Becoming an Iron Writer

Iron Writer Challenge

The circumstances surrounding my discovery of The Iron Writer are vague at best; I think I was researching places to submit my short stories for publication and a few web clicks later, I found this rad place to challenge my flash fiction writing skills and test my creativity.

Here’s how The Iron Writer challenge works. Each week, four writers are pitted against each other. They are given four elements, a 500-525 word limit, and four days to craft a flash fiction masterpiece. The submissions are posted to the website each week where the public can vote on their favorite piece. Behind the scenes, impartial judges rate the stories. The popular votes and the judges’ votes are combined and voila, a winner is selected.

A couple months after joining the Iron Writer community, I’m in the finals for the Iron Writer Summer Solstice Open. And I think that’s pretty dang cool.

To get to the finals, I’ve written two qualifying stories, one in which I had to combine the gods, dice, cocktails, and irrigation boots, and another in which I had to combine the point of view of Death, a chamber pot salesman, the Justice League v. Avengers, and a minion (a la Despicable Me). It hasn’t been easy, but I love the stories I’ve crafted from these crazy prompts. I’m better for it. They’ve stretched my brain in new ways, made me write differently. Growth in my craft, my friends.

For the finals, my elements are:

A lost key

A dessert topping

Travel brochures

A thermostat

And here’s my entry:

The Remnants

By Tiffany Michelle Brown

The body was starting to smell—sickly sweet like bruised plums abandoned in the trashcan for too long. Jocelyn imagined the internal sugars rebelling, turning to acid, attacking the flesh. She brought her cup of tea to her nose, inhaled steam and chrysanthemums, felt the comfort settle into her bones. She knew the solace would evaporate quickly. She needed to decide.

Jocelyn bent forward and surveyed the glossy brochures fanned out on the coffee table. India. Australia. Lebanon. Germany. Luxembourg.

“Where would you like to go?” the travel agent had asked.

Jocelyn took off her sunglasses and hat, returned the agent’s gaze, and said, “Far away.”

The agent’s accommodating smile dissipated like instant coffee granules in hot water.

“And I want options.”

Jocelyn had received a handful of brochures generally produced for couples researching honeymoon destinations or kids fresh out of high school ready to backpack the continents before heading to college. For Jocelyn, this wasn’t about adventure; it was about survival.

The old two-story house shifted and settled, startling Jocelyn. Tea sloshed over the rim of her mug. She sighed and pattered to the kitchen for a towel.

While dabbing her top, the house shifted again—louder this time. Jocelyn dropped the towel and grabbed a knife from the butcher block. Her heart hammered in her chest and her muscles tensed…TO BE CONTINUED!

Yeah, I’m teasing y’all. To read the full story, check out the Iron Writer website. And then vote! (Hopefully for me?)

 

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R is for Restless

Photo by flickr user "David Noah1."

Photo by flickr user “David Noah1.”

Okay, it’s time to level with you all. The past few weeks have been hard. They’ve been hard because I’ve been feeling restless—and to be completely honest, a little depressed. Which is weird since it’s supposedly “the most wonderful time of the year.” It’s been hard to get excited about giving the important people in my life “the perfect gift” (which is usually my favorite part of this season), hard to celebrate with friends and family, and hard focus on the true meaning of Christmas (Happy birthday, Jesus!) It’s been hard because my life is absent of creativity right now. And that’s…just…weird.

Quitting dance has been difficult. I mean, how do you give up something that’s been part of your life for 18 years? And not just that, something that’s been your biggest passion in life? I guess the answer is you give it up because it’s physically hurting you. But what’s next? Do you dare try to replace it with something else? What if it can’t be replaced? It’s really hard to get excited about new endeavors, because I don’t think I’m completely ready to let go of my past as a dancer. I keep comparing new opportunities to it. “Painting will never be dance.” It’s like a bad breakup. I want to move on and I know that I need to, but how the hell do you do it?

And don’t get me wrong. There are amazing things in my life right now. Jonny Church Band has given me a sense of community that I haven’t felt in a long time, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. I’ve had more time for friends and family lately, which has been wonderful. Writing will always be an outlet for me, but 1) it’s not social and this girl is an extrovert; 2) I sit in front of a computer for close to eight hours a day at work, so it’s hard to get motivated to spend more time in front of a computer screen when I get home; and 3) the rejection emails from literary magazines are starting to get to me. A writer’s end goal is to share their work, and I’m not really getting that opportunity right now.  

I’m craving the chance to CREATE and SHARE something. Dance provided that tenfold. I loved teaching, because once a week (or however often I was teaching) I had to come up with something from scratch. I had to pick music, a mood, steps, and then teach others how to execute a routine. With burlesque performance, I came up with wild concepts, music, costuming, and then made it come to life onstage. Choreographing for community theater is still a viable option for me and I absolutely adore it, but when I’m in between projects…um, how do I fill that time and still get my creativity fill? Yep, R is for restless.

I need a new letter, people. I’m realizing this. And I might be ready to consider something new. Instead of R or D, perhaps I’ll consider…  

T is for theater. Like the performance side of it. I do miss acting. Maybe it’s time to sign up for an acting class or five.

S is for spoken word poetry. I love this community. I love the way spoken word makes me feel. And I have some pieces that I think are good enough to share. I’ve just been too chicken shit (or busy) to actually get on a mic.

S is for singing and songwriting. I’ve neglected Lucille, my guitar. It might be time to pick her up again and see if I can figure out some strumming and some song lyrics.

I guess I really just need some inspiration and some motivation to start moving away from what I used to do. I need a fresh start. I need to build a new identity that’s at least a little separate from dance.

Maybe it needs to start with a conversation that goes a little something like this…

“Dance, it’s not me—it’s you…”

 

Photo licensing – David Noah1