Monday, 30 April 2012

30th April

This is a very special day.

All across Europe there will be a great merry-making . In Finland there will be widespread swilling of sparkling wine at fancy picnics...

in Estonia there will be joyful costumed processions through the streets...

in Germany there will be bonfires and pranks (which I dare not illustrate), and in Czech Republic witches will be burnt.

For today it is my birthday!

What?... What do you mean it's Walpurgis Night?

Yes, April 30th, half way to All Hallows, is a spring festival across large swathes of Europe. I'd have a day off and be celebrating my special day in an appropriate manner (which may indeed involve bubbly, processions and pranks).

Instead I am on a course for work. A bit of a jolly? No! Wasting council tax-payers' money on perks and incentives? No. 'Bring your own tea-making stuff' I have been told.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Flash Fiction - Competitions

We're now less than a month away from National Flash Fiction Day on 16th May.

I'm a big fan of Flash - I like reading them and I like writing them. The length can be anything from 140 characters ( e.g. HERE) to 100 words (e.g. HERE) 1000 words depending where you look- and that's a massive difference, but this definition seems to cover it nicely:

"Flash fiction work contains the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications and resolution. However unlike the case with a traditional short story, the word length often forces some of these elements to remain unwritten: hinted at or implied in the written storyline."
Bridport Prize website

I've listed some of the competitions around which are linking to National Flash Fiction Day in case you are tempted to give them a try:

  • Enter now! Lancashire Writing Hub's Flash Fiction Competition closes today - April 20th - and asks for exactly 165 words (including title).
  • Manchester's Flashtag writing collective want 500 words or less by Friday 27th April.
  • Yearning for Wonderland wants Unexpected Fairy Tales of under 350 words before 29th April.
  • Writing on the Wall in Liverpool want stories no more than 3000 characters (letters, not people - that would be silly) on the subject of 'The End of the World' by 30th April.

There are more competitions, events and initiatives at the National Flash-Fiction Day 2012 website

If you have the best flash fiction story ever, you could invest in the hefty £6 entry fee to the Bridport Prize's new Flash Fiction category which offers a first prize of £1000 for 250word stories - which equals £4 a word!

Related post: Short ... and I mean short... stories

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Half a fish finger

My brother is a lawyer. He's big in mediation. Who'd have thought those interminable verbal battles with a troublesome little sister would hone the skills for alternative dispute resolution? It makes me proud.

My brother recently mentioned he'd been at a legal conference where participants were asked to come up with examples of a grudge. He chose the half a fish finger story.

Mum was always scrupulously fair - equal shares for both of us. Is there anything as precisely measured as the piece of cake halved under her King Solomon-like 'one of you cuts it, the other chooses' principle? Her system of social justice has had repercussions in both our lives. I have, for example, never considered myself inferior by reason of gender. But both of us then arrived fresh-faced in adulthood with unreasonable expectations that life would continue in the same spirit of equality and fair play.

In retrospect it perhaps wasn't as fair as it seemed - my brother was two years older than me, and bigger. He probably could have done with a bigger share. But still, when mum gave him an extra fish finger one day (I was about ten) I was incensed. And I never forgot.

My final words on so many subsequent arguments were: '...and half a fish finger!' For years, decades, I held it up as an example of hideous unfairness, persecution, favouritism... and probably the main reason that he ended up at an Oxbridge college and became a proper professional person and I... well, I didn't.

Although, two of my poems are circulating within family law circles - check out 'Weapons' on The Mediation Centre website - so I'm there in spirit... and they said at his conference that mine was a 'perfect example of a grudge'.

... unless you have a better one?