Writer In Motion: Week 5

WIM Week 5: Final Thoughts

Flash Fiction and The Terrible, No-Good, Very Bad Cake


So many things happened last week. Thanksgiving happened. That’s always an event. I ended up working additional days out of town. I busted through and finished the first 50,000 words of my paranormal fantasy novel FLIPPING for NaNoWriMo. And my twin sons had the big one. The big birthday. SIXTEEN.

In honor of their birthday, I promised them a cake. One of my sons is gluten-free, as am I, so when it comes to cakes, I have to make it. This is non-negotiable.

They asked for … Lemon Layer Cake.

I hate Lemon Layer Cake. I don’t like to eat it, and I don’t like to bake it. At this time of year, the lemons are terrible. Despite my very best efforts, the filling is going to taste like someone took vanilla pudding and added lemon-scented furniture polish. And these cakes never put on the volume they are supposed to achieve with the whipping of the egg whites, meaning I’ve got to make four cakes instead of two. Then there’s the frosting. It’s about as sticky as a hot mess can get.

This year was an absolute disaster. Not only were all those things wrong with the cake, the filling proved to be so slippery that I had a complete cakeslide, and had to cross-pin the cakes with a pair of chopsticks to keep the whole mess from falling apart. And the taste—well, let’s just not go there. Suffice to say, I did not want the thin slice I had, and would not go back for seconds.

But everyone else did. I think they were mostly being nice, but every last one of them, including my somewhat hard-to-please sons, thought it was a very good cake. In fact, inside of two days, they’d eaten it all.

Which brings me to WIM and my short story, Waiting To Jump.

When I first saw the prompt five weeks ago, I felt like I’d just been asked to make Lemon Layer Cake. What on earth was I going to do with such a static image? Worse, what was I going to invent from that lemon and serve in 1,000 words?

Waiting to Jump, much like my Lemon Layer Cake, is not a great thing. There’s barely enough tension to hold it together, even cross-pinned with a bit of allegory. The prose is so-so. The characters are pretty flat. It’s cloying with the overly sweet ending. In short, I wouldn’t dream of sending this thing out anywhere without a complete overhaul. It’s simply not a good story.

But … it’s not terrible. And moreover, I think some of the other writers enjoyed it too. As a Lemon Layer Cake goes, it sufficed. It got through the five weeks as a whole story. And while it may have avalanched a time or two from one side or another, it’s held together somehow by the concept. That’s not too bad.

That’s what events like WIM are for. Turning lemons into Lemon Layer Cakes. Or lemon pound cakes. Or lemonade. You might not always be happy with the final result, but it’s a learning experience. Nothing wrong with that. And the result can’t be as bad as that Lemon Layer Cake!


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