March 15, 2008

Flash Fiction #1

Posted in Writing tagged at 11:12 pm by lifelessonsfromwriting

We spend the last evening watching TV. He has Sky+, and we’ve kept the last episode of ‘Life in Cold Blood’ until now, when we’ll have at least one uninterrupted hour. It’s a good program. I might buy it on DVD if I ever have the money.

I have something of an epiphany while David Attenborough talks about the parental habits of crocodiles. I’ve loved this small, neat house since the first time I walked in the front door, the first time its unique, clean smell hit me, without ever stopping to wonder what it was that appealed to me so much. The mother crocodile bites through her babies egg, releasing it, and I decide that it’s the order I like. Not just the physical order, although the entire house is scrupulously neat (yet cozy), but the way everything within it seems perfectly settled – including the people.

Even in his moments of weakness, even when he lets his guard down (and it’s a subtle kind of guard, invisible yet opaque), Tim never becomes disordered. He is as calm and steady as a rock, an outer shell of simplicity with something far more complex inside. Like me, I suppose. I haven’t yet learned to be comfortable with the long silences that our respective personalities foster, but I’m getting there.

I try to take some of his order with me the next morning, but it becomes choppy and flies off into the far corners of my mind the closer we get to the airport. The long drive is filled with what I want so badly to say, but can’t find the words for.


I made this up as I went along and read over it once. It’s a little something to clear my head after trying to write all day (and only getting about 1,000 words done; for some reason I write far better at night than during daylight hours).


February 25, 2008

‘Flash’ Fiction

Posted in Reading, Writing tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 8:57 pm by lifelessonsfromwriting

So, I’ve recently been reading a lot of ‘flash fiction’, which is not, as I had hoped, Flash Gordon fan-fiction; no, it’s terribly literary, Joyce-like stuff. (‘Joyce-like’ in the sense that the stories tend to end with startling abruptness and value unusual structures over actual content. That’s right, I went there).

All joking aside, however, I think flash fiction is great. It lets writers tell a story or present an idea quickly, and I can well imagine that the skills people pick up writing this way can carry over to writing longer fiction, where you can be far more indulgant and long-winded. I’ll give it a shot now and then, so expect to see some actual fiction up here soon.

I’ve been struggling lately with the issue of novel length. Not because I’m worried about hurting the book’s chance of being published (my writing will no doubt do enough damage on its own), but because the story could work either as a single, fairly long book or as two medium-length ones. I’m leaning towards the latter; there’s a very definite ‘cutting off’ point where one stage of the story ends and the next begins, and I can’t imagine simply moving on to a new chapter once I’ve reached that point. It’s hard to describe, but it feels as if doing that wouldn’t do it justice, somehow.

Of course, that’s a concern for the future. Right now it’s nearly nine o’ clock in the evening and I’ve spent most of the day writing in comments sections here. Admittedly that adds up to several thousand words output, but it’s not moving the novel forward any.

Continuing with my non-fiction reading streak, I’m planning on starting Carl Sagan’s Cosmos tonight. I was planning on checking out Pale Blue Dot because I was actually looking at the pale blue dot photo, but I’ve apparently lost the copy I bought years ago. I’ve been a huge fan of Sagan’s work ever since reading The Demon Haunted World, which I would encourage everyone to read. More than any other writer I know of, Sagan was incredibly good at sharing the sense wonder and awe inherent in any study of the Universe.

Current word count for [untitled]: 17, 534

Target word count by the end of the day: 18,100

Current word count for [untitled]: 19,031. Booya. Tomorrow I’m going for 20k.

PS: If you’re a fan of Yeats (and you should be!) and have read his poem An Irish Airman Forsees His Death, track down a copy of Keane’s song ‘A Bad Dream’. You’ll get a kick out of it, trust me 😉