“Stan says you’re a writer.” “Yep.” “Nice job. Sitting on your bum all day waiting for inspiration.” “Well …” “What name do you write under?” “My own.” “Never heard of you. I like to read that crime guy whatsisname and the wife likes that romance authoress whatserface. Maybe try your hand at that, eh?” “Probably not.” “So what do you write?” “Literary fiction.” “Yeah? Whatsisname is a millionaire. Worth giving that a go, if you ask me.” “Ah well.” “I won a couple of writing competitions in primary school. Might take it up again when I retire. Bit of extra money.”
–––––––––– “I write to create imaginary worlds that readers can relate to.” – the writer
Brian Denby opened his computer and started writing. He didn’t know why he was writing or what words were actually ending up on the page. His fingers kept moving across the keyboard and the words kept filling up the page. He knew he had to be careful and not cross the 100-word threshold or his story wouldn’t be published. After about 10 minutes he looked at the word count and saw that there were 101 words. Rather than bothering to read the content of the story he looked for a single word to cut.
Bruce Levine writes, he says, “because he simply wants to share with his readers.”
What if I leave the dog out? You can’t leave the dog out. It’s hilarious. How about the two phone calls? Necessary to the plot. But it’s got to be less than 100 words. What if I leave out the storm descriptors? Then, excuse the pun, you destroy the atmosphere. How about the phrases I worked hard at? Like ‘masochistic glee’? Yes. Those frilly phrases? Use the scythe. Kill your darlings. So what do I do? Regroup. You can fit anything into 100 words. War and Peace? Yes, even War and Peace.
John Malone is “learning to love the restrictions of the 100-word format.”
And in the end, it’s just letters
Arranged into subjective words,
Scribbled onto the pulp of a dead tree
Which would have preferred that humans
Only communicated verbally so that it would
Still be alive standing tall, soaking in the
Sun’s brilliant light.
“I write to share what I can with others.” – the writer
Dare I dabble in Drabble? the prolix writer asks.
What’ve ya got to lose? his friend patiently responds.
Not much … maybe 2400 words.
Were they all worth including?
Nah. Just my inner thoughts, deep regrets, and lessons learned about that kid—
You know the one.
Can’t say I do.
The lost kid … the one I tried to save.
What happened to him?
It’s a long story …
“After decades writing what others asked of me, I am thrilled to have the freedom to follow my curiosity wherever it takes me. Not incidentally, I’ve always wanted my words to change the world—preferably for the better!” – the writer
I noticed my typo
& wondered if
I only think in terms
of the finished thing
leaving the living
to be constructed
by tomorrow’s steadier hands.
A.S. Coomer is a writer, musician, and taco fanatic. Novels include Rush’s Deal, The Fetishists, Shining the Light, & The Devil’s Gospel. He runs Lost, Long Gone, Forgotten Records, a “record label” for poetry. He co-edits Cocklebur Press.
For weeks, I’ve waited for him to pay attention to me, but my patience is wearing thin. I’m tired of being ignored day after day. I try enticing him, but nothing I do seems to work. If things don’t change soon, I’m leaving, and when I’m gone, I won’t be coming back! He’ll be sorry when he finds out it’s not every day that a good idea for a story comes along, but by then it’ll be too late. I think I’ll enjoy watching him try to find some hot plot line that will put up with his writer’s block.
It’s time to face the truth. Your story is abysmal. It’s trite. Overblown. It’s full of mixed metaphors and sloppy syntax. The characters are one-dimensional. The plot’s missing. There’s no beginning. No middle. No proper ending. Who on earth would publish it? It will never win awards. Bookshops won’t stock it. The critics will crucify you. They will say it reveals a lot about the kind of person you are. Take our advice and burn it. Think of the pain you’ll be spared. No need to thank us. This is the whole point of our Writers’ Support Group. Who’s next?
Sandra Arnold is a Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions nominee. Her third novel, Ash, will be published by Mākaro Press (NZ) in 2019.
No piece of writing is worthy of destruction – yes, it may be cringe-worthy, but half-formed ideas hide between the bad grammar and spelling mistakes. These precious little insights will be nourished when the water of the muses flow. Crumbs of inspiration quickly transform into beautifully composed pieces. Never throw away any article of writing you felt compelled to manifest. Place the offensive piece of ink on paper in a dark drawer if you must. Let it grow there, like a fungus. Soon there will come a time when these little writer’s blights will provide the antidote to writer’s block.