Sunday, 23 October 2011

The Light at the End of the Tunnel Just Sounded its Horn

I've just been looking ahead to what I have planned for November. It looks like this:

  • 30 flash365 stories
  • 30 days of NaNoWriMo novel writing (1,667 words a day)
  • start work on the rewrites for my York Notes
  • mark student work which will start arriving soon
  • continue promoting National Flash Fiction Day including building a website and running a competition
  • read the entries for the new edition of Word Gumbo and put the issue together
  • pay a visit to Manchester at the end of the month to read at Bad Language
  • submit stories, as per usual
  • teach
  • and finally, live
I'm starting to think I may be attempting to munch more than is possible.

So, I hear you ask, what am I going to do about it?

Well, there is one thing in there which is not November-critical. It's not what you might expect, though. It's my daily flash365 story.

You see, the promise for flash365 is to publish a story every day, not that it has to have been written on that day. And, I will be doing NaNo every day so it's not like I'll be taking a month off.

Also, the plan for November is a series of linked stories all set in the same location at the same time. As such, it would be great to write them all before the first is posted, then there can be forward links as well as backwards ones.

So, there's my plan. I'm going to try and write 38 flash fictions in 8 days. It sounds insane, I know, but if I can do it then November has a chance to become that little more manageable.

Okay, off I go. Wish me luck!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Another crazy idea...

So, as often happens whenever I have an idle moment, I have had an idea.

A couple of weeks ago was National Poetry Day. In December we will be having National Short Story Day. But what, I wondered, about National Flash-Fiction Day? I searched and looked and it turns out... it doesn't exist.

Well, now, with your help, it just might.

May 16th 2012 sounds like a good day for flash-fiction writers all over the UK to stand up and be counted for what they do. I'm hoping we can organise loads of events - readings, open-mics, workshops, publications, competitions and more. But I can't do this on my own. There is no funding behind this project, no large bodies of administrators, just me with a big idea asking for your help.

I shall be creating a website to promote the day, feature writers and their work (plus online links to buy your books...), promote your events and generally co-ordinate things, but the rest will be up to you.

So, if you're interested in this, want to help make it a day to remember, and perhaps even help out with the organisation, email me at nationalflashfictionday AT gmail DOT com and I shall add you to the mailing list.

Let's make this the best National Flash-Fiction Day there has ever been, whaddya say?!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Flash Writers List

I have been gathering a list of people's favourite flash writers and here it is. It'e not exhaustive, I'm sure, so if you want to add people to the list (or volunteer your own name for inclusion) them comment here, tweet me on @flash365tweets, or send me a message through Facebook.

Christopher Allen
Alan Beard
Aimee Bender
Randall Brown
Joanna Cannon
Rachel Carter
Nuala nĂ­ ChonchĂșir
Myfanwy Collins
Sheldon Lee Compton
Sarah-Clare Conlon
Sara Crowley
Lydia Davis
Gay Degani
Berit Ellingsen
Rebecca Emin
Alex Epstein
Kathy Fish
David Gaffney
Roxane Gay
Vanessa Gebbie
Niven Govinden
Bosley Gravel
Amelia Gray
Dave Hartley
Percy Herbert
Tania Hershman
Sarah Hilary
Holly Howitt
‎Emma Lannie
Alex Lockwood
Kirsty Logan
Femi Martin
Kim Mcgowan
Nora Nadjarian
Joyce Carol Oates
Valerie O'Riordan
Grace Paley
Nik Perring
Jonathan Pinnock
Meg Pokrass
Amy Rebecca
Ethel Rohan
Fat Roland
Sarah Salway
Marcus Speh
Robert Swartwood
Laura Tansley
Alison Wells
Martha Williams
Tony Williams
Eunice Yeates
Barry Yourgrau

Sunday, 9 October 2011


I'm having a crisis of faith.

It feels indulgent and self-pitying, but it's a real feeling and being rational isn't helping. If you don't want to read a writer whingeing about writing, then move on, this is not for you.

Now, you may say, if you follow my exploits on Facebook, that in the last few  weeks I've appeared on Radio 4, I've had an article accepted for Writing in Education and a story accepted for Shoestring; I've started back to teaching a full timetable - mostly Creative Writing for the first time in years - and I've continued writing my daily flash-fictions. So, what's to be down about?

It's the things that aren't happening that are getting to me. In the same period as these successes I've had a number of stories rejected, I've had a number of stories - stories I consider to be among my best - not short-listed for competitions in which I felt sure I had a chance. I've had rejections for jobs and other opportunities, and I've had speculative emails disappear into the ether with no response.

Swings and roundabouts, you say? Good and bad? It's all part of the life you've chosen. I know all that, but it doesn't raise the spirits. Instead I find myself questioning what I'm doing. I know that some important people in the business are taking me seriously, and there are likely to be some big breaks just around the temporal corner, but it doesn't stop the feeling that I'm howling into the void.

When I started flash365 I envisaged a crowd of people eager to read my stories. Instead, as time goes on, it seems that people have simply become used to them as a wallpaper to their lives. If they are reading them, they don't tell me. If they like them, they smile to themselves and move on with their day. If they don't, they simply shrug and move on with their day. I'm not asking for adoration, I'm really not, but just the feeling that someone has noticed would be nice. I thought maybe my radio appearence would help, but it seems to have had no effect.

I have a really large project that I'm thinking of starting up, but I'm even starting to wonder if I have the right to do it. Am I suffering from delusions of grandeur? If I do it will anyone care, will anyone join in, or will they just say 'Oh, it's him again. Ignore him and he'll go away.' Rationally I don't think so, but rationality has a hard battle against such negative thoughts.

Am I whingeing? You bet I am. But this is how I'm feeling. Because, when this starts happening, you start to doubt yourself. Yes, I've had things published, but maybe I'm not as good as I think I am. Maybe, in fact, I'm pretty crap, pretty run of the mill, pretty ordinary. And in that case, the big break I'm working towards will never come and I will always be just bumbling along and making a fool of myself.

Being a writer requires dedication. This has been stated over and over again. But it also requires self-belief and confidence because you can never actually assess how good you are. When that gets knocked, it's easy to lose faith, lose hope, lose direction and start to believe that it's all pointless.

So, what am I going to do? Well, I'm going to carry on writing my daily flash-fictions. Are people reading them? Yes, some are. I don't have the huge following I'd hoped for, but I'm certainly not going to let down those people who are following. And, more importantly, I'm not going to let myself down by failing after 160 days of success.

Am I going to undertake my large new project? Yes, I'm going to try. I can fail and fall flat on my face, but that won't kill me. And, if I succeed....

Am I going to keep submitting and sending out stories even though only 1 in 10 make it? Of course, what else can I do. If I don't submit I won't be published and if I'm not published I'm just talking to myself.

So, forgive me for this whining blog entry. Its impossible, I think, to be guns-blazing and gung-ho all the time, and who knows, if you've read this far you might just identify a little.