prose

Popping my NaNoWriMo Cherry, Kind of…

University is a place of growth. I certainly have grown as a person, though not in height, unfortunately, and it’s only natural that my writing too would grow, in quality (I hope) and in length.

Primarily I’m a flash fiction writer. I know this, and embrace this, but I knew that I would never have as much time to explore different forms of writing and to develop myself as much as I do now, so I challenged myself to write longer prose and prose poetry. I can do this now, I think; the poetic lyricism yet striking nature of prose poetry and the length and power of short stories do not intimidate me.

It’s only natural that I attempt to acquire the skills necessary to tackle the behemoth of form: the novel. This year I’m studying a Researching and Planning an Extended Piece of Prose module and, though I could work on a collection of short stories, I really want to write a novel.

I want to learn how to take a character and an idea I could normally condense into 500, and sometimes much less, and expand and develop their world into a piece of fiction much longer than I have ever done before.

For some of you reading this you’ll be thinking ‘pffft, this is easy’, but when you’ve spent so long writing shorter pieces you get used to writing with such concision, leaving so much unwritten for the reader to feel for themselves, that you forget, or struggle, to write something beyond a few hundred words.

I know this will be a challenge for me and I believe NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) can help me achieve this. I’m vaguely aware of some type of website people use to interact with each other and discuss their novel, which I think is great, but it’s not for me. I have a lot of other studying to do, so Distraction does not need extra opportunities to hold me tight in its claws.

So I’m popping my NaNoWriMo cherry, kind of…because I started writing the first draft of my novel a few days before. Cheeky, I know, but as writers we all know that if it’s there in your head you need to get it down on paper, physical or virtual, before it disappears into the deepest shadows of our minds forever.

But here’s the good news: the first day I started writing my novel I wrote in excess of 3000 words! This may not sound a lot to most novel writers but for someone whose longest piece of fiction was roughly 2200 words I was numb with disbelief. Of course, first drafts are always nonsense, so maybe only 50 words may survive in some form, nevertheless it filled me with the feeling that maybe I can do this.

I plan to write a lot of the novel over November and, hopefully, December too, and want to write a minimum of 1000 words per day. Before NaNoWriMo I had around 4000 words, so 34,000 words after NaNoWriMo sounds grand to me: roughly halfway to the approximate word count I think it will be. So it’s more like National Half a Novel Writing Month for me!

Oh, and this definitely doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing flash fiction! I will always have a fondness for flash fiction and the things they can do that novels can’t.

To everyone reading this: whether you’re embarking on NaNoWriMo, developing on a WIP, redrafting a manuscript or anything at all, whatever your project is I wish you the best of luck!

‘The LGBouTiQue’ to be Published in Gay Flash Fiction!

My flash fiction, ‘The LGBouTiQue’, has been accepted for publication by Gay Flash Fiction and will be published in the upcoming weeks.

Labels are something that I feel is an important part of the LGBT community, though “labels” is possibly not the right term. Depending on the individual these labels or definitions for want of a better term can be a form of freedom, a little word that allows one to understand oneself better, but for others it can be confusing; what if the label doesn’t fit, doesn’t suit you, feels odd to wear. No matter, there is only one label that everyone should feel comfortable with, the only label required regardless of sexual orientation, gender, or any other characteristics: me. This is what I wanted to write about in ‘The LGBouTiQue’. It’s about a character who feels as though they need to find the right fit, only to understand that as long as they’re happy with and in themselves that’s all what is important. I’m in no position to argue with other peoples’ realities, but if I can speak for myself, being comfortable with the person you are is of the utmost importance. This can affect people in so many different ways as we try to seek a way of shaping ourselves to meet the conventions of society, communities, or these “labels”, and for some people that works, but as long as you like the person staring back at you in the mirror that’s what matters.

I like the person staring back at me when I look in the mirror, flaws and all.

I chose Gay Flash Fiction to submit this story to because I liked the flash fiction they published. I also admire their ethos: ‘We showcase flash fiction and poetry which is GLBTQI friendly, and has a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Intersex theme.’ You should definitely check out the flash fiction they’ve published, and consider submitting your own. I’ll post the link when ‘The LGBouTiQue’ is published; I’m looking forward to seeing it online with so many great stories.

‘I’m Growing My New Boyfriend in a Petri Dish’ Published in Flash Frontier today!

Today my flash fiction ‘I’m Growing My New Boyfriend in a Petri Dish’ was published in the September 2015 issue of Flash Frontier, which was on the theme of science. You can read my story, and other wonderful flashes, by following this link here.

Here’s what the two guest editors, Kathy Fish and Tania Hershman, have to say about this issue:

Guest Editors Kathy Fish and Tania Hershman on this issue:

Tania and I share a love of science (though Tania’s more knowledgeable that I am), so our “theme” presented itself immediately. I was very curious to see what flash writers would do with the theme in such limited space. We received a fascinating mix and they were great fun to read. I especially enjoyed the stories where the writer allowed her imagination free rein. And when the writing itself was striking, so much the better! We went through two rounds of reading the 77 submissions we received for this issue and made some difficult decisions, but trust you’ll enjoy the mix of science themed stories we have selected for this issue of Flash Frontier!
-Kathy Fish
*

What I am always looking for, but especially with very very short stories, is a piece that marries a compelling story with a love for language, one that grips me from the very start and never lets me go. Yes, even a 250-word flash story can become baggy in the middle! When it comes to fiction inspired by science, here I wanted to be delighted by an original take on a scientific topic, one not constrained by fact but where imagination was let loose – plus the above-mentioned story and love for language. An idea is not enough, you have to find a way to involve the reader in the story, make us feel. I was thrilled by how many submissions we got, and how varied they were – although for quite a few writers science was something done at school and never since! Between us we chose, we hope, a variety of styles and approaches, but all great stories, all not just fitting themselves into the length constraints but celebrating brevity, using it to tell a story that would become an entirely different animal if longer, and often sliding in some science with playfulness. Thank you to all those who submitted, keep playing with science!

-Tania Hershman

It is wonderful to be in this edition of Flash Frontier and to have had my story selected by two incredible flash fiction writers I admire. ‘I’m Growing My New Boyfriend in a Petri Dish’ as a title gives you, I believe, a taster of what to expect from the flash, but I do encourage you to check it out! I’m particularly proud of this flash, and I hope you enjoy it as much as Kathy and Tania did to select it for Flash Frontier.

‘Backspace’ to be Published in the Journal of Microliterature!

A micro-fiction of mine called ‘Backspace’ has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Microliterature. The editor said they were thrilled to be able to accept a piece of my writing in their journal, but the pleasure is all mine. It’s a great online journal featuring tiny tales.

‘Backspace’ is about all the things that we think we’re powerful enough to say behind a computer screen but decide not to. Intrigued? Well you’ll need to wait until January to read it…something to look forward to in the new year!

Why not check out the Journal of Microliterature by following this link here.

‘Stuck’ and ‘Caught’ Published in Unbroken Journal, and why I write Prose Poetry (sometimes).

Today my first prose poems to be accepted for publication, ‘Stuck’ and ‘Caught’, have been published in Unbroken Journal, in their Autumn / Halloween special for 2015.

I enjoy writing and reading flash fiction and prose poetry. What I’m not about to share with you are what I believe to be the difference between the two forms (there are plenty of debates already out there online) but what I will share with you is why I like writing both flash fiction and prose poetry.

You see, I never really liked writing poetry and I (still) don’t know why; perhaps I can’t get my head around the technicalities, or hear where the line breaks should be. I loved immersing myself in the reading of poetry, but I’d never been a lover of writing the stuff until I discovered prose poetry.

Writing prose poetry comes with its own challenges and also, for me, a release that I don’t tend to achieve writing flash fiction. In both writing prose poetry and flash fiction I get to release something. When I write flash fiction, or any other prose for that matter, I’m able to bring to life a story that’s more often than not imaginary, completely fictional, though not always. When I write prose poetry, however, I feel I’m able to tap into a part of me that fiction doesn’t allow; prose poetry allows me explore my emotions yet retain a certain element of ambiguity.

Are my prose poems autobiographical, then? Potentially, in some ways maybe, yes, and no. Inspired by something real is perhaps more accurate; an atom of something experienced and how that made me feel, you could say.

Back to ‘Stuck’ and ‘Caught’. I’m very happy that these two poems have been published together. If you read them, which I hope you do, or even from reading this blog post, you may think both poems are very similar. In a way they are; they were inspired by the same thing, but what (I hope) distinguishes them (other than the poems themselves) are the titles. ‘Stuck’ suggests you’re somewhere where you don’t want to be, whereas ‘Caught’ implies capture. Okay, this sounds the same still. I think what I’m trying to say (and not very eloquently I know) is that they come from different perspectives of the same thing; ‘Caught’ being more spellbinding, and ‘Stuck’ being more hopeless, empty.

Anyway, read them for yourself. I haven’t finished reading the full issue yet, but what I have read is incredible. I love this journal, having read previous issues, and am very happy to say that I have two more prose poems, ‘Midnight Sky in Winter’ and ‘Tessellation’, due to be published in their next two upcoming issues.

You can read both poems by following this link here – Unbroken Journal. You’ll notice it’s a double-page spread – yes that does make me feel very special! The photos accompanying my prose poems are beautiful, and really capture an essence of what they’re about. I hope you enjoy them and the other writing featured in this great journal!