What is micro fiction?

If you follow my social media you’ll have seen my delight at being shortlisted for Lightbox Originals‘ 100 word story . Being shortlisted for anything is always exciting and this is no exception – especially because it’s a genre of creative writing that I adore but can find somewhat challenging.

Back to the matter in hand. Put simply, micro fiction is a very, very, very short story. It has a beginning, middle and end like any other story, but unlike any other story it has very few words. This particular competition set a limit of 100 words. Not many at all.

Very happy to be shortlisted for the #100words story competition from Lightbox Originals

Is micro fiction like poetry?

For me it feels like it is. I use rhythm and pace to create atmosphere, and every word has to count – there’s no room for waste. I’m not a chatty sort of soul and I think this is why I enjoy working with so few words.

I’m also aware of a change in my understanding of poetry. Reading more widely has helped me to see that the work I really love is the work that tells a story – takes me somewhere. I’m seeing a change in my recent work moving away from description and introspection towards more imaginative work. I think it’s a sign of personal development (remember all that therapy), as well as the improvement I’ve made as a poet,largely through the excellent prompt a day courses courtesy of Wendy Pratt.

Isn’t that a bit of a big headed thing to say?

It certainly feels like it is; I’m part of the generation that has the phrase “pride before a fall” running through my veins, for whom thinking I am good at anything is worse than being good at nothing.

Despite this I’m sticking my neck out and saying I am a better writer now than I was this time last year. I can see how I’ve progressed – both in poetry and in my paid work as a copywriter. I think that’s ok to say. Actually, I think it’s essential. If I never see that I’ve improved, where is the impetus to continue ?

Reading more and more poetry this year like this gorgeous book from Robert McFarlane

Can you really tell a story in 100 words?

You can tell a story in six. Maybe less. It all relies on understanding that the story is in the reader – they bring their experiences to match with your words. The result may be a quiet ding or a church bell level resonance, but the meeting is there and that’s what makes the story, however many words there are. The skill lies in having something to say that others will warm to, and saying it well. The best writers have an extra bit of magic that I haven’t figured out yet.

When will you know the results?

The results are announced next week. It would be amazing to be placed but, honestly, just entering is a huge achievement never mind getting to the shortlist. Putting work out is always scary, and knowing it’s being judged is extra scary. I’m quite matter of fact about losing and getting rejections these days – it’s a side effect of trying I suppose – but it’s always an absolute joy to gain a glimmer of achievement.

Thanks for reading – I’m much better this week, and hoping I can fully regain some balance to my health soon. Your support means the world!

Stay safe, wash your hands etc.



My illustrated poetry zine inspired by work from artists around the Severn Gorge is available through Etsy or by emailing kathrynannawrites@gmail.com.

You can buy #YesToTigers in my Etsy shop or by emailing kathrynannawrites@gmail.com

It’s quiet…

or rather I’m quiet. I appear to be in a non-writing spell. It happens and I’m generally better for allowing it to. A combination of gardening, happy social things and the inevitable crash that M.E. delivers as a reminder that too much fun is, well, too much, means there’s not a lot of creative power in my brain at the moment. Good news is on its way though. I start a new course this week, and have an exciting project brewing…until then calm and quiet to restore the balance between body and brain. And a picture of the beautiful river at sunset.

Planning is for wimps….

It’s not. It’s for the sensible and measured, neither of which are natural to me. I love a good list, but only so I have a target to beat.

I’ve foolishly (joyfully) undertaken two festivals in two weeks. Dafter than daft in many ways. I’m lurching from delight to despair and then hopefully to recovery. A lot of the physical side is helped by the Attitude is Everything organisation who work with event hosts to make things more achievable. Accessibility measures mean no queuing, no endless walks from the car-park and provision of viewing platforms where I know I’ll be able to sit. It all makes a huge difference. I’ve a lovely group of friends who subtly take care of me, as well as a wonderful husband who takes on the lion’s share of prep and practicality, under close supervision of course.

I have built self-care in to the weeks in-between. I’m ignoring the mess of the house, and food is simple but high in nutrients. Another part recovery is taking a break from writing. I’m still scribbling the odd thing and have a small copywriting project but that is that’s all at the moment.

Essentially, two weekend festivals mean taking a two week break from routine and that’s ok. My occupational therapist has almost given permission to have these foolish times by helping me see that life will be like this sometimes and all I have to do is figure out how to make it work.

This isn’t ideal and I’d rather be able to do all the things that need to be done (my wilting tomatoes make me sad) but it’s not possible. I’m learning to inhabit the middle ground, a most unnatural state, but it means for these two weeks I can spend time in my favourite places, discover new music and gather new thoughts.

Whilst all is quiet for writing at the moment, there is exciting news on the way. In the meantime I shall continue to admire my sparkly docs, and to enjoy sitting in various fields.

Crash bang wallop…..

…..not a picture. My first major period of p.e.m* since April. In some ways, wow, I’ve had a period of being pretty well, and free from being in a perpetual balancing act between living and causing damage. In other ways, fiddlesticks* I’d forgotten how horrible it is. I’ll not go into detail (the worry of seeming to be whinging holds strong), but suffice to say I’m hoping against hope that I can manage my way out of this one without going back to the state I was at the start of the year. My mental health (sorry again to those who think this shouldn’t be mentioned) is much better which means I’m not using as much energy dealing with anxiety symptoms, so I’m hopeful this will be temporary.

I try to limit the mentions of M.E. on here, mainly because I don’t want to bore people and I certainly don’t want to inhabit my illness as my identity, but it is part of the life I have now, and affects behaviour, productivity and attitude.

I was asked once why I write publicly about “my troubles” *.  An altruistic reason is that any illness is incredibly isolating, and reading that someone else experiences a similar thing is helpful.  For myself, I like to get these thoughts out of my head. I don’t see many people, and see even fewer that I feel confident to talk openly with. That’s before we even start on the utter embarrassment of brain fog striking mid-conversation. Writing about this, amongst many other things, gives me a voice. I’m not the type who can chat to chums about how I feel and my demeanour rejects offers of sympathy. Including the odd M.E. post as part of my blog works for me, and it seems to be useful for others, so I’ll keep writing about it. For now.

Some days my victories are tiny. Getting dressed, (yay!) showering (yay!) but they are victories, and some days they cost as much as doing the big things. I don’t want to be lauded as “brave” or “overcoming all the odds”, and I don’t want sympathy other than from those daft enough to have maintained a close tie with me. I do like a bit of understanding and it’s lovely when I venture out and people are genuinely happy I’ve made it. That’s ace.  The silly thing is that whilst the media loves a paralympian or someone who has “battled” a life threatening disease, it’s almost as though the folk who are just managing through the small stuff are letting themselves down. Achievements are significant regardless of size. Whether recovering from injury or illness or living with a chronic condition some days managing to stay alive is an achievement in itself.

I’m doing a tiny cheer for us all.


*p.e.m stands for the wonderfully dramatic sounding post exertional malaise you can read more about it here


*my Mom reads this blog. I still won’t call someone a cow in earshot of her.

*their words not mine

New things I’ve learned

SAMSUNG CSCIt’s nearly time to submit my second assignment for Writing Short Fiction. I am enjoying this course so much! I’ve learned a few technical terms which is always something I enjoy, mainly because it makes me feel like I know what I’m talking about. Many of the terms in creative writing have pleasingly dramatic names, In Medias Res for example, starting things in the midst of things, plunging us as readers right in to the action, or Deus ex machina , is a plot device where a new character or situation appears and resolves a tricky plot. A particular favourite is pathetic fallacy not just because it doubles as a marvellously plosive insult but because it’s something I’ve enjoyed before I knew what it was. Ruskin used the phrase as exasperated in reaction to the poets of the nineteenth century and their weaving of nature and emotion. The term is pejorative, but the technique can be beautiful. I’ve been reading much more short fiction, and the use of nature to mirror emotion is a subtle way of creating depth and resonance. When every word has to count, a device that works with experiences that the reader is likely to have experienced is invaluable. Not sure I’d say that to Ruskin, obviously.

The work I’ve been reading has been a revelation. I have an odd relationship with short fiction. Until I started studying, my experience had mostly been short stories in my Mum’s copy of Family Circle magazine.Later on when I tried to read more literary pieces, I found myself oddly dissatisfied, and quite anxious. I didn’t want to invest time in a character who was going to disappear in a pages time. Even once I began studying I found myself overwhelmed with reading competition entries from my peers which were dense, obscure pieces that I didn’t completely get and that left me a little cold. I thought this was how I had to write to be considered good. One of the main things I’ve learnt is that fancy words are just that and the true skill is describing people,situations and feelings in a way that is authentic and good to read.

Happily, there is a middle ground between Family Circle and forced academia.I’ve loved the work of Margaret Atwood since I was seventeen, but avoided her short stories for all the reasons I’ve talked about.Big mistake. They’re as amazing as you would expect, showing the worst of human nature in a way that sits and stirs and stays with me. My tutor has introduced me to other writers too, who create tiny snapshots of life that make me think and make me wish I’d written them. I suppose it’s like food,sometimes a tiny canapé with zingy sharp flavours is more pleasing than a hefty meal. I’d just been tasting the wrong things.

As I’m enjoying reading them, so I’m enjoying writing them and can feel a difference in how I’m thinking. Each draft becomes more focussed on capturing the essence of the story, rather than the whys and whats. My writing is very different to my first “official” attempts and I feel it is improving. Being able to feel I’m progressing is great. I’d like it to quicker but the fact that I’m persevering despite daily frustrations is something I’m pleased with.

If you’ve enjoyed this would you do me a favour ? Liking the post on Facebook or Twitter means that more of my friends and yours will subscribe to this blog and my page. Sharing it means that even more people will get to see it. If you could do one, or both I will be a happy as a happy chicken. Which is very happy indeed.

Up and down


I started to write a post on Friday. It’s title was Gah! which is an indication of how I was feeling. I haven’t really recovered from having fun a couple of weekends ago and I’m still a reluctant rester, so as soon as a little spark of energy starts I jump up and decide I feel better. This is a bad thing. I need to cultivate balance,  but that has never been my nature. Each bad spell seems to last longer though, so I know I need to change something and try to live in a more measured manner.  The problem is it all feels so measured now and I’m not sure how much calmer I can be.

Wobbly health has meant plenty of brain fog so studying has been tricky, even writing this is taking far longer than it should. I can still say I am enjoying it, even if it does take me an hour to read a few lines. I’ve been learning about technique which is something I really enjoy. It’s a bit like being given a new recipe to try out I suppose, one which has new spices that I’ve never used. I’m looking forward to experimenting in my next piece of short fiction, which is bubbling away in my head.

I’ve also had a leap forward with my work for the Hundred House and I finally feel I’m producing decent posts. I spent today taking photographs of a beautiful garden, watching chefs create great food and then tasting it. Not a bad Monday all in all. I use all the research to create blog posts that I hope will entice people to visit. Being back in a working environment is tricky and I find it quite scary but it makes me feel useful, even if it is only a few hours work a week.

All in all my Gah! feeling has waned. This is the danger time in a way, since I’m full of adrenaline having had an encouraging day, I need to be cultivate calmness. Unfortunately I seem to have more in common with an overexcited puppy than is entirely useful. I need more practice I think. Wish me luck.