12+ Episode 82 (13 November 2023): "Roses are red, violets are blue, I spend my day, thinking of you." Davey reviewed the poem in his exercise book. "Thinking" is what you did at school. It wasn't romantic enough to attempt Mission Impossible with the girl of his dreams. That's it! "I spend my day, dreaming of you."
A Better Poem was my July 2023 short story entry for the Australian Writers' Centre's monthly Furious Fiction writing challenge. The brief for July was:
- Each story had to include a CHILD (16 or younger) as its main character
- The first sentence had to contain two colours
- And the story had to use the words BUMPER, PRIZE and IMPOSSIBLE.
The beginning of the first line, "Roses are red, violets are blue", popped into my head almost immediately, satisfying the second item in the brief. The childish poetry and the need for a young protagonist transported me back to my awkward pre- and early teenage years when I discovered girls and passed notes in class.
So once again, I drew on my memories and imagination to write this story, which I'm proud to say was longlisted for Furious Fiction July!
Other Points of Interest
A couple of other points of interest:
- The title was initially Stirrings until I changed the last sentence on a final edit, ending with Davey's promise to ask Elizabeth out again and "to write a better poem". A light bulb went off in my head, and I retitled the story, A Better Poem.
- The story I submitted to Furious Fiction was missing a word in a key sentence (despite dozens of proofreads AND using a grammar app): "Roses are red, violets are blue, I'd really like to go the Fair with you." Did you spot it? It should be "… I'd really like to go to the Fair with you."
Of course, I spotted the missing "to" the next day! Oh well, I'll follow a friend and fellow writer's advice in future and use a pencil to point at every word as I read them aloud.
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I hope you enjoy my school days tale. You can listen to A Better Poem from Acast (above), the Tall And True Short Reads website, or find it and four seasons of other episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and all popular podcasting apps.
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© 2023 Robert Fairhead
N.B. You might like to read my blog post introducing Tall And True Short Reads - Season Four.
Robert is a writer and editor at Tall And True and blogs on his eponymous website, RobertFairhead.com. He also writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads storytelling podcast, featuring his short stories, blog posts and other writing from Tall And True.
Robert's book reviews and other writing have appeared in print and online media. In 2020, he published his début collection of short stories, Both Sides of the Story. In 2021, Robert published his first twelve short stories for the Furious Fiction writing competition, Twelve Furious Months, and in 2022, his second collection of Furious Fictions, Twelve More Furious Months. And in 2023, he published an anthology of his microfiction, Tall And True Microfiction.
Besides writing, Robert's favourite pastimes include reading, watching Aussie Rules football with his son and walking his dog.
He has also enjoyed a one-night stand as a stand-up comic.