Back in 2020, during the Commonwealth Writers Workshop in Georgetown, my cohort and I were given an assignment. We were asked to bring something small to the workshop that we could part with exchange it with our workshop neighbour, and write a 500-word microfiction about that object. I brought a faux-amethyst necklace and in return, I received a picture of three students in uniform walking away from the camera.
Long story short, I failed the assignment spectacularly.
At the time, novels were the only thing I read. I had only started exploring short stories the year prior and hadn’t even considered what shorter stories may look like. In my ignorance, I tried to pack a novel’s worth of ideas into those 500 words.
It was such an innocent age.
Since then, I have explored shorter works, mostly anthologies (see here and here) and collections (here and here), but also from online magazines and the Escape Artists podcasts. I have been amazed by the shapes and forms of these shorter stories, the way their authors could weave so much emotion and craft into these tiny, bite-size spaces. I knew that I wanted to do that, too.
So I read craft articles, took classes, watched youtube videos, and wrote and wrote and wrote. I learned from every rejection, every criticism, and every janky story I produced.
So, once Clarion West announced their write-a-thon, and I saw that there’s a flash-fiction workshop ongoing, I decided to sign up to give myself the space and time to complete my regular writing projects as well as try my hand at flash fiction again.
I have three ongoing intentions for this. Firstly, I wanted to learn to write tighter. I am insecure about how verbose my writing can be, and a flash workshop – where my word count is strictly limited – will help me condense my prose to deliver stories quickly and efficiently.
Secondly, I want to write more. Last write-a-thon, I spent six weeks hand-wringing over a single short story. I am proud of that story. It was janky, but I finished it. I wanted to get more practice this write-a-thon so that I can get back into the habit of writing frequently.
Thirdly, I wanted to make more friends. I enjoyed attending writing sessions and classes last year. I had a great time in those spaces and I’m grateful for the friendships and critique partners I found in those spaces. But this time, I want to be more interactive.
Writers are chaotic creatures with strange and fascinating habits. Writing is also a lonely endeavour. There’s always something to learn from these social interactions. I, for one, learned about these adorable little motion-activated timers/clocks during two writing sprints. I joined a community of Scivener-obsessed weirdos who make Scrivener-phobic writers squeamish. But mostly, I have been having fun
So, what did I achieve during this first week of the Write-a-thon?
- I wrote my first flash-fiction story
- I learned the Help Build! model of offering critiques
- I critiqued two stories
- I finished writing a personal essay
- I started re-reading and making edit notes on a short story I want to submit to a competition.
- I had fun.
In short, I am happy with the progress I made with this write-a-thon so far, and I look forward to what the next five weeks will bring.
I already have so many ideas.