May 2020 Blog Battle Entries
The Giraffter Life by Doug Jacquier
Evil by Degrees by A. E. Branson
“Short Fantasy” by Mark Huntley-James
“Himalaya 12: The Flute” by BellaBasket
“Haunted Sound” by Anita Dawes
“Shui Feng” by Chris Hewitt
“Melody of Memories” by Rachael Ritchey
“The Capten Sings” by Joshua G. J. Insole
“Fluted” by Geoff LePard
“Betrayed and Death by Flute” by Marian Wood
“Know Your Organs” by Gary Jefferies
17 thoughts on “#BlogBattle Stories: Flute”
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I can only refer to my recent post in despair for the challenging an talented writing that used to be a feature of this blog.. https://sixcrookedhighwaysblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/10/this-is-not-a-knitting-circle/
I hear what you’re saying, Doug. I’m sorry if you feel that way about us. You are so good to read and offer useful comments on each post. That is a dying art in and of itself…. If you aren’t enjoying the kinds of stories here and feel like you’re not getting enough feedback, what would you see as different to improve your experience?
Hi, Rachael. Firstly let me emphasise what a great service your blog and other writer blogs serve and I deeply value the detailed and/or complimentary feedback I have received from you, Gary and several followers. Secondly, I fully appreciate that not everybody has the time to respond that I do as a retired person. Thirdly, I am well aware that there are many areas of writer activity that are not my cup of tea but have an appreciative audience.
My post was triggered by the small number of responses to this month’s challenge and the strong support I have received from others on my own blog to my ‘knitting circle’ rant.
My suggestions for improvements to your and other writer blog sites probably boil down to these:
– Insist that contributors stick to the prompt and gently police this.
– Advise contributors that obvious cut and pastes from other WIP or novels that shoe-horn in the prompt word/s is not in the spirit of these sites, whose purpose is to encourage new writing and creativity.
– I don’t know if this is possible but somehow find a way for readers to indicate that they’ve actually read the post and/or are able to click on a range of responses e.g. made me laugh, made me cry, in poor taste, great writing, total crap etc (kidding about the last one)
– Discourage the use of the blog as a chat room or FB page (perhaps you could add a chat function for that sort of communication).
More power to the writing arms of you and Gary and all your contributors.
I appreciate your concerns for the quality and community of our writing prompt, Doug. The challenge has morphed over the years, certainly. It’s different now than when I started it. One thing about it is that it is open for the entire month to write, post, and share the stories for the prompt word, so more people might add their stories later. Some months I can read all of them, some I can’t. And I don’t say this to make excuses. It is just the nature of all our lives, I think. We definitely encourage creativity, flash fiction, inspiration in the moment from the prompt word. Mostly our prompt is to inspire writing with no limits on how that works, whether it’s adding to a current WIP or something entirely new and unconnected to anything else. Part of the point of what we are doing is being a community, and if people want to chat in the comments, that’s actually fine with me. We’re more about community in writing that just writing alone. I want to honor your concerns. Your feelings and thoughts are important to me, so I will definitely be thinking on your input and considering it. Gary and I will discuss where we are right now. I appreciate you! PS As there are times when I cannot read all the stories, are you seeing a lot of veering from the prompt (as is not including it in the writing in some viable way)? Thank you!
All good, Rachael. At the end of the day it’s your and Gary’s blog and you make the rules, set the tone etc. As to ‘prompt drift’ I’ll leave it to you and Gary to make your own assessments on that but other sites are far more lax on this than you and that’s a good thing. It’s more the ‘I’ll just drop the prompt word into what I was writing anyway’ phenomenon that doesn’t sit well with me. Bottom lime is, I’m hooked to the community anyway. 🙂
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You are an important part of that community, so what you think and feel are also important, Doug! Thank you for speaking up. I’ll definitely be thinking on what you shared. ❤
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I’ve been ruminating on your comments and your ‘knitting circle’ rant for a few hours, Doug, and I’ve arrived at the not-so-comfortable conclusion that I need to offer a rebuttal. I don’t do this out of the fun of it, and my intention is not to escalate this into an argument (on the contrary, I hate conflict, and actively avoid it in my day-to-day life, but my own failings and shortcomings are something to be dissected another time). Furthermore, this is not an indicator that I hold you in lower esteems than previously — I still think you’re a brilliant writer with fantastic ideas, and my interactions with you have been nothing short of lovely.
I think a refutation is necessary, here. I pondered whether or not I should respond at all — as mentioned, I hate conflict and often shy away from the thought of “rocking the boat” — but I love this little writing community and the people I’ve met here, and if you love something, you defend it. Especially against critiques which you feel are unfounded and unnecessarily mean.
First of all: Rachael. You are one of the reasons why I felt compelled to write this lengthy response. I didn’t want my silence to be an agreement with Doug’s statements by a matter of omission. I won’t tell you to disregard Doug’s words, but know this — I disagree with most of what he has said here. I know Doug said that he values this blog (and I believe him, that’s never been in doubt) — I just wanted to further emphasize what a marvellous job you do here. Truly. I never want for one second for you to doubt yourself or this BlogBattle — it’s really wonderful, and I truly cherish it and hold it dear to my heart. I’ve mentioned to Gary that this community of writers was the first I came across when I joined WordPress last year. If it weren’t for the incredibly warm welcome that I received, I might not have continued blogging at all. Perhaps I’d have even given up writing, were it not for the encouragement and positive feedback from all of you lovely folks. So, I owe that to all of you — even you, Doug, although it may appear that I am lambasting you — from the bottom of my heart to all of you, thanks for everything; I’m still here, still writing because of you guys! The amount that I appreciate this group cannot be overstated.
Secondly: my fellow writers. Some of you may have read Doug’s words and, if you’re anything like me, you might have felt hurt and upset. I’m not quite sure where to begin in articulating my thoughts and emotions on this bit, so this section might be all over the place, but stick with me: I’m speaking from the heart. There are multiple tangential and digressing thought paths that I’m trying to follow, in order to utterly and completely expose my aching soul to you all. I know that this is a group of writers but — first and foremost — I like to think that this is a group of friends. Kindness, friendliness, warmth and generosity — these are the things that I value the most, and these are the traits that I’ve seen in others (it’s why I kept coming back to you lovely people, back when I wasn’t sure if this whole WordPress thing was for me!).
I’d trade all of the stories I’ve ever written for the genuine connections I’ve encountered here on the BlogBattle. Gary, you Doug, A.E., Chris, Rachael, countless others — I can’t name you all, but I’ve had lovely interactions with each and every one of you. Your stories have moved me, your comments on my stories have fuelled my fire, our discussions have sparked countless ideas. You might be lamenting what this blog once was, Doug, but I love what it is now: an open, inviting platform that’s welcome to all, promoting inclusivity and spreading “good cheer” (I hope this doesn’t sound too Christmassy, haha!).
You mentioned in your ‘knitting circle’ post that you always read all contributions and offer insightful comments — it’s true, you have left me some brilliantly witty responses, and I’ve laughed out loud at something you’ve said on more than one occasion. I also try to read every story and offer my in-depth thoughts and praises — I love it when people do the same for me, and (not to get too new age hippy here) I want to spread that “positive energy”. That being said, I don’t expect responses at all — this isn’t a “I read yours, you read mine” sorta thing, I read everyone’s because I want to. I love reading someone’s piece, thinking about what I loved about it, and then telling the writer exactly what I enjoyed (that whole, spreading good cheer thing). Sometimes I get a dozen comments on a story, sometimes I get one or two — I understand, life is hectic, things get crazy, time slips through our fingers like water, we’ve all been there and had busy spots where we can barely breathe. I don’t expect anyone to feel obligated to read my stuff at all — if they do, that’s lovely, if they comment, that’s also really nice, but it’s not demanded of them. The expendable time that people have, the energy they’ve got, their motivation to do things, their productivity…. All of this ebbs and flows like the tide, sometimes they’re active here on WP, sometimes they’re off somewhere. But that’s okay! We’re all human here, and — coming back to that friendship notion — like good friends, they’ll always come back, and we’ll always be here for them.
Furthermore, we are living during a worldwide pandemic. All of what I’ve just said? That applies to “normal life”. Under current circumstances? Tenfold! This sort of even really takes its toll — we need to be understanding and forgiving of each other. Like I said earlier, kindness. It’s the most important thing. So, to come back to my fellow writers for a second: it’s okay to have no motivation at the moment, it’s okay to not be as productive as you think you should be, it’s all okay. Look after yourselves — your own wellbeing is important, both physical and mental. If, like me, you felt hurt or upset reading this, know that we’re all friends here, we’re all valued here, and more than anything, the health and happiness of you all is the most important thing. We’re all writers here, yes, but like I said, I like to think we’re friends first and foremost, no matter how naïve that may sound. We’re also human beings first, too.
I know I’ve been less active here on the BlogBattle in recent months, and I’m really sorry to everyone whose stories I’ve not read (I know I spoke about having no obligation to do so, but I really do like reading all these stories, and I do love giving compliments and positive feedback — I’ll be catching up soon!). Did you know that I’ve recently lost my job? Did you know that I’m struggling with mental health during this pandemic? Of course not, these are things that one keeps private. I’m not trying to guilt trip you or get your sympathy vote here, Doug — I just want you to understand. I know you weren’t speaking directly to me when you wrote these things, but each person who read this took it personally to heart. I’ve not been absent because of you guys or the BB itself — my own life is in absolute chaos right now, so I don’t always have the time to spend here. I know that might sound like a cheap cop out, but it’s the truth. If I had the luxury of spending all my time writing and blogging, I would do that in a heartbeat — unfortunately, bills to pay and all that, along with the rest of life’s brutal gauntlet.
And as for the complaint regarding lengthy discussions in the comment sections? Well, I’m aware that I’m guilty of responding a lot (and that Gary and I have lengthy, multifaceted chats spread across multiple pages and posts, ha!) but I genuinely don’t see the issue. If I may lighten the mood with some comedy, may I direct you to The Simpsons’ “old man yells at cloud” clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJ-LivK4-78
So, to wrap this up — Rachael, I genuinely don’t think you need to make any changes here, the BlogBattle is wonderful. Having said that, if you want to make some alterations, it’s your site, and I’ll keep coming back here no matter what — like the stray you feed, you can’t keep me away! Doug, I hope this doesn’t negatively alter your view of me — and I hope it won’t put a speedbump in the way of our interactions on each other’s stories — I just needed to counter your words, as I almost wholly and completely disagree, on a fundamental level. I know it wasn’t your intention, but the feeling was really eating me up inside after reading this. I felt I had to respond, firstly to let Rachael and Gary know that this really is a wonderful thing, and secondly to offer some vague words of warmth to anyone else who felt hurt by this. I hope I added something of value to this discussion. As for everyone else, if you made it this far, thanks for reading this absolute torrent of thought and emotion. I’ll be catching up with all the stories and comments I’ve left waiting as soon as I can, and I’ll be sharing my story for this month when I’ve got a second!
In the meantime, stay safe, look after yourselves, don’t be too hard on yourselves, and always be kind.
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Hi, Joshua First time I’ve received an essay as a comment. 😉 Let me make just a few observations. 1. Conflict is a part of life akin to breathing. The question is how you engage with, or not, as the case may be. 2. As should be clear, Rachael has not regarded what I have said as a personal attack on her or her blog and has positively engaged with my comments while maintaining her own view on the purpose of her blog. (I don’t know Gary’s view because he hasn’t responded.) 3. My comments on my own blog were aimed at several writing blogs I belong to and were not specific to Blog Battle. 4. I have had no indication from anyone, other than you, that they were hurt or upset by what I said. The responses on my own blog have been appreciative of me raising the issue without necessarily agreeing on all points. 5. Writing blogs IMHO are about WRITING, not about the cute things your cat or dog did last week, or what your sister-in-law planted in the garden or what personal problems you may be encountering. There are many other forums, including FB and off-line friendships, that meet that need. 6. I appreciate that we are all busy people (even in retirement) and that we don’t always have the time to respond with a comment but I get fed up with people who either only respond to comments on their contribution and/or never comment, ever. That makes me suspect that they are not seeing themselves as part of a community so much as being a one-way street. 7. I don’t appreciate my serious attempt at helpful criticism being characterised as the senile dementia of a Simpsons character, especially when I have given a lot of time to encouraging your writing, despite your subject matter not being based on topics I usually enjoy. Your life off-line is yours. Online, I want to see you write as often or as little as you can manage. Regards Doug
I’m very sorry if I’ve upset you, Doug, but I really do feel like it needed to be said. My aim was, and never has been, to hurt others with my words (except for the characters in my stories, haha). If I’d have read these comments back when I was looking around for groups on WP, I’d have not shared anything at all and would have kept looking. And, oh my, what I’d have missed out on! Fortunately, I was met with an incredibly warm and kind response, including from you, and I found an absolute gem of a community, here at the BlogBattle.
This is not my blog, and I know I can’t speak for Rachael/Gary, as that would be inappropriate, but the openness and friendliness shown to me from the beginning seems to indicate that is the atmosphere they are aiming for — inclusive, non-judgmental, accepting of everything and everyone, all genres and all abilities, all styles and all people. Of course there’s such a thing as constructive criticism — we’ve all given and received such, but there’s a bit of a jump from “helping each other to become better writers than we were yesterday” and the rather upsetting comment regarding your “despair for the talented and challenging writing that used to be a feature of this blog”. Perhaps, as you say, I’m the only one hurt by this — I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a sensitive man, I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all — but maybe not.
Obviously if a story has nothing at all to do with the monthly word — not even a tenuous connection — then there’s a bit of a problem, but I’ve never seen anything of the sort here at the BlogBattle. Lots of variety, yes, but nothing that made me think, “That’s a bit of a stretch!”
I’ll leave it at this: I hope that if there are any new writers hiding in the wings (or indeed, any experienced writers thinking about branching out into the blogsphere) looking to see if this is the community for them, that they feel welcome and unafraid to share whatever the prompt word inspired in them — even if it’s about their pets or their sister-in-law’s garden. I’ll have a read (when I have the time, and manage to get on top of things, ha!) and leave a comment. A prompt is meant to inspire — who are we to tell others that what they felt inspired to write is “wrong”? It may not be to all of our tastes, but, hey, isn’t that what a community is about? People from all walks of life coming together in unity?
Joshua, your thoughts on the subject are valuable and carry merit as well. I appreciate hearing from your perspective and the encouragment you’ve shared with your fellow writers!
To us all, these are difficult times, and a community of writers who can lift each other up over everything from the mundane and the magnificently fictional is, in my book, a wonderful thing. I have always encouraged writers in our community to get to know each other on a more personal level, and so I don’t want to see the small talk and side chat disappear. I’d love to see more interaction on the stories themselves, of course, and I often waffle over the “like” button as a tool to show support. There are so many nuances and thoughts to be had. If we did make any changes here, I doubt they’d be anything negative.
BlogBattle all came about from a challenge between myself and a writing friend where we were encouraging each other to write something well from a single word. We brought the challenge forward as a way to continue encouraging each other to better writing and grow our friendships in the writing world.
BlogBattle is that community. It’s more than writing.
And writers are people who live and breathe and feel.
So that I am better understood, I am going to reveal something that makes me feel vulnerable. My first reaction to Doug’s blog post and referencing it in a comment here did hurt my heart, at first, but I always always try to see everyone’s perspectives and empathize with their positions. I realized that he wasn’t singling us out and that it was a general feeling of disappointment aimed at the world of WP writing blogs in general (save a few?).
It’s important to me that we show respect. Both of you have shared your opinions, feelings, and thoughts with respect, and I so appreciate that.
I hope that if ever a problem or bad feeling arises in relation to BlogBattle, everyone who participates will feel comfortable coming directly to me with that issue. Gary and I are here to support you as a participant and part of this community! Writers of every style and level are welcome. That’s another part of what I think makes BlogBattle special.
Thank you for hearing me out. I really do want to see positive writer friendships develop here, as well as writers helping writers however they feel most confident doing, whether that’s by encouragement, critiques, or even friendly banter.
My respect, my friends! And if you have anything you want to address with me personally, please feel free to use the contact form. 🙂
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Thanks for your reply, Rachael — it was lovely to read your words! 🙂 I really appreciate you taking the time to give such a thoughtful response, and I feel so much better for having read it (this has been playing on my mind for a few days, now). Although it might have been a little bit uncomfortable, I am glad we had this discussion. Here’s to friendship, and the stories we’ll tell in the future. 🙂
If nothing else, it has reminded me that I need to be a better supporter with my time where I can, and that I should make the effort because it’s so easy to forget that most of us in this world need words of affirmation and encouragement more than a thumbs up. 🙂
I was ill last week and nearly missed this!
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I hope you are well now! And Flute is probably right up your alley. 🙂