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Updated: Jan 16

I just finished a great book by George Saunders called 'A Swim in a Pond in the Rain'. In it, he shares 7 short stories from select Russian authors: Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy and Gogol and then breaks down how they achieve certain effects or reactions in the reader. I was very impressed and learnt a lot that I can apply to both my reviewing of short fiction and my writing of it.

But, in the appendices, he shares 3 writing exercises. I thought I would select one of them to complete with a writing friend I'm meeting up with tomorrow and it's driving me INSANE. I'm really struggling to do it.

The exercise, we'll call it 200 in 50, involves writing a 200-word story using just 50 words. So for example, if your first sentence is: "She sat in the kitchen where it was coolest" you then have those 9 words to re-use. Once you've written 50 words you cannot use anything else beyond those 50.

I thought that sounded perfectly doable. Turns out it's really f******g hard.

I've not yet found a good way to approach it so it will be interesting to hear how my friend got on tomorrow.

Updated: Jan 16

I've already gone through a cycle of starting this blog, failing to update it and then deleting it. This time will be a little different as I'm dialling the expectations down to zero.

I initially started this blog after being inspired by Austin Kleon's 'Show Your Work'. In that book, he says that in order to be discoverable as an artist, we must carve a digital space for ourselves, update it regularly and engage with the community we seek to join. In doing so, "showing our work" not only tells the world what we're all about but provides a resource for others on similar paths to us.

Right now I have plenty of spaces for my writing.

I have:

  • My personal private journal which I update nearly every day.

  • A writing exercise book which I try to use consistently in fun ways.

  • My project-by-project work which I usually work on in the mornings and around my day job.

  • My other blog, that short fiction site, where I post fortnightly reviews of short story collections and novellas.

What I think I'm missing is a space to write about what I learn as a developing writer.

So that's what this space will be. Nothing serious. Just me documenting the progress I make in writing. A public writer's diary.

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