buzz of joy, I know what it is to feel pleased but there’s a tenuous fragility to it. A sarcasm that denounces it. A murmur that feels ever so slightly like a panic attack.

I’ve spoken about by inner critics before. My nasty destructive inner voices that take to my success with a cricket bat. I’ve also spoken how I’m trying to get know them better.

So first, to my little victory against my evil inner critics – I won a little Flash Fiction competition. This is a direct transcript of the text messages I shared with my husband (who was away for work at the time). He discovered my success and text me just as I arrived home from work.

HUSBAND: Hooray!!! You won Flash Friday!!! Congratulations!

ME: !!! April Fools?

HUSBAND: Nope. Check the Flash Friday blog for yourself. Even Remy [that’s my Twitter avatar image] gets his photo on the page.

ME: No. I kinda knew you were serious. But really, it wasn’t that great, was it?

HUSBAND: Course it was.

*logs into computer and checks for myself*

ME: Did you read the comments? Wow. When you read why she picked my story she makes it sound awesome.

HUSBAND: It *is* awesome. Now go and have a drink.

Looking back, I wish I’d made a more concerted effort to write down what my evil inner critics were saying , but I reverted back to my avoidance tactics. I tried blocking the voices instead of listening to them. Not that they had nothing constructive or helpful to say but listening to them helps me recognise the evil they are.

And here are my thought processes re-created:

I felt like a fraud. How could I win when there were ‘real’ writers far more worthy? Why would I win this when other stories were better? I wondered if it was a fluke. I wondered if it was an accident. Maybe the judge took pity on me. In trying to be happy for myself, I devalued it with thoughts like ‘there weren’t many people in the comp’, and ‘ it’s only one person’s opinion’.

***

This was in my drafts folder. I pulled it out when I read this awesome post, and again just now after reading this.

I honestly feel all these inadequacies. Other people don’t see them which does not make them less real to me, it just makes me hide them. I feel stupid. Some people argue with me with the very best of intentions, but I don’t want pity and I don’t want compliments – it’s simply how I feel. Knowing I should feel differently doesn’t really help.

However, knowing other people feel the same, does.

I believed for a long time that giving these negative feelings ‘air’ only let them breathe. That recognising them validated them, but I’ve started to realise avoiding them is more like covering a boiling pot.

If you feel a fraud, you’re not alone. Don’t let it stop you, don’t let it hold you back. Decide what is destructive and what is instructive.

Now all I have to do is take that advice myself.

 

And thank you for listening.

 

 

Next week: Cats

Jettisoned – Flash Friday on Saturday

You may have already read my story for Flash! Friday, but here it is again. The added element was ‘space travel’ and the prompt picture was this:

bicycle-tunnel

Bicycle Tunnel, double exposure. CC photo by r. nial bradshaw.

Jettisoned

Dawson thumped his scanner, ‘What’s our time datum?’

‘1930s judging by the state of those.’ Marian pointed to two bikes leaning at the tunnel’s entrance, ‘It’s the right kind of place to hide a Relativity Raft.’

Dawson put his ear to the tunnel wall, ‘Maybe the tunnel is the ship.’

Marian smirked, ‘They wouldn’t trust you with anything this large.’

‘I didn’t break the ASM-9!’

‘So you say. ‘

A distant whirring silenced further objection from Dawson.

Marian stepped back against the tunnel wall as the sound grew into a man on a bike. He whizzed past them and out into the daylight.

‘System Control hates us.’ Marian muttered.

Dawson resumed his scan and the instrument beeped. He redirected it and it beeped again.
He looked to Marian, ‘They wouldn’t..?’

Marian looked down the scanner’s line of sight and back to the tunnel’s entrance.

Dawson raised it again to triple check the data.

Marian ran for the red one.

Lost and Found – Flash Friday on Saturday

Ok. So I’ve managed a Friday Flash Fiction challenge. It’s been a few weeks but I’m back!

I nearly missed out because Washington DC have shifted their clock back so I thought I had a hour longer than I actually did. Because of that, the version I’ve written here is ever so slightly different from the version I rushed and posted earlier today to meet the deadline.

Here you go:

foot-fetish

Creative Commons photo by Kat/Swim Parallel.

Element: A detective

Lost and Found

Harrison glanced over at the bus stop, ‘Let’s go from the beginning.’

Beams flicked back through her notebook, ‘Well, the neighbour saw her leave at 3pm yesterday “looking quite smart”. The bus driver said he dropped her off here at about 5pm with two bags of groceries. They were dumped just here.’ Beams gestured beside the fence line.

Harrison straightened up and squinted into the distance, ‘Where does this field go?’

‘Ends up at Bateman’s Quarry.’

‘Did we search it?’

‘The field, or the quarry?’

‘Either. Both!’

Beams hesitated, ‘We concentrated our search around her route home – wait, Sir!’ she clambered over the fence after Harrison.

‘She went shopping, you say?’

She looked back to her notebook, ‘Pasta, vegetables, dog food, milk, butter, bread – ‘

‘Let’s say she crossed this field.’ he turned to look at Beams, ‘Why?’

Beams grappled with a decent idea.

‘What would be so important?’

Then she heard it bark.