Writing hard

Evocative image. Scuplture of miners, hard at work. Cramped. Struggling.

How do you earn trust?

The blog’s not been happening as regularly as I’d have liked. It stems from a number of issues but the root of it all is that writing is hard. Coming up with new things to say, or even forming fresh takes on old topics takes a lot of time and effort, and all the while there are voices in the back of your head saying things like ‘Who’s going to read this?’ or ‘Who’s going to care what I think?’

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Flashes of inspiration #1 – Entries and voting

Writing prompt: Night. A transparent umbrella. A girl sheltering within, silhouetted against a fire.

Time’s up on our first Flashes of Inspiration contest. (I say contest, but it’s all in good fun.) The rules were simple. All our intrepid writers had to do was produce an engaging piece of fiction, using no more than 500 words. Any genre, any format. The featured image was open to interpretation, but the piece must include the following three words:

Isolation / Bubbling / Tribal.

Let’s take a look at what came in:

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Flashes of inspiration #1 – Challenge

Writing prompt: Night. A transparent umbrella. A girl sheltering within, silhouetted against a fire.

Happy New Year to you all, and welcome to the first of my Flash Fiction competitions.

You can write in any genre, any format. Experimentation is fun so try to push your boundaries. The images I post might help to evoke a tone or a setting for you but they don’t have to be taken literally. However, each of the word prompts that I post must be used somewhere in your writing. I’d like your pieces to be no longer than 500 words, please.

The submission deadline for this first flash is midnight on Wednesday 9th Jan 2019. Email them to dion@thefinetoothed.co.uk please, as my main address is playing up.

Your image prompt is up at the top and here are your first batch of words, randomly snagged from the O.E.D.

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Flashes of inspiration

Evocative image. Vivid flashes of lightning in a purplish night sky.

As wiser and more articulate people before me have noted, creativity is muscular; you need to flex it regularly to build and maintain its strength. Writers use many different techniques to exercise their imaginations, from notebooks to role-playing. There is no right or wrong way to do it, only what you find useful and what …

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In the market

Evocative image: Strategic boardgame featuring a market. Complex. Full of people.

What was Sledge-Lit like?

There was an air of relaxed conviviality about the Derby Quad last weekend, but drive and purpose hummed beneath the surface. It seems there’s something about seeing people in the flesh, reconnecting with old acquaintances, and chewing the industry fat that inspires activity.

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It ain’t what you say

Evocative image: waves break over a rocky wall as the sun sets over the sea.

Reflections in a time of grief.

From my university days onwards, the distance between us meant I’d only see my parents three or four times a year, and then for just a few days at a time. That was usually enough because we tended to slip into old patterns of behaviour: the picky, argumentative parents and the touchy, truculent child. We loved each other best in small doses.

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Channelling the flow

Evocative image: multiple trickles of water, regimented, carefully controlled, emerging from a dam.

…and spreading the cost

Professional editing is vital but, taken in a single chunk, it represents a financial cost that many independent authors (and indeed some independent presses) balk at. This is a problem because – even if the core work is good – it can be undermined by plot inconsistencies, lacklustre characterisation, or simple technical errors. You may save money on the project but the cost of cutting corners can be huge.

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Hanging together 3/3

Bar talk. Andrew Freudenberg and Dion Winton-Polak.

What was it like at FantasyCon?

As a novice to the convention circuit, you study the schedule, make careful plans as to what panels and events you most want to attend, and then you spend all your time dashing around, assiduously writing notes, sweating, and occasionally weeping in the corner. It’s damned hard work. You wonder why people do this to themselves year on year and (looking around in despair and frustration) why everyone else seems to be just…hanging around in the bar.

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In the groove 2/3

Evocative image: the editor's feet stretched out, big windowed doors, a fresh, bright garden outside.

What was it like at FantasyCon?

If Friday was my busy day, Saturday was all about the mooching. I woke around 6.30. Not my plan, but the body gets used to certain routines; as far as it was concerned, this was just another day at the office. Had I been more organised and less ragged, I might have

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In the headlights 1/3

Statue of a lion.

What was it like at FantasyCon?

I’d had a late night playing darts for the local team. We didn’t exactly cover ourselves in glory, so I was a little tired and a little blue come Friday morning. I ended up missing my train by a single minute

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New horizons

Facing fears.

Last time I was here I talked about how I need to leave my comfort zone. Well, that’ll be happening sooner than you might have expected. Those who really know me are aware that I’m anything but comfortable in a room full of people, and I have a damned hard time pushing myself forward at the best of times. Well that’s got to change

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On the wind

Evocative image: soaring eagle.

Making choices.

There come certain points in every career where a person gets a bit too confident, a bit too settled. Gone are the days of winging it. They know their job, they’ve become proficient at it. Little routines have built up to make things easier and all the humiliating mistakes are in the past where they belong, sage lessons but distant milestones. And then a choice is made.

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