7 Ways Life is Like a Microfiction Series
When Glipho announced that they will be closing on the 14th of August my heart sank, not for myself but for my characters whose present is yearning to roll on, future is still to be unfolded, and past is yet to be revealed. My I Am Ethan series will soon be without a home and I thought the characters' lives will come to a premature end.
I Am Ethan's history is rooted from Glipho's weekly writing challenge (a 150-word challenge). When I joined at first, I wrote standalone responses until the "My Superpower" challenge arrived and sparked my interest to start building a micro fiction series from it. From then onwards, I awaited the challenge excitedly each week to continue extending the story. But alas there will be nothing to wait for anymore.
As I pondered about the situation, I realised that a micro fiction series is like life. Our day is a 150-word story. Our live is a burst of 150-word stories. Each story seems short but when combined together a bigger picture emerges.
In what ways is a micro fiction series like life?
1. EACH MOMENT COUNTS
One of the rules of Glipho's weekly writing challenge was that the story or the reply must consist of exactly 150 words. Hence, I Am Ethan became micro fiction. With the limit, every word must count, must be specific. Why be a victim when you can be a robbery victim? Why move your arms when you can shake it? The selection of every word is important. The picture being painted must be precise.
In life you must make each moment count. Now more than ever, there are many distractions surrounding you that are not important to you. Redundant TV shows. Crap disguising itself as important news. Voyeurism in the form of social media. "Hanging out". The truth is if life is indeed short then you must do the things you want and not hesitate. Spend time with people you care about. Pursue your goals and dreams. If curling up in your bed with a mug of hot chocolate by your side is your thing instead of drinking margaritas, then DO IT!
The body of the robbery victim lay stone cold on the ground, a pool of blood beneath it, its lifeless eyes staring at me. I shook my arms and stepped away from it.
- In The Grand Scheme of Things
2. KNOWING WHERE YOU'RE GOING IS IMPORTANT
Despite each installation of I Am Ethan being dependent on what the week's challenge would be (which was often unpredictable) that didn't stop me from mapping out where I wanted the series to go. With clarity and direction, adapting to each challenge didn't throw me off track. Each word still counted. Each story moved the series in the right direction. When Glipho announced the news, I was very, very bummed out. The plots and the events I planned for the series would no longer materialise.
In life you must know where you're going. You can't wander aimlessly. You can't say "I just want to be happy." What is being happy for you? Is it living in a rural setting tending to your garden and a big tribe of children? Is it discovering the next breakthrough in quantum physics? Is it visiting every country in the world with a romantic partner by your side? You need to know where you're going so you can make each moment count.
“Take a look at this gallery set up for you,” Paul said, instantly pulling me back to the glum reality.
Ferris, Summer, and I walked separately to each of the canvasses on the easels. Bobby and Penelope, still both invisible, walked next to me. Paul's lackeys formed an outer circle from the easels. I surveyed the paintings.
Axe. Torch. Shovel. Hammer. Paddle.
“Okay,” Ferris said, standing in front of the torch painting. “Now what?”
Paul burst into a short laugh.
“You will retrieve those objects of great power,” Sensei Veruzio, standing next to him, spoke. “For me.”
- The Five Easels
3. THE SPACE OUTSIDE THE BOX IS OPEN
One rule of Glipho's weekly writing challenge was every reply or story must consist of 150 words. Another rule was that the reply or story must begin with a specific phrase. A lightbulb moment happened in my head. The rules didn't say anything about not creating a series out of the replies. I Am Ethan was born. The following challenges became more interesting for me since it would continue the previous journey.
In life you must think outside the box. You must approach life not looking at the rules and limitations but instead thinking and looking for the possibilities. The lightbulb, the telephone, and the airplane would not exist today had Edison, Bell, and the Wright Brothers not thought and acted outside the rules. Free your creativity. Use your imagination.
“My superpower... Uhm. I don't have one.”
“I don't believe it!” the man in white yelled, both his hands in the air as he shook his head.
“There's footage of you setting cars on fire.” His fists landed hard on the table between us.
“They're not cars. They're pieces of metal in the junkyard.”
“You jumped off a 50-foot building and you walked away alive.” He took off his sunglasses and leered at me.
“If someone's dead, how can they walk away? Right?”
I raised my left arm, one finger pointing forward and making a pressing motion. The floor underneath the man turned into a black hole, the sound of rushing water drowning his scream as he fell through.
“I told you I don't have one,” I blasted a hole in the ceiling. “I have many!” Fresh air filled my lungs as I rocketed away from the building.
- My Superpower
4. THE UNKNOWN MUST NOT BE FEARED
While I do have an overarching plan for the direction of I Am Ethan, each story was dependent on what phrase the next challenge required us to begin with, something I didn't have no control of. I didn't have a choice but to adapt to each week's challenge while still staying on track regarding the overall story. Initially, it made me nervous but with every challenge I conquered, the confidence got stronger when I eagerly looked forward for it.
In life, you must not fear the unknown. It holds you back from a lot of things: leaving behind an abusive relationship or one that has gotten stale, not giving your dreams a chance, traveling to other places, or trying new experiences. If you let the fear of unknown paralyse you, you will not grow, you will not learn, and worse, you may not realise your true potential. Stare the unknown straight to its face and tell it, "You'll soon become familiar."
Indian Summer whirled around Vindaya like a lasso, tightening around him by the second. Mounds of earth arose from the ground through the gesture of Vindaya's fingers and tried to attack the red hot kinetic energy, in an attempt to make it go away. It didn't work. Indian Summer was too strong.
“Ethan's enemies are my enemies,” said the woman with the long blonde hair, the master of Indian Summer.
- Return of the Waxwing
5. SMALL THINGS COUNT
Unless you are following the I Am Ethan series, if you read one story it may not make sense right away. Since each story comprises 150 words, it may not be enough for your palate. But if you read the rest of the stories, you'll gain a better understanding and appreciation for it. The strength of a micro fiction series is in the accumulation of the stories. Each story is like a piece of jewel added to a crown. On its own, it may not appear special. But together, they will definitely catch your eye.
In life, the small things count too. You may not appreciate the little things your mother does for you, such as washing your clothes, cooking for you, or taking care of you when you're sick but that's love right there. If you're chasing your dreams too, small goals are very important. That half an hour you spend each day reading, or that hour or two you devote to writing may not seem big at the moment but over time they accumulate and before you know it, you'll realise you've come too far, that those small things eventually piled up to a big and important thing.
“I have one more week to live.”
Mercy's words were like sleets of ice piercing through my heart. I hugged her, taking a whiff of her lemon-scented hair. Inside the icy shards overtook me. I couldn't feel her warmth.
I scanned a mental list of the superpowers I had acquired over the years: flight, superhuman strength, matter restructuring, fire, invulnerability, and kinetic energy beams. But I had no power to preserve or to prolong a person's life.
- I Have One More Week to Live
6. THE END CAN ARRIVE ANYTIME
If I had my way, I want Glipho to not shut down and make a comeback. But that's out of my hands. I Am Ethan is now without a home. There are still many plans for the future but the end has arrived. Instead of moping around, time is better spent with appreciation of what has happened and with focus on the present moment.
In life, the end of something can arrive anytime, announced, unannounced, or when you least expect it. That's why it's very important to be in the present because it may be your last - your last of ice cream, your last conversation with a friend, your last hug with your pet, and your last breath of fresh air. Future plans may not come to sight but that shouldn't stop you from trying to achieve them.
September rain washed the mud and filth off my old body. Abandoned in a deserted valley for days, my decaying corpse would scare myself if I stumbled upon it. Worms had made it their playground. Crows had nibbled on different parts. The hollow circle in my chest was beginning to fill with water.
The time had come.
The rotting flesh began repairing itself quickly bringing life to greyish skin, the hollow circle disappearing for good. My heart pumped blood again. Hair grew back in a different color. My former brown eyes turned green. My body levitated itself upright.
A porcelain-white figure suddenly appeared in front of me. “The Beacon I knew wasn't this desperate,” it said in a low voice.
“Vindaya,” I uttered. “I did this for Mercy.”
“Still doesn't justify this.”
Vindaya's dark blue eyes glowed. “You know what I must do, friend. I must kill you.”
- Worms and Crows
7. HOME IS A LABEL
Glipho closing doesn't really have to mean the end for I Am Ethan. After all, home is just a label. The story can carry on somewhere. One blog closing doesn't mean all blogs do too. Ethan Beacon and his friends will surely find a new home.
Home is a label. You live in a house but it doesn't mean you call it home. You don't live in the same house with your friends but for you they are your home. It's where you get love, understanding, and care from. Home is where the heart is and it doesn't have to be tied to a place.
Today, I found my grave. Soiled. Dusty. Not any flowers in sight.
I read the inscribed fading letters:
To our dear brother, Ethan Beacon. May you rest in peace.
“This can't be true. I'm still alive,” I shook my head.
“It is not yet true,” Nadya said. Tiny golden orbs appeared around her body and then slowly hovered to the grave in front of me. “It's a glimpse of the future.”
Let's start treating our lives like a micro fiction series, taking it one short story at a time but never forgetting the whole picture. Yesterday was a short story. Today is a short story. Tomorrow will be another short story too. One day at a time...one day at a time.
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