FFM 2017 Write-Up

This comes a few days later than I’d meant it to, but this July really wore me out. Now that I’m no longer meeting a deadline a day, sleep has taken the top priority.

This is my fourth year doing FlashFictionMonth, but only the second that I’ve done it as intended: the last two years I spent part of the month traveling, which meant that rather than writing a story a day for a month, I wrote (around) two a day for (around) two weeks. You would think that would be harder; so did I. Thus came the great pitfall. I have done this thrice before, I thought, twice under worse circumstances; last year’s circumstances were particularly horrid; yet I still managed it: so this should pretty much be easy, right?

Hubris is the art of remembering successes but not the costs at which those successes came.

FFM is more of a marathon than a sprint, as I have heard more than once from other participants. Keeping it up for a whole month may, in fact, be harder than doing twice as much a day in half as much time: particularly as having the full day available gives me the internal expectation of writing stories at least twice as good as last year’s, which really isn’t a fair expectation to hit. So, yes: I’m very much worn down right now.

But I’ve also got quite a lot to show for it: not only the 31 stories (and at the moment I’m quite happy with the quality overall: there are some I like less and one I don’t much like at all, but these are a clear minority), but also a setting I’ve reused a few times throughout the month (space faeries!) and may at some point do more with, and also – perhaps most importantly – the understanding that writing, and especially writing well, does, in fact, take time and energy. This seems obvious when you think about it, but even outside of FFM I’m continually beating myself up over not doing “enough”: I’m hopeful that the difficulty with which I made it through this month will help me adjust my expectations to something a bit more reasonable.

Then, of course, there was ilyilaice’s extra challenge: to begin each story with the last word of last one, with the final story ending on the first story’s first. This was a fun challenge, and also an interesting one, because it led me to think quite a bit about the way I usually begin and end stories. These are the 31 starting/ending words I ended up with:

(three) – skins – to – forever – yes – here – open – lucky – it – it – well – dragon – vengeance – time – ready – here – fingers – back – thorns – last – come – rise – head – hope – out – this – death – do – silence – (three)

So that’s an interesting variety, there. Astute observers will notice two its, which shouldn’t be surprising: it’s one of the very few pronouns that’s syntactically valid at both the end of a sentence and its beginning. Somewhat more surprising might be the fact that there were almost two forevers. I thought four different stories with a strong emphasis on such a dramatic word might be a bit much.

Outside of this challenge, I’ve noticed, I have a tendency to begin stories with names or pronouns – or articles, which are even worse for ending on. I tend to end on big dramatic words (forever) – nouns, infinitive verbs, adverbs. But beginning on an “infinitive” verb generally turns it into an imperative, which means either an imperative/instructional narrative or dialogue, which means it’s hard to avoid repeating oneself; and nouns are hard to begin on (singular nouns usually paired with articles, especially), and always have a pretty big impact on the story that follows.

There is a chance this may be less interesting to people other than myself. But among other things, FFM is a good way to improve one’s skills, and thinking about this is one way of doing so.

Now that it’s over, I’m planning on a much-deserved break. Lots of sleep, relaxing, maybe some games. I’ll start on this year’s FFM collection once I’ve recovered a bit: I expect it’ll be ready before the end of August.

Until then, you can peruse these FFM features on this mirror post on DeviantArt. Have a read, and enjoy!

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