Tag Archives: Short story

Reads of the Day: Writing and Working

There have been a bunch of articles the last few days that I’ve been waiting to read, but due to other commitments haven’t got round to. Finally I have caught up and I see a trend. The following are links that lead to musings on writing, so if you’re not that way inclined, tough luck.

“It’s because it’s hard work a lot of the time, and when it gets hard it’s never more important to stick with it, and good writers know this.” — This speaks right to me, seeing as I am, generally, a very grumpy kind of guy.

“And the shorter format, writers say, is a good fit for the small screens that people are increasingly using to read.” — Just when I start to make serious headway on short form, too.

“So even if short story collections were enjoying a boom in sales at the moment, there’s no reason — or at least no reason the Times’ piece presents — to conclude that digital publishing has played any role in that (nonexistent) phenomenon.” — Oh, a response.

“And yes, we can put a lot of the blame on the skewed priorities of publishers and ask why they don’t hold the written word as sacred.” — Freelancing is the reality; make it a living.

“Unfortunately, my mind is neither slow nor steady; it is erratic, sometimes bursting, sometimes dormant.” — I am SO this way inclined.

“‘Well, I’ll tell you a story,’ the fisherman said. And then he proceeded to do quite the opposite.” — On injecting story into non-fiction.

 

And finally, a little news piece on working in the CREATIVE arts in Australia.

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Friday Fiction: Afraid of Flying

The prompt I used for this piece insisted on my first flying experience. I, however, decided to explore another angle of the flying experience: One’s first fall:

We were over the Northern Territory when it happened. Almost over the water. It had been such a peaceful flight—no children, and plenty of spare seats to stretch out over. I think I was drinking my third or fourth scotch and dry. All I remember is taking a sip and choking as the cabin blew apart.

I suppose it’s lucky there were so few people on the flight. A red eye trip to Singapore to pick up more passengers before heading onwards to Europe. I’d done it dozens of times before. Going overseas was nothing. I know so many people who never leave Australia, except maybe to go to New Zealand or Tasmania, and they don’t count. It had become such a droll experience.

I remember standing in the line to board and feeling entirely nonchalant and seeing the nervous chattiness of the people around me. Families and lovers all moving closer together as if they could see their impending doom, or at least feel it. Humans are instinctive like that.

It’s a good thing we are or I wouldn’t have survived and I’d be just another body under mounds of fuselage and the search crews wouldn’t find me for days and my family would be holding on to hope only to be even more disappointed. As it is it’s like I’m the second coming of Jesus, a miracle. I just grabbed on to whatever was closest at the time and didn’t let go.

It’s isn’t true, that whole time-slowing, or life-flashing. No, everything happens very quickly and you barely have time to take notice of anything before it’s all over. One minute we’re all quite happy, the next there is the howling of the wind and I’m flying. Truly flying, no strings attached. I must have blacked out at some stage, but for the briefest of moments I can recall falling. Like Icarus, I had too much confidence in the contraption that carried me.

No one can explain the exact physics of how I survived. The best anyone can come up with is that the shock of impact was nullified by whatever plane materials were between me and the building I hit. The family that lived in said building was killed so that I may survive. I really don’t think it was worth it.

Now I’m in hospital, with a couple of broken bones and a collapsed lung, but altogether rather fine. The only survivor. It’s times like this you want to believe in a God, or that you lived for a higher purpose. But I’m not so easily fooled.

I went for a flight, it crashed, and I survived. That’s it, there isn’t any more.

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Friday Fiction: Bit of Horror

It’s been far, far too long between blog posts. The three or so weeks before Christmas were crazy at work: Typical busy period compounded with a severe lackof staff. Barely had a day off, and as a result there was little willpower left with which to write.

But now Christmas is over and I can get back into the swing of things. I’ve been maintaining my Writer’s Devotional and keeping up with The List. I have also started researching my virtual communities book again, and should get back to my novel in the New Year.

To the writing of the moment, a spooky piece of prose. Enjoy.

I hit the switch, run towards the bed, and jump. I imagine some leviathan’s claw swiping at where my feet were moments before, only to flap uselessly at the air. I have outwitted the beast, again.
Landing hard and bouncing a little, I scramble under the covers, enveloped in darkness and then again in the physicality of my sheets. I am safe for another night. The cupboards are closed, the door ever so slightly ajar, and my stuffed animals in a protective line against whatever evils may assail me in the night.
My eyes flutter closed, which is when I hear it. A constant wickering, an incessant scrabbling in the walls. Or in the roof. Maybe emanating from the cupboards themselves. I draw the covers closer.
The noise continues, slight variations as if some creature is stopping and sniffing the night air, sniffing out fear. They can smell fear, whatever they are. But I can’t help it. Everything I’ve ever dreaded is coming true.
Ever since I was a child I knew this day would come. I thought I was so prepared, had worked out every way to avoid the abyss. Whatever has come will find me, and I will be finished.
But not without me seeing it’s face, not unless I stare it and confront it. That is the least I can submit to.
I gingerly place a foot on the carpeted floor, swoop out from under my bedsheets. Through the darkness  I make my way towards the door. The sound gets louder, and images flash before me, all too terrifying to describe. I am almost paralysed by the possibilities that lie beyond, and I feel as if time stops; I am halted in that blackness, the sliver of light mere inches away, but feeling like miles.
My hand clasps the handle, and I wrench the door open. Light blinds me for a moment, but when my eyes adjust, there is no beast, no hideous monster waiting for me with clacking claws and slavering jaws.
There is only the fan, it’s rotation off, a loose screw nestled at my feet. The noise continues as I slip back into sleep, now a comfort rather than a terror.

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Friday Fiction: Or Fact?

Fiction and fact go hand-in-hand. It’s a paradox, but they feed each other. Here’s a little story that may be a little personal, but it’s all in the perspective. Read on:

 

Mrs Bovran loved the first day of school. It was particularly enriching because she taught Year 1—the first ‘first’ day. She moved around the classroom, flitting from parent to parent, introducing herself, her smile constant, her eye contact strong, a bee with an over-abundance of flowers. She was in her element.

A few of the youngsters were bawling, wails and tears drowning the whole room in noise. It was always tough, the first day. Her first day had been a nightmare—not the kids, the teachers. It had been hard back then, but she had made it work. For her love of the children.

One little boy seemed quite stalwart when faced with retreating parents. They departed quietly, not a murmur or whimper to be heard from the child. Mrs Bovran marvelled, quite fascinated; had she had been blessed with a strong student?

Time moved on, and eventually all the adults left. It was just her and the kids. The tears had stopped (though there were still a few wet cheeks) and Mrs Bovran proceeded to give the students their first task. She always started with a colouring exercise, as this seemed to be the most comforting activity.

Taking her place at the Desk, she waited for the kids to finish and come to show her their work. One by one they came to have their efforts approved, followed by a new mission.

All except the boy who hadn’t cried.

Mrs Bovran noticed that he wasn’t doing his work, just looking around with a worried look on his face. Perhaps this was his nervousness finally coming out, Mrs Bovran thought. Maybe he wasn’t as strong as she had presumed. Fear had different ways of presenting itself, but Mrs Bovran was happy to help the children overcome it.

She invited the boy up to her desk.

“What’s wrong, Wally?” she asked.

No response. The child shifted nervously, meeting her eyes briefly, but not offering an answer. After a few more attempts she let Wally stand at her desk, in the hopes it would make him feel better.

Poor boy.

Minutes passed, the students lined up past Wally waiting for Mrs Bovran to approve their work.

And then, a noise.

A very loud noise. Mrs Bovran looked up. It sounded like a burst pipe. But then, screams.

The girls in line were screaming; the boys were laughing.

Little Wally had urinated. In his pants. Right there next to Mrs Bovran’s desk.

The teacher sighed, and went to call the cleaners.

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Friday Fiction: Final Freedom

I have to stop with the alliteration. It might start coming across as forced. I do find it to be the most beautiful form of rhyme.

Here’s my bit of fiction for the week, based on a writing prompt about, you guessed it, freedom. It’s a little dark, but that happens from time to time.

The land of the free. What a load of hogwash that is. Free to do as business and government and censorship let us. Free to walk the streets at night; free to be mugged and beat.

Nothin’s free these days.

The word sucks us in. Companies use it to lure the hungry into shopping malls, watching on cameras, rolling their finger tips together with greed, the trap sprung before the poor sucker is aware. Hell, you see those “Free 2 Play” videogames the media is bangin’ on about? What a joke. Games are about winning, and you can’t win nothin’ unless you pay. Your time or your money, it amounts to the same thing.

Governments the world over are striving for democracy. We’re free to vote—or not—and that’s real freedom!

Nah, sorry.

You see, we’re played with, strung along. What greater purchase is there than having your favourite brand leading the way? Christ, I mean campaigns are worse than Christmas, with the flashy lights, endless slogans, the piles and piles of money that go on behind the scenes.

And what about the mother of all freedom: Speech, our words, and thoughts, and ideas, and philosophies? That’s the last damn freedom you want because somebody, anybody, will come along as soon as you’ve expressed it and grind it into the dirt.

And of course, they’re free to do that.

It’s like a game of Snap—cards on top of each other until someone gets their grubby palm and smacks it down on top. It’s mine, all mine!

There’s one freedom I truly appreciate, but even it’s tainted. The freedom to bear arms. Bastards still make us get a licence. I have the freedom to defend myself, the freedom to carry a weapon at all times. But I don’t cherish it enough.

I don’t cherish the false freedoms afforded to me.

There’s only one freedom left.

And no one can take it away from me.

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