The End – Day 365 – It’s Over

Today I answer that age old question: Can someone write a new story everyday for a year? 

The Answer: YES, I JUST DID IT! Over the course of this year I have written 46, 102 words in short stories! (That’s not including the blog part before each story)

I set out to become an “extreme writer” (the Bear Grylls of the literary world). Bear, what do you think?

bear

Now I want to talk directly to you readers: thank you for helping me. This project would never exist without you- your ideas are what made this work. You have been generous, imaginative and silly- I hope in return I have entertained you. 

People keep asking me how I feel. I’m not really sure how I yet- but I think these GIFs give you an idea:

miranda

love

frodo

For my last story I decided I needed to meet some very important folk. (Scroll over the words if you’d like to know more about any of them)

The line stretches as far as I can see, I’ve never met these people but they seem familiar.

“Why are we in line?” I ask a giant and his dog in front of me.

“Giant heard Imaginer is here,” he says.

“Imaginer?” I ask.

“She made us all up,” says the dog.

“Even me,” says a little poo next to the dog.

A small creature somewhere between a crab and a hat tugs on my jeans behind me.

“You look a bit like her,” he says.

“Mun,” I gasp. I’m starting to piece things together.

“How’d you know my name?” the crab-hat asks.

“Never mind, why do you want to meet the imaginer?” I ask him.

“We’re protesting,” he replies.

“She’s going to stop imagining,” pipes up a warrior. “We have to stand up for ourselves like we did when the spirits were upon us.”

Her army cheer.

“If she stops imagining we’ll all be gone,” says a man dressed entirely in teal. “I’m not losing my family!”

Another cheer. I start to feel anxious.

“She isn’t going to stop imagining,” I shout. “This isn’t the end!”

“How do you know?” asks a Dinosaur.

“I’m Freya, I made you up,” I say. “Your name is Dara, I named you after a comedian I like.”

“Yeah right,” says a teenage girl. “Just because you look like her doesn’t mean anything, she imagined herself loads of times.”

The girl looks just like I did when I was younger.

“Fine, I’ll prove it,” I say. “If this is my story, I can have a dragon for a best friend.”

“Don’t let them bother you,” says a rumbling voice.

I turn to see a dragon with a long beard. Everyone gasps.

“You are her!” says a flying eye.

“Then, we’re going to be okay?” a stone statue asks.

“Yes,” I say. “I won’t be writing new stories for a little while, but I will never stop imagining. You guys are in my mind forever, and I hope you will live on in a few other minds too.”

“Come on then,” Giant shouts. “Party at Giant and Rupert’s!”

I clamber up the dragon’s beard and fly off to Giant’s cave.

And that is The End – a 365 word story to end my 365 Day Challenge. I hope you’ll help me keep some of these folk alive- see you at the celebration picnic if you can make it! (Find the details here)

Friend Zone – Day 349 – Thank you Susan

I asked my mentor Susan how I could thank her for all her kind words and advice this year, she told me: “I’d like to read a story about an alien abduction set in Australia.” So here it is, thank you Susan, I really appreciate everything you have done for me this year.

Side note: GAH I just deleted this entire post accidentally and had to rewrite the entire thing. I guess that is one way of editing.

We live in a tiny rural farming town. No one is ever interested in travel, but I’ve always been obsessed with seeing the outside world, especially the pyramids. My nan says she doesn’t want to be shot halfway across the world in a tin can to see a pile of rocks.

One night I decide to steal my dad’s ute. I only get as far as the edge of town when the car stops. It’s as if I’ve hit a forcefield. I get out and touch the barrier, slowly I edge my face nearer. I can hear a tapping noise. But then the sound of my dad’s tractor interrupts me. He must be looking for me. I get in the ute and reverse, then drive as fast as I can toward the barrier. There is a cracking noise and a bright light.

When I wake there is a huge figure standing over me. It looks like every inch of it’s skin is moving, like it’s made from bugs.

“Are you being okay?” it asks.

“Yes,” I reply.

“Don’t worry, I am in the…” it pauses to look at a book. “…friend zone.”

“The friendzone?”

“Yes, I am being in the zone for friends. I being looking after you.”

“What?” is all I can think to say.

“You broke the enclosure. I being thinking you resistant to the anti-travel injections. Don’t being worried, I making it closed again.”

“Enclosure?”

“I being from another planet. We abduct your town for observing 200 hundred human years ago. That being 2 of our years. We making enclosure, so real none of you realising. I being learning your language. You being thinking my talking is awesome?”

“Er, yes your English is… awesome.”

“My colleagues being talking, saying I am too close to humans. Now you being knowing everything I having to keep you like pet. Sorry. Will you still being in my friendzone? I observe you like pyramids, I can take you.”

“Yes I think we can be in the friendzone together,” I say.

A World in Your Eye – Day 337 – ZoomQuilt

Today I discovered this: zoomquilt.org

It’s amazing.

“Ouch, there’s something in my eye,” he says. “Can you take a look?”

I look in his eye, there are buildings, tiny trees and even a little monkeys swinging around, no wonder it hurts. Before I can say anything, he starts jabbing around in his eye.

I swear I can hear little screams.

~

I’m picking fleas off Ooo’s back. I look at his hair closely it looks like there is a little temple perched upon his spine. But I don’t get another chance to look at it because suddenly the ground tips and we are both screaming.

~

I’m meditating, looking at the bowl of water in front of me. I can see a reflection, it looks like there is a tiny sea monster eating swimming around. I look again but the water is vibrating, I can feel the entire temple shaking.

~

I tell him to stop jabbing, he’ll hurt his eye. I take another look, the little monkeys have stopped screaming. I tell him there’s nothing in there, except a whole world.

“You’re sweet,” he says. “I like you.”

We kiss.

~

We hug. I am careful not to touch the temple on his back.

~

I pick the bowl up and try to scoop the monster back into the water.

What Dogs Really Think – Day 336 – Krysten

Got a tweet last night:

The 40 Greatest Dog GIFs Of All Time

Ahhh time to try the walking again. I’m so excited! One day you might even be good enough to do one by yourself. Hurry up, strap onto me so you don’t get lost.

Keep up! Today I am going to pull extra hard, just to make it that little bit more challenging for you. Hmm, you still don’t want to go fast. I get it, don’t feel down on yourself, I’ve got twice as many legs as you.

Is that kid “woofing” at me? Make him stop, it’s so patronising, he completely doesn’t understand the subtleties of this ancient language. You’re not even stopping him! I’m not allowed to bark at strangers, why should he?

Hey look, a dead pigeon! What a find! Here can you carry it? I have to admit those arm things you have can come in handy.

Fine, don’t take it. You’re always so fussy. You know those tins at home are full of dead things too you know? You can be so frustrating sometimes! That fence you built isn’t high enough you know, I can jump it. I could leave anytime and then you’ll never learn how to walk properly!

What’s that you’re doing? Ah you’ve found a lovely stick! Oh you’ve dropped it. Here let me get that for you. Oh you’ve dropped it again. I’ve got it, here you go. I’m sorry I said I’d leave, you wouldn’t make it on your own. I’m here, don’t worry.

Am I Okay? – Day 315 – Simon Groth Mentor Part 2

Before I begin, I did a word count this morning and I am now over 38, 100 words. I feel like this:

so many 

Anyway, today I asked Simon to be a mentor one last time.

Me and Simon laughing at the difficulties of selfies with huge height differences. (Simon is stooping... a lot)
Me and Simon at the start of the year laughing at the difficulties of selfies with huge height differences.

Here is a little snippets of my questions and his brilliant answers:

At the start I wanted to see if I could become a writer- so I’m wondering if you think I have become one? What do you do with your time? With your attention? Arrange words? Then yes, you’re a writer. If you want my opinion as some kind of external confirmation, then yes, you are a writer. Welcome to the club. Silly hats are optional.

I also think after writing everyday it has become a habit and sometimes I’m not entirely sure why I am doing it. Oh yeah, you’re a writer, alright.

Why do you write or why do you think there are writers? I’ve been writing a long time now. I’ve wired my brain for this. I’m really not sure I’m qualified to do much else any more, despite my hodge-podge collection of ‘qualifications’. I write because I want to express ideas and stories in ways that are succinct, arresting, beautiful, and utterly my own. I want to reach people who don’t know me, who have never met me and inspire or encourage or entertain them, or even sometime irritate them if I’m in the mood.

As for why there are writers: there are writers because there are readers. There are readers because we have evolved to recognise patterns and there’s no more pleasing pattern than the narrative. We are storytelling mammals because we are first story-receiving mammals.

And lastly- this challenge has been like school for me. There have been simple rules to follow, but do you think I can survive outside it? What will I need to do to survive outside it? You’ve trained yourself to find stories, craft them, and put them together in a way that other people enjoy. You already have your basic survival kit in order. So where do you envisage this going? What kind of form would you like to use? What kind of help might you need to reach a bigger audience? Think about that for a while and take your time, but don’t dismiss the success you’ve achieved so far. Try and use whatever platform you’ve established to get to the next level and keep thinking ahead.

These answers comforted me a great deal about leaving this challenge behind. I realised the question “am I a writer?” is not the question I am really asking- I’ll have to let go of that question now.  What I really want to know is, “am I okay?” “am I improving” “will I be alright?”: Approval – the golden chalice for most writers… and humans for that matter. It seems ridiculously vain when I see it written down now, but it’s true. Humans: we like approval and we like narratives.

Here’s my story. I imagine it as a picture book.

“Am I okay?” the bluebird asked the philosopher.

“Depends what you mean by okay,” replied the philosopher.

“Am I okay?” the bluebird asked the mathematician.

“That’s a bit vague,” replied the mathematician. “Do you want it as a percentage or decimal?”

“Am I okay?” the bluebird asked the meditator.

“Look inside yourself,” replied the meditator. “Do you feel okay?”

“Am I okay?” the bluebird asked a peacock.

“Yes,” replied the peacock.

“Don’t you want to know my definition of ‘okay’ or how to express your answer as a decimal?” asked the bluebird.

“No. I like you, I think you’re going to be okay.”

The Writing Machine – Day 310 – Chris Currie

Today I asked author and fellow 365 day story writer Chris Currie about how to survive after the 365 Day Challenge and if I am a writer yet. Make sure to read his stuff here and our first interaction here (that is probably one of my all time favourite stories from the challenge). Here is what he told me this time:

Congrats on nearly being at the end of your journey! I don’t really know what qualifies you to be a writer. Personally I think you should always aim to improve every time you write; it’s a non-quantitative skill after all. Discipline is probably the most important thing you have to learn when you’re starting out (trying to take writing “seriously”) and what you’ve achieved I think will go a huge way towards instilling the work ethic you need if want to make a career of writing. Anyone who’s mad enough to write a story every day for a year gets my vote without question.

So discipline will be important when I finish…

The army marched into the city. No one anticipated their arrival. Mum was at work so I hid with my little brother under the stairs. As they reached our street I expected to hear screams and gunfire. But it never came. I closed my eyes and listened. I could hear a menacing clicking noise and a fluttering noise like wings. I wondered if they were some sort of horrible alien. When my eyes opened again I saw my tiny brother waddling toward the front door. His fat fists could barely reach the handle. As I hissed at him to come back, his fingers found the handle and I rushed out to stop him. By the time I pulled him away it was too late. The door flung open.

But there was no horrible winged creatures. The flutter was coming from the papers that filled the street and the clicking was typing. There were thousands of them, armed with writing machines, they were typing and flinging paper onto the street. We walked out onto the street to find several other bemused city folk staring at the army. The writing soldiers seemed to be in a trance. My brother picked up some paper. I looked at it. It was a story about two little brothers who opened a door.

In the aftermath we found out they were the ancient writers from the mountains. Every four hundred years they would go on a training trek. They would travel the land writing about everything they saw, and only stop when they returned home.

Reset – Day 302 – Memories

I’ve been listening to radiolab (listen here) and they were talking about memory and how scientists have determined that the more you recall a memory the further the memory gets from what actually happened (because each time you remember something you change it a bit). 

I thought about him everyday. He left when I was 7. I remembered everything, him pushing me on the swings, buying me ice cream, taking me to the movies. It hurt to remember but I couldn’t stop. He’d been so good to me. I was constantly wondering why he left and trying to track him down. I could only assume I’d done something wrong, been a bad child. Why else would he leave?

After years of searching for him, I heard that the more you remembered something the less true that memory was. I felt cheated, I must have thought of those memories millions of times. I didn’t want to lose what little I had of him.

I wanted to press reset on my memories, so I decided that I would reconstruct them while I waited to find him. I tracked down all the people that I remembered were there, at the swing, the ice cream shop, the movies. Their memories would be clearer. I was going to press reset.

But when I found them, it wasn’t what I was expecting. My childhood friend from the park told me he only remembered me falling off the swing and my dad telling me to get back on despite my tears. The corner shop owner told me she gave us the ice creams for free because he’d spend our money on cigarettes, and the ticket checker said she only remembered us because he left me alone in the cinema to go the pub.

I stopped looking for him after that.

Slide into Nothing – Day 291 – Rock slide

People that were bad had to go on the slide. They’d be walked out to the mossy cliff, and made to slide into the misty clouds below. No one knew what lay at the bottom of the cliff beneath the clouds.

Not many of my ancestors were buried in the graveyard. I came from a long line of sliders. My mother was made to take the slide for asking to work the fields with the men and my sister followed her. My grandfather took the slide for asking the leader questions, and my great grandmother slid because she tried to send her daughters to the learning place.

I was no good. I knew it. So I fit in. I tried to prove myself. Yes leader.

But it wasn’t me. I felt as empty and blank as the mist beyond. So one day. I slid. No one even cared why. They liked to watch a sliding, it was a good show.

I expected the mist to be cold, but it was warm. And when it cleared I wasn’t falling any more.

I had the strange feeling I was upside down. But when I looked around, I was standing on a cliff just like the one I’d just slid from.

“I’m so proud of you, I knew you’d slide,” my mother was saying. “You’re a good boy.”

I looked around to see most of my family.

“We wait here often, just in case,” they explained.

I looked back at the mist.

“I wish we’d known. It’s just like home,” his sister said. “The houses, the fields, its all the same. But we’re all sliders here.”

photo (17)

Inspired by this deadly looking rock slide in the forest walk I did today.

Just One – Day 290 – Tweet

She painted thousands of paintings and left them around the city. Just small ones- they’d fit in the palm of your hand. She left them in the middle of the night. Most of them were cleaned up or went unnoticed. But a week later when she got on a train, she saw a young boy who had pasted it to the front of his note book. That was all she needed, just to know that one person enjoyed it.

Today I received one of the best tweets ever. I love the idea of someone being inspired by a story I write. Sometimes I forget that people are actually reading them.

Magnify Me – Day 288 – Laura’s Drawing

Laura answered my call for doodles! I can’t magnify it to make it bigger but it is none the less a magnificent drawing!

We used to argue. I’d tell you to stand back, look at the bigger picture, notice the patterns. But you’d just continue analysing your life in microscopic detail. I was scared it would hurt you, that you’d miss something important. One day I saw you doodling in your notebook. You ripped it out and gave it to me. It was labelled it “patterns from my microscope.” And I realised in that moment that I was missing things too. I was missing the smaller picture, and just because it was small, didn’t mean it was insignificant. 

Brawesome – Day 287 – Sean

Sean challenged me to: A conversation between an adult and a child, with each of them using the made up word ‘Brawesome’ (which I assume is Bro and Awesome). Also don’t forget it’s doodle week- please send in your drawings!

When I stopped wearing dresses my little boy stopped speaking to me. When I went under the knife the only thing that cut me was his silence.

But just the other day I asked him what he’d learnt at school. He told me his friends made up a word ‘brawesome’ something reserved only for the coolest ‘bros’. 

“Am I brawesome?”

He doesn’t answer.

The next day as I dropped him off at school I heard another boy call out to him.

“Hey, is that your mum or dad?”

He spoke answered without hesitation, “thats my mum and he’s brawesome.”

Superman Becomes the Flash(er)- Day 179 – Streetundies’ conundrum

This month’s theme is ‘conflict’ and lately I’ve been writing in genres that people tell me they hate to see if I can make them better. But today I’m breaking out for just one story as I got the most genuinely odd suggestion from @STREETUND1ES today on twitter. They have a conflict of their own “why do undies sometimes find themselves on the street?” In fact that’s what their entire website is about: streetundies.comI felt this was a pressing issue that needed to be resolved so here is my story.

SUPERMAN BECOMES THE FLASH(ER)

Image Warner Bros.
Pictured: Superman last week going commando

After Superman was spotted last week without his trademark red underwear, the trend of throwing one’s underwear to the curb is on the rise. Like the burning of the bra in the 1960s many citizens took to the street today to throw out their underwear. Here at BreakingGoodnews.com we’re just hoping PM Tony Abbott doesn’t catch on and let his red speedos fly free.

Elusive Teacher – Day 94 – Teachers

It’s the first day of mentor march! (I think I’ll need it given yesterday’s post) 

I really want you guys to teach me some lessons- is there something you know well that you can pass on to me? For now though I’ll just write about a teacher.

There were rumours he was the best teacher in the city. He was patient, had a wicked sense of humour and his students never forgot what they learnt. But he only taught a select few and was incredibly elusive. 

After months of letter writing and missed calls, I finally tracked him down and convinced him to give me 10 minutes of his time. His office was papered with long letters from students explaining complicated concepts in depth. Each letter seemed to be under a different heading. I asked him what they were but he was silent. He lead me to one of the notes on his wall, under the heading ‘You’. 

It read: 

I have a rare condition which means once I explain something, I forget it myself. These walls are my memories. I have a few things left to teach, but you must listen carefully as I will need you to explain it back to me as soon as I tell it to you, or the information will be lost forever.