This past week South Australia has sweltered through a record length heatwave (over four days above 40 degrees Celcius - making it to over 45.) We only just missed out on a record high temperature of 46.1, on Thursday.
I have lived here for over 25 years. Each year I enjoy the winters more. Each summer I melt into a puddle, praying for some relief (or to win the lottery so I could relocate for the summer. Tuscany would be perfect!) At least we did not get the predicted blackouts due to overloading on the power station.
All week I sat imprisoned in the house trying to avoid the weather. What better time to do some writing. It was a pity my brain was turning slowly to slush, parboiling inside my skull. It was time for some stream of consciousness - just writing whatever came to mind. I managed over 1000 words over those five scorching days. I am quite happy with that. If I had just 'splodged' in front of the television I would not have achieved anything.
Next on my schedule is to finish off the chapter (possibly only 500 odd words to go) and then assess the feedback from my writers' group. I am trying new ways of handling dialogue. The best advice I got was: Only read the dialogue (ignore all other words) and see if I can still follow the scene. Hmm... Some revisions to be done there. Such a simple tactic, that makes so much sense. Thank you ladies!
Manuscript Word Progress: Total Words: Revised Words: At 1st draft only:
That got your attention. Flash fiction (or micro fiction) is a very short story. Depending on the type it has different word count restrictions. Generally, flash fiction is under 1000 words (though I have heard 800 words as a definition as well). There there also are 'under 500 word' versions. The most difficult to write are 100 words - exactly! This takes a lot of skill to engineer an exact word count.
I had asked some friends for some 'topics' to write on. I chose 'Snow Peas'. Here is an 'under 500 words' flash fiction for today:
Snow Peas (c)Karen Carlisle 2013
Mum always tells us to eat our greens. They are good for us. We grow them in the front yard. This year she went pea mad, planting every pea type known. With names like ‘Greenfeast’, ‘Bounty’ and ‘Telephone’, I wasn’t sure if we were meant to eat them or communicate with them. I hate peas. I swallow them whole, like pills.
This year mum also planted ‘Sugar Peas’ and ‘Snow Peas’. She was hoping to find something that I might like. The Snow Peas were my favourite but not as mum had hoped.
Though it was only just summer, we were having a heatwave. Two weeks in a row above 37 degrees (Celcius) and the peas were looking a little bedraggled. Mum picked possibly the last of the snow peas and made a delicious looking salad. Well she said it was delicious, I thought it could have done without the snow peas.
Mum looked so sad; her babies were dying. I wished I could cheer her up, maybe chase the heat away. I couldn’t, so I ate the snow peas. They were cold and refreshing, as if there was an arctic breeze across my tongue.
As I opened my mouth, a gust of cold air rushed out, filling the room. Small icicles formed where it touched. Mum almost fell off her chair in surprise. I opened my mouth again, this time freezing mum’s cup of tea. Then I had an idea.
Outside the sun was still beating down with its full heat. I turned towards the vegetable garden and breathed. The air chilled around me, dropping the temperature. It felt like spring. If I could lower it for long enough then maybe the peas could survive the heatwave. The temperature continued to drop. Now it was like winter. Small icicles formed on the leaves, the tips turning black.I heard the front door slam. Mum stood beside me. “Oh dear,” she said. “Peas don’t like frost.”
Mum looked sad again. I backed off and didn’t speak. The peas continued to freeze. Mum hugged me. “Thank you for trying,” she said. Though mum was upset at the loss of her babies, I must admit I was glad that I did not have to eat any more peas that summer.
It took two days for the snow pea effects to wear off. During that time, we discovered many new ice-block flavours and mum decided that she was not going to make me eat peas anymore. That is why I love snow peas.