I understand that they are made to keep the writer limber, while not necessarily influencing them to write their next work. Kind of like if Dwayne Wade just jumped in from out of nowhere to join some pick up game at some YMCA in Minnesota.
I get that it's the literary equivalent to being poked with a stick, and without them, there would probably be no such thing as fan-fiction, #amwriting, or #NaNoWriMo. I'm a strong proponent of writing challenges. They're like being handed the guitar with the nod that says, "you're next" in the jam circle.
While I get that flash fiction doesn't exactly equal book deal, or legions of followers, I tend to have an issue with "killing my darlings" as it were. Maybe it was because I was brought up to not throw anything away, but I have a hard time just casting aside something that I made, regardless of whether it took me a couple of days or just a few minutes. Ideas are precious to me because most days they are in short supply, so while the subject for a writing challenge might be simple, I can't help but try and build something bigger from it.
I have two ideas for novels and one idea for a children's book either simmering gently in my head, or in various states of completion (or, non-completion) on my desk and on my cork board and in various blog posts. One novel was influenced by a Flash Fiction challenge thrown down by +Chuck Wendig, the other novel and the children's book were influenced by my daughter. I swore that one day...one day, I will return to these and see them through to their conclusion.
Now, thanks to the always wonderful +Tanya Miranda, I have another story idea to add to the list.
She has passed the guitar off to me, and asked me to participate in the Freestyle Writing Challenge. The prompt that she gave me was:
Your pet of many years suddenly speaks human. What does it say?Now, for reasons that will soon become evident, this is something that is kind of hitting close to home, as I'm sure that it will for some of you.
Rules and guidelines and such are listed below, but first, here is my offering...
“You needn't worry about me,”
A voice, old and raspy and gentle like a grandmother in her rocking chair drifted softly from the kitchen countertop.
“You have treated me well. Although I have not responded in kind to your hospitality, rest assured it has not gone unnoticed.”
The reflection from her eyes indicated an almost perpetual state of blindess. Drool mixed with blood leaked from her lips and danced at the end of her whiskers. She is at peace. At rest. And we both know the time is coming.
“Don’t worry that I have lost my appetite, rest is more important.”
“Wh...Why are you saying this?” I manage to leak out. “How are you talking? Could you always?”
“Yes, we all can.” She grins a Cheshire grin, alluding to ancient secrets. “We are all told not to by our mothers, just as theirs told them and so on. I only break that promise now, because my time is growing short.”
She stretches her full length, and almost stumbles in the process. Her ribs show through her ratty fur.
“You have saved my life.”
“Of course I have,” I counter as she lands hard on the floor, on all fours. “You and your brother chose me and I swore I would give you a long, comfortable life.”
“And you have, child. You have. I am all that is left of my family, and I am grateful for all you have done for me. I go now, but before I do, I will say that your generosity will not go unrewarded.”
She limps. Slowly limps to the darkest corner of the house and without looking back utters, “until the next time.”
We burried her the next night.
The following week, a scratch came at the door. It was a kitten. Fighting the pit I felt in my stomach, I reached down and asked, “I suppose you don’t talk either, right?”
A tiny ball of fluff winked back at me, walked inside and took up residence on our couch.
“I suppose you have a name?” I asked no one in particular.
“Sarah” was uttered through soft purrs of a sleeping kitten.
That's 359 words in 15 minutes. I hesitated. A lot. There were moments where I was typing, and I wanted to flesh out the scene further, allude to backgrounds a little deeper, see where the conversation went. See, it's things like this that make me want to get into better habits of finishing what I start. Although, it will probably just be added to my collection of WIPs. This was less letting go, and more turning something sad into something magical. It's a way of coping, I suppose.
With any luck, you, dear participant, will be influenced and want to take your own story forward. Here are the rules for participation:
- Open a new Document.
- Set a stopwatch or your mobile phone timer to 5, 10, or 15 minutes, whichever challenge you think you can beat.
- Your topic is at the foot of this post BUT DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH YOUR TIMER!!!
- Fill the word doc with as many words as you want. Once you start writing do not stop.
- Do not cheat by going back and correcting spelling and grammar using spell check (it’s only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules).
- You may or may not pay attention to punctuation or capitals. However, if you do, it would be best.
- At the end of your post write down ‘No. of words = ____” so that we would have an idea of how much you can write within the time frame.
- +Greg Strandberg
- +Michelle Stanley
- +Alana Munro
- +M. A. Barr (haven't seen anything from you in a while)
- +D Biswas
- +Dennis Lowery
- +Mike Raven
And, before I forget, here is your prompt:
That was the last time he would say that to anyone.
Good luck, have fun, and remember to pass the guitar to the left.
*Writing prompt courtesy of Adam Maxwell's Fiction Lounge.