I’m terrible at blogging. Really, really terrible.
This morning when I checked the date on my last proper ‘blog”, (we exclude poems for the sake of clarity), I realised two months had somehow flown past me. We’re now creeping into Autumn, the heatwaves are showing signs of dissipating, and the dryer is in use because business as usual has resumed regarding English weather and rain.
The results for the first round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge arrived and ‘Once Upon A Time There Was A Quest’ ranked 13th in its group. The groups normally have around 35 individuals in them, and 13th place earns two points towards moving forward into the second round. For the second round of challenge one (I hope you’re keeping up with this) I was tasked with writing a romantic comedy, set on a hot air balloon, including an alarm clock. Attempting to follow the feedback from the judges on my first story, I tried to keep my flash to just two characters, and minimal scene breaks. I say minimal, there are still two scene changes but not quite as dramatic as the ones in ‘Once Upon A Time There Was A Quest’.
There’s a cunning to books I don’t own. Tricks the eye into slipping from shelves stacked ‘soon’ where old resolutions stagger parchment pale and haggard around uncracked spines. I play a teasing game, ply their pages with well-meaning, find an aged acquaintance, face new with forgetting. Thumb their successors guiltily like a child caught, ear at the door, and smuggle home each new treasure, slip it into the seams unseen and whisper ‘no more, no more’ with every book I’ve ever bought.
These gums are splinter strewn with pencil shards from musing on ideas, chewing the fat, picking bones from the meat of a thought until it sits on the page just right stripped to sinew, muscles drawn tight pure power in a few dangerous words.
There are no hooks or bait. The skill is standing barefoot when the ice water runs across your toes and the feeling goes thick in your fingers waiting for the hum in the current. You can be there for months, lock-kneed and bent into shapes you must learn yourself out of. Still the Poem Fish does not swim in those waters, or if it does you sense it slip smaller than a minnow through the splayed net of your hands, watch the words melt and rush away with the rest of the river current. Other days the Poem Fish arrive in shoals, thrash themselves over each other to leap into your hands. Those are the days you learn which Poem Fish to throw back to grow and which you should take a knife to, split open along the belly seam and spill onto the page. Some will turn before you cut, a dead thing dead before you thump its scaled head against the rocks, and filled with sand. Those are not Poem Fish, they will not fill you up.