The visual often inspires me. I was sitting on a bench on Collins St and I noticed a wedding party entering St Michael’s church. I observed them for a while, fascinated by the frenzy—that euphoric mix of elation and nerves that bubbles up when you find yourself at the centre of an important event. I felt this sense of being on the periphery of their experience, the unconnected outsider, watching over them from a distance. I thought this would be an interesting vantage point from which to begin writing.
2. Tell us about your process. (Do you start sparse and widen out, or do you write down every possible association and cut back? Do you research the subject matter you are writing about? Is it pure intuition?) Take us through an example if you want.
This piece of microfiction was born out of a longer short story I was working on one year ago. In fact, I salvaged this scene from what I affectionately term my ‘scrap bin’. As writers, we are at times reluctant editors; it is a necessary process, but often a mildly heartbreaking one. To soften the blow of the required delete, I keep all my unwanted scraps in one folder on my computer, either to be discarded or re-worked at a later date. I made some minor edits to the original scene to suit the microfiction format for the flashing the square project. In this sense, the proverbial trash became the treasure!
3. What advice do you have for other writers? (About the first or last line? About how to choose the title? Do you follow any rules?)
Write until something great comes. This may sound like an obvious thing to say, but it is a rule I stick by to help me work through the insecurities of producing an ugly sentence. I’ve written some nonsensical rubbish in my time and I’m sure that I always will. My advice to other writers would be to try not to be disheartened when you are having an “off” day, just write through it, it is the only way to get to the good stuff.
4. Who or what inspires your writing?
Reading inspires my writing. I write what I would like to read myself. The best fiction (in my humble opinion) leaves the reader momentarily haunted. I aim for this in my writing.
5. Tell us what you do if you haven’t written anything in a while and you want to get started writing again? Could you share your favourite writing exercise with our readers?
When I feel like my writing is sliding into the generic, I play word salad. It’s a little technique I was introduced to by Josephine Scicluna, one of my lecturers at Deakin University. You write down a list of unconnected words (preferably one list of nouns and one list of adjectives) and then you pair them together. Often you get some strange combinations that act as a springboard for further writing. It is a great way to wean yourself out of a writing rut.
Ally Scale has a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature) from Deakin University. Her recent work has been published in Right Now and Ricochet Magazine. You can follow her latest travels in Iceland on 150daysiniceland.wordpress.com.
To hear more Flashing the Square audio, click here.