November was sooooooo slow. Oh my goodness.
The anticipation of Christmas coupled with the lack of writing competitions while other (far more robust) writers took on Na No Wri Mo (post on that to follow soon) meant I was itching for December to start.
When it eventually rolled around I was sat at my laptop with my fingers poised in a qwerty friendly position, primed, desperate and praying for something that I could immediately find a story for.
Thank goodness, on December 1st the Secret Attic website reopened its doors and provided me with the hit I sorely needed. Straight out of the gates, there are 4 competitions for me to enter. I was salivating at the abundance of work I would now be able to get stuck in to.
But anyone who follows me on socials or here will know that Flash Fiction is my gateway drug. It’s the start-of, and my favourite part-of this whole writing journey. So obviously I chose the weekly write as my starting point. Although it had been a whole month I felt reasonably ready. There was an air of nervousness and anxiety over my ability to get back on the bicycle and find something fresh and new to come up with, but that’s nothing new.
The best avenue, the most comfortable route, was to do something a bit different and feel like I was starting afresh. A clean slate, a new year of writing, the start of my first FULL year of coming up with fiction. It felt like a crisp morning on a fresh spring day. I made a coffee, took my medication, rubbed the dogs belly and took a long blissful drag on my vape. Strawberry and Watermelon. Delightful.
By 9.02, my good day had both started and finished. The anxiety and fear came crawling back (bastards). My confident, almost cocky demeanour just dissolved after I saw the 3 lines of dialogue I had to work with and had no idea whatsoever what I was going to write. Although it’s difficult for me to admit, I probably spent 2 hours doing some imaginary pacing, thinking about the same few phrases on repeat, and forever going blank. Over and over and over and over and over…you get the idea.
I’m going to be honest here, possibly to my detriment, but I should tell the truth. Writing (in my expereince) isn’t always a gift, nor is it something you can assume will come easily from your own mind. I have to believe that even the most popular and seasoned writers have to spend time working on their craft. I almost imagine the real authors (correct, I’m aware I’m not one) are a bit like comedians. They are using comedy clubs (writing competitions) to test on new audiences (judges) whenever they have new material (stories) to tell. They get to see if their ideas, their new direction, has a potential audience. Does it have legs?
As someone still in the slums of their writing journey, I can only throw my work at those same judges and hope that my own style and ideas are received well by them. I’ve had moments when inspiration has come from the strangest places. You’d think that agoraphobia would make it difficult or restrictive to come up with fiction frameworks. You have to be a bit more creative, but I’ve found all sorts of ideas from many places. Whether it’s looking out of my window at a broken streetlight, observing the strange behaviour of my elderly cat or the drivel and ‘scandal’ that comes from the many Facebook parenting groups I’ve found myself part of. There is intrigue and controversy everywhere. This day was no exception.
Honestly, I’d essentially given up hope. 2 Hours backwards and forwards through your own mind can actually be pretty tiring, leaving you feeling creatively hopeless. Maybe this new year of writing wasn’t for me after all? So I closed the laptop and retreated to my age-old sorter-of-all-things.
Yes, that’s right, when I’m stuck, nervous, overwhelmingly sad or just frustrated by the world my solution is always some crazy, extreme, unbelievable and ridiculous reality TV. Normally from the USA.
For months, maybe years, the streaming service has been trying to convince me that some show called ‘Cabin Crew’ was a series I should invest time in. Short of any other ideas I gave in to the manipulaters and watched a show that was quite simply, about cabin crew. It took 3 episodes for the eureka moment to come and my short-lived creative paralysis ended.
The 298 word piece I ended up with needed a name and luckily that came to me pretty easily after a bit of random phrase searching about boats. When you read the story you’ll understand why I chose the common phrase ‘Poop Deck’ as my title. I’ll let your mind wander on that for a moment before you dive in.
After all that, what happened? It was SELECTED! So my first foray back in to the world of writing after November, I believe, was a success.
Proof of my story being selected can be seen on the Secret Attic website, and as always the full story is below for you to take a look at. Thankfully, I still have a sense of humour hidden in here somewhere.
By the way, there isn’t even a tenuous link to the drawing for this post. Drawing something that fits the story sometimes causes more stress than the story itself. So for now I’m doing Christmas pictures, basically for my own sanity. Sorry, not sorry. 😊 🎄
Until the next.
Sam was panicking. She couldn’t find her diarrhoea tablets and she was desperate for them.
She held her breath as the odour evaporated and her anxiety ballooned. Pain consumed her.
Clawing blindly in her bedside table she found a crumpled box with a single strip of tablets. She threw her neck back as she swallowed two with a flat cola leftover from yesterday.
It was now 6am. As a member of yacht staff, she should have been in the kitchen prepping half an hour ago. The start of a 19-hour day. Mr Wilson liked his crew constantly available.
“Come on! Why am I waiting? Sam? SAM?”
She listened to Mr Wilson bellowing as she neared their breakfast table. She was nervously carrying an ornate silver tray laden with pastries and coffee.
She silently laid everything in front of Mr Wilson and his wife.
“I want scrambled eggs today” He declared. Mrs Wilson stayed as quiet as possible. Maybe he abused her too, Sam wondered.
“Right away Mr Wilson. We’ll prepare the eggs while you enjoy your coffee”
She noticed him eyeballing her and felt uncomfortable.
“You’ve gained weight Samantha. Get on top of that please.”
Sam said nothing. He often tested his staff, but this was the first time he’d been so personal.
“The cheek of it!” Sam told the chef in the galley.
“That’s just what he’s like. Deliver these eggs and I’ll get you a coffee.”
Sam pulled the remaining diarrhoea tablets from her pocket, crushed them with a knife and sprinkled the dust over his eggs. She smiled as the powder disappeared and her criminality was covered.
She didn’t see Mr. Wilson for 12 hours. His shouts now came from the bathroom declaring, once again, that he was waiting.
This time for something far different.