Welcome to Morning Pages — it’s time for a monthly roundup. I hope you’ve got your pencils sharpened and ready to write. Wanna join in on the fun? Read the prompt, set your timer* and get ready to let the words flow. Feel free to post the results of your work in the comments below where we chat about writing and (if the mood strikes us) get a craft discussion going.
If you want critique from other commenters, use #YESTHANKS in your comment. Otherwise, you can tell us about the flash fic and the process you went through to write it. And of course, I’m always open to hear what you think about my excerpts!
*you can write for as long as you want, but most folks choose 15-30 minutes.
What I learned this month: I’ve had a lot of fun incorporating experiences from my work-life into SFF worlds this month. Between What’s That Smell, Ivy, and Bad Idea, I’ve used sailing not just as a mode of transportation or a backdrop for an epic quest, but as the purpose, the punchline, the vector through which the story gets told.
(Okay, Ivy has nothing to do with sailing, but have I gifted someone a plant they ended up being allergic to? Yes, yes I have.)
There’s a lot of me and my specific, concrete experiences in these flash fics. What’s That Smell is, fundamentally, a joke for anyone who has spent any time living or working aboard a sailboat. Mystery smells (usually unpleasant ones) are part and parcel of shipboard life, and when I say I’ve gone through entire compartments sniffing things with my fellow crew, trying to isolate the source of the funk… well. Yes. I had a lot of fun with that fic.
Then there’s Bad Idea — the ultimate personal-experience-as-narrative. This past month, I’ve been training to perform high-risk, close-quarters maneuvers in tight channels with fast currents for the very first time. Do I have the license to captain a ship? Yes. Have I trained for years to dock vessels like this? Absolutely. That hasn’t stopped me from feeling desperately unprepared for the responsibility on my shoulders. There’s only so much training can do for us, though. Past a certain point, we need to take the leap, trust our skills, and figure out the rest as we go.
I could flesh out a lot of allegories, here, but the obvious one is the connection to writing/publishing. Eventually, we hit a point where we’re no longer in the ‘learner’ phase… and what then? Do we self-publish? Join bigger, badder writing groups? Query and try for trad? Pitch to serialization sites? Whatever we choose, eventually there’s no prep work left to do, and we just have to bite the bullet and go.
But how do we know when we’re ready, whether at the helm of a ship, after editing a manuscript, or otherwise?
Well. That’s the question, isn’t it?
“Maybe this was a bad idea.”
A young pilot second-guesses their career choice.
“What’s that smell?”
Oceana ‘verse: Ehrin plays every sailor’s favorite game.
“Fish out of water (literally or figuratively).”
Oceana ‘verse: Imran never belonged in Anaphe.
“Write a story based on a real-life tragedy.”
“Feed:” They all know they’re going to die here.
“A character gets asked to do a favor they really don’t want to do.”
“The Look of Her:” Oceana ‘verse. Arden gets conned into being Jonah’s wing-man.
“You bought a run-down coffee shop located in a laid-back, mundane town for below market price. Not a perfect investment, but it’s an investment you can afford. You turn the coffee shop into something unique and contemporary that changes the town for the better. Suddenly, the coffee shop becomes a gossip hub where secrets of the town’s residents begin to unfold. Turns out, this town isn’t so mundane after all.”
Oceana ‘verse AU; a narrator watches two strangers get closer during the long months of the pandemic.
“Character A gives character B a gift. It backfires.”
Mel from Dark Arm of the Maker isn’t so good with house plants.
“The sky is all wrong, here.”
It’s hard to travel so far from home.
Answer the prompts or dive straight in and respond to others’ comments — let’s share our knowledge, our experience, and have a discussion we can all learn from! Don’t want to miss a post? Subscribe to the blog in the sidebar to get notified about new posts.
- How do you know when a story is ready for submission/publication—whatever submission and/or publication mean to you?
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