Kissing Frankenstein & Other Stories – Flash-Fiction South West

Today, 16th May, is the first ever National Flash-Fiction Day

…and I’m very proud to be involved in the West Country’s contribution to the celebrations:

Kissing Frankenstein and Other Stories is an anthology of flash-fiction by writers from the West Country – and includes a story forged in the creative writing notebook of Yours Truly, Melanie at Bookish Nature! The anthology’s editor, Rachel Carter (who has done the most amazing job co-ordinating and putting the book together) gives a brilliant account of the journey towards the creation of Flash-Fiction South West on her blog, A Voice Released, which is brimming with a wonderful selection of flash-fiction and other writing treats.

Much time and thought was put into the project by Rachel and the Flash-Fiction South West team, gathering together submissions, reading, long-listing, short-listing, editing, designing, publishing etc… And the result is a great website (where you can read the stories and find out more) and the very handsome and stylish anthology, packed with an entertaining and thought provoking variety of micro-fiction, from six words to 1,000 words long (or short!)

What is flash-fiction?

Well… it’s rather slippery in its habits, when chased by attempts at definition – which is all part of its appeal…

From the introduction to Kissing Frankenstein and Other Stories:

‘Flash-fiction is…’

‘Short’

‘Moreish’

‘A concentrated story.’

‘Like poison – effective in small doses.’

‘Maybe a cross between fiction and poetry?’

- a form ‘yet to be packaged up neatly into one definition with one set of rules.’

When I saw Rachel’s call for submissions on her blog, I was at a bit of a low writing wise, with so many projects left unfinished and interrupted by life events. I was just emerging from the other side of it all, getting myself back on track, and looking for ways to kick-start myself creatively again; and Rachel’s submissions call was exactly the spark I needed to tell myself to, “Go on – give it a go!” That night, I was amazed when the story suddenly came to me, ready written in my mind, as soon as my head touched the pillow…

Too tired to search for a notebook and pen, I drifted into sleep, repeating key phrases in my head in a desperate effort to retain them (I was convinced I’d forget the whole thing by morning). But, some sort of flash-fiction magic must have been at work, as I did manage to remember it – and the next day, out it flowed onto the page, mostly fully formed and very comfortable in its own skin (despite some later re-working and refining, it was adamant about the length it wanted to be and resisted morphing into any other shape.) In fact, I surprised myself by managing to turn in a story at only about 700 words long (usually, being over-verbose is my problem!) The story also told me it wanted to be called The Toll of Blue Sky Thinking, and all through the creative process, John Donne was winking at me from the corner of his poet-pulpit, telling me “No man is an island” over and over, to give me my theme…

Whether my Muse had suddenly jerked awake, full of a surfeit of creative dreams, or whether Awen, as Druids call it, was flowing – I don’t know; but it certainly felt like inspiration was writing it for me – and I’m hoping to hold onto that free, dive-in feeling – what the former Children’s Laureate, Michael Morpurgo describes as ‘entering the dreamtime’ - as much as I can in my creative writing from now on. I thought it was a mind-set I’d lost and would really have to struggle to regain, but I’ve found it again – and I’m very grateful to Rachel and the rest of the Flash-Fiction South West team – and to Calum Kerr, Director of NFFD and the original force behind the whole national flash-fiction celebration – for the opportunity to set it loose. It’s wonderful to be spreading my wings in that creative space again.

The Toll of Blue Sky Thinking was my first attempt at the flash-fiction form – but certainly won’t be my last (maybe, dear readers, I’ll subject you to more on this blog sometime… you’ve been warned!) Counter-intuitively, the smaller size and tighter word limits of flash-fiction revealed themselves to be, in some ways, more freeing than longer fiction forms can be – and was a wonderful, releasing exercise of thought-spillage. If you’ve never tried writing – or never read – flash-fiction, and would like to give it a go, there’s loads going on all over the internet.

In fact, to celebrate NFFD, there’s a veritable feast of writerly events taking place all over the country and online – all sorts to get involved in for both readers and writers… Head on over to the National Flash Fiction Day 2012 Website  and the NFFD Facebook page  to find out more…

Kissing Frankenstein and Other Stories can be previewed and ordered, at 30% off list price, at Lulu -and will be available to order from Amazon and as an e-book sometime in the future… (watch this space – and the Flash-Fiction South West website and facebook page for further news!)

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8 thoughts on “Kissing Frankenstein & Other Stories – Flash-Fiction South West

    • Thanks, Rachel – lovely to see you here! Funnily enough, I’d just been searching through my butterfly pics, when I first read ‘Flutter’ – so that peacock butterfly I photographed seemed to be set free back on the wing by your flash-fiction. Every time I look at that picture now, I think of your lovely story!

  1. I hope you will write more – I think this is a great format to work with. I very much enjoyed your story: Sylvia’s reactions to the weather convey so much in so few words, and the beast ‘held back by the collar’ on the doorstep is inspired. I always think the smallest domestic details convey as much insight as a catalogue of dramatic incidents. Keep your dreamtime to hand as easily as your tea or coffee!

    • What a lovely, encouraging message… Thanks so much! That’s a real boost. Whenever I re-read (usually very gingerly and full of winces) things I’ve written, I just see all the stuff I think could have been done better – so, to say I’m over the moon you enjoyed it, is an understatement! ‘Keep your dreamtime to hand as easily as your tea or coffee’ is a great mantra – I shall write it on a post-it note and stick it to the screen of my laptop!

  2. Congratulations on your piece of writing. When I read the thing about the dreamtime I thought “I can relate to that” with painting. Although it doesn’t always feel like the right moment I try to paint anyway (which I’ve heard is what most writers do). Sometimes you enter it & sometimes you don’t. Today I didn’t !! But you have to try.

    Your experience sounds very encouraging & sounds like it will feed you to do more.

    • Thank you, Sonya! Yes, I can imagine that the dreamtime belongs to so many art forms – and also to that losing-yourself feeling of any activity which allows you to expand reflective thought and mind wandering. Walking can be like that sometimes, can’t it… especially in quiet surroundings that are beautiful, mesmerising and full of life…

      As you say, when it comes to any artistic endeavour, the dreamtime sometimes comes much more easily than at other times. State of mind so affects how easy it will be. Sometimes, I think I’ve been too anxious to get things right, to wrestle with an idea and try to work things out and plan before I sit down to write – and then I just seem to seize up and write something so far away from what I’m trying to achieve. But, I’m finding more and more, if I just pick up my pen, and then freefall, my subconscious mind seems to fling all sorts of stuff onto the page I didn’t even know was there – and then I’ve got something that’s more ‘true’ and real to work with… And, somehow, it’s not just the content that the dreamtime shapes… but the form of the piece too. It’s like a very special kind of listening to something deeper than the pesky, bossy thoughts that can too often try to intellectualise everything too much. I suppose it’s a bit like a sculptor, feeling their way with the true and natural grain of the wood or stone, to unleash the shape inside…

      You’re right – you just have to sit down, and give it the chance, even if it doesn’t always happen. Hope everything falls into place for you, and draws you back into your dreamtime soon…

  3. Hi Melanie,

    Thank you so much for the lovely comment on my blog. I can but return similar words… You write a beautiful blog, so very real, authentic, generous and humble. Your writing makes me smile and, I must admit, at times think, “Doh, I wish I’d written that!” There are so many one-liners that grab a hold of me ‘…discovering where our footprints on this earth align’ is like taking a breath of the purest air.

    I look forward to reading future posts and meandering my way through older ones. I don’t currently have a blogroll on my site, but I have a links page instead and have added your site to that.

    Amanda

    • What a lovely message, Amanda! Thanks so much for your really kind words, and for adding the link to your site. I hope the folk who read this blog will wend their way over to your site, as it’s such a treat to read. Anyone who cares about nature and wildlife conservation can too often feel like a voice drowned out by a tide of indifference… but the more I’m wandering around the blogosphere, the more I discover all the people out there who really want to do something positive, and are finding their own ways to use their talents to do so. I think that all adds up to a bigger force than at first may seem the case! And, it’s a real inspiration and uplift to learn about all those fantastic people at the cutting edge of marine and cetacean conservation whose stories you tell so beautifully on your blog…

      Great to be in touch, Amanda – thanks again for such a great message! (especially cheering after a visit to the dentist this morning!)

      Melanie

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