12+ The Australian Writers' Centre runs a Furious Fiction writing competition on the first weekend of the month. Writers have 55 hours to write a 500-word short story based on a brief. I've never won or been short or long-listed, but in May 2021, I published Twelve Furious Months of my entries as an eBook.
I entered my first Furious Fiction in April 2020. And to help me focus on my writing, the competition fell on the first weekend of COVID-19 lockdown in Sydney.
April's story had to begin at the side of the road and include the words: Apron, Pigment, Ribbon, Icon and Lemon (APRIL). And there had to be a splash.
I typed up the brief and stared at it on my otherwise blank computer screen. It felt like a Rorschach test, with words instead of inkblots. But gradually, my writer's eye discerned shapes and a story in the random pattern.
And before I knew it, I had written and submitted my first Furious Fiction. Twelve months later, on the first weekend of March 2021, I started writing my twelfth straight short story.
While I haven't basked in the glory of the Writers' Centre's showcase, I've enjoyed their monthly writing challenges. And I've shared my short stories on Tall And True and narrated them for the Tall And True Short Reads audio-fiction podcast.
Short Stories eBook
In the Introduction to my début collection of short stories, Both Sides of the Story (Amazon affiliate link), I explain why I’d published the eBook. Although the stories are available separately on Tall And True, they tell a bigger story when read together in sequence. And I felt readers would experience this with the eBook.
I hope readers will enjoy a similar feeling with my Twelve Furious Months eBook collection. The stories are presented chronologically, from A Song on the Radio (April 2020) to Memories and Marshmallows (March 2021). And following each, I provide insight into the Furious Fiction brief for that month and how I wrote the story.
There's also a link to the short story's episode on the Tall And True Short Reads podcast.
Downside of Deadlines
In re-reading the short stories and insights for the eBook collection, I can track growing confidence and maturity in my Furious Fiction efforts over the past twelve months. And in the process of devising and crafting a story within the Writers' Centre's 55-hour deadline.
A downside of the deadline is that it doesn't afford writers sufficient time to reflect on their short stories. And I've always found ways to tighten up and improve the writing and storyline before sharing mine on Tall And True or narrating them for the Tall And True Short Reads podcast.
Consequently, all of the stories in this collection are edited versions of my Furious Fiction submissions. However, all respect the competition brief and 500-word limit.
Windows and Journeys
Neil Gaiman says of short stories: "[They] are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams. They are journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back in time for dinner."
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In twelve months of submitting entries for Furious Fiction, I've found the "windows and journeys" effect also works for me as a writer.
Perhaps that's why I look forward to the Writer's Centre's monthly competitions: I've become addicted to the escapism of writing short stories?
© 2021 Robert Fairhead
N.B. You might also be interested in this blog post on my first eBook collection of short stories, Reworking Both Sides.
A middle-aged dad and dog owner, 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 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, and in 2021 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.
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.