Tag Archives: Inspiration

Friday Fiction – A Rare Kindness

For the last few weeks, my Friday Fiction entries have been a bit of fun – a nod to our beautiful hostess, Rochelle, and an admission from the heart of a struggling procrastinator. But this week, I wanted to go back to real story-writing. Then I saw the prompt from Erin Leary and it made me think of a couple of things. Initially, it reminded me of the third FF photo I ever responded to, but then it made me feel much bleaker and darker, helped no doubt by the fact I’m currently reading Cornell Woolrich’s ‘Four Novella’s of Fear’ and getting back in touch with my dark side.

It was the dark side that won out, and I’d love to hear her well (or not) this story works for you.

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A Rare Kindness

The weather is so rarely kind. But when I passed the spot next morning, I was pleasantly surprised. The rain in the night had fallen on saturated ground, there and upstream, and the field beside the road was now just more river. No evidence of my labours remained.

Tomorrow, perhaps, or next week, or next month, when the waters recede, her grave might be visible. The water might even reopen it and free her body the way I freed her soul. But for now, my crime escapes detection. And tomorrow I will be far enough away to do the same.

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The Story Behind The Stories

I know that some followers of this blog enjoy reading the story behind the stories I write, so here’s a bit of “process” for last week’s shorts. Spoiler Warning – if you haven’t read the stories, click on the titles and read them first!

Man, What Are You Doin’ Here?

When I saw this prompt, what sprung to mind was the joke which forms the final line of the story. It became the first line, and I imagined initially that it was said by an actor on stage. I envisaged a teenage girl, watching the play and not enjoying it. She was cynical and angry (aren’t a lot of teenagers?!) at the people laughing around her. I wondered why she was there, pondered her being on a bad date, or even being an escort. I added a leery older man beside her, his arm creeping around her shoulders… But the story didn’t go anywhere. It was too long to squash into 100 words and the short version just felt like a prurient snippet rather than a story.

I backed off, but kept the first line. It seemed like a corny joke, but what to do with it? I’ve done stories of Dad Jokes before, so I didn’t want to repeat that. When I hear bad jokes, I often feel like laughing even though they are terrible. And hence Miranda’s reaction was born. The bad date idea returned and I wrote the rest of the story right to the last line. But I wanted her to make a joke back to him, and the pedals line didn’t seem strong enough to end on. Jokes aren’t my forte and I couldn’t come up with anything better, so in the end I swapped the two jokes around, and I think it makes the story work better.

Curiosity Shop

The unhappy escort from the theatre was still in my head when I came to write my InMon story the next day. I liked the idea of someone going into a shop out of curiosity (rather than a shop full of curiosities) and the first few paragraphs came easily after that.

I wanted the girl’s name to tell us a lot about her, especially combined with her Mum’s outlook and behaviour. I hope I’ve made it clear enough that she’s from a rich family, but trying to make her own way in the world.

Having written most of the scene, though (up to the Dad with the credit card), I knew that Minty wasn’t a hooker, high- class or otherwise. But she was doing a job her Mum wouldn’t approve of, and working on the streets, so I wondered what else she could be doing? It came in a flash of inspiration (If the muse is on holiday, at least she’s sending postcards) and then all that was left was to craft the reveal.

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A World Of… continued

Apparently, the boys haven’t quite finished their argument…

“Anyway, it’s not an elegra… whatever you said,” Matty continued. “If you put the words together, you get el…gi…ti…zeli … elgitizeli!”

I was inclined to agree, but Luke is clever. And a perfectionist. If he’d picked a name for the creature he’d drawn, he’d have his reasons.

“No it wouldn’t, stupid.”

“Don’t call your brother stupid,” I said automatically, feeling stupid too.

“Those are all the head ends of the words,” Luke continued. “It’s got the middle of a tiger, so it needs the middle of the word. El…ra…ge…br…on.” He spelled it out slowly.

“Explain it to me like you’re talking to a four year old,” the guy in Philadelphia says. If he’d met my youngest, he’d have said “Explain it to me like you’re a six year old”.

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Friday Fiction – A Couple More

One of the amazing things about Friday Fiction is how many widely varied stories one prompt can produce. In the region of 100 writers respond to the prompt and while there is often some overlap in themes and subjects, there is always a huge spectrum among the pieces. I’m sure this week will be no exception.

What’s different this week is that the picture generated three very different ideas in my head, all of them crying out to be written. I posted my first story yesterday and commented there that I had other ideas. I’ve now had a chance to pen them into stories and I can’t even tell you for sure which is my favourite, but in case you are interested, here are the other two, all based on the same picture prompt.

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Justification 2

“She was beautiful. Gnarled, craggy and deformed, but absolutely beautiful.”

“So why do it?”

“It was her time.”

“Euthanasia? You’re telling me this was an act of kindness?”

“Absolutely. You’re too young to understand, but us old folks, there are some places we can’t stand to be.”

“You cut down a centuries-old tree because you didn’t want to hurt its feelings?”

“If I left her there, how’d she have coped? Concrete tower blocks all around; kids hanging swings from her lower branches; dogs crapping on her roots and pissing all over her bark… I couldn’t bear to see that happen.”

 

Loyalty

She’s always been there, shared everything: my first kiss with Lily Spacek, when she told me afterwards my sister paid her to do it; the time my brothers dared me to swing out over the creek and I came home with one missing tooth and a mouthful of blood; when Amy agreed to marry me and the tears I cried when our daughter was born.

That tree comforted me after Amy’s funeral and now they say it has to be cut down? Well, they can use it to make my coffin. Bury me with the best friend I ever had.

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Friday Fiction – Fibonacci’s Tower

I was very excited to discover that Rochelle chose my picture for this week’s prompt. I’m really looking forward to reading all the responses. My story is below the picture. I haven’t included edits this week (they weren’t very interesting). Instead, an explanation of my thoughts and inspiration follows the story. As ever, feedback – good or bad – feeds the muse, and you are very welcome to just read the story if you don’t have time for explanations!

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Fibonacci’s Legacy (Genre: Historical Fiction)

From a chair beside the best fruit stand in Pisa, Leonardo stared at the great campanile. Something wasn’t right. He stood on aching legs and walked towards it.  The tower was leaning, he realised: sloping towards the North.

He stopped to make a sketch in his notebook: a third stage, with each floor slightly taller on that side, correcting the problem as it grew.

Inside, he gazed up at the receding stairs with a smile. The tilt was not evident here. Instead, he was reminded of natural perfection – the population numbers of rabbits, or the spiral of a snail’s shell.

*  *  *  *  *

Notes:

The picture is actually taken inside a lighthouse on the Suffolk coast. I love lighthouses, and my friend, Joy, was kind enough to accompany me on a pilgrimage to this one. One of the things I love about them are the spiral staircases winding up the inside, and this one cried out for a photograph. Because of the equipment, I couldn’t take the photo square on, but I loved the effect this picture captured so I took it anyway.

Looking at it now, a few years later, I was reminded of a snail shell, which got me thinking about Fibonacci, so I looked him up. Turns out he lived in Pisa – suddenly I had my inspiration. Then I looked up the tower : turns out it was built in 3 stages and the third stage was built wonky, to correct the tilt created by poor foundations. An aged Fibonacci would have seen it between the building of stages 2 and 3, so I wondered what he would have made of it. Leonardo_da_Pisa

Fibonacci was a mathematician and a scientist. He was a problem-solver and a thinker. I was fortunate to grow up knowing a man like that. My Grandad (shown below with his lovely wife, my Grandma) was a physicist by training, and most definitely both a problem-solver and a thinker. In Fibonacci’s place, I can’t help but think he would have been trying to find a solution to the problem of the leaning tower. LastingLove

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Inspiration Monday – Haunted Word

This week’s InMon prompts are extra exciting because I think one of them will meld well with the Friday Fictioneers prompt for tomorrow. Check back then to see if I manage to fit both in. For now, however, I’m going with the prompt Haunted Word.

Haunted

There’s a ghost in our family. You can’t see it, it doesn’t throw crockery and, unlike whatever presence lingers over our stairs, it doesn’t spook the cat. But it’s there nevertheless. It’s in a look that crosses Jerry’s face, a knot in my stomach, tears in our sons’ eyes. It hides for days on end, leaving us to pretend we live a normal life, then it jumps out and catches us unawares.

There’s a van I’ve seen in town sometimes. It’s black, with white writing and symbols etched on the side: “Paranormal investigators”. I looked them up online once, just to see. They specialise in haunted houses and in removing the ghosts of former occupants who died there. It’s not right for us, of course, because it isn’t the house that’s haunted. I almost feel as though it could be sometimes – I catch myself seeing a flash of dark ponytail out of the corner of my eye, or I go into her old room and think for a moment I can smell those awful concoctions she used to make by adding dried petals to my shampoo. My little chemist.

But she isn’t there – in human or in spirit form. The house isn’t haunted, though I sometimes wish it was. Our family is haunted, by memories, and by a word. Her name. Emily.

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An Honour and An Admission

Last week, I was included in a list of “Most Influential Blogs of 2012” by SilentlyHeardOnce, so I want to start by saying thank you to her for this great honour.

The “rules” of the honour are that you must pay it forward, listing the blogs that are most influential to you, but here’s my problem, and the Admission I mentioned in the title. Whisper it … I don’t read many blogs. In fact, the only blogs I read are my fellow writers for InMon and the Friday Fictioneers. So the most influential blogs on me are our great leaders:

BeKindRewrite

Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

and until recently, Madison Woods

These groups bring together writers and provide us with inspiration and community each week. So our leaders have the most influence on me as a blogger. But I don’t read blogs that influence me as a person – political commentary, or tips on how to [insert ambition here] etc.

I see them a bit like Twitter – too high noise to value ratio, and I’m just not willing to commit my time to that. So, I use blogs to supply some of my fiction reading, a few musings on writing from writers who interest me, and not a lot else. Which is pretty much what my own blog is made up of too.

I’m glad so many of you take the time to read it, and thanks again for the honour of your company.

Merry Christmas!

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