Flash Fiction Down Under

raceWhy do I, why do any of us write?

1. Because I can.
2. Because I want to.
3. Because, at my age, it might be considered strange to have imaginary friends.
4. Because, through writing, I have come to know myself better.
5. Because I feel I have something to say.
6. Because I love to tell stories and share some of my deepest thoughts.
7. Because it is a form of expression that I can take my time to formulate.
8. Because I want to be heard and understood.
9. Because I want something left to show that once I existed.
10. Because I want others to experience how I feel when an author moves me.

I’ve listed, in no particular order, ten out of the many reasons I write. You’ll notice that I haven’t said ‘because I have to make a living’; that’s because, currently, if I were to depend on the income from my writing to live on I wouldn’t be (living). And I haven’t listed ‘because I have no choice: writers write’; I feel that’s a given. They are just two more of the plethora of reasons you may have for writing.

Articles and posts, short stories and flash fiction; why do we bother? For some they may be the only literary channel they have time for, for others they are tools by which to hone and sharpen skills. For me personally, they serve as outlets whereby I might tempt those readers who do not know my work into looking a little further, checking out my website and sampling my wares.

Making the time, widening my focus, albeit temporarily, to encompass all of the above (for this purpose I might as well include social networking in the mix) takes me away from my main objective (completing and publishing my next book). On the other hand, if I had more time ‒ for instance if I didn’t need to supplement my income in pursuits other than literary ‒ enabling more involvement in all of the above, including social networking, I would perhaps be generating more income from my literary work.

On occasion, when a couple of things come together, just for fun I enter the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction competition.

Firstly I have to have an hour or two spare. Yeah, yeah I know it’s only 250 words or less but I’m a slow writer: it takes me a while to get the story ‒ which generally comes alive in my mind fully formed ‒ from my head onto the page in a fully coherent 250 words or less.

Secondly, the Flash Fiction prompting photo and intro tag have to immediately inspire a story. Yeah, yeah (again) I know I’m supposed to be a fiction writer and that’s what writers do isn’t it: with their weird, expansive imaginations, they make up stuff. I guess I must be a lazy writer because unless inspiration grabs me I figure it isn’t worth the effort. I’m afraid I’d make a lousy journalist.

Everyone knows the IU Flash Fiction is just a bit of fun; I mean a lot of the entries are really good, as I believe mine are ‒ this is my post so I’m allowed to blow my own horn – but we all know that. .

To assure your immortalisation in the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Anthology what you really need to do, besides write a great story, is to get as many people as possible to actually check out your Flash Fiction entry and then give you their VOTE!

My point is that it is just for a bit of fun, an exercise; although I must admit that I did think it might be nice to have one of those stories reach the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Anthology, particularly as I am one of the IU contributing authors. So, I thought what I might do is email the link to all my friends (both of them… just joking!) and ask them to check out the Flash Fiction stories, pick out whichever one they thought was the best, and vote for me (like I said this is my post).

bottom of worldOf course the timing has to be right: I have to send out the (mass) emails with the link, on the day of the voting, in plenty of time for them to vote. Since deciding that I wanted to appear in the IUFF Anthology, not only have I not managed to do the mail-out, I’ve missed the voting altogether, twice.

It must be the time scale here, Down Under. Would you believe I didn’t even manage to vote for myself. Awh poop…

Author: T.D. McKinnon

Scottish author T.D.McKinnon ‘Survived the Battleground of Childhood’ in the coal mining communities of Scotland and England before joining the British Parachute Regiment at fifteen where he remained for five years. He has trained in the martial arts for most of his life and had five Karate schools in Scotland before immigrating to Australia. He writes across several genres and has completed five books that are all available as eBooks. He lives in Tasmania, Australia with his wife. Learn more about T.D.McKinnon at his website and Amazon author page.

25 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Down Under”

  1. Hi TD–
    Number 3 on your list made me smile. How true! I can discuss my misbehaving characters in my WIP with my husband, and it’s more than a crazy woman’s blather about imaginary “friends.” Also, number 9 holds true for me. My stories shout that I was here. I created these characters. They will speak for me when I’m gone. I find comfort in that.

    Great post…

  2. Good article, T.D., I have heard a few people say they don’t participate in the Flash Fiction challenge unless the picture inspires them. In a way, I feel this misses the object of participation. It is an exercise regimen. As with any exercise regimen, it is maximally beneficial if it is performed regularly.

    There is no great challenge to the writer in producing a good story when the picture inspires. The real opportunity arises when it does not. That is what will make those writer’s muscles ache and strain and become stronger. It is that which gives us the ability to get past writer’s block and ebbs in creativity.

    Inspiration doesn’t always come to us. Sometimes we have to go get it.

    1. Don’t get me wrong, Stephen, I do understand the exercise regime thing; I endeavour to institute as many mind (imagination) and body practices in my life as I can fit (keeps me young-er). All I’m saying really is that, dealing with time constraints, I have to decide where it is I divide myself and for how long; I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that, in terms of time, the time difference between an inspired piece and a slogged piece is immeasurable. And you are so right about the ebbs and flows of creativity.

      Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to drop by and comment, Stephen.

  3. T.D. my mom used to say, “A hundred years from now who’s going to know the difference?” It always bothered me to think someone could be so easily forgotten. Our words are our legacy and through them we can live on. I put a little blurb on my FB page to hop on over and check out IU’s FF and enjoy all the entries and vote for your favorite. They have to read them all right?

    Good post, and thank you.

    1. There are many memorable quotes that I was tempted to use here to illustrate your point, Aron, concerning the short lifespan of mankind, and the tendency to leave legacies (in terms of something to be remembered by) by those who can. Suffice to say that both you and your mom were right. And the Facebook idea sounds good; do you suppose Twitter would be a good idea too?

      Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting, Aron.

  4. Good thoughts T.D. I have been fortunate to end up in both anthologies with one story each. But the post is becoming more popular, and if I may say so, the stories are usually great, so it’s turning into a really fun competition. Sometimes it’s hard to keep hold of the idea that it IS just a game, and that the voting is often from friends and family we have approached. It doesn’t matter, really, because it gets more people in touch with both sides, the writing and the reading. And that’s what I think It’s REALLY about. (and I don’t have enough friends to tap either. lol)

    1. Yes, Yvonne, and well done in making both anthologies, I guess I’m not consistent enough (or maybe you just have more friends than I do;)) but you are right of course that it is for fun and to promote IU as well as furthering the Indie cause, both reading and writing.

      Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting, Yvonne.

  5. I always shoot for the pity vote because there are some great stories coming in every week.

    I also agree with Stephen, the main reason I do the challenge every week is because it forces me out of my writing comfort zone. It has little to do with looking for a picture to inspire me and more to do with writing something that I normally wouldn’t.

    Looking back over the prompts from last year, I think my favorite was the orangatan one (the one where the perspective is a scientist trapped in orangutan body). I think I amused myself with that one more than I did anyone else.

    I think this was something that was left of your opening list. I write first and foremost for myself, to tell the story I want to hear. This is the story only I can tell in my own unique way. Even if no one else reads it, it still means something to me.

    1. “I write first and foremost for myself, to tell the story I want to hear. ”

      Bravo Jon! In the age of marketing it’s become almost bad form to write for oneself. We’re told to tap into our target market, blah blah, yet storytelling is a bit like cooking – if you don’t enjoy the meal you’ve prepared, how can you expect anyone else to do so?

    2. I agree with both you and Stephen on all counts, Jon. And I did say that they were just ten out of a plethora of reasons, and then went on to reference two more that I thought were a given and possibly ‘I write for myself’ was even more of a given; so much so that I didn’t mention it, or perhaps I just said it in a different way in #2.

      Anyway, thank you so much for dropping by and giving your take on the subject, Jon.

  6. What a great post, TD. I love it. Your ending truly cracked me up. Don’t forget to enter this week – the post is live now at https://www.indiesunlimited.com/2014/02/01/flash-fiction-challenge-snowman/

    I’m hoping that eventually lots of folks will take their stories and publish them in their own flash fiction collections. People don’t need to go to the lengths that the “Secret Scribe” goes to – sabotaging his entries – https://www.indiesunlimited.com/2013/06/12/the-definition-of-winning/, but it’d be great to see a bunch of anthologies popping up because of the inspiration they got from the Flash Fiction challenge. It’s all about the writing. 🙂

    1. Fact is often scarier, more dramatic and funnier than fiction, Kat. Glad you liked it. And the idea about publishing our own collections of flash fictions and short stories did occur to me. Actually, I thought it might be the only way I’d get to appear in an anthology… LOL

      I have no doubt that IU inspires lots of ventures, thanks to Stephen and your good self, thank you for that, and thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to drop by and comment, Kat.

      By the way I’m sure there will be a record number of flash fiction entries this week.

  7. Great post, TD. I too chuckled madly at number 3 on your list. So did all my imaginary friends. They said they voted for you in the Flash Fiction contest but I wouldn’t believe them if I were you.
    I find the Flash Fiction a real challenge. I find I often write too much and having a go at producing a story in only 250 words forces me to concentrate my efforts. It’s excellent for the brain though.
    Hope you’re up and about to read this.
    X

    1. All votes, imaginary or not, are appreciated, Carol, and it doesn’t really matter if they’re not telling the truth: it’s the thought that counts.

      I find, with flash fiction, that a story occurs to me and I just write it down; inevitably, there are more than 250 words. The exercise is then to cut out everything I can possibly cut out and still leave the story I thought of in the first place.

      I’ve been up and about since the wee hours but I’ve been a bit busy and had to log in periodically to thank everyone for dropping by and commenting. Always a pleasure, Carol, thank you.

  8. -giggles- As another Antipodean, I know /exactly/ what you mean about time-zones, TD! Notifications always seem to arrive in the dead of night, while I’m asleep, so if I don’t have time to check them first thing in the morning…poof, the moment is gone!

    Isn’t it odd that we’re technically ahead, time wise, yet we so often end up being too late?

    I agree re the Flash Fiction though. I’ve only won once, but the buzz you get is tremendous, so keep posting your entries, and maybe buy an alarm clock. 😉

    1. I figured you might be one of the only ones to fully understand where the time difference leaves us, Meeks; however, a small price we pay for belonging to this elite esprit de corps that just happens to be based on the other side of the planet. Oh by the way, on your own Flash Fiction immortalisation, well done!

      Thank you so much for dropping by and commenting, Meeks.

      1. -grin- I agree TD, a small price indeed – and thank you! It’s a strange feeling to know that my work is starting to appear in so many places. Makes me feel like a real writer. 😀

  9. Hello, I am a dear friend of Lois. My name is Colette. Although you cannot see me I would like to tell you that I enjoyed your post. Lois is slightly insane at the moment – what with the new book coming out next week. She can be difficult, you know.
    Since I am a citizen of Lois Land I wanted to stop by and introduce myself. By the way, I wrote the flash fiction post that won. I know Lois put her name on it, but she fibbed. I will get back at her by waking her up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea.
    Nice meeting you, TD.

  10. Hello Colette, how very lovely to meet you, any friend of Lois is a friend of mine. And besides, once, when I was a young man, a lovely Irish lady helped me find my way out of a very dark place; that angel’s name was Colette.

    Thank you so much for dropping by, on behalf of Lois, and commenting, Colette.

    PS: By the way, I loved your Flash Fiction; congratulations.

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