As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been sending short stories out to magazines this year, in the hope of building up a portfolio of credits, not to mention to validate my assertion that “I am a writer”.
You may remember my frustration at receiving so many rejections. But what are rejections, if not slightly painful stabs of encouragement? Rejections are just psychologically damaging bullets of motivation, right? Sure, they hurt, but they drive you to improve.
I enter a flash fiction competition every Friday. I do this for a variety of reasons:
1.) It’s fun.
2.) I meet other writers.
3.) I hone my craft
4.) It generates ideas.
My latest effort was limited to 150 words. That’s not a lot if you hope to include compelling characters, potent plot lines, convincing dialogue and rich descriptions all in the one piece.
Therefore, often, you have to focus on one or two aspects of a story – the idea, the conflict, the character, the prose.
Last Friday’s prompt was inspired by the Iliad, which I studied in my sixth-form Classics A-Level. I’ve always loved Homer – I’ve got old drafts of “Modern Odyssey” story ideas that I was toying with as a 17-year-old fiction smith.
Paul punishes his keyboard. He hammers the keys, as though this manifest hate might translate into binary. His yellowing teeth grind like marbles in a bag; his brow pulled taut, head pounding. How is the world so blind?
His face can’t contain his anger – it strains and twists and flexes, a nightmare of sinewed spleen. Pop!… A trickle seeps from one nostril, pitter-patters on the desk. He blinks blood-shot eyes, blistered and blurred through pink-tinged tears.
He doesn’t notice when his fingers start to bleed, worn away with hate on antisocial media, staining the letters red and muddy brown. He doesn’t stop to ease the pain when flesh gives way to bone, and thump, thump, thump becomes click, click, clack.
Why won’t they listen? Paul guffaws in disbelief. Hate spits from his lips onto the screen, glistening red, blue and green.
My exposé of the most insidious
deception in human history
By Thomas Harrison, reporter, Channel 4 News
It is with a clear conscience that I endure the world’s venomous loathing. My actions, heinous to so many of you, were made in good faith, and with pure intentions. I offer no apology for the havoc I have supposedly reaped upon our planet.