flash fiction

Writing Dare: Quiver of Arrows

I found a quiver of arrows in the forest. What the hell? It’s 2015.
I never learned archery, perhaps this was a sign from the fates to start. I stowed them in my messenger bag and searched around for any clues to the previous owner. Nothing.
I continued walking oblivious that someone was watching me. Discovering a clearing, I placed a blanket down next to a stream and started reading. Several pages in, I heard someone emerge from behind the trees.
“You have something that belongs to me.”
I handed them over, what an unusual way to make friends.

Story Bandit:

Paragraph Planet

Thanks to Becky Spence of Evening Scribbles, I discovered a fun site, Paragraph Planet, that accepts 75 word pieces.
I decided to write something for submission and excited to say it was accepted and featured for Friday (Nov. 21), which due to time zone differences, has already begun.  Please check out my “quietly atmospheric” piece here Paragraph Planet.

She Didn’t

© Image by L.A. Lanier

© Image by L.A. Lanier

She Didn’t
Her fingernails were a prized asset of her hands.
They added the elegance she often lacked, but required maintenance she loathed.
The teenager retrieved her clippers and file.
“To manicure, or not to manicure?” She chuckled and turned on the flat screen TV. An hour went by. She still hadn’t touched her nails. She glanced at them, shrugged, and leaned back on her sofa.
She felt an itch in her nose and rubbed it. It didn’t go away.
She stuck her finger inside her nostril and dug around.
“OW!” She yanked her finger out, the tip was bright red.
“Seriously, right now?” She looked at the screen for a few seconds, then for something to plug up her nose until the next commercial break. She found a paper towel. Cramming and twisting it in, she believed the nose bleed would cease. At commercial, she forgot to check her state of affairs. Before she knew it, the show was back on. She felt a warmness on her upper lip. She removed the piece of paper towel and a mini river flowed down.
“Holy SHIT!” She ran to the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror with tissues. She dabbed and packed one into her nasal cavity. Hoping, even praying, it would stop. She pinched near the bridge of her nose and waited. She eased the tissue out, approached the mirror, and peered in. Some blood had dried around the opening, and further back seemed to be coagulating. She gave a sigh of relief, and proceeded to use a fresh moistened tissue to wipe away the dried blood. She sniffed, an involuntary reflex, and felt warmness inside her nose again.
“Oh for Pete’s sake!” It was slow coming out, but still it came. She tried the method all over again. Then looked at the waste basket to see how much blood she’d lost. She counted seven tissues plus the paper towel.
“Next time, I’ll just cut my freaking fingernails.”

Partying

622px-Cornelis_van_Kittensteyn_(after_Dirck_Hals)_A_party.jpg

Partying
We headed down to the car. My stomach rumbled. Not again I thought to myself.
“Hey do you think you could wait a minute, I need to go to the bathroom.”
“Okay, but are you alright?” I nodded and went back to the apartment.
I felt like I was going to either shit my pants or throw up. I sat on the toilet once the queasiness subsided. Nothing happened, as usual. I went back to the car and smiled while apologizing for the delay.
We were on our way.
My body trembled as if it were 40 degrees out, but it was the middle of summer. Cars lined the street and some were pulling up behind us.
“Ready to head to the door Mere?”
“Sure.”
Music greeted us before we were close enough to knock. The door opened and Andrew looked happy to see us.
“Come on in guys, keg’s in the back, jello shots and spirits in the kitchen. Help yourselves. Oh and pizza will be arriving soon too if you’re hungry.”
He was a good host and even though I’d known him for a couple of years. It never changed anything. Even though these people weren’t total strangers. I could barely function.
I fixed myself a rum and coke and took a few sips. Andrew came back in to check on me and prepare some shots.
“Want to take one with us M?”
I agreed and immediately felt more at ease.
“Maybe someday, I won’t need this.”

Friday Phrasings & Second POV

For this Friday Phrases, I decided to test out using second person narrative in micro fiction. I cannot say it’s a point of view I consider often. It seems kind of natural to do, but simultaneously awkward. It resulted in a series of Tweets, but here it is all together.

You stare in the mirror, refocusing your eyes. Sweat from outside maps paths down your face. Is this person on the prowl?
You ponder & head back out into the night. In the middle of September it shouldn’t be over 90 degrees nor this muggy.
A passing glance catches her approaching. She smiles as if she’s a reincarnated 20 year old Lauren Bacall.
Hello, is what you want to say, but only silence hangs in the air. You pass each other. She looks back. The moment lost.

I was aiming for each snippet as a stand alone Tweet, and I think it worked. I have presented the lines  in the way they appeared for Twitter. I also did another haiku as I find those a fun and interesting way to convey things with obvious limitations.

Oh sultry evenings
Long for Canadian cold
Next time I’ll stay there

I may toy around more with second person in micro or flash fiction, and see what I really think of it.
What are your thoughts on this tricky narrative? If you have any or references, please feel free to leave them via comments 🙂

Friday Phrases

Last Friday, I (@TheSquibbler) participated in the Twitter event Friday Phrases for the first time. My first tweet was a simple “haiku,”

A variety
She has gained, of donuts sweet
Plus three, gluttony? #FP

Followed by another light-hearted poem:

Hundreds of tiny corpses
pushed to the street with broom
while thousands of little bodies watched on,
not wanting to go too soon. #FP

I have to admit, it was exciting  to take part in something that immediately puts a taste of your writing out there and so many others join in on. There’s a sense of community, but also no judgment. It’s all in the spirit of fun, writing and creativity. Professional, amateur and those in between (or even non writers) take to their Twitters weekly. Some get lost in it for a couple of hours or come back to it throughout the day. Others choose to tell longer stories in serial tweet form. Nearly anything is fair game, as long as it’s within 140 characters or less. So there’s no pressure, which I am a huge fan of,  although having a little added stress can cause creativity, it just seems to be a different kind of creative.  As to the pieces themselves, many grabbed my attention as I scrolled the feed. Some of my favorites were probably the stories, and I saw more of them during the latter part of the day. Some were funny, while others touched on drama or horror. Pretty much covering all genres. I look forward to what writings will appear tomorrow (or later tonight for the people who get a jump on it).

This week, I plan to double the amount of tweets and will consider other hashtagged events for micro fiction and/or poetry. It’s nice to continue adding more in my life that encourages writing. So, if you have a Twitter and weren’t already aware of it, perhaps you can give FridayPhrases a go, and see what it does for your writing and/or creativity. If nothing else, have fun!

Word Limits and Challenges

For most of my writing experience, I have had difficulty being concise. The more casual the situation, the longer my paragraphs would become. Whether this was mainly from insecurity in my abilities to articulate, my points or opinion, without being misunderstood, or needing to polish skills is hard to say. The reality is probably a combination of the two. However, having insecurities seeped into my creative writing as well. To paraphrase Sylvia Plath, self-doubt is pretty much creativity’s arch nemesis.

I was afraid I could do well. Afraid things wouldn’t make sense to someone else, and just afraid to even try. These fears resulted in numerous half-assed attempts at short stories, poems, and novels.

In the last three years or so, I discovered Flash Fiction, but I didn’t think I could write any pieces. “How could I ever have a complete story with essentially a paragraph?”  Then finally, I tried it. I started off doing pieces around the 500 word range. Fortunately, I found an online group for this and while 250 was the ideal goal, I needed to start somewhere. The other contributors didn’t mind me working my way down the word count, and eventually I was able to easily compose pieces within 200-300 words that I was happy to share and could be proud of.

But the challenges don’t end there. Some short-short stories are written within 100 words. That notion still somewhat astounds me, triggering self-doubt. As a way to combat this, I’ve decided to focus on writing poetry and recently worked on three separate pieces at 100 words each. While I found it difficult to achieve this, being able to do it has been far more rewarding. I’ve also been looking at using more short styled techniques with poetry as an additional challenge to myself. Working within such rigid parameters has allowed my creativity to flourish more than times where I think hmm, “I should try to write a poem today” or consider any other things I want to work on. If that makes me “less creative” or less capable as a writer, I’m not sure I care. For now I’ll continue to find ways of utilizing limitations to push myself to keep writing.