A Cure for Writers’ Block (Flash Fiction No.6)

First, a word of explanation. As part of the fantastic Bristol Festival of Literature in October, the lovely Tania Hershman hosted a fun exercise for curing writers’ block. Tania asked the writers who took part in the Citywide Story event, including Bristol author of ‘Where’s My Money’, Mike Manson and crime writer Gerard O’Donovan, to chose phrases from six different books, including cookery books and technical manuals. We then had to write a piece of flash fiction in fifteen minutes, prompted by one of the phrases and attempting to incorporate as many as possible (whilst taking care to avoid copyright infringement). It was great fun and this is my attempt! (The six chosen phrases are in bold.)

A Cure for Writers’ Block Exercise
‘We can do it in the woods’ by Deborah Rickard

"We can do it in the woods," he said, sneaking off into the undergrowth. Moist wisps of misty air caressed the ground and a damp, decaying odour crept up my nostrils. This was more than nature's ooze spewing from the earth, I thought.

Suddenly he slipped on what I tried to reassure myself was nothing more than a piece of discarded chicken skin. As he fell he just missed a crack opening in the ground amidst a tangle of weeds. Random shots of hot, wet air spurted hither and thither just like the multi-directional steam nozzle on my coffee maker. I stopped. And went cold – and hot. So hot that steam must have oozed from me just as it did from the ground. So hot I felt as if my skin lifted from my flesh.

"It's too creepy here," I said, all passion gone. "Why can't you take me to the fancy restaurants Suzie’s boyfriend takes her?"

"But we must worship the fear!" he cried, pulling me down into the weeds, the steam and the raw scent of death and decay.

"No good will come of this," I muttered, mumbling through chattering teeth and trying to find some loving feeling.

"No, no," he whispered. "Good will come from our union. We will go beyond genetics!"

I was beginning to get lost in the mood when probing fingers reached from the dark earth, and pulled at my hair.

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8 Responses to A Cure for Writers’ Block (Flash Fiction No.6)

  1. John Wiswell says:

    That is a wild challenge to undertake, Deb. Good job!

  2. Mandy says:

    Freaky, scary, and well done! I couldn’t have done it in such a short time!

  3. LOL! I should have said – this is the post-panic edited and polished version, but it is in the order it came out! Thank you both for your comments.

  4. Chuck Allen says:

    Wow, very creative. You handled the challenge perfectly. Great job!

  5. ~Tim says:

    Hah! I like this. I can’t help wondering what the original context was for those phrases. Interesting challenge.

  6. Helen says:

    That was indeed a difficult challenge which you handled really well. I enjoyed reading this and have a smile on my face.

  7. ‘multi-directional steam nozzle’ ! You deserve an award just for that. I laughed anyway.I thought this was really rather good.

  8. Thank you all for your kind comments and I’m so glad I raised a smile! As far as I recall, the books we used were a cookery book, a coffee machine manual, a science text book and a few novels. And thank you Flyingscribbler – an award! The ‘multi-directional steam nozzle’ phrase was chosen by my group, and I knew then the piece would have to have some humour in it!

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