Looking For Love (In All the Wrong Places)

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I know a boy whose name is Adam.

The teachers at Adam’s school gave out prizes today. Adam had never won an award and he thought his time had finally come. He’d worked hard every day and although he wasn’t the fastest of learners, he was diligent, never leaving his desk until his work was done.

The ceremony was held in the hall. The winner’s names were read out one by one but Adam’s was not among them. He was devastated; afterwards, he ran into the bushes at the bottom of the school, fighting back tears.

Adam wanted to leave. And yet as he turned to go, the cries of his friends came to him from afar, seeming to say that if he went now he, like his namesake, might never truly return. So he stayed.

I know a boy whose name is Adam.

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Sitting Still (Friday Flash Fiction)

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They won’t find me out here. Not like the last time. Or the time before that. And was there a time before that? My memory is going so I can’t be sure.

I can remember one thing, though, and that’s my name. I’ll tell you it in a minute if you don’t rush off.

There goes another aeroplane, slicing up the sky. I don’t understand all this travel. You can go a long way by sitting still, the world’s turning so fast.

I mean, look at that sky. Nothing in it now but clouds, all twisting and turning and changing around. Doesn’t look the same from one second to the next. No need to move an inch to see something new.

They want to take me away but I won’t let them. They won’t find me out here.

My name’s Bruce, by the way.

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The Oldest Trick in the Book (A Review of ‘Polar Bears’)

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Ever laughed until you’ve cried?

If you haven’t, try reading ‘Polar Bears‘, a story by arts journalist and author, Gareth Hipwell.

This vicious but very funny vignette tackles a serious subject by stealth. Even before you’ve had time to wipe your nose its end has arrived, and the story, like a bear, has bitten off your head – only half of it, mind.

The story concisely captures the dichotomy in the ongoing debate about climate change: Tom and Jess have ‘polar’ opposite opinions and never the twain shall meet.

And although the story didn’t bring me to actual tears – is crying a conspiracy? – the plight of the planet is well worth weeping over.

‘Polar Bears’ was published at Flashers, the ‘online home of Australian flash fiction’, which is currently in hibernation. Here’s hoping global warming will bring it back to life sometime soon.

Sleepers, wake!

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Up to the Challenge (All Writing is Good Writing)

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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!