Today’s tune is from the former drummer of Razorlight, Andy Burrows. He’s been doing solo stuff for a few years now but I’ve only come across it recently. This song is entitled Shanking the Colour and is from his album Company.
Current chain of writing days: 12
Over the weekend I competed in a writing challenge. I haven’t done many of these, usually I take the time to write whatever I want with the intention of maybe submitting it to magazines and the like. The challenge was Sci-Fi London 48hr flash fiction challenge and required the writer to write a story of 2000 words or less within 48 hours, with each writer being given a title for their story, a line of dialogue to include, and an optional scientific idea to base their story around. I haven’t written a lot of flash fiction but from the stuff I’ve read it’s a whole different kind of writing. You’ve got such a small amount of space to fit a whole story in that you need to be really selective with your words. To be honest, it’s not too dissimilar from screenwriting where you have to get straight to the point but still try to make it sound natural. With more standard prose though you have a bit more time and room to play with your words.
Seeing as how I’m an Australian and this was an English competition my title and dialogue arrived at around 9 pm Saturday night, London’s Saturday morning. I hadn’t planned to start writing that night, figuring I would just use my whole Sunday to write the piece, and I had already done a large chunk of writing during the day to finish off another short story I’ve been working on. However, as soon as I read my clues ideas started to swarm and I knew if I didn’t write them down I wouldn’t be able to sleep. So, that’s what I did. I got about half the story written before I finally called it a night. The first thing I did when I woke up Sunday morning was to pull my laptop over to me and continue. By around 11am, I was done.
I think the reason this story came out as quickly and organically as it did was because of the limitations set upon me. While sometimes this can be a crux, in this instance it provided direction. Given the title, inclusion of the dialogue, and the scientific idea, there was, to me, only one story that could be written. So, I simply wrote it. Obviously, there could actually be a multitude of stories written given a certain set of clues but that’s also where the last limitation, time, came in. Because I didn’t have the time to overthink, I didn’t. I wrote my story, asked the Lady Holly and Brother Jonathan to quickly give it a read and an edit, and then submitted it. Best of all though, I actually really liked what I wrote. It was fast and sharp and reminded me just how much you can say with a smaller amount of words. Hopefully it’ll be selected but even if it doesn’t it was definitely an exercise well worth completing, and I’ll be sure to have my eye out for similar ones. I also found out after submitting that one of the judges was Mike Carey, the author of the novel The Girl With All The Gifts as well as the writer of one of my favourite graphic novels, Lucifer. The fact that a writer I look up to will be forced to read my words is already a win.
If it does get selected it will be published in New Scientist magazine, as well as come with some prize money, and if it doesn’t I’ll be sure to publish the story here.
Remember; sometimes we’re the tree, sometimes we’re it’s shadow, and sometimes we’re the sun.