The Door at the End of the Landing

It's been some time since I posted anything on this blog, but I've finally found a few spare moments to offer a piece of flash fiction entitled 'The Door at the End of the Landing'.

It was written in response to the National Flash Fiction Day anthology competition but as it was, unfortunately, not one of the fifty 500-word stories chosen for this year, I  am able to share it here.

The theme was 'doors' and the fifty chosen stories, along with the names of their authors,  are now listed on the NFFD website https://nationalflashfictionday.co.uk/index.php/news/ .

The Door at the End of the Landing

It was Rachel’s room now: beyond the door at the end of the landing. Her sanctum, the private space where she could sit and write in peace. She could shut the door, hang up that ‘DO NOT DISTURB UNLESS YOU’RE BRINGING COFFEE’ sign, ignore the domestic mess beyond, shutting out the overflowing linen-basket and piles of dirty dishes. She could lose herself in imagined worlds and virtual adventures, or just gaze, lost in thought, at the garden beyond the window.

Throughout her teenage years and early twenties, Rachel had nurtured an ambition to be a writer, but marriage and the novelty of life immediately afterwards had taken precedence over those dreams. She reflected on the thirty years since she and David had moved in, how life’s stages for the growing family were echoed in the changing uses of this tiny room.

At first, it had just been an extra space, a dumping ground for miscellaneous stuff they hadn’t known what to do with. When Adam and then Rosie arrived, it became a nursery – the guest bedroom being kept for visiting grandparents - decorated with the Winnie-the-Pooh wallpaper whose characters still smiled down at her, a preserved reminder of the time when the children were small.

During the confusion of everyday family life in the years that followed, dreams of seeing her name in print became obscured pale shadows. Now Rachel could see how the children’s youth had almost imperceptibly slipped past, leaving a hole in her life by their ever-nearing independence, a gap in the busyness for her long-repressed passion to be sparked to life again. She’d started scribbling in notebooks at every opportunity and was duly excited when her first story was accepted for publication. David’s suggestion that they declutter the box-room, turning it into a properly usable space, confirmed his unvoiced pride in her.

Now the sun streamed in. Rachel watched the birds pecking at the birdfeeder which swung from the silver-birch. She wondered at the bittersweet path her life had taken, the circles of change which her younger self could never have imagined. Experiences, inextricably part of her past, filled her mind with memories, emotions and thoughts that she needed to release in a kind of catharsis of writing. She’d finally arrived at a point where she had to take control of her uncertain future. She was ready to grasp this opportunity before it was taken from her by the insidious shadow that had so recently claimed her mother. She had this time for herself, behind the door at the end of the landing.




(p.s. I hope you like the door. It is indeed the door to the room at the end of our landing and looks far more interesting now than the plain white one we had previously.)
Given the wonderful prompt line, 'Sorrow is a great wave', that I found both emotive and sensuous, the following poem was written for a challenge on our FB group poetry page. I have edited it slightly since I first posted it, changing some of the line lengths to, hopefully, make them more effective, but it is difficult to view your own writing objectively. And I couldn't help but think of anything more apt than the well-known image by Hokusai to accompany the poem.


Sorrow is a Great Wave


Emotions Flow Like Nature’s Tide.


A sea of joy,

soft sparkling in the sun.

Toes on a sandy beach

lapped by loves ripples, gently warmed.

The rockpool of the soul filled by tides of gentle happiness:

the comfort-blanket of contentment.

Salt-sea fingers feel their way over and around the jagged rocks:

the hardships and uncertainties of life.



Excitement,

Like spring-fresh morning air or icy mountain stream

chattering,

bubbling,

singing.

Eager to reach full flow.

Then confident and strong, self-assured it forges its course through life.



And on its way, between the hills and valleys,

waterfalls of rage hurl torrents from precipice to whirlpool

where boiling-foam-uncertainty and rainbow-dreams are mixed.



All fed by tears, rain falling damp upon the cheek,

they lead at last to flowing oceans where sadness rides.

And sorrow like a great wave rises far out at sea,

to crash

unexpected

on life’s beach.



Overwhelming,

it sweeps us off our feet

and carries us out into a turmoil of despair where all around is mist and grey,

until the lightning flash of hope splits

the sky and shows the shore within our reach.

And thunder, a determined roar, drives, pulls and pushes us

to stand in safety,

optimistic on dry land;

half-dead, exhausted

but alive enough to breathe in peace that follows storms of fear.



And love,

a gentle breeze,

brushes past to calm, and strengthen roots deep planted in the earth.

It holds us up

and nurtures us,

carries us beyond horizons yet unseen to unknown lands,

to grow and love some more.



Hokusai's "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" Lesson Plan for 3rd-5th Grade










 The Great Wave, Hokusai

Update - September 2018

I realise that I have neglected this blog over the summer - I'll blame the exceptionally hot weather we had here in the UK - but that doesn't mean I haven't done any writing at all, although I  must admit I have not done as much as I would like.

I have written a few poems and some pieces of flash fiction which I shall endeavour to post on here in the very near future, although I need to be sure that whatever I post, I am not likely to want to submit it to any competition in the future. This is sometimes a tough decision: to post or not to post? Do I post a piece of writing that I particularly like on here, but then I can't submit it anywhere, or do I let it languish in a file on my computer just in case a suitable competition arises?

However, on looking back, I noticed two draft documents which I had not previously published because they contained the basis for a competition entry back in 2017. This was the story that ended up entitled 'No Bed of Roses' and was included in the Stringybark 'Dog eat Dog' anthology at the end of last year. Now that the book has been published I feel that I can post the pieces on here.

The story started as the final assignment for the Futurelearn Start Writing Fiction course which I took last year and, at the time, I had called it 'The War of the Roses'. There are two versions: one was the final course assignment and the second was a revised version before I finally tweaked it for the competition entry.

It is interesting to look back at a piece of writing like that and see the stages that it went through: how it developed, grew, pruned and shaped into its final form. I am immensely grateful to all my friends in the SWF Fb group who were on that course as well. Their comments and ideas helped me to get it finally to the state where it was worth submitting, and consequently giving me confidence that, with its shortlisting and publication, I am able to write something that people other than myself might want to read.

That's it for now. I'm away to look through my poems and flash fiction pieces for suitable candidates for this blog. Oh, and maybe do a bit more writing too!

Character writing exercise

Writer's Forum magazine is a veritable treasury of useful information and exercises for writers. This month (June)  I read with great interest the article on using body language in your writing to describe characters and to help your readers understand your character's feelings.

The exercise following the article gave some scenarios and asked for a paragraph to be written that really got inside the character's head and show their feelings. The scenario I chose was a bride's mother who turns up to her daughter's wedding but can't stand the bridegroom. Here is what I came up with:

Rhoda's Wedding

Rhoda's mother arrived at the church and descended from the car with a curt nod to the driver as she shut the door with rather more force than was necessary. Her countenance and her bearing held no apparent love and she swept up the path to the west door looking to neither left nor right. The thin line of her lips never quavered as she click-clacked her way down the stone-tiled aisle and took her place in the pew. She sat quite upright, unmoving apart from an involuntary sniff as she caught sight of the groom and best man from the corner of her eye. She immediately turned her gaze in the opposite direction as her hands clenched the order of service so hard that the smooth satin-finished cover buckled and creased.

A promising start that I might come back to at some point and include in a longer piece of writing.



BOOK NEWS - Grab your copy this weekend!


Announcing the arrival of two flash fiction anthologies, each of which includes one of my own short stories along with those contributed by 99 other writers.

Visit Amazon this Saturday (28th April) for your chance to purchase either or both of these volumes published by Christopher Fielden.
 
Any profits from the sale of these books will go to charity so you will not only be helping others but  also be purchasing collections of amusing short stories from 100 + talented authors, many of them new and previously unpublished.

These are books you can dip in and out of, leave on the coffee table or in the smallest room for guests to peruse, or keep by the bed for that late night quick read. They are available in print and as ebooks.

For more information about these books and their contributors, follow the links to Christopher Fielden’s website: 

and Amazon:


'A (Slice) of Fictional History'

I am putting this piece on my blog as it is longer than the 300 words that are usually posted in the SWF FB Group but I really didn’t ...

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