Today one of my writing students came over for a visit. She finished high school last year and has just begun a University degree in Creative Writing, which makes me (and her!) very happy.
Over many cups of tea, we talked about words and worries and dreams and it was seriously lovely, to share that time together as friends. I showed her my flash fiction from yesterday and she critiqued it. That is: I asked her to critique it. I said, ‘Tell me what works for you, and what you think could be improved.’ She said, ‘How can I do that??’ Critiquing a mentor is daunting; I’ve actually never done it with any mentor of mine. But I wanted her to truly cross into a world where we were writers together—colleagues. And, seeing as it was my first ever 100-word story, I genuinely wanted her feedback.
It was great. She gave me her thoughts; we workshopped my piece together; I tweaked the writing, and updated the post with the new edits. We were two writers, working. How beautiful.
Then she suggested we write another 100-word piece. ‘To practice,’ she said. So that’s what we did.
More beauty. This is what creating art can and should be: a practice, a celebration, a collaboration, a journey with a friend.
We used the following picture as a prompt. The first story is mine. The second is by my writer friend, Jasmine Benn.
Who were you — Helena Fox Dunan
All she saw was light and white and snow when the truck hit her—hit her in the front, in the round belly of her like she was a ball, like she was snow too, like she had always been flying. And she remembered thinking nothing at all, even though she had heard you were supposed to have last thoughts, see your life, flashing. But all she saw was white and thought nothing, which meant she must have been nothing, she supposed, after.
When they found her and took her to the new place, they asked, ‘Who were you?’
She did not know what to say.
Footprints — Jasmine Benn
The light streaming from the street lamps looks as soft as the snow thickly piled on the ground, like you could walk lightly from lamp to lamp, sinking your shoes into them. Paths are littered within this soft snow which fell yesterday.
I let my flashlight follow two footprints gliding together throughout the snow. A pair of small shoes walking quickly with a pair of large boots. Between the small footprints lie droplets of blood, almost hidden by the fresh snow falling from the sky. The snow falls slowly, scattering itself into the holes left by busy people. Time is against me.
Photo by James Maher