Helena Brockovich (Flash Fiction)

At Writers’ Group a while ago, we did an exercise that consisted of a series of prompts –

Characters: A Kitchen Maid and a Retired Judge
Traits: Corrupt, Congenial
Sense: Smell
Location: Dog Show
Object: Piece of Flint

Below is the piece of flash fiction I wrote. Credit goes to David for the title. The reference should become clear at the end, where I will give a bit of extra context.

Helena was a kitchen maid for a big house on the other side of town. Usually a congenial soul, on this day she had to drag out her inner badass and go to war.

As she said goodbye to her sickly kids, hoping their condition wouldn’t deteriorate while she was gone, she mentally prepared herself for the confrontation, using the sight of them sat there, listless and suffering as motivation for her task.

Crossing over to the rich side of town, she passed her employers house and kept walking until she reached the dog track. There was a ‘Best of Breed’ show on for all the pedigree pooches of the neighbourhood, and she’d been told the judge would be there.

Sure enough, she found him in the front row, mercifully unattended.

Helena approached and he smiled at her, so she gave him the speech – a four-minute pre-prepared rant, that didn’t stop for pauses or interruptions, about the state of living conditions on the poorer side of town.

When Helena was done, she handed the judge a lunch box, which he opened and then immediately closed again, throwing it away as he swore at her.

Although he’d managed to throw the box quite a distance, they could both still smell the item strongly. All pleasantries had gone from the judge’s demeanour as he demanded an explanation.

Helena said it was a sample of her front yard, which had become flooded and, subsequently, contaminated with the local water. Which just proved her point: the water in the poor side of Flint, Michigan, was undrinkable. Unfit for the ground, and most certainly toxic to people.

The judge frowned before hesitantly agreeing to look into the matter, hinting that things would be sped along if Helena made a donation to his office.

It took her a month of working extra shifts, but she made the money and sent it off to the address he had written out for her.

It was only after that she found out that the judge was retired and had no influence in local matters anymore at all.

Not the happiest story in the world but, sadder still, it is based on a real-life situation. If you haven’t heard about the Flint water crises, you can (and should) read about it here. Education is power, after all.

If you would like to hear me read more flash fiction in person and you live in Belfast, you’re in luck, because I’m going to be reading at a Women Aloud NI event on Tuesday as part of the CS Lewis festival.

Failing that, you can subscribe to my Patreon here for as little as $1 per month, for which you will get regular access to exclusive poetry and fiction by myself. #SupportIndependentAuthors #SpreadTheWord

Notes from a Playwriting Workshop

Kelly Creighton interviewing Jo Zebedee at her latest Book Launch

Yesterday, before attending Jo Zebedee’s latest book launch (which was great by the way, go check out Waters and the Wild!), I was at a free playwriting workshop put on by the Lyric Theatre.

Apparently the workshop was part two in a series, and the next one is at the end of August (keep an eye on the Lyric’s website for more details).

The event was more in the style of a lecture followed by a question and answer session, really. I’m told the previous one was about the nuts and bolts of actually writing and formatting a script, and the next one is from the point of view of a director, but this one was words of wisdom from Stuart Pringle of London’s Bush Theatre.

He says that he often scouts around for new talent at showcases, showings of short plays, and “scratch nights.” I think the take away from that is to try for something small before aiming to get a full-scale play commissioned.

Similarly to traditional book publishing process, there are submission windows and agents that work specifically with/for scriptwriters. There are some theatres and production companies that specifically work with new writing, and producing theatres (that is, theatres that don’t just host plays that have already been made and performed elsewhere) will have literary departments consisting of people who’s sole job it is to read scripts. There are theatres specifically for experimental work, also.

Don’t assume that new writing means young writing. Older writers just starting out should not feel discouraged.

Most plays require private funding, either sourced by the theatre through sponsors or fronted by the playwright’s wealthy fans/family/companions/contacts. The Bush theatre, for context, gets a third of its funding from the box office, a third from the Arts Council, and a third from sponsors, who the writers and directors are encouraged to meet with regularly.

The Royal Court accept submissions year-round and are great at providing feedback. Most other theatres simply don’t have the people power for such things.

There are two main types of commissioning agreement in the UK, but they will vary depending on the theatre. How much creative input a writer will have after their work goes into production and is put in the hands of the director also varies greatly. If you have a play commissioned that doesn’t get produced, the rights should always revert back to the writer. Having an agent can really help with all the finer points of contracts.

Logging Off…

This past year has been crazy, and this whole month has been crazy-busy.

Right now, I’m logging off for three days over Christmas. But I just wanted to wish everyone very happy holidays, wherever you are, or whatever your situation.

If you’re alone and you need help, know that there are people and services out there for you.

If you kinda wish you were alone? Well, you have my sympathies. Families can be… tough, shall we say. But you’re tough, too. You can totally get through this!

See you on the other side  🙂

My Shadow (Poem)

Recently, I shared a piece of flash fiction about shadows. Now I have a poem for you, on the theme. It was inspired by this video.

Now, normally, I shy away from prompts. I have so many story ideas, I already can’t keep up, but poetry’s different. Because it’s so much shorter, I can have an idea for a poem and jump on it right away. They don’t build up, so I have none in reserve.

Since I’ve been writing a lot of poems lately, and I want to keep that going, I have been actively looking for inspiration for poems. As such, I’ve found this site which is quite good.

But that’s enough preamble. Here is my poem.

My Shadow

Light slips through
the dark cracks
They are substance
in themselves
Forming a mosaic

Cold parts are next to warm
there is every shade of color
Everything that is me
reflected

My shadow is what I will
leave behind

Shadows (Flash Fiction)

An ultra-short piece of FlashFic, or Halloween:

Billy asked his father, on one occasion, if the house opposite theirs was haunted. He never saw anyone go in or out. Only saw lights go on and off, at various times, during the day and night. And shadows – there were always shadows in the windows.

“Yes,” his father had answered him, “But not by ghosts.”

Upon pushing him to elaborate, he explained that the house belonged to an old eccentric who was very much alive, “In the technical sense.”

“You see, boy,” he said. “You don’t have to be dead to haunt a place.”

Musings (Flash Fiction)

National Flash-Fiction Day 2016Apparently it’s National Flash fiction day, so I thought I’d share a little something I wrote.

I am old, now. My days of running wild are behind me. My body is stiff and tired, but I’m happy. I’ve lived a thousand lives, which is more than anyone could ask for.

Starting out, I was daft, like any young thing. I had no standing, but I had no cares.

The energy in my bones lasted me many years, through many incarnations; from running around my mother’s feet, to running from home to home as I passed through many pairs of loving hands that could only keep me for a time. Eventually, I ran the streets. Those days weren’t easy, but they were numbered.

Then one day I caught sight of you and everything changed – again. I was welcomed in, to join you in your domain. To rule over it by your side. We fought – oh, how we fought – but we played, too. We had fun.

Then you were gone.

Too soon. I always thought I’d be first

That’s when I really understood that some things don’t last forever, and some things always will. You’re not coming back, but I’m thankful for the years you gave me. The home I have, because of you.

This place is where I’ll end my days.

I am old now, but I am happy, as I lay in my basket by the fire, looking into the eyes of our owners. They have no idea that I have so many thoughts and feelings. Memories.

They think I’m just a dumb old dog, but God bless their ignorance.

Light (Poem for National Poetry Day 2015)

Light, I realized, is the display of love

The outward sign, of inner devotion

You are the reason I know this

Its absence, I know now

Is a sure sign, of no hope in a relationship

I saw, when I met you

A light in your eyes

And knew that everything

That had gone before

Was a pale imitation

I can now spot impostors of love

From a mile away

And it’s the lack of light, in their eyes

That betrays them

YouTube

I’ve made YouTube videos on and off for years, on a few different channels. And I’ve deleted all of those videos, and those channels, again sooner or later. Never really found my groove with it.

The thing is, I like making videos – like filming things, and editing them, but I don’t enjoy being in front of the camera. I think that’s been my downfall, so far.

All that said, I have recently relaunched my new and improved YouTube Channel. So far it has a trailer (as shown below), clips from my Book Launch, and me reading a poem at a local event. We’ll see how it goes.

You can subscribe here.

No Guarantees (Poem)

On this, the second anniversary of the death of Seamus Heaney, I thought I’d share a poem I’d written, inspired by one he’d written. This is called No Guarantees, Inspired by Elegy for the Stillborn Child.

 

Some things we take for granted

Like having a long, healthy life

Some things we assume, we’ll naturally receive

When the allotted time scrolls around

Like jobs, relationships, kids

Some things we consider

Even more guaranteed than that

Like birth, death, and taxes

Or the fact that death will always follow birth

But sometimes even facts fail us.