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Michael Phelps is inspiring.  And not just for athletes.  Here is my list of what writers can learn from the most decorated Olympian ever.

  1. Stay in the moment – To win at that level, you need to be in the moment, not worrying about your next race or fretting about your last one.  Advice for writers: when you’re in the thick of writing, just write.  Don’t worry about your marketing plan, your blog, or updating your Facebook status.  All that can be done later.
  2. Practice, practice, practice – We all know this one.  The more you write, the better you get, so try write every day
  3. Get focused – Phelps is known for his headphones as he walk onto the pool deck.  Do what you need to do:  listen to music, do yoga, or whatever it is you do to get that writer brain in gear and do it consistently.
  4. Make sure you can adapt – While you always have a game plan, you also need to adapt. What should writers take from this?  You need to be organized but flexible.  Remember, nothing is written in stone, that includes your marketing plan as well as your plot.
  5. Never give up – Phelps’ week didn’t start as anticipated.  Instead of giving up, he kept going and it paid off — more gold medals.  As a writer, you will get rejections, a lot of them, don’t give up.  One day your resilience will pay off.  And make sure you complete that novel – so many novels sit unfinished.  Successful writers finish what they start.
  6. Have fun – In an interview I saw yesterday, Michael Phelps said when he first got to the olympics, he forgot to have fun.  Once he started having fun, he started winning more medals again.  The lesson here?  If you’re not having fun writing, it wont be as good.
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Today I have a story posted over at One Forty Fiction. 

One Forty Fiction is a site that challenges storytellers because of its brevity.  As its name implies, they’re looking for stories of 140 characters max (yes characters – not words).  The limit imposed by Twitter.

My story Shelter was certainly a challenge as I had to cut my usual story length pretty much in half (it has 22 words, using up 129 characters – title not included).

I would certainly appreciate any comments / feedback / critiques as I’ll be responding to them on the One Forty Fiction site.

Thanks!!

 

Stop!

Look at me, really look at me.  Brought to this land for my potential it is you who undervalues my worth, you who under appreciates what I can offer.  Regard me as nuisance?  You are so naïve, so narrow minded.  I can offer so much if given the chance.

Full of empty promises to another, you pursue me though I resist.  You insist your behavior is normal, common.  You cannot stop your internal drive.  You cannot control your compulsions.  It is your nature.  It is who you are.  Unable to flee any longer, I surrender to your forced copulation.

Well, at least loosely. In a nutshell, postcard fiction is a story that fits on a postcard.  Makes sense.  Now just how many words one can fit on a postcard is debatable and while I have never seen a definitive amount generally speaking it is no more than 500 words, although 250 words seem the most common.

Even though the name implies an image of some sort, that is by no means a requirement.  It is really just the length of the story that is important.  Having said that, some magazines and websites require submissions of both text and image, for example, Geist Magazine’s annual Postcard Story Contest Other sites like Postcard Shorts do not.

The idea for postcard fiction is older than you might think.  According to the people at Postcard Shorts the first postcard story was published in 1977 by Arthur C. Clarke and was called “Quarantine.” Read more at Postcard Shorts or follow their link to the entire story here.

Those of you who have tried writing short fiction know that a shorter length doesn’t make it quick and easy to write.  There is a challenge in trying to convey all the elements of a story in very few words.  As a writer, you need to make every word count; words should be full of substance and layered with meaning.   Demands are made on the reader as well.  Okay, maybe I’m a bit of a geek, but I love stories that are left open to interpretation, where I can fill in the blanks myself based upon hints, imagery, implications, and what was not said by the author.

As for my own writing, this blog was inspired by the Geist contest I mentioned above.  I really enjoyed the challenge of writing image inspired prose. I limited my own writing to fifty words because of an old postcard I had sent someone.  They found it recently and thought I’d be amused to see it.  In my large cursive I wrote 25 words.  I thought if I had written smaller I could have fit at least fifty words on the back sending them something a bit more meaningful.

And voila, postcardfiction.com was born.

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