Wednesday 9 December 2015

(vol 2) CHAPTER 48: “FlashDogs Strike Back”

2015 WORD COUNT=                        125246


The Battle of NaNoWriMo is over. As the dust settles,
a band of FlashDogs emerge, scarred and beaten.
The cost of the fight was high.

But these brave authors cannot rest. A new challenge
awaits, one that will test their drained imaginations, and
push their Flash Fiction skills to the limit.

Three prompts stand before them now, images and themes
designed to inspire. The FlashDogs must unite if they are to
produce the greatest Flash Fiction anthology yet.

Three, according to De La Soul, is the magic number.

So isn’t it awesome that, early next year, you’ll be able to pick up the third FlashDog anthology. That’s right. Third. Because two amazing collections of awe-inspiring, dimension hopping, genre deifying stories already exist, running free out there in the wild.

Wait, you haven’t picked them up yet? Well, what are you waiting for? They’re out there right now, begging to be devoured by super cool readers like yourselves. And because the FlashDogs don’t discriminate; there is the option to pick up e-book or classic paperback version; convenience and/or nostalgia.

But if it’s not out until next year, why am I bringing it up before the lights on 2015 have even gone out? Good question. Well, the answer is twofold.

First off, like a good teaser trailer, it lets you know that, right now, it’s being constructed by an elite team of master book builders. Before you read this blog post you didn’t know anything about it. Now you do. See, it worked.

Secondly, because last night was a huge weight off my shoulders as the last of my three stories was finally sent off to FDHQ. And now I wait patiently, hoping that they’re good enough to be included.

You see, it’s been tough, tougher than the first two anthologies (seriously, if you haven’t purchased them yet then go and do it now while I’ll wait for you here). Most of that comes from a little writing project I recently took part in called NaNoWriMo.

I had the anthology prompts before November and so divided my imagination in two parts: 80% on the Chris and Mike novellas, and 20% on anthology. Yet that 20% seemed to stall. I got one idea (which did make it to final draft) but the other two photos offered zero inspiration.

I hoped that once NaNoWriMo was out of the way, that perhaps with 100% dedicated, something would just happen. I hoped that because I knew one of the remaining prompts just had to be a new story set in my ‘Boy and His Tank’ universe, that I was half way there. But nothing comes easy when you’re trying to force it. A story did eventually unfold (not the Tank one) and I had something at least.

And then suddenly it was on deadline day.

Or so I thought.

You see I’d been so focused on getting them done, that I had a specific date in my mind and just stuck with it. Which was fine . . . if it had been the right date. Now, luck was on my side, and the correct date was in the future, not the past, so I breathed a sigh of relief when I found that I’d gained four extra days.

Panic slightly over, I sent one story off complete (or so I thought) and gave myself some room over that final weekend to get the other two done. Sunday rolled around, the wife and my writing buddy Geoff Holmes having signed off on my second story, which I went to send off, relieving more stress with one remaining. Except when I went to e-mail the second story I found that I hadn’t in fact e-mailed the first. I’d sent it to myself instead.

Two stories now sent to FDHQ, sweat wiped from brow, time to get on with that third.

Only this time, it wasn’t meant to be. I gave up; late on Monday, realising that I was trying to fit a short story into a Flash Fiction word count. I then had two tough decisions. Firstly would this be the first FlashDog anthology without a ‘Tank’ story (spoiler, yes), and would I be happy only presenting two stories instead of three (almost).

I told the wife that I was done, no more ideas were coming, and instead got to work on the washing up.

And then I went and got an idea.

Laptop booted, knuckles cracked, and off I went. A completely original story, something that I felt was about 300-400 words long started forming on the page. But 300-400 words wasn’t enough to contain it and so it grew to twice that. I read it over. Read it again. The wife read it. I sent it to Geoff. The next day (deadline day) I edited it one last time and then, before heading out the door last night, I hit send. And then I sat back and dissolved into jelly.

Okay, that last bit didn’t happen, but it sure felt like it.

And that was all that I wrote. And it may be for a while now. I’ve struggled these last few months; home plus work plus writing is starting to make things a little jumbled. With the anthology stories done and sent in, with the Flash Fiction contests that boosted my interested in writing slowly falling one-by-one, it feels like a good time to take a break.

It’s not quitting. It’s not lazy. It’s stepping back and looking for that thing that made me enjoy getting ideas down, that burst of characters and places and stories flowing from my head and onto the page. I feel like I’ve used up everything in my head now.

I’m running on empty.

I’m not going anywhere. The blog is still going to go up weekly (I have it all planned to the end of this year and into the start of the next. And this Friday sees the last ever Flash Friday Flasheversary contest, the big bang finale to the place that started it all for me. I hope I can bring my ‘A’ game just one last time.

Fingers crossed I can return stronger, make next year ‘the’ year. Only time will tell. Whatever happens, I hope you look forward to anthology 3 when it hits next year. I’ll keep you posted while you read/re-read the first two volumes (links above).

Until then, keep reading and keep writing.

See you in seven.

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