Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Books I've read...

I will be updating this area (and the blogs area too) when I have a moment. I've got a lot on at work catching up after knackering my back, and I haven't been reading much new material lately (buying - yes; reading - no!).

Instead I've been re-reading some of my comfort reads. You know the ones - you don't have to concentrate too hard and they leave you feeling as if you've had a great big hug, you're wrapped in a warm blanket and you've just drunk a huge mug of hot chocolate (that didn't make you feel sick) all at once. Which would probably be really messy if you did it all at once in real-life but as this is just a metaphor* it's ok. No spilt hot chocolate or first degree burns.

*Who knew that there were so many elements to the metaphor - we won't go into when I last did grammar but I'm sure we didn't cover all of these then.

Flash in the pan?

I've lately been sucked into the joy-of-flash. Flash fiction that is.

I've entered two pieces in the Binnacle ultra-short competition, submitted one short piece to a magazine and now I'm working on 3 short pieces (well, really one short at 150 words and 2 ultra-short at 50 words apiece) for another writing competition that closes on Friday.

Considering the fact that I have problems finishing longer (i.e. novel-length) pieces, is the allure of flash the fact that it is so short and therefore it's rather difficult not to be able to finish a piece? Although shorter, it is certainly no easier to write as you are condensing as much of the essence of the story as you can into that brief collection of words and I find I have to remind myself that just because I, the writer, knows something - it doesn't always come out in the writing itself.

For example:

your character sends a radio signal to the sun, which takes c. 8.19 minutes to get there. (You just know I looked that one up don't you?) In your flash piece you may refer to that without taking the time (or using the word count) to explain that when your character says "Eight minutes there and back again, but how long between?" he's referring to the there and back again time of the signal and that he's wondering how long it will take the machinery at the other end of the signal to act on the instructions.

I know that's what I mean, because it was running in the back of my mind at the time I wrote the piece - but I've found that with flash pieces (especially those that come in under 200 words) that if it needs explaining (and my writer friends felt it did!) then you should leave it out/ change it - because in short pieces you don't have the 'room' to explain and a WTF?! moment half-way through a 150 word piece is not necessarily a good thing! (I've also found that, short pieces or not, it's extremely useful to have people you trust to ping ideas off as they can point out those WTF?! moments so you can check whether you want to leave them in or not).

I am enjoying writing flash and the feeling of achievement that finishing and submitting them creates can't be denied.

Even if they don't get selected for anything, even if they don't make a shortlist or warrant a 'thanks for your time' - the act of completing and submitting has done wonders for my self-confidence.

I can do this. Next time it'll be for something a bit longer, and the time after that for something longer still.

Mood: Productively happy

Listening to: Kelly Clarkson - "Behind these hazel eyes"