Last week I took up the Swinburne Microfiction Challenge: to write five stories in five days in response to five daily word-prompts.
And while I won’t win the prize – one thousand dollars, if you don’t mind – I haven’t come away empty-handed. The exercise has taught me three valuable lessons about me, my stories and literary magazines.
Here’s what I’ve learned about myself: that I’m a craftsman and not an artist. My stories are facile and lack true depth of feeling – that’s take-away number two. And as for literary magazines, I found that their editors favour atmosphere over action.
Sobering stuff. What it means for my writing, I can’t really say.
Having taken the challenge I’ve learned what’s lacking in me and my work: artistry, emotion and atmosphere. What I’m not lacking, though, are the five stories I finished in five days.
I can write!
Carmel Bird is holding a writing workshop here in Hobart next week. That’s good. Ms Bird is an Australian literary legend, something most tutors can’t claim to be.
What’s not so good, though, is my reluctance to attend.
So why won’t I be making a creative comeback with Carmel, having spent years hiding my literary lights – dim though they be – under a bushel?
Money, first of all. I’m on a ‘smash the mortgage’ kick at the moment so there ain’t much left over for luxuries, literary or otherwise.
Pride, too. I hate admitting to myself – less so to others – that I’m not king of this writing caper. Did I tell you that I’ve published three stories?
And anxiety, last of all. About writing to please others and not just myself. Therein lies the secret to my startling (lack of) success.
Carmel, here I come!