My first microfiction publication!

I spent a good few months or so before the submission deadline playing with ideas, trying some out, working through draft after draft of ideas that didn’t quite stick. I was going to be in Japan on submission deadline day so I really wanted to finish this in advance. I had pieces, but none of them felt quite right. And then, the day before travelling, the first line of “Birdsong” came into my head unbidden and I banged the whole thing out in ten minutes, more or less.

That’s the condensed version, and it’s true. It’s also true that after that initial spark, I still had to let the first draft sit for a few days. Set aside several evenings in Tokyo to sit in my hotel room and tinker with it, word by word, rewriting sentences over and over again, until it felt as right as it could with the time I had to work on it. There’s something here to be said for both extremes of the creative process, the lightning-in-a-bottle moment when inspiration strikes and the steady, unexciting toil. I’ve come to believe the former happens as a direct result of the latter. I probably couldn’t have written “Birdsong” if I hadn’t gone through numerous drafts of other stories that didn’t work. And in return, I had to honour the process by putting in the work to refine that raw spark.

A photo of a book titled Missed Connections: Microfiction from Asia A picture of a contents page from Missed Connections: Microfiction from Asia. One of the entries is Birdsong by Chen Cuifen
Cuifen @bluecaravan