Criticise me!

I didn’t win Furious Fiction this month. There were over 1000 entries and the winner and shortlisted stories were so good! The winner is a slow-burner, with the little kicker right in that last line. Follow the link and read it, it’s so good. If you’re a writer, join in the fun.

I really didn’t think I would win (or did I?) but I am hoping to ocasionally get short listed so I’ll get some feedback. I’m quite partial to feedback, as I’ve written about before. Working as a commercial artist, you get used to the shit-sandwich that was standard at client meetings; here are two things I like with a generous helping of what I hate. But you knew where you stood. It’s a financial transaction and dicking about with false pleasantries gets you nowhere. I write because I love it, but the best way to get time to write more is to make some money from it, so I need to get better and feedback will do that quicker than anything else.

The best thing about self publishing is the lack of gate keepers, but that’s also the worst thing about it. Almost anyone can publish a book on Amazon, although at the end of the day, when it comes to self-publishing, if you’re selling a bunch of books each week that may be all the feedback you need. You must be doing something right if people are reading your stuff. I am not, as yet, selling a bunch of books each month, let alone each week so I’m hoping that entering competitions will get me the feedback I need (CRAVE!)

For Furious Fiction this month, each story had to take place in a LIBRARY or BOOKSTORE and had to include AT LEAST SIX of the following 20 words – each taken from the openings of the previous 20 Furious Fiction winning stories: BROKEN; MUSIC; AROUND; MECHANICAL; SMELT; GRUBBY; GAME; COFFEE; BEIGE; HANDS; TWELVE; LETTERS; BACKPACK; NAMELESS; COWBOY; OPERATE; CUPID; TRAIN; PUNGENT; UNTOUCHED

Here’s my story. Feedback welcome…

Day #1824
Mother always said you ‘own the day’ with a morning routine.
She’d get up at half five every day to train with a PT. Then she’d shower, make sure I was on schedule with my enforced morning routine, before biking into The City. Sunday night was ‘food prep’ night. She did Triathlons. I was the first kid at school to have Meat Free Mondays, vegan snacks and a plastic free lunchbox. No wonder I was so ‘popular.’
All that hard work seemed pointless when she died in the last wave of the virus, but Mother would be proud that I’m sixteen and I have a morning routine. I don’t need to work out. I maintain my figure through never having enough food. No commute either; I live in the library at my old school. There’s a couple of teachers who live in the science block, but we give each other space. They know the library is mine. I loved this place when I was a kid. It was my sanctuary.
I guess you could say that I’m finally the most popular girl in school. Keeping a sense of humour helps.
My routine involves the Usual; I get up and visit the loo. (I thought school loos smelt bad before, but when you’ve got no water to flush things get pungent.) And the Unusual. I do ‘my rounds’; checking for broken windows or solar panels. I check the water thing; I forgot the word…the mechanical thing that draws water from the air… Everyone thought the teacher-librarian was nuts with her solar panels, greenhouse and such, but it saved my life.
After my rounds, I eat something, write in my diary (Last count: 254 pencils left) and then, I read.
I’ve been working my way through the stacks since I got here. I’m up to ‘BRA’. The next book is called Young Samurai. It looks promising. I hope it’s set in the past. The book I finished yesterday was about a future where books are banned, and the firemen set them on fire! As strange as my existence is, that kind of future seems unthinkable.
My big news is that yesterday, it rained – first time in literally forever. I opened the window and put all my mugs on the sill. The mugs say things like ‘World’s Best Teacher’. I just stood there watching. It was so beautiful, stupid old rain that used to annoy me so much before. My mugs were filling up. I wish I had a bucket.
It got even heavier. I got so excited I went outside. I didn’t even grab my backpack, I just…went and got soaking wet (in other words, I had a shower. Mum would freak if she could see my hair! Nits prefer clean hair. Nope!) That book is haunting me;
Stuff your eyes with wonder. Live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds, it said.
‘I’m trying,’ I whispered to it.

Feature Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash