Flash fiction writer Jude Higgins wrote the story below a few years ago, but it captures a big part of how we keep hope in our hearts through difficult times, and feels wholly appropriate to what’s happening right now. Jude also explains the ways that you can get involved with flash fiction.
It’s hard to concentrate on creative pursuits in the present crisis, but writing and reading short fiction might be a way in. Although everything happening in the world could point you towards writing dystopian fiction, there’s room for hopeful messages too. People are being so creative and funny on social media channels at the moment. And there are many touching and positive stories about human interactions. Your fictions on all angles of life now can contribute to this.
My own very short (flashfiction) story, Before The Diggers Come, shown below, was written last year and refers to the loss of trees on the HS2 route, but it has a hopeful ending, which could apply to the present situation.
For anyone wanting to have a go at writing flash fiction I am shortly opening an online version of the flash fiction sessions I run in Bath. Beginners and more experienced writers are welcome. If you are interested in writing flash fiction and getting feedback in a fun and friendly group, contact me via judehiggins.com
And if you have a story ready to go or think you can write one quickly, The Bath Short Story Award, a yearly international short story competition with a limit of 2,200 words is open until 20 April. There is a big prize fund of £1,750 including a £1,200 first prize, £100 for an unpublished writer and £50 in book vouchers from Mr B’s Emporium of Books in Bath. Have a look on the website for entry information to the Bath Short Story Award, along with tips and ideas for writing and editing short stories.
The Bath Flash Fiction Award for stories up to 300 words is also open until 7 June.
There’s a £1,460 prize pot for this thrice-yearly award.
Before the Diggers Come
I’m sitting in a ditch beneath an oak far more ancient than me, knitting. At the day centre, the young people who came with their petition, their banners and their fierce shining faces, told me about yarn-bombing. How this tree needed a guardian the night before the workmen drove in with their chainsaws and diggers.
I’ve made sleeves for the lower branches, wrapped a comforter around the trunk. I have glue ready for the morning. It’s late afternoon and by the time the stars are out and I’m in my sleeping bag gazing up through the canopy, they’ll be woollen pom-poms hanging like apples, knitted hearts for each of my ninety years and for all the trees I go to in my dreams. The lilac covered with butterflies, that row of sweet-chestnuts planted just after the Armada sailed, the Dutch elms before the beetles killed them, the birch tree at the bottom of my garden, shimmering with light.
I scoop moss and weave it into a bird’s nest of wool – my dead husband’s favourite jumper, my only daughter’s baby cardigan. Life unravelled and knitted together again.
They said not to appear afraid when the men with diggers come. But I’m not afraid. Let anything come, I say. If we join all chinks of hope together, they make a necklace that can’t be broken.