A.J. Walker

writerer

flash friday fiction

The Last Flash Dash

Well it's a bittersweet day. It's the last day of Flash Friday Fiction. So get your head switched on; it's time to write a story. It's the best type without a minimum (or worse 'exact') word count. A story of fewer than 200 words - and don't do what I did a couple of months ago and be word blind… yep, I wrote a 200 word story. Idiot. Deep breath and read the question like you're back as a teenager doing an exam.

FireAndIce

Of course it is a shame to see it go, but it's been good while it lasted; and there's not much in 2020 we can say that about (unless you're a Liverpool fan, then there's a couple of other good things to have enjoyed).

FFF-19

The photo prompt for the final Flash Friday Fiction is this shot of the Torii Shrine but don't just use the phone - read all the prompt before writing (and remember that it is fewer than 200 words, not up to 200 words).

It goes without saying that all the best vibes and wishes should be sent to Rebekah and Deborah for bringing back the institution this year. Kudos!




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Dragon Kind

It was good to judge with @voimaoy for Flash Friday Fiction once again this weekend. It was the third and final time for this incarnation of Flash Friday. Some nice stories using both the Ice and Fire prompts - and so many bananas. Good to get a new winner for the challenge too - I was worried we kept picking Flash Dogs.

There are just three more weeks of the weekly challenge and I can relax and write for it now and not worry about the judging. Just three weeks… real shame. Get involved writers while you can. See you Friday over at Flash Friday.

FireAndIce

And a big thank you is owed to the wonderful dragons for bringing this community together for a time, particularly during this most turbulent of years. Such lovely dragons.
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Flash Travel Solo Style

Tomorrow I am helping judge this week's Flash Friday Fiction so I don't need to worry about getting a story written myself for it in the early hours again. Thought I'd put some words on something up though, as I have written very little this last week or so - and it's good to keep the blog a little live. Sassy Lia on Twitter asked a question earlier today about whether any of her followers 'had never travelled solo before, and if so why.' Needless to say I first misread it as 'ever' but I thought I'd write something anyway - because an affirmative answer is as useful as a negative one I'm sure.

I'd never travelled properly on my own - as a holiday - until 1996. It was a big year for me. I went to work on a project in Tabasco and Chiapas in southern Mexico. The proposal written by my elders and betters had the project timed as a 5 week one - and on the infamous first day the MD said we'd get it done in four and all have a week on the beach. As it happened I ended up being there for five and half months - and only had about 7 days off. It was a crazy time. Being young we worked hard and played hard. And didn't sleep much at all. When we did get days off we made the most of it in terms of sight seeing - like going to the amazing Palenque, Tuxla & the Sumidero canyon, or the Atlantic coast - and best of all climbing up (and into) El Chichon volcano.

We didn't get the opportunity to do much on our own there. But I loved everything about Mexico. Once the project finished I made it so that I travelled back a few days late so I could take a look around Mexico city and get up to see the Teotihuacan pyramids. After the initial nervous few days traveling around Mexico City by myself I began to relax and go with the flow. The feeling of freedom was the thing that made it for me I could truly go anywhere, in my own time. Don't get me wrong I was genuinely quite apprehensive for the first couple of days - especially on public transport - clutching my bag hard against my side. But once I got into it I soon realised it was fine; be aware of what's going on and whatnot, but don't be paranoid. Enjoy it.

Back in England I wondered about getting back over there. It was cheap once you were there so it was all about the flight over. And I found an unbelievable flight to Mexico (less than £200) for two weeks later in the year. It was a package flight and everyone bar me and one other girl were holidaying in Cancun. It was back in the day when flights were smoking at the back and I was sandwiched in the middle of a smoking family. It wasn't the nicest start to my first solo trip. But boy it got wonderful. One night in Cancun due to a late afternoon arrival then I was off around the Yucatan, down to Belize and then into Guatemala for Tikal. I did so much in that two weeks, but at the same just enough so I could smell the coffee and taste the cerveza. Just getting to Chichen Itza and Tikal was worth the trip alone. But the main thing I found was I totally comfortable with traveling on my own. I saw some wonderful sights, got up/went to bed when I wanted, stayed a day or two longer whenever I wanted, ate and drank what I wanted, met some lovely people. Well, basically I paced myself exactly how I wanted and did just enough each day to make me inordinately happy.

In subsequent years I've had wonderful trips around the world by myself from city breaks in the Baltics, to road trips on the west coast of the US and a whirlwind trip to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, I've never had a trip away that has been disappointing - even just 60 miles from home. Going with the flow is nice at home and it can be even better away from it. I'd recommend anyone giving it a go, if your nervous about it why not give it a go in the UK first? Get yourself to Bristol, York, Glasgow or wherever.



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Flash Friday HM

Yet again I managed not to get around to writing my story for Flash Friday until the early hours of the morning on Saturday. Submitted it around 1:30am again I think. Actually found the photo not that helpful for me. I don't know why. But I got something done.

And yes - Huzzah! - I got my first mention of this year's Flash Friday challenge. Both judges found themselves smiling at the comedy of it and gave the story an Honourable Mention. Which for me is great to hear. I suppose so many of my stories are not literary masterpieces but they are light hearted and heartfelt and if anyone finds them even slightly amusing then to my mind it is job done.

Thanks to the judges for giving me a mention this week. I will continue to galvanise myself to write for challenges like this and drive those lips into a grin where I can.
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Flash Aa..arrgh!

It's Friday which means it's Flash Friday Fiction day. Yay! However I won't be writing for it this week as, along with @voimaoy, I'm tasked this weekend with picking the best stories. It's the second of three occasions we are teamed for it. It is an honour - and is always a difficult too. Bring on your magic, people.

FireAndIce

… and this week it is full on Shake's length stories only. Yep, just EIGHTY NINE words. Do you darnedest. We're both looking forward to it.

FlashFridayFictionPic1
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It's Practice and It's Fun

With the return of the great Flash! Friday fiction challenge comes the relative furore that it deserves, And that raises several interesting points. The fact that there is a ‘winner’ drives more people to enter than one that is just for your own challenge (the Seedling Challenge being a case in point - no winner and hardly any interest). Having a winner drives more people to go for it. And yet what is the winner in actuality? Hopefully it is one of the better entries that week. But there is no guarantee of that. And of course so much is subjective. One person’s piece of genius is another’s ‘what the fuck is that all about?’. 

There have been other challenges that as well as having the winner chosen by a ‘judge’ (often the winner from one of the preceding weeks) also have a comunity winner - or one that gets the popular vote in ‘likes;’ or whatever. Is this a better way of choosing a winner - I doubt that. Often the writer with the most followers or maybe just the first person to get a story up could win that one. 

No. Having judges decide it is the best idea. And the feedback from them is nice. But there’s the luck of the draw too. If your style doesn’t hit the judge’s appreciation meter that week then maybe you would have won the previous week with a different one who loves your work. 

The desire to be chosen as a winner must be important (or else other challenges that don’t have them would have similar entries). As far as I am concerned the winner is the winner in that judge’s eyes that week. Everyone has preferences. We all have our own favourite authors and genres. There can be no definitive ‘winner’ unless there is only one entry (and in that case they would also be the worst entry of the week).

Look, all I’m saying is enjoy it for what it is. If you win: great–enjoy the moment,the love and kudos. If you don’t then don’t sweat it either. Just enjoy the process, the vibe and all that. Don’t decide you are doing something wrong because your genius prose this week doesn’t win you the plaudits you expected. I’ve ‘won; challenges with pieces I’ve not been happy with and come nowhere with ones I’m very happy with. Just take every bit of writing as practice towards bigger goals–whatever they may be.

Write your piece; click your likes on the stories you like; comment if you want (and can–depending on the vagaries of WordPress at the time) and enjoy the community. Don’t sweat it. Just enjoy it. I’m not an everyone is a winner guy (god help me) but look it really is all practice and let’s face it a bit of fun.

_____
Incidentally I’m one of two judges in the coming weeks on Flash Friday and if I pick your story it’s cos I like it. And if I don’t, then maybe I am wrong or just don’t understand it. #keepwriting 
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Flash! Friday: The Return of the Dragons

Out of nowhere Flash! Friday is returning and I for one am made up. Of course I am not the only one. It is one of the first flash fiction challenges I got into regularly. Along with Angry Hourglass these were my two favourite weekly challenges and when it went away (I won't say died, for this is no resurrection) I was a little sad. This was compounded later by the long walk taken by Angry Hourglass too (um… I wonder if that will be back one day?).

The friends I met online through being involved in these two challenges have endured the years since. Many of the regulars who wrote most of the weeks in these grew to become the fabulous
Flash Dogs, who produced amazing books in the following years. Yes, from writing in these challenges and meeting regularly on Twitter we actually produced hard copy beautiful books. Champion!

FireAndIce

Who knows where this return will take us, maybe not so far. Maybe further. Wherever it goes it will be a fun ride. And it will be fabulous to introduce the dragons to all the new brethren who have discovered the joy of micro fiction through VSS365 (which after all is a love child from the Flash Dogs).

Please get involved. It's great writing practice and may give you ideas for longer stories too. I can't wait to see your stories there. And hell, some weeks I'll be helping judge them – yeah, didn't I say? It's a judged challenge. It's great that I'll be teamed up together with @voimaoy for this again. Winners get a virtual badge and a warm feeling. I was lucky to win and get placed several times – and it did make me feel warm and fuzzy.

When does it start? That'll be
Friday (there's a clue in the name, you know).

Follow
@FlashFridayFic on Twitter and if you are tweeting about it use the hashtag #fireiceflash and, of course, get one over to the website: flashfriday.wordpress.com
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