Hey guys, how you holding up? Are you in a place that’s under some kind of stay at home order? Today I feel a little more anxious about things but still hopeful. When I first started this post the states of California and New York were announcing statewide lock-downs. Since then Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Jersey plus five others and many cities are under similar executive orders. India, as a whole apparently, is also on lockdown. Still I pray and pray for relief, a slow in the spread of the virus. I pray for everyone the world over.
That said, I read a beautiful post by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch Dynamic Literary Community. She opens with evidence of a rabbit on her roof. I encourage you to read her post. Charli talks about our new reality and looking back on March 2020. How will you look back on March 2020? For some of you the change in reality came in February, maybe even January. We will all look back on this with 2020 hindsight. Oh my, how we did not know when this year started the irony of 2020.
In her post Charli shares their last day before the change as well as she and her husband coming down with symptoms. She shares with us their experience trying to get tested. Trying. Luckily it sounds like they’re getting better.
What I want to reflect on about her post is the topic of writing fiction. Many years ago I stopped reading fiction for about five years. I got it in my head that doing so was not important, not productive and well, kind of useless. It wasn’t a huge deal, it’s not like I was reading a lot of fiction anyways. No I just didn’t bother to read any novels. Done. I also thought that if I was going to be doing anything with fiction, it should be writing my own novel. Wrong. Writing is like any other profession, practice, craft, exercise, you have to study it. However, you don’t have to go to school to study writing, you can read books, novels and more. (By the way, I wound up screwing my head back on straight and have long been back to reading novels. 😉 )
Charli raised the point that fiction writers are practicing the truth, and I most certainly agree. We take concepts, ideas, ideals, subjects and explore them. We are like scientists of art exploring our subject under different conditions and constraints. We’re experimenting and testing our characters with magic or new worlds. We put pressure on our characters like life puts pressure on us. Have you seen the movie Contagion? That is fiction and yet, here we are. (WAIT I am NOT suggesting what happened in that story is going to happen to us, but in some ways and some places it has.) Think about the Jetsons and how crazy their technology seemed to us back in the 90s. And yet, I’m listening to the news right now on my Echo Show, having told Alexa to play CNN, having told Alexa to turn the volume to nine so I can hear it over the noise of the shower my birds are undergoing. I check my touch screen phone for 2pm news updates, a 14-day weather forecast, instant messages between family and friends, and I think about video chats. When today will I listen to my current audio book, the Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, on whatever device I choose? Art imitates life and sometimes I think life manifests from art.
During this time of isolation and orders to stay at home we artists have a lot we can do. If you don’t have a current WIP, maybe now is the time to start one. If you do, push yourself to make progress, I know I’m going to. And as much as all of this is inconvenient at best, scary to say the least, and life-threatening at its worst, we can pull stories from it. We can safely take bits of terror or large chunks of hope and build stories. We can stamp this history into our archives, portfolios and futures. Use your feelings, the things your reading, the world outside and create something. Express yourself. (Quick example: my father sent me audio of him scatting (from the context of jazz) with some music in the background, including some drumming I believe to be his own. Time well used pops!) Of course we will never forget these times, but thankfully we still have some power to shape the future both as we stay home and stay safe and as we put our art to work.
Without further ado, here is Charli’s 99-word flash fiction challenge from March 19:
In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a rabbit on the roof. Or many rabbits. Why are they there? Explain the unexpected, go into any genre. Go where the prompt leads!https://carrotranch.com/2020/03/19/march-19-flash-fiction-challenge-3/
Alice and Janice Save the World
Alice sat atop the roof waiting for Janice. This wasn’t like her. Alice squeezed tight against the gable.
There came a high shriek. She twisted her ear listening. She heard the call and hopped out.
Janice landed next to her.
“I’m sorry Alice. You alright?”
“I am. You?”
“Should I worry?”
“No. It seems we’ve started a movement. Others want to know how we, prey and predator, have forged an alliance. They want to help. This is how we will prosper in these times now that humans have turned their backs on the world.”
“Well done my friend.”
Thanks for coming by and reading my post. If you want to read more of my flash fiction please visit my page Flash Fiction and Short Fiction. I’m trying to make more of a habit of doing the Carrot Ranch challenge as well as posting a flash fiction challenge of my own. You’ll find stories I’ve done for both at the above link. And once again, I really encourage you to visit the Carrot Ranch Dynamic Literary Community.
If you like what you read don’t forget to hit the like button and maybe even subscribe to keep up to date with what I’m posting. In addition to flash fiction I like to post about books I’m reading, read, plan to read (TBR additions, lots of wishful thinking there), writing stuff, and some rants from time to time. Hopefully I’ll have some updates or at least things to tell you about my debut novel soon. 🙂
4 responses to “March 19 Flash Fiction Challenge from Carrot Ranch”
I too went through a long period of not reading novels. Non-fiction only. I’m still pretty picky about what I pick up.
Your flash shows another lesson to be learned by the two leggeds.
Hello D. Avery! Thanks for stopping by again. 🙂 Interesting that you too stop reading novels for some time. What made you stop? What made you start back up? I wouldn’t say I’m picky about what I read. Admittedly, I like the idea of spreading the word about good books and reading books all across the horizon.
Thank you. Us two-leggeds sure could learn a lot from the world around us. Perhaps we are…
I hope you stay well also. 😀
After college, I felt burned out on reading and took a break. Then I struggled to find novels that I liked and picked up more non-fiction reading. As I began getting back into my literary art, I still couldn’t find contemporary novels that sparked my interest. I ended reading a lot of Brandon Sanderson, Tony Hillerman, Robert Jordon — none of them contemporary fiction authors. I knew I needed to find an “in” if I were to build a career in contemporary fiction. Then I started to read contemporary fiction comparatively. I found it easier to focus on the writing elements if I compared how one author opens a book compared to another. How did each manage timelines, character development, and endings? I don’t always read in pairs now that I can engage in the practice with a single novel, and I now read a lot! I’d recommend reading the (nonfiction) book The Art of X-Ray Reading by Roy Peter Clark. It’s the superpower I now strive for! Thank you for joining the challenge this week! I enjoyed your thought-provoking post and was excited to see another writer who fell away from reading. Stay well and safe!
Great comment thank you very much. I too am excited to find other people who experienced a break in fiction reading (D. Avery too!). Here I was feeling alone in this boat! 🙂
You have an interesting story. I tend to read more than one book at a time but not in an intentional effort to compare though that is what I wind up doing. (Mostly I read more than one because I’m so anxious to get through my TBR and read more books than not. I’m not a fast reader so I don’t read that much, though audio books are changing that for me. Though not changing my reading but how many books I get through. 😉 ) When I find myself loving a book I have to ask myself, why? What did I like about it? Same goes for when I don’t like a book. While I might not like a book that doesn’t mean I think it poorly written or a bad story (yes there are plenty of those). I’m about to finish Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare, one book way down the line of a large series. I will not continue with this series. It is an interesting story and concept. Her writing isn’t bad (IMHO) but the pacing, for me, is terrible. I’m discovering so much more about my own reading preferences the more I read. If this were a shorter book I’d probably read all the books. But at over 650 pages for ONE book, I can’t handle so much time spent on the characters’ relationships and home-lives with action and story progression sprinkled around like salt and pepper. I guess my books are like my taste in food, I like full robust salty savory flavors; my sweet tooth comes and goes. I like butter under peanut butter (unsweetened) to add a little salt to the taste (or I’ll just put salt on it). I’m not against books about relationships by any means but a fantasy novel that’s of epic length but little “journey/adventure” to balance the focus on the relationship, doesn’t work for me. This is something I need to remember as I write my book.
I appreciate that we have similar reading practicing and your book referral, I’m going to add it to my TBR now. I think having this kind of superpower would be awesome. Replying to you also makes me think that I should start taking notes on my reading reflections. Again, thank you very much for your visit and comment.