Amidst the chaos that is my in-box a wee gem surfaced this week, telling me I’d been commended in a short story competition.
The Federation of Writers in Scotland ran a competition some months ago and I entered the flash fiction class. The competition was looking for a 500-word short story, which, as I’m used to 100-word stories through the weekly Friday Flash Fiction challenge I set myself, felt like a NOVEL.
Anyway, I hummed and hah-ed and then entered anyway. I’m sharing the results below and I hope you like it…
WORDS, WORDS, WONDERFUL WORDS
Nathan Crutchlow prided himself on his verbosity. Words were his stock in trade after all, so why shouldn’t there be so many of them? Those oh so plentiful words buzzed around in his head and they needed an outlet – they deserved to be written down, lovingly crafted into the sentences, paragraphs and pages he adored creating.
Nathan’s wordiness had stilted his initial progress. His first approaches to agents had met with flat refusals. After a while he had sought out further explanation for their reluctance to consider what he considered his works of art. What could possibly be wrong with his wonderful words?
One of London’s kinder and more patient agents explained eventually.
“They’re just too long,” she said. “I read your covering letter where you referenced the length of your manuscript – 200,000 words, for heaven’s sake! The modern-day reader does not want to read a book that long.”
Nathan listened, and then discounted her advice. The modern-day readers of the time (1970s) he felt, should not be patronised by London agents determined to determine their word count for them. Surely, the modern reader was only awaiting words of which only Nathan could conjure up in his own inimitable way? They were eager to be intoxicated by the exuberance of his verbosity, he was sure…
He stuck to his wordy principles. His eventual signing by a more individualistic agent led to publication of a series of fantasy novels. The 900-page books gained a select following and Nathan achieved cult status.
From time to time, he muttered to himself – wondering afresh at his lack of ability to sell millions of novels. There had been talk in the mid-1990s of turning his first book into a film. Hollywood was mentioned and flights to Los Angeles were days away from being booked, but it all came to naught.
Nathan reverted to rejoicing in his small but select following. His fans were the type to seek him out at the smaller book festivals having travelled from Sweden, or the far flung corners of the US.
Once, he overheard one of them discussing his books with a friend. “It took me a year to read y’know, but it was worth it in the end. I feel like I’m an ultra-reader now. Everyone else does 5ks and half-marathons, but I’ve done the Marathon des Sables.”
He thought it was a compliment.
And then in the midst of online research (or procrastination, depending on your view point), he’d stumbled across the notion of flash fiction. He found websites where stories were limited to a mere 500 words. Another 30 minutes later and he had uncovered fiction which took place within 100 words.
What on earth..?
Nathan’s fingers twitched. The words rattling around in his brain slowed to a stop, as the inner editor finally made his appearance.
Nathan picked up the phone and called his agent.
“Daryl,” he roared down the phone. “I’ve seen the light! Tell me, do I have a Twitter account?”