Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Is Flash Fiction Creditable Writing?

In the past my flash fiction has received some negative reviews because of the word limit. There is some confusion as to what flash fiction is and whether it is a valid genre in the writing world. For me flash fiction is the perfect write because an idea can be executed quickly and this often means there’s no time for questions and therefore it is more direct and honest. But with a lack of character development and commitment to create a well thought out story is it creditable enough for us writers?

I find when I do have time to write I am still unable to commit to something solid but flash fiction allows me to take a single thought and produce what I consider ‘a moment’ of what could potentially be a story or a novel. As a writer this has been a valid part of the learning process towards writing a more complex story or novel. In fact my flash pieces have been the start of something more solid.

When I first started posting my work I was unable to write more than a 1,000 words. Anything between 300 words and 1,000 is generally considered flash fiction, anything less is called dribble. In any respect a good writer in my opinion can capture a moment in a simple sentence and still make something with a character or a valid development in a plot. It can still hold all the elements worthy of a good read.

I also find that by limiting your word count flash fiction can also force the writer to think on their toes and get the most of their word limit. The plot and its characters can still do us justice in a small piece of writing, and if the characters hold interest then I myself am usually tempted to write more.

As a writer I don’t think we should be eliminating flash fiction as a credible genre especially when something like good short pieces of writing can help writers produce something more solid in the future. At the end of the day it’s a matter of opinion as to whether you like to read and write short or long stories, and as in life the focus should be on acceptance not whether it is wrong or right.

Further reading:




Monday, 28 June 2010

Photography - Brian Baker

I added my uncle’s website link to the 'Links' list on the right hand side of my blog. He is a professional photographer with a pretty extensive collection... this photo is one of my favourites which is one from his collection taken in Brighton. Loving the composition with the lighting on the water and the waves! I was actually thinking I might attempt to paint it but don't think I will do it justice.

Not only does it inspire me to do something artistic with it, it also inspires me to invest in a descent camera!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Sarah McLachlan

Music is something I couldn’t live without. Somehow it brings me back when life has me running, it literally keeps me centered and on the ground. Even as a writer, its hard for me express what it means to have music to fill up the spaces in my life - it literally is the building blocks of my life.

Now that I’ve shared that - I recently downloaded Sarah McLachlan’s new album ‘Laws of Illusion’ …and in a single word - stunning! I’ve been a huge fan since my early teens, particularly of her older works but this album has taken talent to the excess.

I wanted to share this one song with you. If you haven’t listened to her before, now is the time to press play.

'Life's too Short'

Lifes too Short

It was the day after her divorce that we met along the cobble steps and took a walk toward the park. I daren’t look at her, for fear of someone catching us. We strolled passed the row of oak trees lining the grass verge and an old lady walking her dog, until finally we could see the bench off to the far right hidden by a rosebush flourishing in the morning sun. It was the same bench we’d sat on the week before, and the week before that.

Her eyes looked ahead as we sat side by side. ‘Give it a minute’ she cooed.

We sat there with the sun on our backs, waiting as the old woman and her dog disappeared into the distance. At last we were alone. She turned to look at me and for a second we made eye contact.

‘Is it done?’ I asked as my eyes traced the shape of her jaw line, down her neck which was white against her dark hair casually falling onto her shoulders. She was beautiful.

She placed her hand on top of mine and her thumb softly rubbed the skin there, comforting my nerves. I watched her mouth open – unable to answer when the bush behind us began to rustle. Her thumb had stopped moving but her hand seemed to grip a little harder for it. She looked over her shoulder just the once to check. ‘Yes, he signed the papers.’

I watched the breeze blow her dark hair away from the white flesh that I hadn’t been able to look away from till now. My eyes artfully moved up from where they’d fallen - the open button on her blouse. Her eyes seemed to cloud over when she caught me.

‘How do you feel?’ I asked.

She smiled and nodded, looking away again. ‘I’m feeling, strange’ she sighed, her thumb once again reassuring me with a gentle stroke back and forth. I looked down at our hands, only to find her attention on me when looked up again.‘I do want you, for so long I’ve wanted this, you and me!’ she assured me.

I watched her eyes spill tears of relief down her face, I was unable to speak as her hair blew and stuck to her damp cheeks. That's when I decided this wasn’t the best place to sit, where the wind was hitting us straight on. My knees touched hers slightly as I turned and used my free hand to push the mislaid strands away from her face behind her ear.

‘You had me before, you have me now. If you need me to wait then I will wait. Tomorrow, a month, a year, always’ I smiled, trying to control my desire to lean forward and hold her - I wanted nothing more than to hold her. Her face changed and she returned the smile, only then moving her hand to reach into her pocket.

‘What is it?’ I asked curiously.

She didn’t answer me, instead pulling out a pack of Frank’s cigars. She lifted them up and pouted, ‘His signature wasn’t enough!’ she said, wiping the tears and opened the tin on her lap. I laughed mischievously when she peeled her ex-husband’s cigar from its seal and placed it between her kissable red lips.

‘Got a light?’ she muffled with the digit now between her teeth.

I reached into my jacket and lifted the lighter toward her. She placed her own hand up blocking the breeze. Once lit, she took a drag and let her hand fall on mine again and blew smoke into the other direction. Eye’s connected - she smiled - she puffed. Her hand moved down my thigh to the bass of my skirt where she gently held my leg. She coughed at the third drag, lowering her head as the smoke came clumsily from her mouth.

‘Jesus, you sucked that hard didn’t you?’ I rubbed her back when the chance was given to me.

She dropped the cigar on the floor and stamped it out with her shoe. ‘Damn him, that man chokes me even now!’ with the nub dead she lifted her shoe away and moved in closer again, her hand moved up just a little but not too much.

‘You think he will know you stole them?’

‘Yes!’ she snorted and laughed. ‘I hope he does. That and the bottle of Gin I stole.’

I frowned, ‘No, not his Gin?’

‘And his wallet’ she added.

My eyes widened, ‘You took his wallet?’

‘No!’ She laughed and her hand reached half way up my thigh. I sighed, feeling my body lose any grace against her touch. ‘Well,’ she began to explain ‘I only took enough to book us a room in a hotel, about half a mile from here’ she finished and removed her hand.

I watched her stand and felt the cold breeze return against me. ‘What, now?’ I asked in a daze.

She straightened her jacked, patted her skirt and nodded proudly. ‘Not tomorrow, or the day after that and certainly not in a year. Yes now!’ she reached her hand out to help me up and I accepted it. We began walking back down the path, not noticing or caring for the eager speed at which we moved or for the people we passed.

My granddaughter looked at me with a sad face. ‘What happened? Where is she now?’

I brushed my skirt off and placed my china cup on my lap. ‘Things were different in those days my dear, society proved harder to live with than we thought.’

‘But, you loved her?’ she chirped.

That’s when my husband walked in with a plate of biscuits for our visitor. He placed them aside and put his hand on my shoulder ‘catching up?’ he grinned and moved away in search of his news paper, an avid fan of the crossword at the back.

I looked back at my granddaughter. The question was still brewing in her.I sighed. ‘Yes, I did. I really did.’ I nodded and lifted the plate of biscuits to her. ‘Now, you want my advice about your situation sweetheart, I say go on, take the chocolate one because life’s too short!’

Sarah Waters - Affinity

*Spoilers ahead*

I read Sarah Waters 'Affinity' quite a few years ago now when it was first released but I remember sitting on a beach in Spain not caring for the sun, for the sand, for the ocean or the good looking (and some not so good looking) people passing me by, only the story unfolding before me. I spent the best part of that holiday completely consumed in the magic and wonder of two women, Selina Dawes and Margaret Prior.

Much like in her previous works Waters offers a rather gothic setting of Victorian London. Her characters Selina Dawes who is a spiritualist and medium imprisoned for assault and fraud, and Margaret Prior who visit’s the prison, together cast their own spell over us as we read. I often think I trust too easily but this is something that Waters used to her advantage. Waters allows the reader to develop a false sense of hope in her characters as if you yourself are experiencing things first hand.

I was compelled by the character development throughout but more so nearer the end. It was very clever the way in which the reader became part of the illusion created in the story. You’re literally falling in love, wanting to believe in every word and a promise of a happy ending. For this reason, the tragedy in ‘Affinity’ is unexpected and this makes the book one of my favourites. I was afraid to finish it because I knew it would break my heart… and it did. But again this is why I loved it so much. Can you remember reading a book, where two weeks later your still completely shocked?

I didn’t want to give any clues to the ending for the sake of those of you who haven’t read it, but in order for me to express my love for this book I have to mention the ending and how this made it one of the best books I’ve ever read.

(Unfortunately I leant this book out… if that person is reading then please get in touch… You know who you are hehe x)

Monday, 21 June 2010

Light and dark...

This photo was taken while I was sat in traffic, unsurprisingly bored, tired and frustrated… and then this image caught my eye. Suddenly I didn’t care that I was stuck there in neutral. Its a good example to me of how something as simple as this can change your outlook and mood almost instantly! This is really what life is about isn‘t it? Appreciating those little things that we often miss.

I like that it makes this statement in the photo itself - light and dark, the good and the bad - the compromise in my opinion is art at its best.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Christine Brooks

Nurture or nature? Its an interesting concept that talent is in the genes, isn’t it? Growing up I always thought I was the only one who took an interest in all things creative and artistic but I was wrong. My nan, Christine Brooks was a writer. She wrote and all the time nobody knew it. It wasn’t until she died a few years ago that my dad came across a box under her bed of all her writings.

I was so touched to know that my passion for writing most likely began at a genetic level. Was it a sense of belonging that I felt? Was it the idea of being a part of something my nan herself had a love for? This and more. It overwhelms me to think of her sometimes.

My dad, he gave this box of her writings to me and in honour of my nan and her talent I’ve decided to share my favourite piece that she wrote with you. It may be small but I think it says a lot.

The impossible
(By Christine Brooks)

We the unloved
have done the impossible
for the ungrateful
for so long
we are now qualified
to do anything
with nothing

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Do I, or don't I?

I've recently been developing an idea and whilst this idea hasn't yet materialised, the process (experimenting, particularly with colour) has produced some new pieces I feel are worth sharing.

Working with pastels isn't easy, the reason for this is because its difficult to work colours into and on top of each other. Every now and then, something unexpected happens and to my surprise it works!

Now, in the past I'd give my work away to those who want it. This piece is currently on my bedroom wall along with a few others and I know someone who really wants it. DO I - give it away? Or DO I - keep it for my collection?

As the years go by I start to think of just how many pieces I've given away. Is it time to start saving these pieces?

Friday, 18 June 2010

Erotica – how controversial?

It wasn’t long ago that I thought of erotic writing as something immoral and somewhat disturbing to read. I could not comprehend it… it simply made me uncomfortable and undermined the site I was writing on at the time. Looking back I realise this was very judgmental of me as more recently I’ve come to know writers with real talent in the genre.

I myself had an issue a few years ago with writing a sexual scene for my novel ‘Bang, Bang’. I could not do it. I struggled to find a clean choice of words to offer a more sensual piece, one that would not lead the readers down the wrong path. I did not want to be looked upon as I know I’d looked upon erotic writers in the past.

Now, here’s the BUT!! I decided, as I found this so hard to do that as a personal challenge to myself I would write an erotic story. At the time I kept this quiet and I struggled. I pushed myself into reading work that I would usually run away from and actually I was pleasantly surprised with what I found.

Among the dirty, sleazy and sometimes cheap I found some well established writers who wrote in such a fashion that left me astonished. Suddenly I was reading classy, sensual well written stories in an appropriate context with original dynamics, portraying something I myself could not write! It inspired me and I started to look at things differently. It was a little revelation that changed my entire opinion on erotic writers and this is why I decided to post the subject.

My secret is that I began writing erotica to enhance my own skills as a writer but ended up writing it for my own enjoyment. Needless to say it’s a very controversial place for a lot of people, and one I will happily sit on the fence when I need to, mainly because there are some very bad and not what I would call 'erotic' writers around. These are the writers that create a false perception on what 'erotica' really is and I imagine this perception will never really change unless you are courageous enough to dip your toes in.

My erotic writing remains posted by an anonymous writer who has more fans than my original writing page. I’m still not at a point where I will happily share this with those around me, but it’s definitely allowed me to develop as a writer and for that I am happy to share this much. I haven’t written anything in this genre for over a year but it goes without saying that my work since this experience has entered a new phase.

FMI - Classy Peach is a must read writer on the popular writing site Booksie. She remains one of my favourite writers, not just on Booksie but of all time. I ask you to keep an open mind and read her at http://www.booksie.com/classy_peach

A piece of poetic free hand (no real title as yet)

This is a small piece I wrote without any real intention behind it. I'm looking to possibly develop it into a poem but at the moment I quite like it as is.

It were lips that gave life, pumped the very flesh of her heart into the vale of her soul and ravaged and tore it with each breath. The brutal pulse of love compelled her ever deeper, corrupting her with a simple embrace. One touch - it was all she hoped itwould be and in her tomorrows could only hope for more. For hearts that act on impulse, she believed must be honest, and why change reinvents ideals of love her heart less a fool in her eyes grows abundant in her freedom and stronger for her lose.

A new day emerged where she was delivered by sorrow to walk without fear. So rich was her heart now bound by fingers caressing the verge of a promise yet to be made, that she was lighting the dark with a faith yet to be realised by those in the shadows. And it was the essence of want in her eyes that could render the past in a single glance, even for that of a stranger.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Free to follow a vision?

‘If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him...'

It was difficult to decide on a first post. Doing the norm is something I try to avoid, more for the sake of a personal challenge but also to prepare myself for the unexpected in life. And so I began to think about my childhood and when I started to use art as a way of expressing myself without question or expectation. How now, I recognise the expectations we hold over ourselves and others as a society and how still I use art to sustain a balance in life.

I like to think as an artist I strive for free will but it goes without saying that even artists, whatever their craft are stifled by the opinions of those around them. Art is categorised into many forms, already we have limited the artists freedom to express themselves, haven't we?

We as human beings naturally search for reason and understanding and as we grow more apparent of the world around us we begin to put ourselves and others into boxes. This limits the free will of expression and surely curbs the ultimate vision? Its taken me years to accept that what I write, is in fact never wrong but an expression of ones self. This is also true in life, to speak without fear of judgment or misunderstanding.

This brings me to dislexia and the struggles I know not just myself but others have had to overcome. My desire to write for pleasure despite others opinions has allowed me to reach a place of acceptance within myself, and the expectations I have now are simply to enjoy the experiance.

What it really comes down is that our feelings, experiences, visions, dreams and ambitions are the very things that set us apart from each other, and we as artists (writers, performers etc) should not search for approval, but to open the minds of those who seek it.