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Tall And True Short Reads - Different Journeys
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Tall And True Short Reads - Different Journeys

  12+   Episode 93 (27 May 2024): Teresa's first thing in the morning text message was a punch in the guts. "Sorry, Colin. I love you, but we're on different journeys. Let's stay friends." I blinked twice to clear my eyes and was about to respond, "Are you serious?" but threw the phone against the bedroom wall instead.

I wrote Different Journeys in January 2024 for the Not Quite Write Prize, run by the Not Quite Write Podcast. Their brief was:

  • Your story must feature the word PUNCH. The word must be used in full with no spaces or interrupting punctuation. However, it may be included within a longer word provided the original spelling is retained, for example, punching or punchline.
  • It must feature the action of "spilling something". You don't need to use this exact wording, and you can feature the action prominently or simply as an aside. The action may occur before the beginning of your story or after it ends, as long as it's referenced somewhere within your story.
  • And it must break the rule "avoid clichés". You can interpret this anti-prompt in whatever creative way you see fit, but your goal should remain to tell the best story possible.

Writers had 60 hours from midday Friday to midnight Sunday on the weekend of the competition to write and submit their 500-word flash fiction stories.

Two Clichés

Thanks to the Australian Writers' Centre's Furious Fiction challenges, I'm used to writing short stories to tight deadlines, so I had faith in my creativity and process.

But as I admitted in the insight for the last story I wrote for the Not Quite Write Prize in July 2023, In Her HeadEpisode 84 of Tall And True Short Reads, I struggle with anti-prompts!

I settled on two clichés:

  1. A punch in the guts.
  2. Life is full of compromises.

Interestingly, as podcast hosts Amanda and Ed revealed, there were many "punches in the guts" in the stories submitted. Even the winning entry, It Never Rains But It Pours by Athena Law (on Twitter), which "famously" featured the one-word opening sentence, "Moist.", included the line:

The old ceiling fan punches through the humidity, causing darling goosebumps across your golden, youthful skin.

No Punch in the Guts

While my story wasn't short or longlisted for the Not Quite Write Prize, it didn't feel like a punch in the guts because I enjoyed writing Different Journeys and proving, once again, that my process works!

I hope you enjoy this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. You can read Different Journeys and my selected short stories, blog posts, and other writings on Tall And True. 

You can also buy my short story collections, including the latest Tall And True Microfiction anthology, from the Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, and Kobo online bookstores.

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Spread the Word

You can listen to Different Journeys on Acast (player above), the Tall And True Short Reads website, or find it and my other episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, and all popular podcasting apps.

The next episode of Tall And True Short Reads will be released soon. In the meantime, please check your feed or the podcast website, TallAndTrueShortReads.com, for earlier episodes from all four seasons. And follow or subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it via your favourite podcasting app — doing so helps share my storytelling.

Finally, please share this blog post and podcast episode with family and friends and spread the word about Tall And True Short Reads and the Tall And True writers' website.

© 2024 Robert Fairhead

N.B. You might like to read this blog post introducing Tall And True Short Reads - Season Four.

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Robert is a writer and editor at Tall And True and blogs on his eponymous website, RobertFairhead.com. He also writes and narrates episodes for the Tall And True Short Reads storytelling podcast, featuring his short stories, blog posts and other writing from Tall And True.

Robert's book reviews and other writing have appeared in print and online media. In 2020, he published his début collection of short stories, Both Sides of the Story. In 2021, Robert published his first twelve short stories for the Furious Fiction writing competition, Twelve Furious Months, and in 2022, his second collection of Furious Fictions, Twelve More Furious Months. And in 2023, he published an anthology of his microfiction, Tall And True Microfiction.

Besides writing, Robert's favourite pastimes include reading, watching Aussie Rules football with his son and walking his dog.

He has also enjoyed a one-night stand as a stand-up comic.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. ~ Maya Angelou

Tall And True showcases the writing — fiction, nonfiction and reviews — of a dad and dog owner, writer and podcaster, Robert Fairhead. Guest Writers are also invited to share and showcase their writing on the website.

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