Poetry and NYC Midnight

We’re almost halfway through June. How did that happen?

The month kicked off with a poetry at the Button Warehouse. (Normally hosted by Joy Winkler but covered this month by John Lindley). Angela Topping was guest poet, and gave fantastic readings at the start of each half from her various collections. Then the evening was turned over to the open mic, and I ended up closing the evening out with ‘Legs Eleven’ from my collection ‘It’s All In The Blood’. This was probably my favourite performance of the year so far as the atmosphere was fantastic, I made it through the poem without stumbling, and even sold a copy of my book. 

 The following evening I was one of the featured readers on the Shrewsbury Poetry zoom. Ten whole minutes to read poems and give a bit of detail on what the collection was about, and how it came into being. The chaos of 2020 and 2021 resulted in the book not seeing the light of day as much as I would have liked, so I’ve been trying to make up for lost opportunities.

While not technically a June achievement, as it fell into the last ten minutes of May, I managed to get the reworked version of my short story sent off to the Bridport Prize. What was originally a 1,500 words piece of fiction now closes off at almost 5,000. With ten minutes to go before the deadline struck, I had to sacrifice some of the edits I wanted to make in order to actually have something submitted. As with all the competitions I enter, I’m not holding out much hope of placing, but I feel as if I get a lot out of entering. Who knows, I didn’t think I would do very well in the London Independent Story Prize and my entry was a Selected Finalist. As many of my writing friends like to remind me, there’s a slim chance of winning whatever you enter, but no chance if you don’t send anything off. Write, edit, submit, and eventually something should stick. 

On the poetry submissions front, I’ve finally heard back on the last of my outstanding 2021 submissions. It was another rejection to add to the pile, but on the bright side, I can now mark last year’s spreadsheet as closed. June also appears to be the month of reading windows for poetry journals so I’m busy putting together a set of submissions to go out before the 30th. The biggest of those will be the manuscript for ‘Stone Tongued’ which I’m planning on sending to Fawn Press. Currently I have six poems out for consideration, with two different journals, so I’m in a good position to redraft my rejected pieces and get some new bits sent out. Friday was a relatively productive day when it came to reworking those poems that have bounced back to me time and time again. Eventually they will find homes, but until then I will keep working on them. 

Those poems might have to wait until tomorrow though, as this weekend it is the first challenge, in the first round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Contest! I’ve entered this particular challenge a few times. One year I places quite well in the first challenge, only to flop dramatically in the second. Another year I wrote my story for the first challenge, realised the location was wrong and it would get kicked for not following the prompt, and had to hammer out a second with a few hours to go. The second story got some really mixed feedback from the judges, and the first (which didn’t get sent off due to the location issue) ended up being my entry to the London Independent Story Prize. (So as I mentioned, there is more to entering competitions that just the competitions themselves.) 

This time around I’ve been given the genre, fairy-tale, the location of river rapids, and the item that must be included in the story is a scooter. Those first two I can work with, they even sort of make sense when mushed together in a 1,000 word story, but why? Why, oh why you cruel writing gods? Did you put scooter as the object?

I think I’ve made it work. I think… Either way, I now have a piece of flash fiction that’s just over a 1,000 words and I’ve got the rest of today to edit it into shape. (If you were wondering what task I’m using this blog post as procrastination for, then you’ve finally found it.)

I’m also in need of a title for my story, and I’m probably going to aim for something relatively fairy-tale-esq in case I end up getting the same feedback as I did on the last fairy-tale I tried to write. “Not quite fairy-tale enough”. 

*Grumbles quietly*. 

So before I wile away the remaining hours of my Sunday, moaning about not quite hitting the writing mark, I’m going to hit post on this blog, and go edit my story. Until the next time I want to avoid writing, I wish you all the best with whatever projects you have on this weekend. May the words flow, and someone else put the kettle on for you! Happy writing. 

The Dead Will Always Outnumber The Living – #DVerse Prosery

There was a sign propped up against the empty doorframe which read “If you are a dreamer, come in” except the paint had chipped, and instead of dreamer it read dream.

Continue reading →

Universe On AutoSave #DVerseProsery

The coffee was cold, and the machine broken. Gabriel checked the plug, tried wiggling it in the socket and swore as the thing zapped him.
‘Smooth brother.’ Raphael stood with his head still bent over the control panel across the room. ‘If you’re done playing around, I need you to check these stability levels.’ He waved at a series of flashing lights.
‘Why call them that?’ Gabriel sucked the burn on his finger and edged towards the controls. ‘There’s nothing stable about this realm. Why bother keeping things ticking over. Why not fix it all, or simply hit the kill switch?’
Raphael’s brow tightened.
‘I prefer keeping in mind, even the possibility, that existence has its own reason for being. We’re here to keep the others from tampering.’
‘Makes more sense to let them.’
‘No brother, there is no sense in endings at all.’

I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility that existence has its own reason for being.

Wisława Szymborska, ‘Possibilities

Tonight’s line for the prosery prompt was chosen by Merril, and is perhaps one of my favourite, ever, prompts. 144 words doesn’t feel like quite enough for this wonderful line, so I might have to come back to it later on and work this into a longer piece because ideas have been sparked, and it would be a shame to let them fizzle out.

Just Two Left – #Prosery

‘What did you just say?’ Selwin asked, leaning his body through the open doorframe. He squinted past the greasy smoke and spotted Jak crouched by the hearth, hands out to the spluttering flames.
‘I went out to the hazel wood, because a fire was in my head,’ Jak muttered, his scalp mottled and pink in the gloom.
‘It wasn’t in your head.’ Selwin crossed the room to open the back door. ‘You messed with a bad spell and set the world alight.’
‘It needed to be let out.’
‘It needed you to mind your own business.’ He waved a hand in front of his face, the air clearing slowly. He frowned at the shadows across Jak’s features.
‘New worlds rise from ashes,’ muttered the broken wizard.
‘Not from these.’
Selwin sighed and sagged against the doorframe. ‘Your just lucky enough not to see it.’

Tonight’s DVerse Prosery prompt takes inspiration from the poem ‘The Song of Wandering Aengus’ by Yeats.

‘I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head’.

The Walls Whistle – Flash Fiction #DVersePoets

They bought the house new, especially to avoid these sorts of things.
There is nothing behind the wall, except a space where the wind whistles, and it always whistles. Even on still days, when the plastic windmills in the neighbour’s garden don’t clatter, and Gregory Mutt’s union jack is slummed around its flagpole, the wind whistles!
‘I don’t quite understand what you want?’ the contractor explained. ‘There’s nothing to explain where a draught would be getting in, and we’ve checked all your external walls.’
‘Listen though!’ Jenny hauled him through the kitchen by the front of his shirt, pressed her face to the lilac paint. ‘It’s whistling now!’
The contractor stared at her, wide eyed, and a little sweaty.
‘Aye,’ he croaked, ‘I hear it.’
She yanked him closer.
‘You will,’ she said, quiet now. ‘You will be the one to make it stop.’

It’s the end of a long day and I still have words to write for NaNoWriMo, but I’m taking a little break to pop over to the dVersePub and see what delights they have in store for tonight’s prompt. They’ve yet to dissapoint!