FlashFictionMonth has come to a close, which makes this – for me – five years. July has become an indispensable highlight of my year, and once again I’m very pleased with what came of it: not quite every story was a winner, but close to it.
My biggest obstacles this year should, perhaps, have been the three extra challenges heaped on top of the official ones – but in fact they were the heat (which essentially limited my writing to nighttime) and a certain motivational problem around week 2. Of the challenges, I was surprised to find that the anonymously contributed “every character is queer” one made things hardest. Several reasons for that: 1) flash fiction is short enough that usually it just doesn’t come up, meaning that I had to write a lot of transition- or relationship-focused stories in order to make room for it; 2) its influence made the fairy tale challenge harder than it otherwise would have been: I had to select stories to rewrite that would work well with it; 3) representation is great and all, but burying one’s gays is not, so I was forced to write a number of stories just dripping with wholesomeness.
This is, of course, a good thing. Wholesome queer stories are very much needed in the world today, and expanding one’s boundaries as a writer is always good – I default to tragedy far too often, so all this sappy wholesome romantic happy-ending fluff was a really good thing for me.
I mean, not that the tragic ones aren’t in there too.
Teague-Drydan’s fairy tale challenge was fun and excellent, though it contributed to the tone of this month being much less varied than in previous years. Usually I try to go for a good mix of stories: this time, I totalled one humour story (the collaboration challenge) and two or three sort of silly stories (the official fairy tale / anthropomorphism challenge, written during my week of extremely failed motivation, and another tropes challenge or two). The good news is that the overriding tone is one that I very much enjoy, and apparently so do many of my readers. I’ve had people asking me to publish an anthology of fairy tale rewrites and/or original fairy tales, and I’m quite tempted to make that a reality if I can: partly because “publish a book of fairy tale rewrites/interpretations” has been on my not-quite-serious internal to-do list since I was about eight, partly because I love these things, and partly because it’d give me a chance to introduce more variety than I did for FFM. Due to time constraints for research, nearly all of the fairy tales I rewrote were either Grimm tales or ones from more recently collected, more specifically local folklore. Which is great and all, but not particularly diverse.
joe-wright’s All-Star challenge, which he talked me into taking on despite the will of the dice, was actually in many ways the easiest. Getting everything in there in very limited time on top of everything else was a bit of a struggle, but for the most part it acted more as inspiration than as a limit. So I guess I won’t be ruing that challenge after all.
Now that the month is over, it’s time for a break, sleep, and work on a bunch of other things that I’ve put on hold for the sake of FFM. Also, an upcoming vacation. I’ll get started on this year’s FFM collection when I’ve recovered a bit and have the time, but I will be out of the country, without a computer or internet, from August 17th to the beginning of September. If you need me during that time, leave me a note or comment somewhere where it won’t get lost, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can (but not before September); and as for the collection, what with that break there’s a very good chance it won’t be out until sometime next month.
In the meantime, if you’d like to read some other FFM stories I’ve compiled a feature list over on my dA account – enjoy!