Out of the Blue


There’s something tremendously satisfying about going from having no idea for a story at all to having a completed story in the space of a few hours.

Since I won last month’s flash fiction contest at SFFWorld, it fell to me to pick the topic for this month’s contest. Flush with my own cleverness, I latched on to the month of May and came up with the theme of permission.  May, may I, permission, get it?  Oh the wit.

But for the longest while, it seemed I’d spent all my ingenuity on that dazzling bit of word play, because the creative well had run dry as far as any story ideas were concerned.  I pondered on it.  I set it aside hoping something would strike me out of the blue.  I read some of the other stories hoping for some motivation.  But nothing.  And I was rapidly running out of month in which to write.

Then, with only days to go before the deadline, inspiration struck.  And struck hard.  I went from zero words to over a thousand words in the course of an afternoon.  It was as if the whole thing just sprang from my brain fully formed.  I had the idea, and almost instantly knew the beginning, middle and end, the beats, how I wanted to reveal the ending, even little details.  It was a burst of creativity I was almost sorry to burn off on such a short project.

And while I’m not going to be so vain as to think it’s perfect, I did very little revising on it.  Apart from trimming it down to reach the word limit, the story I submitted was very nearly identical to the story I finished that afternoon.  I probably could have spent more time on it, but in my mind, flash fiction means not only the length, but the time spent on it. Done in a flash, so to speak.  Riding the wave of that initial idea, mainlining it in a mad dash to the finish.  Maybe that’s why I waited so long, to feed off the rush of an impending deadline.

So now it’s posted and waiting for the first comments, and eventually the voting.  Once the contest is done, I’ll post it here, so you can either nod in agreement that it’s pretty good or sadly shake your head at how badly I deluded myself.  In either case, it was a much-needed boost to the confidence.  Now to channel that so it’s there without the pressure of almost running out of time.

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