Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Struggling with short stories

I've been struggling with short stories recently. Not reading them, that's no problem, but writing them. I've put ICHWT (I Could Have Written That) beside several of the ones I've read in an effort to spur myself on but to no avail. Actually getting down to writing a full-length short story, as opposed to my preferred medium of flash fiction, was beginning to feel like attempting to climb Everest in a pair of kitten heels.

However, as I mentioned in a recent post, I like to set quotas for my work and that includes sending out at least one short story per month. Even though I really wanted to get a story to Woman's Weekly, mainly because I haven't sent them one for a while and they are one of my target markets, I wasted the first week of the month looking (to no avail) for a flash fiction competition to enter. I then spent the second week trawling through my (ever growing!) folder of unpublished stories in the hope that I could find something I hadn't already sent them, also to no avail.

Finally, with the days ticking by, I was forced to accept that I would have to write a new story. The third week of the month was therefore spent compiling a ridiculously long list of ideas and going through the usual agonies of which one to choose.

But just as I was about to finally put fingers to keyboard, a very unexpected thing happened. A friend emailed me some photos of my late parents' canal cruiser "Krackas II" (don't ask!) which they had spotted on the Macclesfield Canal. I had no idea what had happened to the boat which was a very important part of my life many years ago but was sold just before my father passed away in 2007.

On the off-chance (anything to avoid doing any writing!) I put the name of the boat into a search engine and much to my amazement, found it on a social networking site for Ormelite Cruisers (

I immediately joined the site so that I could leave a comment about it. (The boat is quite unusual as my father more or less built it himself in the next door neighbour's front garden.) Anyway, the current owner joined in the discussion, seemed delighted to hear about the boat's history and invited me to go and see it when he returns from holiday.

Suddenly I had a short story, complete with plot, imaginary characters, setting, theme and even a title, with no effort on my part whatsoever! Of course, I've still got to actually write it but I feel more excited and passionate about this story than I have done with any story for a while, especially the one I was planning to write.

In fact I feel so sure of this one that I'm going to stop writing this post and get started on my story right away before any more of this month evaporates. I wish you bon voyage with your own short stories.  



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