A True Story, in Flash-Fiction Style!
Warning: Confessions contained within of my true MumLife.
So Let me give you a bit of a back-story first. With 5 children life can get more than a little chaotic. I was a stay-at-home mum for most of my older children’s younger years, 9 years in total and whilst it was rewarding in itself, I had some very difficult moments when I felt overwhelmingly lost and incomplete. After going through a difficult divorce and years of depression and subsequent healing, I decided to go back to study and trying to get my Photography business off the ground. For 3 years I somewhat felt like I had my life back. I was a single mum with 3 children in Primary school and life was full-on but there was a balance to it that made me feel whole for the first time in my life. Fast forward another 3 years and I’m re-married with 2 more little ones (2 yrs & 8 mnths) and have once again returned to Full-time Motherhood.
At one stage I felt like I’d taken a gigantic leap backwards and I was terrified that I’d lost that balance I’d worked so hard to obtain. I was determined this time however, that I was going to be the best mum I could be by not only taking care of my children’s needs but mine as well. So a few months ago I decided to rekindle my long-lost passion of 20 years ago. Writing!
I love writing stories, this blog proves it, and I have found that entering short story writing competitions and Flash-Fiction contests is great practice in honing my writing skills. I wrote this story below for a Flash-Fiction contest where the photo (below) was the writing prompt. I decided to go in a direction I believed would be different from everyone else, and write about myself and my experience in writing this story for this competition. I didn’t win this time, but at least I now have an interesting true story to share with you my lovely readers. I hope you enjoy it! ~ Jo Stewart
Confessions of a Full-time Mum and would-be Writer
I stared at the photo before me, my eyes scanning each part of the scene that had been meticulously orchestrated. A middle-aged woman in a modest black dress, graced the dining room setting. She was leaning over a substantially large table, adjusting the cutlery as though placing the final piece into a giant puzzle. I tried to decide if she should be the wealthy hostess of a dinner party or the caterer, hired by some fortunate couple, about to announce life altering news.
It was late, close to midnight but it was the first moment I’d managed to steal away from my 5 children all day. Granted, 2 of them were snoozing in the bed next to me, their little snores like a musical accompaniment. My eyelids were heavy and sleep crouched close by, threatening to pounce. My fingers lingered over the keyboard on my phone as I dug deep into my underutilized creative repertoire.
Master 2 had woken at 5am again that morning and I was way past exhausted, but determined to complete the challenge and prove that it was possible to balance a family with pursuing ones dreams.
Although my mind was starting to resemble something one would strain pasta with, I managed to think outside the box and come up with an intriguing story line that I was convinced no-one else could conceivably conjure up. Of course I was one eyelid dip away from total unconsciousness so I may have been deluding myself.
I woke suddenly to the hungry protests of my 6-month-old sleep-thief. I picked my phone up off my torso and realized I’d been asleep for a grand total of 15 minutes. Obviously exhaustion had won the battle but I wouldn’t let it conquer the war, and returned to my narrative mission once my milk-drunk little monkey was sufficiently settled in the land of nod.
I knew it would be only 5 hours till Master 2 dragged me out of bed kicking and screaming (interpret that how you will) but if I slept every time I managed to get both hands free, then all I’d have is a clear mind full of ideas and not a scrap of time to write them down. If self expression meant fatigue and a foggy outlook, then so be it. I charged bravely into the wee hours only to succumb to the sleep demon 5 minutes later.
22 hours passed and I was back in the same position resuming my assignment. I’d make the deadline if I had to sticky-tape my eyelids open. I checked the word count, the digits displayed 519, time to delete a few unnecessary words.
500 words was not a tough target, in fact my problem had always been condensing my creative genius to a minimum word count, always teetering on or one word under, the maximum. In hindsight however the tight rules regarding word counts probably served to restrict my overzealous descriptive prose to a less yawn-provoking length. Hence word number 499.