Snow is coming down in buckets today in London. Winter is well and truly here to stay.
I huddle down under layers and layers of cardigans and t-shirts and tank tops, artfully ordered to make the combination look semi-intentional. I wrap my fingers around steaming cups of tea, clutching the porcelain so tightly I burn my palms while the backs of my hands remain frozen.
I don’t mind the cold, in small doses. But the onset of winter brings about a strange restlessness, a cabin fever. Part of me wants to stay snug at home, under my duvet. The other part is frustrated that the weather’s so miserable, because all of a sudden staying at home seems a necessity rather than a choice.
There’s something about the winter that makes me write better, though. Perhaps I go out less, have more time to think and edit. Maybe it’s the channelling of that restlessness into creativity. Maybe it’s my way of dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Who knows.
I’ve been quiet on the fridayflash front, but I have been busy writing.
I’m working on a short story horror/dark fantasy anthology which I plan to release early next year. Some of the stories are old fridayflashes, edited and reworked and repurposed. Others are brand new tales. All of them are around the same theme.
Writing around a theme has really pushed my creativity to its limits. How to write a solid number of stories about one particular topic without making them all sound the same?
I am, ultimately, left-brained. While I consider myself a pantser, I always have a plan. I like to do lists and schedules and calendars and deadlines. I like to do lists OF to do lists. So I approached the anthology problem as logically as possible.
I gave myself ten minutes and wrote down every possible storyline I could think of. Then I told myself I couldn’t use any of those, because they’re the obvious plots, the clichés.
That’s where the real work started. Every single story idea I’ve had in the last few months has been twisted to fit my theme. I keep a detailed list, try to avoid similar plots, similar protagonists, similar voices and moods. I take disparate story prompts and mash them up together.
Sometimes it’s like pushing a square peg into a round hole, but I keep trying anyway, keep trying until one day the weather changes, and it works.