I am a full-time, Sydney-based housewife and former Special Snowflake attempting to pull my life together and feel vaguely like an adult. I think my future lies in writing and editing so I’m currently testing the waters in that area to see if it sticks. I suspect I will always wonder what I am going to be when I grow up. I also suspect it’s going to be an interesting journey regardless.
So, great story. How did you get there from the prompt and bookends? I often find myself writing quite dark stuff when I attempt fiction so was actively trying to aim for something uplifting this week. At first glance it looked like it would be easy. I tend to see what kind of vibe the photo prompt gives me and then just start writing from the first bookend and let the story lead me to the end. It was hard thinking of something non-cliche with that opening “Peace” but then the phrase “peace out” came to mind and the image of the festival appeared. I knew I wanted a baby-wearing mother in there but needed a twist to add interest. I suffer from depression myself, and know many women who struggled with post-partum depression, so wanted to approach the mixed feelings that babies can cause when their birth isn’t completely joyous (as a contrast to the pleasant afternoon this mother was outwardly having). At the end of the day, those feelings can be conquered – or at least managed – so that was the uplifting message implied in the “prize” of focussing on heart and the determination to overcome adversity.
100 words ain’t many. How do you fit a story into so few words? It’s hard! I have a natural tendency towards excessive verbosity in my writing and love a good run-on sentence (as you can see from this very sentence here, which is almost as long as the story was), so editing out unnecessary and redundant words is key. I’m still re-learning the craft of writing as an adult and currently wrapping my head around the concept of “show, don’t tell.” It really becomes key in a challenge like this. My first draft generally has at least 150 words, which I then whittle down to the core ideas.
Why do you like flash fiction? I enjoy working within the restrictions. As someone who is often paralysed by choice and quickly felled by decision fatigue it is really quite freeing to have the parameters of a creation dictated by others. Plus it’s a challenging puzzle packing a proper story into so few words. Flash fiction has drastically improved my writing by making me more conscious of word choice and pacing. And it’s just so darn FUN!
Been writing long? I’ve always found writing therapeutic but have only been writing in a public forum for a few months. Prior to having children I was attempting a post-graduate degree in musicology and writing course materials and papers and such but that was seven years ago now. I’m pretty rusty.
You write anything else? Just my blog, The Making of Mediocre Meg, where I document my attempts to get my life in order and muse on various issues and roadblocks that come up. Fun for all the family!
Any advice for other flash writers? Let the story take control and run with it. If it’s not enjoyable you’re doing it wrong.
Any interesting writerly projects in the pipeline? None at the moment, but hopefully there will be big things ahead. I’m open to collaborations if anyone wants a second head to throw things at…
I just finished reading a book. Can you recommend another? I recently read Severance, the first novel by regular cracked.com columnist Chris Bucholz. It is good, solid sci-fi with great humour and a kick-ass, fully fleshed out female protagonist who I desperately want to hang out with in real life somehow. Best thing I’ve read in ages. Next on my list is The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer. I saw her talk at the Sydney Writers’ Festival just this evening and it was truly inspiring. I’ve always been a big fan of her music and suspect I will love her book too.
“Peace out, brah!”
The passing exchange startled her from her doze.
Happy festival-goers buzzed about in slanting afternoon sunlight, the constant background hum of conversation punctuated by drumbeats and snatches of melody. Laughter and incense mingled in the air as the bundle wrapped tightly to her chest squirmed and resettled mid-slumber.
Depression did not run in her family. Yet the black fog that settled after the birth of her child was unmistakable. She looked at his dear little hand with a mixture of guilt and self-loathing: she longed to love this child!
“One day, I will,” she whispered, holding her heart like a hard-won prize.