Last weekend I had the opportunity to try something completely new: a flash writing contest! This was put on by A Bunch of People, a non-profit that hosts artistic/creative events to raise funds for charities.
And actually, the flash writing contest wasn’t the only new thing I tried that weekend. It was held down in Winchester, Ontario, about an hour’s drive south of Ottawa, and I’d never been there before either.
The rules were pretty simple: there were four categories (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and song); each category got a prompt word at 11:00am; and then you had 150 minutes to write something under 1000 words which was themed to the prompt word.
Easy enough right…? Except I chose non-fiction (having never written flash nonfic before) and the prompt was resist. Oh, man, it was so hard!
I wouldn’t consider myself a very resistant person. Stubborn, oh yes. But that’s not quite the same thing. (I also don’t think you can survive in IT without being stubborn. One of my old managers, way back when I was a helpdesk agent, said you had to be a bit like a dog with a bone to do IT. But I digress.) So, I did what anyone would do, and improvised an essay about how I’m not a resistant person, but ‘my life is a river’ (to quote my opening sentence. And it tied for second-place! 🥳
After the contest I was starving (remember how it went from 11-1:30?) so I wandered a bit to find some food, and oh man, Winchester is a nice little village. Gardens, cafe’s, a maker’s shop (!), and a second-hand bookstore all within about a ten minute walk… my kind of place! I found a store with some old Star Trek novels and picked up four. I used to spend hours browsing second-hand bookstores as a teenager, finding old Trek novels and then reading them with a kitkat bar. Ah, nostalgia. Actually, I found what I think might be a first edition of the TMP novelization, which I’d never read (dunno why). It’s kind of cool to see Roddenberry’s not-quite-but-sorta canon “insider’s take” on what’s going on inside Kirk & Spock’s heads. A little more satisfying than just fanfiction, anyway.
Then it was back to the hall for everyone to present their works. I had to duck out after an hour–it was a long drive back to Ottawa, and I still had groceries to buy and dinner to make–but from what I heard of the entrants, I was so impressed. Doesn’t it… just scratch an itch to hear other people’s creativity? Out loud, together? I didn’t know that was a thing that was missing in my life, but it felt almost like sitting with friends, even though I didn’t actually know any of these people. It was great, I’m using too many words to try and say 😅
Then back to Ottawa with my Trek novels to find I’d taken second-place. The first & second place winners for each category will be published into a book, which ABOP is going to sell for charity. All together, a great day in Winchester.