ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Write...Edit...Publish JUNE challenge -- BRIDGES. My flash fiction, A Bridge too Far.

Here is my flash fiction for the WEP BRIDGES challenge for June. Open to all creatives who wish to join us. I've literally re-vamped a previously-published story to fit the challenge.

It's Shakespeare time again in my teaching schedule. Othello and A Merchant of Venice are on the menu. If you're a fan of The Bard you'll probably recognise some references. I've chosen names from random Shakespearean plays, but of course, Macbeth is always my favorite.

A Bridge too Far



‘Take me with you, Dad.’

‘Sorry, sweetheart. If there was any other way, we wouldn’t leave you here.’

Here was the International School of Exchange, one of the best Norweyan schools—big, ostentatious, gothic. 

‘Listen, sweetie, look at our separation as just another bridge to cross on your journey towards world domination. And, uh, it’ll be good for you to mix with humans for a change, to see them in another light.’

Dad so got it wrong. 




Bellona is loitering at the top of the stairway with her group of besties looking for all the afterworld like a row of creepy gargoyle statues. I have to pass these weird sisters to get to my next class. But, hey, they can’t put the fear of God into me. Bellona I can handle, but flanked by Portia and Nerissa, she looks scary indeed, even without a beard. I will need all my craft to survive.

‘Something bothering you, Emilia?’ Bellona’s voice wafts down the stairs like fog and filthy air. ‘I was just telling the sistas that something wicked this way comes. You look like you’re going to puke. Come along up. Wouldn’t want you to choke.’

I massage the banister knob with my left hand, feeling the silkiness of the aged wood smooth under my magnificent marble skin. I could glide up the stairs and float right through the lot of them, bitch slapping them while I pass, but my cred would be shot if I took that route. 

Maybe this is a place where I can belong, but there's a bridge to cross before that happens. 

Bellona. 

In my Adolescence That Never Ends, I’ve discovered every school has its ghoul!

‘Come on up, you swine,' she says. 'New girls have to pass the test.’

‘What test?’ Why didn’t I keep my big mouth shut? Now she can't wait to get her long claws into me.

‘The test to see if you belong.’

Why do they suspect I don't belong?

Hmm. I shouldn’t have deliberately stepped on her shiny black Doc Martens when I cut her off at the classroom door. But that was pretty tame considering the way she’d baited me all the way through the Shakespeare class, jealous little warhorse. Not my fault I knew all the answers to Lady Macbeth’s questions (well, Ms Opine acted like Lady Macbeth in her sleepwalking stage, floating about the room in her long skirt, stroking her long red tresses, curling her dark red lips in disdain at the students’ stumbling answers to questions about Macbeth’s motivations). To tell you the truth, all she was missing was the candle in her hands.  

'Hey, Ms Opine,' I imagined myself saying. 'I knew old William personally, dig that? We used to chat after the shows in the Globe. I even suggested a few characters in history he might use for his next play. Where do you think he got the idea for Macbeth and King Duncan, hmm?'

Yep. I know every one of the Bard’s plays by heart, Ms Opine, in ye Olde English, not the modern crap you let students read these days. Like which sounds better--'Killing pigs' or 'Killing swine'? No contest.

‘Get off my boot, you weirdo,’ had been Bellona’s reaction to my little stomp attack after ckass. ‘Take that!’ She’d swung her long blonde mane (yes, she was very horsey. I thought it unusual in a Norweyan public school) and delivered a stunning blow to my solar plexus.

‘Ouch!’ I’d yelled, surprised at the power in her dainty little fight move. 

She gave me a strange look. 

Did she feel my flesh as hard and bony as her elbow? Is that what gave me away? Still, I couldn’t resist another stomp on her boots, grinding my rubber soles as hard as I could without breaking her foot. 

If you’ve ever tried to hurt someone by stomping on their Docs, you’d know it takes a lot of girl power. Those babies have pretty good toe protection. I put as much oomph as I dared behind that stomp/kick/grind. Bellona’s face turned as white as mine and her jagged breath concerned me for a minute as I wondered if I’d gone too far. The tears in her big baby blues were a bonus, looking quite dramatic hovering on her smoky fake eyelashes. But she was a tough chick for a human, or kinda human. 

Now, she’d rustled up reinforcements. I was facing a Birnam Wood Comes to Dunsinane moment.

Oh, great! An army gathered against me. I have to think fast or my first day will be my last day here. If I use too much power, I’m out. Too little, and these weird sisters and their cronies will make my life a misery just like the hags did to poor old Macbeth.

Was it worth taking the ‘test’, or should I refuse to listen to them, get back on my metaphorical charger and gallop away?

As Bellona and I played at outstaring each other, I thought of another school, another Bellona. Turned out that chick was a vamp like me. She didn’t want any competition. There could only be one Queen Lilith, so she demanded I take the test. I’d refused, but lived to regret it. I could have beaten that wispy vamp in a heartbeat, um, well. Well, I don’t have much choice this time, do I? I can't always run away. I’m here forever. If I’d passed the last test I would have been Head Girl at Cawdor by now. Hmm.

Avaunt! I race up the stairs, two at a time, holding my ridiculously long serge skirt like I'm some simpering Regency heroine. Those weird sisters step back as if they’ve seen a ghost. Well, you have, stupidos. Bet they’ve never bullied a ghost before.

Soon I’ll be Head Girl of the International School of Exchange. Pretty cool.

Hey, Dad, sometimes we’ve just got to decide which bridge to cross and which bridge to burn.  




WORDS: 995
FCA

I hope you like my story for the WEP BRIDGES challenge. Anything goes, as you can see. You have until June 21 to post - flash fiction, non fiction, poetry, artwork...The entry that catches the eye of the judges wins a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Please click on the names in my right sidebar with DL (Direct Link) next to the name, or go to the WEP website limked in previous paragraph.






Wednesday, 7 June 2017

IWSG post - 'I quit!'

Welcome to June's IWSG frenzy of posts. 

The purpose of the IWSG is to share and encourage each other. We can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. The IWSG is a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Alex J Cavanaugh's awesome co-hosts for the June 7 posting of the IWSG are JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner!

Pay each a visit if you can!


June 7 Question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?


Now to the question. I'm not someone who suffers from writer's block. I wonder how that is even possible, but one day I might find out then I'll get it. No, I've allowed other things to block me...

George Charles Beresford - Virginia Woolf in 1902 - Restoration.jpgI started writing ages ago, in late teenager-hood and into my twenties. Then marriage and children intervened. I shake my head in amazement at those gals who say they write at the dining table with the kids screaming around their legs, but I've always been a Virginia Woolf believer in that writers need a room of their own. I blogged about Virginia HERE in my 'Are you too old for a writing career?' post.

So after managing to send off a few short stories (one accepted, one rejected), I decided I didn't have time for writing at that stage of my life. Not only the family pressures, but I felt too ignorant. So when the kiddlies grew some, I went back to university and learned more stuff. Even though 'they' say writers don't need a great education, being an avid reader of bios I've yet to come across a successful author who writes the big meandering books I like (think Gone With the Wind) who doesn't have a few degrees in creative writing and such after their name. 

Okay, so in about 2007 (where did those years go? Oh, that's right, I was gathering life experience), I decided to unquit and start writing again. I could handle the short stories, the flash fiction, but the Great Australian Novel is a lot harder than I thought, even with a nice tumble of letters after my name. 

But I'm learning. 

Thanks to some very giving writers who've mastered James Scott Bell, Michael Haugh, and the Donald Maas heroes etc 'rules' of plot and structure I'm learning the difference between short story writing and novel writing. Don't get me wrong--I have all the books, just that...

I didn't 'get it.' 

I didn't like making my characters suffer. Gulp. My critters have helped me chase my main characters up a tree and throw rocks at them (James Scott Bell who attended the University of California where he studied writing with Raymond Carver) which I must admit has added oomph to my stories which is where I am in my unquit phase. One day soon, I'll gather a few more bags of rocks and finally finish one of the five novels I've partially written.

And for those of you who didn't see my last post, I'm only posting for the IWSG and WEP for the next months, so I can actually complete and publish said novels.

I'm loving this new phase of writing even though coming to grips with plot and structure is hard.

I hope things are going great for you, too. I'd love to hear your story in the comments. 

And speaking of WEP, we have our BRIDGES challenge open. You can sign up in my sidebar or trot over to the WEP website where you'll find more helpers for this challenge. We're loving these challenges dreamed up by Nilanjana Bose and the badges created by Olga Godim.