Recently, I wrote a piece of ‘flash fiction’ for National Flash Fiction Competition, inspired by the word limit. I wasn’t placed, but it was great fun and it also inspired another piece which I sent off to the 4th floor journal. I’m delighted to say this piece has been accepted for publication. What I now realise is that neither of my short pieces is fiction. But it doesn’t matter now because the idea, and the containment required by the word limit, freed me up to write. My piece for publication in the 4th floor journal is a heart-piece. It came out in a ‘flash’ and so I’ve lived up to one half of the flash fiction challenge.
I really like shape and form for poetry too. I’m struggling at the moment with a poem that isn’t working and so I’m going to try out various forms like the villanelle (one of my favourite forms) and perhaps the possibly more difficult sestina (which actually I’ve never done before). If I succeed, and my poem is accepted, I’ll post a link to it! The problem with this poem is that I’ve chosen a theme before I’ve begun my poem – not my normal way of writing – and I think therein lies the problem and why the poem isn’t working. I’m going to try and harness that through the strictness of form and hope that the repetition will drive me to the heart of the poem.
I see that in my last blog about the Literary All Blacks (about which now I feel a sense of regret for having not mentioned so many other talented writers who should be in the team) – that I mention our old blue Bakelite radio – and interestingly, the blue radio pops up again in this very short piece of ‘flash’ non-fiction. I hasten to add that perhaps flash in this context means written in a flash rather than the presumptuous idea that it glitters somehow.
She had the whitest teeth of anyone I knew. And milk spots, too. I never knew how white could show on white, but it did. Her hair was Heidi and Rapunzel all in one, two strong yellow plaits. She lived near the showground, close by to the blue gums. I sometimes wanted to be her. On weekends she rode her horse in those fields far from my house. I found a photo recently of her, at the local A & P show, riding her horse without a saddle, carrying three apples on a plate. Four jumps, it says, she must clear, without spilling a single apple. I imagine her concentration, her plaits flying outwards from under her little black rider’s cap, knees pressing the horses flank. I hear applause, smell the candy-floss, and taste toffee apple.
I am reminded of the story of ‘Diana and the Golden Apples’ – Sunday mornings beside the blue Bakelite radio. How my heart raced every time I heard this story. Even knowing Melanion would win, I still waited each time Diana stooped to scoop the apple, terrified unless she slowed a little. And too, relief, when at the final drop, the apple cleverly was heavier, and just before she caught him, Melanion crossed the finish line.
I’m much older now and I know that girls with golden plaits and golden apples are the thing of myths. I know that Melanion still lives in the hearts of many an old woman, but he’s been supplanted too, by real men, along with some rotten apples, and a few that never quite ripened. I imagine these old women slowed now with weight of all those apples. I see them smiling, as they watch, Melanion running on ahead, laughing, knowing he’s really running away from them.