As mentioned previously, I really enjoy writing in a super-short form. I’ve been told I have the ability to distil. So … prose poems and poetry have been added to my repertoire. I’m currently working on a new collection of poetry, prose poems and flash fiction titled ‘Love & A Search for Meaning’. What do you think of this working title for a collection? Any comments much appreciated.
“Writers live twice. They go along with their regular life, are as fast as anyone in the grocery store, crossing the street, getting dressed for work in the morning. But there’s another part of them that they have been training. The one that lives everything a second time. That sits down and sees their life again and goes over it. Looks at the texture and the details.” – Natalie Goldberg
Have a read of my flash fiction ‘Sober Sixty’ first published in the August 2020 Grieve Anthology, Stories and Poems of Grief and Loss.
Samantha’s single women friends were envious, although she assured them Johnny wasn’t perfect. Mood swings, challenging stuff like that.
Nobody messed with Johnny. Nobody knew better than he did, he was always watching YouTube and learning new facts and figures. Also, he rode a motorbike and practiced shooting at weekends. There were Facebook groups for bike riders and a rifle range nearby. Johnny was proud of being a rev-head and a good shot with his gun, and not many people could disagree that he had unusual interests for a man his age.
‘Sober since forty and counting,’ he said about his sobriety. They didn’t talk about his twenties and thirties.
There’s a photograph of the two of them from Christmas day. Johnny had tried to lower himself to Samantha’s height for the photo so they’d be on the same level. ‘Stand up tall,’ she’d said. ‘Stand to your full height.’ ‘That’s right,’ he’d said. ‘You like things big.’
‘What does ATP in ATP Cup stand for?’ was the type of thing Johnny would call out while she poured him a glass of water before setting out on a stroll around the block.
Samantha thought she knew the answer, but didn’t want to risk being wrong. She’d learnt to tiptoe around his wildness and dreaded the fighting when she wasn’t attentive enough to his needs. Dry drunk, AA called it. The unpredictable rages were doing her head in. She knew she needed the courage to walk away.
Now she’s getting by a day at a time.
Her friends say she’s one of the lucky ones. She’s dodged a bullet.
Show don’t tell is an old writing tip, but a good one.
What does it mean exactly?
It means don’t tell us about loneliness (or any of those complex words like dishonesty, secrecy, jealousy, obsession, regret, death, injustice, etc) show us what loneliness is. We will read what you’ve written and feel the bite of loneliness. Don’t tell us what to feel. Show us the situation, and that feeling will be triggered in us.
When you take your child to school on their first day you may find yourself teary and relieved at the same time. Put into words what you see: the child’s face, the wave at the gate, the other mothers saying their goodbyes, another child coming up to take your son by the hand. We will get what you’re trying to say without you telling us directly.
The how-to-write books tell us to use our senses when we write stories: sight, sound, smell, touch. Writing from the senses is a good way to penetrate your story and make friends with it. Don’t tell us about something, drop deep, enter the story and take us with you.
What about you? Do you consciously bring the senses into your creative writing?