Wednesday 10 September 2014

(vol 1) CHAPTER 31: “Flash!”

As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a writer.

My aim is to get to a point where I am comfortable to write full length novels and novellas one after the other, editing with excitement as opposed to dread. I have a ton of ideas in my head from your standard trilogies to TV style ‘series’ (see these guys for an idea of what I’m aiming for).

But something that is helping me right now is shorter work, and I don’t just mean the on again / off again writing towards my first Uncanny Tales (date changed). I am of course referring to Flash Fiction.

In this day and age of short attention spans and quick and easy mobile access to the net, flash fiction is finding a greater audience, one who will quite happily read a couple of 200 word stories with no over arcing plot or massive world building to get lost in. These ‘snacks’ are great for people to dive in, read, and jump back out.

They are good for writers too. Many of us slog along on our true masterpieces that we’ve been writing and rewriting for the last decade. Flash lets us take a break, try something new and unfamiliar and put it out there in just a couple of hours. And then we get back to that 2000 word epic door stop that will change writing forever.

Back in May I joined Flash! Friday. I’d learnt about it through Craig Anderson. At the time he popped up somewhere on Goodreads and was giving away his novella, Getting Lucky for free (check it out, it’s awesome). I followed him on good reads and noticed that he always posted a 150 story with photo every Friday.

So I dug deeper.

As I probably mentioned before, Flash Friday challenges writers to come up with a 150 words story using a picture prompt and something to be included (like an object or theme). I spent weeks watching from the side line, thinking of ideas but being too afraid to finish them.

So I watched.

And then, on May 30th I saw the picture that made me think “yeah, I’ve got a good idea and I want to share it.”

So I did.

I didn’t win (I’m ashamed to say that I really thought I could just wade in and be a first time champ – maybe I DO have an ego after all). But I wasn’t perturbed. I went back the next week and the week after that. Finally I got my name up in lights (so to speak) on my fourth attempt for the clever use of title. I was over the moon but better was to come.

I started feeling brave now and made the effort to delve into the comments around the entries. The community that I had originally feared were such a great bunch. There’s a lot of support both from the people that run Flash! Friday and those that take part.

I had another high on my sixth entry when I had an honourable mention. This, coupled with the nice comments people left had me on such a high and then, one week later, I got first runner-up with my story ‘IF YOU GO DOWN TO THE WOODS TODAY’.

I can’t describe how good that felt. Although friends and family had read my stuff and said they liked it, there’s just something amazing when a complete stranger takes the time to tell you what they thought of your work. And in the Mondays ‘Flash Points’ article, Rebekah really told me what she thought of my story and I couldn’t stop jumping up and down.

I’m now on the hunt for my first win. Sometimes I get down when the results come in and I’m not on the list but that’s good, right. Of course it is. Because it means I’ve still got the hunger. Nothing in life worth having is easy.

And even if I don’t win, even if the honourable mentions and runner-up places are all I get, it doesn’t matter. Because I’ve stumbled onto a great group of people who are not only kind to me and each other but have also provided some cracking tales to read.

While I would love everyone reading this to take the plunge and join us (despite the numbers growing so much in the last quarter that judging now takes an extra day) I understand that not everyone is a writer. So read instead. Take 10 minutes out of your weekend to browse and be entertained. Leave your comments to the guys at Flash! Friday too. If they’re anything like me then it is the fuel that feeds them.

Out of interest, who didn’t hum the Flash Gordon theme at least once while reading this? Seriously? Because I wrote the word Flash about a hundred times.

See you in seven.

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