Tag Archives: writing

Nightgale Challenge Week Two: Dinnertime Conversation

12 Jan


Today is the second day of  Stevie McCoy‘s #Nightgale Challenge, a four week creative writing challenge based on immortality and Romanticism. Today’s prompt was this:

 Immortality comes to you, you do not go to Immortality

Shelley- “Why dost thou pass away and leave our state, This dim vast vale of tears, vacant and desolate?… No voice from sublimer world hath ever, To sage or poet these responses given – Therefore the name of God and ghosts and Heaven, Remain the records of their vain endeavour,”(Hymn To Intellectual Beauty)

(N.B. This piece is a sequel to A Cure for Death?, the piece which I wrote for Week 1 of the #Nightgale Challenge. I would advise you to read that first, if you haven’t already.)


Dinnertime Conversation

“Where were you today, Elisabeth?” Mother asks sternly, ladling stew onto our plates. She is seated at the table, chin resting in her cupped hands, staring out of the window.

“Elisabeth.” I nudge her, breaking her from the trance. “Mother asked you a question.”

She lifts her chin, her startling blue eyes focusing on my face. “At the Johnson house.” She replies, her voice low and almost sing-song as she recounts the tale. “Old Man Johnson is dying you know. I wanted to see what it was like.”

“Elisabeth!” Mother scolds. “What a thing to say! And I highly doubt that the Johnsons appreciated your company!”

“They did.” Elisabeth replies, eerily self-assured. “They said that all friends were welcome, and Old Man Johnson liked me.”

“I talked to the priest.” She continues, as Mother buries her face in her hands. “He said that Immortality comes to you, you do not go to it. He says that we’ll all be granted the gift of eternal life in Heaven.”

“And?” I prompt.

“I told him he was wrong.” She shrugs. “I don’t want eternal life in Heaven, I want it here. And I’m going to find a way to get it.”

Resolution Confusion Writing Challenge: Anger Management

10 Jan

I’ve been so wrapped up in reading for (and distracting myself from) my dissertation, that I almost forgot to post my entry for ‘Timony Souler’s Resolution Confusion challenge! The challenge was to take one of six resolutions and make it go wrong, and my resolution was:

5. I will go to anger management classes.

I’ve noticed that most of my flash fiction pieces end up as a fragment of a scene, so I think that I need to set myself another challenge to write a proper self-contained short story. I’d be interested to know what other people think though.


Anger Management

“So how did this happen?” Sadie asked, dabbing gingerly at the cut on my forehead with the alcohol wipe. For a trainee nurse, she was surprisingly squeamish when it came to the sight of blood.

“It’s all Emma’s fault.” I grumbled, wincing and pulling away as she attempted to cleanse the wound. “Her and her stupid anger management classes!”

“Oh?” Sadie’s face, a picture of concern only a moment before, was now taking on a pink tinge thanks to the effort of containing her amusement. “So they didn’t go well then?”

“I went to one.” I explained, in what may possibly have been an exaggeratedly long-suffering tone. “The instructor made us sit on the floor for two hours doing breathing techniques. Two hours, Sadie! I’ve been breathing perfectly well on my own for the past twenty years, I didn’t need her telling me that I was doing it wrong!”

“Maybe…” Sadie began, before trailing off when she saw the expression on my face. “Never mind. What happened next? One failed anger management class does not explain why you’re bleeding all over my kitchen.”

“Well I tried to explain what a disaster the class was to Emma.” I continued. “But she wasn’t having any of it. Said that I’d made this resolution for her, and she wanted me to see it through.  And then she said that if I really didn’t think the classes were working for me, then I should explain why in a calm and rational way.”

Sadie cocked an eyebrow at me. I glowered back.

“Sorry, John.” She said, pressing a bandage to my face and securing it with what looked like masking tape. What was wrong with plasters, that was what I wanted to know. “But this does not look like the result of a calm and rational conversation.”

“Oh but it was!” I defended myself. “It was very calm and extremely rational…right up until the moment I punched him.”

Sadie blinked, her expression the same one that she wore whenever I explained my messes to her. It was the ‘tell me you did not just say that’ face.

“It might still have all been OK.” I continued, not wanting to deprive her of the full explanation. “If he hadn’t had anger issues of his own. And a black belt in karate.”

Nightgale Challenge Week One: A Cure for Death?

5 Jan


Today is the first day of  Stevie McCoy‘s #Nightgale Challenge, a four week creative writing challenge based on immortality and Romanticism. Today’s prompt was this:

Through Hemlock

Keats: “That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, And with thee fade away into the forest dim:”(Ode To A Nightingale)


A Cure for Death?

She is in the woods when I catch up to her, sitting cross-legged on the dusty ground, completely relaxed despite the scene that she has just caused. When she is in one of these moods she cares little about anything but her own disjointed thoughts.

“What are you doing?” I ask her, knowing already that the answer will be far from satisfactory but needing to ask regardless, desperate for even one small glimpse into the bizarre workings of her mind.

“Thinking.” She responds dreamily, her eyes fixed on some far off point in the distance, on something only she can see. “About death. It seems such a waste, doesn’t it? There must be some cure for it.”

“A cure…for death?” Even for her this is strange. Strange and even more unwarranted than usual.

“Yes.” She is impatient now, as she so often is when others fail to understand her. “Something right under our noses, no doubt. Probably a plant.” She pulls a leaf absently from the specimen beside her, twisting it between her slim fingers.

“Well, not that one!” I snap, impatient myself, tired of her inability to reside on the same planet as the rest of us. “That’s hemlock. It’s poisonous.”

“Oh?” She shrugs, unconcerned, and the leaf spirals to the ground. “No matter. Another one perhaps. There must be thousands of plants in here.”

And then she takes off again, a blur of dirty smock and unravelling pigtails as she disappears into the gloom. I sigh and sit on the ground in her place, picking up the discarded hemlock leaf. My sister, my wild, impulsive, untameable sister, may have a point. If there are plants in here which can kill, why should there not be some which grant eternal life?


Blogging Challenges

2 Jan

As I’m attempting to complete NaBloPoMo this month, I’ve spent the past couple of days trying to plan out my posts to keep myself on track. And what should I stumble upon while trawling the internet for inspiration but TWO creative writing challenges! The first is from Lady Antimony, whose Ghouls Galore challenge I took part in last October. The challenge is this:

Resolution Confusion!


You have 6 choices of ‘resolutions’ – it’s your job to twist them as you see fit, make it go wrong in the worst possible way! 
You have up to 750 words to do so.
You will post your entry on Tuesday the 10th of January.
The ‘Resolutions’

1: I will go on a diet and lose weight.
2: I will donate more money to charity.
3: I will work harder to get that promotion.
4: I will write that book and get published.
5: I will go to anger management classes.
6: I will drink less – alcohol, caffeine etc.
But as that’s only a one day challenge, I of course felt that I needed something else to keep the creative juices flowing. Again, Antimony helped me out here, her blog linking me to the #Nightgale challenge:

 4 stories, 200 words each, Thursdays in January

Immortality vs Mortality has been an intense topic through out the ages and especially with Romantic Poets. And I don’t mean romantic as in kisses, hearts, and flowers. I mean Romantic as in the time of Romanticism with William Blake, John Keats, and Percy Shelley. The time of Frankenstein and striving for the ellusive life everlasting through any means necessary.

As it will be a new year I decided that what better way to start it off than to embrace our fears and joys over our own mortality, isn’t that what everyone thinks about every new year? lol.

So for this Blog Challenge I issue you to create four stories 200 word minimum that includes a sort of journey or realization about immortality or the lack there of in striving for it.

In Keat’s poem Ode to a Nightingale  and Shelley’s Hymn To Intellectual Beauty they try to acquire or become one with  immortality in the following ways:

January 5th – PROMPT  Through Hemlock

Keats: “That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, And with thee fade away into the forest dim:”(Ode To A Nightingale)

January 12th – PROMPT Immortality comes to you, you do not go to Immortality

Shelley- “Why dost thou pass away and leave our state, This dim vast vale of tears, vacant and desolate?… No voice from sublimer world hath ever, To sage or poet these responses given – Therefore the name of God and ghosts and Heaven, Remain the records of their vain endeavour,”(Hymn To Intellectual Beauty)

January 19th – PROMPT To Die and become one with Nature

Keats – “Darkling I listen, for many a time, I have been half in love with easeful Death, Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme, To take into the air my quiet breath; Now more than ever seems it rich to die;”(Ode To A Nightingale)

January 26th – PROMPT : Writing is Immortality

Keats – “But on the viewless wings of Poesy, Though the dull brain perplexes and retarts: Already with thee! Tender is the night, And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,”(Ode To a Nightingale)

So there you have it! Check back here on Thursday to read my first #Nightgale entry, and if you want to sign up for either of the challenges then do so by clicking on the links which I’ve provided!

Fiction Friday: Santa vs. Technology

23 Dec

My first Fiction Friday in a while, the prompt was:

Santa has employed a publicity agent and marketing firm to revamp his style; as he feels he has lost touch with the modern child. In your flash fiction submission, choose a scene or event surrounding this event. It might be his decision, his attempts to approach credible firms, or a glimpse into what the “new look Santa” has to offer.


Santa sat in front of the computer, feeling thoroughly confused. Of course, he had delivered these machines to countless children over the years, but until the present moment he had never used one himself. Still, it couldn’t be too difficult. He had already managed to get the thing switched on, and after only forty five minutes. Everything else should be a doddle now that he had figured that out.

Three hours later though he was still staring blankly at the screen. That was the state in which Leonora found him when she arrived to check on his progress. Leonora was a publicity agent, and in her own shrewd opinion one of the best, but she had never taken on a client quite like Santa before. But then she always had problems with the older clients, she just needed to convince him to move with the times. He certainly seemed kindly enough, and hadn’t kicked up a fuss at any of her suggestions. Not even the one about the naked pictures.

Still, from the bemused look with which he greeted her she could tell that it was going to be a long afternoon. It was times like these when she wondered whether her policy of letting the celebrities have as much involvement as possible was really for the best. They tended to get irritable if they weren’t involved, but they were just so incompetent. For goodness’ sake, she could have worked her way through the majority of this list of tasks in less than an hour on her own.

“I just don’t understand what it’s all about.” He was saying helplessly now, gesturing towards the screen. “It all seems rather silly to me.”

Leonora sighed, flipping a wayward strand of hair out of her eyes with a long manicured fingernail and taking control of the mouse. “Twitter’s actually a very valuable tool for self-promotion.” She explained, willing herself to stay calm. “All the celebrities are using it.”

“I see.” Santa nodded, considering. “And what would happen if I pushed this button?”

The screen juddered and then went black. Leonora blew out a breath. She could smell a change of policy in the air.

The Night Of Writing Dangerously Live Blog

20 Nov

21:32: Time to get started! I have my laptop, my story plan, a room full of fellow crazy people, what more do I need?

21:35: If my laptop screen would stop wobbling it would be very much appreciated!

21:37: It would also be appreciated if the rugby lads who are chanting in the next room would shut up…

21:51: Oooh, someone has just mentioned pizza! Never mind the fact that I’ve already eaten, suddenly I’m starving…

21:52: One of my friends has just asked us for ideas of places to go on a third date. Another friend replied “To a bull fight?”

21:53: The first friend has now asked for the title of a fake romantic film. The second replied “Cow tipping…in Venice!”

21:55: Everyone is now discussing the plot of this fake romantic film. Coming soon to a cinema near you?

21:57: In other news, I’ve written 73 words in half an hour. Perhaps writing with friends isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…

22:07: Pizza successfully chosen – now hoping that everyone else decides quickly so that we can order!

22:15: 185 words down. This is going incredibly slowly…

22:24: The mathematicians are now discussing square roots. Kill me now…

22:32: Pizza is now being ordered. Now if only I could motivate myself to write before it gets here!

22:56: “How would you describe something between soft and hard?” Someone asks. “It was like clutching a hedgehog!” Suggests someone else.

23:18: PIZZA TIME!!!

23:50: There has just been a rather epic fight over a brownie. Clearly we will do anything to distract ourselves from writing…

23:59: Our secretary has been maimed in a tragic sofa-vaulting accident. Who says writing isn’t dangerous?

00:31: Essential essay reading has taken priority over writing. Oh the trials and tribulations of student life!

01:17: Distracted again, this time by awesome word games. There is far too much hilarity and far too little writing going on in this room!

02:04: Finally started writing again, and have decided to extend the evening due to lack of progress. There’s some talk of staying until breakfast…

02:14: So far tonight, I have written 811 words. Not quite what I was hoping for, but it all adds to the word count.

02:23: Just broken 15,000 words.

03:16: Still not getting very far with this. Might be time to call it a night…

NaNoWriMo Update: The Night of Writing Dangerously

20 Nov

Much as it pains me to say it, I have to admit that I’ve failed. With only 14,000 words of my novel completed, I have realised that my chances of winning NaNoWriMo this year are slim at best. And having missed several days of NaBloPoMo, it would appear that that too is not happening for me this month. I could make excuses about work, and other commitments, and the need to prioritise sleep over writing, but they wouldn’t change anything. In fact, they would be little more than an excuse to procrastinate more.

So, instead, I am changing my goals, aiming for 25,000 rather than 50,000, and taking comfort in the fact that that will still be the longest piece I’ve ever written (certainly the longest I’ve ever written in a month). The rest will come eventually, and maybe this way I won’t completely fail my degree for the sake of NaNoWriMo. And to help me beat my pathetic word count into shape, tonight I am participating in the Night of Writing Dangerously with a group of friends from the Creative Writing Society. To make this event even more fun (and because I enjoyed it so much last time), I will be live-blogging my way through the night (which will go on until around 2AM). How many words can I write in just over four hours? Your guess is as good as mine!