I am going to talk about my grandmother of Welsh ancestry, a very old British nursery rhyme she taught me, and how I managed to turn it all into a two-character, all-dialogue flash fiction story that ended up published in the Florida Writers Association anthology "Let's Talk," a collection of stories that were made up entirely of dialogue.
I remember my grandma fondly. She is the first person that I recall who introduced me to the joy of reading. When I developed a knack for telling my own stories, she bought me my first typewriter, not a cheap plastic playtoy typewriter, but a genuine classic (used and a little beat up, but loved nonetheless) Smith Corona. She used to sit me on her knee when I was a whole lot younger than I am now. She would sit me there on her lap and tell me stories and sing me nursery rhymes. One of my favorite nursery rhymes that she would sing to me was "Sing a Song of Sixpence."
Later, when I was grown up and had started writing, years after my dear grandma had passed on, I would often think back to that particular nursery rhyme and the Writer's Itch would begin in my brain.
The Writer's Itch... You know what it is, because you also are writers. It's that feeling when the Muse is tickling you with an Idea and you must...(MUST!) write about it!. Sooner or later the Muse will hand you the words for it, and you will sling them down on paper, one inky character after the other, until the word END makes its appearance. I have a saying: I write because I have an itch in my mind that only a pen can scratch.
Well, nothing really happened about the Itch for awhile. It was still there, always tickling. Sometimes it would pop its head out of a gray cell, ostrich-like, and whisper: "Soon. Please tell my story soon!" I didn't know it at the time, but that was probably one of my characters talking to me, either Cookie or King.
Nothing happened about the Itch for years. Then, I joined the Florida Writers Association.
Kairos. Providential kairos, if you want to delve into the stuff from our RA reading.
After being a member for awhile, the President of the Association (at that time John Rehg) presented us with the information on the forthcoming third anthology of the Florida Writers Association. It was to be comprised of member stories that were told in all-dialogue style.
Cookie and King were no longer whispering; they were shouting loud and clear: THIS IS IT! IT IS TIME!
I went home that same evening and begin to write the conversation between a human king's chef and the king of the blackbirds. It's a hard enough challenge to write dialogue stories, but I gave myself one further challenge: I wrote it all in a British accent, and the chef (Cookie) had what can be called a cockney accent.
When it was written, I got on the blessed Web and asked for beta readings from two of my author peers from England. I wanted to be sure the voices in this conversation were authentic. Sam and Icy gave me invaluable feedback (and Icy told me it was her favorite of all my stories thus far) and I edited it and sent the story in to the publishers.
I waited with nervous anxiety to see if my grandmothers story, Cookie and King's story, would be seen in print by people all over the state. I finally got the acceptance email several weeks later. I was overjoyed that "The King and His Twenty-Three Subjects" would be published in the book. It was an agonizing thing to write... two characters, spilling out dialogue that parallels an old British nursery rhyme, spilling out speech in a dialect local for them, but not for me...was no small feat. Thank the gods I watched all those BBC shows when I was a kid. It paid off.
I always have a struggle when I get engaged with a new piece of writing. I'm currently feeling a few other tickles, hearing a few other whispers; some of them becoming clearer and clearer. I must engage Pa'en-jin's story soon, because it is my first foray into a blend of magical realism and feminism. I have a vengeance from the grave story that must be penned soon, too, due to a deadline. Meanwhile, I am currently feeling the Itch to tell the stories of a little boy and his sentient motorbike, and a merman who just wants some land-girl love.
That remarkable, wonderful Itch.