I’m sure I could write a long post about how hard it’s been to concentrate this month or how Lockdown Brain seems to be a real phenomenon, or about how difficult and annoying it is for me and my family to be quarantined together, but we all know how hard things are at the moment – you don’t need me to tell you.
And it’s not all been bad…
I wrote and that’s the main thing.
For a start, there was the unexpected joy of another challenge. At a time when I felt like doing nothing more than lying around and feeling sorry for myself, TLC came up with something to remind me every day why I like being a writer so much. Most of what I wrote in April was a confusing mess but I wrote and that’s the main thing.
Quite apart from all that writing, I’ve seen a marked rise in my social life. In other words, I have one. I’ve talked to more people during this lockdown than in all the previous months put together. Being able to chat away online while wearing my pyjamas and keeping one eye on the TV isn’t getting old any time soon. I was able to get in touch with all my fellow TLC alumni and swap moans, jokes and various silly memes again. I may have mentioned once or twice what an unsociable human being I am but I do love the community that comes together through these challenges and in the current climate that has been more welcome than ever.
The fun side of writing.
And the countdown for Like The Prose has started. I must admit that last year I wasn’t looking forward to it. Up until then I’d had no luck with writing short stories. My main problem seemed to be an inability to stop writing, which should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog or my WordPress one. Whenever I tried to enter an online competition, I found I would be within 10 words of the maximum total allowed and only a quarter of the way through the story I was trying to tell.
In the end I decided to turn to the professionals for help. I went to the second-hand book store and bought some short story collections by authors I enjoy and admire and I read them all. Then I read them all again. And finally, it clicked. I don’t have to tell the whole story from beginning to end, I can just find the best bit, the bit that’s the most interesting or important and tell that instead.
After that I found it much easier to write short stories. I would get an idea and enjoy dissecting it to find the best bit to present to the reader. Suddenly I could have fun with it, play around and cherry-pick the parts that were the most fun to write. I could reference things in the past and hint at future events. I could even have a cliff-hanger if I was feeling particularly cruel!
Writing short stories has now become the fun side of writing for me. It’s like a quick, tasty snack that fills me up and leaves a pleasant taste in my mouth.
A feeling of freedom
So, this year I’m looking forward to the challenge and the briefs that come my way each day. I’m ready to have some fun and be playfully creative. Short stories seem to give me a feeling of freedom; freedom to experiment, freedom to be daring and freedom to let the sometimes-elusive Muse have free reign for once.
So much freedom! And right now any kind of freedom is worth it’s weight in gold.
I hope you came through April with positives too, and some sense of freedom (however minute). Roll on Like The Prose and roll on a time when we can once more use our ability to go out as an excuse not to write.