Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lascaux Flash 2012 - Update

Well, my story did not win.  Not even an honorable mention to speak of.  I attribute this, for the most part, to two circumstances:

1)  Procrastination.  I had three weeks or so notice about this contest, but except for the most cursory of preparations, I put off working on the story until the weekend that it was due.  I also forgot to write down several thoughts I had percolating in my mind about the story, and I'm pretty sure my story suffered for their exclusion.

2)  I bit off a bit more than I could chew.  A situation like this one - only 250 words - more or less requires an eschewing of the normal idea of story; this allows only enough time for a snapshot in time, a glimpse of a few moments, and some of the story must remain untold.  I thought my story did a fairly good job of this, but not nearly good enough.  I think I needed more vivid description and less scaffolding.

I'm also left with a sneaking suspicion that the judges, overburdened as they were, did not pick up on the symbolism of the rainbow/Covenant with God theme I was seeking to examine.  I think I might take the opportunity to re-write this story without the 250 word restriction and see how it goes.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lascaux Flash 2012

This past weekend, the weather was fabulous.  Autumn is my favorite season, and the there was a delicious crisp chill in the air.  So of course I ended up spending all weekend indoors, writing furiously, trying to complete my entries for the Lascaux Flash contest.  Had it been unbearably hot or stormy, my procrastination would have seemed to outside observers like some kind of transcendent Zen taming-of-the-Fates wisdom.  Man, that would have been so sweet!

The real challenge (I think) of writing contests such this one (250 words max.) or the NPR 3 Minute Story that was due the day after the Lascaux entry (and which I will get into in my next post), is getting yourself to edit with coldness, even brutality.  Even five or six words used to help enrich the setting of the story will end up costing you in character or theme development.  I'm sure that without an arbitrary word limit, I could have composed a more full story, but the process that these contests force you through end up, in my opinion anyway, strengthening your writing in the long haul.

And I would be remiss to not recommend that everyone go check out the Lascaux Flash page.  The writing must be good, because several stories have evoked in me emotions  such as jealousy and angry bad unluckiness, and I wondered why couldn't these people have just sat on their hands for once so I could get a chance to win.

Enough blah, blah, blah - here's my entry to the Lascaux Flash contest:

(250 words - count 'em!)

There were no corners in the room. Narrow windows fitted with stained glass were cut into the thick stone walls of the small chapel off the infirmary. A circular, ornate wool rug covered floor, and soaked up the drips as they fell. Driving rain and wind continued, darkness stretched out forever.

Hunched forward on a chair, Brother Cysur's hands cradled the warm throat of a clay goblet. With deep and measured breath, he observed the floor. A rainbow of shards was cast beneath his feet, arching towards the damp, howling window. The rhythmic sound of drips falling, absorbing into the damp rug made Cysur grow drowsy. The fury, he mused, must have been drawn out into the cold dawn.

"Why, Brother?" beseeched the frail Infirmarian as he entered. “We have a Covenant!”

“A Covenant!” scoffed Brother Cysur. “How much merciless suffering must we witness? Attend to? Wait on as hapless servants?” he demanded. “The Covenant has been long broken!”

A thin beam of light crept through the storm clouds, past the jagged teeth of the window, spilling on the blood red carpet, illuminating the room.

“Within days,” Cysur's voice swam in stone-muted echoes, “the ground will be too hard to break.” He rose, taking the Infirmarian's shoulder in his heavy red palm. “Gather the Abbot.”

The Infirmarian acquiesced, pausing at the door.

“You're Hell-bound, you realise,” his voice cracked through tears.

“Enduring this plague, I'll remain unimpressed by any atrocities there.”

Listening to:  Rid of Me - PJ Harvey
Reading: Oil! A Novel by Upton Sinclair