Wasteful Till Addicted to Bruise

I haven’t written for 3WW for a long time. Here are the 3 Words for Wednesday, last week – Wasteful, Addicted, Bruise. This time I felt like a flashy.
Wasteful, addicted, bruise

Wasteful – Addicted – Bruise
“If you’re wasteful in your habits, your body’ll get addicted to bruises.”

A board with that slogan on it hanged on the wall just over the blackboard in our classroom. For four years my eyes fixed on it when looking up. I grew so accustomed to the words that I lost all sense of their meaning. Which, at first, I couldn’t understand. I read and read, but I didn’t see the logic and the idea behind them. Then, one winter morning, we all got the message in a clear crispy tone. Three of our schoolmates were on the sports playground, in their underpants only, bodies bruised badly, heads hanging in utter shame. Large cardboard signs hanged on their necks, and on them one could read: “Wasteful, ergo bruised.”
The trick of the remaining years at the school was to keep from getting addicted.

See you next time 🙂

PS. And here is a link to the original posting where you can read what the others have come up with.

To the Tower Over the Bridge Across the Pond

For the 215th Wordle by Sunday Whirl:
/organs tower money poor pond friends cell dna teeth signal bridge skirt/
I didn’t write a poem. As you see.
215 week of worldes***
Shine had her mother’s DNA in her cells. She knew it well, it hurt. All her mother’s organs had collapsed and defaulted by her 45th year due to the booze and pills, and all the unknown substances she took. Her teeth decayed as early as her 25th year, while Shine was still a little girl. In fact, didn’t have a memory of good teeth in her mother’s mouth.

The tower where all poor and diseased people had to go was leaning over the pond ready to fall. No one had friends and no one would signal the outer world about the things that happened there. You needed money to cross the bridge back to your previous life.

Shine put on her best skirt and a new shirt and went out of the flat.
(c) 2015, MK

Say Good Bye To Childhood

A year and a half ago, on August 3rd 2012, I was inspired by a photo prompt a fellow-Wordsmither, Gerry Wilson, had suggested. I sat down and wrote the first two sentences of a short story. The story was in my head. I planned to write it over the coming weekend and even commented on Gerry’s blog with a promise that my next comment will contain the link.

Some time later, the photo was still on my desktop, giving me hard time for a promise unkept. The worst part is that the story was still in my head, but I didn’t find the time to sit down again. I deleted the picture, but thank goodness I kept the initial sentences on file.

Here is the story. Not exactly the one that was in my head, but pretty much so.

“Jumping Into Swimming Pool” by Ian Kahn Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Jumping Into Swimming Pool” by Ian Kahn
Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

*This is a story without a title*

Here is Gerry Wilson’s original post. It is really awesome that I managed to find it, as well as recover the picture again.


From left to right on this picture are Peter, Susan, Bobby, my cousin Rebecca and me, Quentin. My sister Alex took the photo from across the pool. That was the first day of the happiest summer I’ve ever had. Later on, I would remember it over so many a tearful nights, that it would hurt me in the throat to even pronounce the names. Especially the name of the one who is not on it.

That is Susan’s parents’ pool we are standing at, on the picture. We took the picture in July, the morning after Susan’s 15th birthday. After that we would go and play there every day. Early in the morning I would crawl out of my bed and run to the terrace of my step-mother’s luxury house, to see that Peter is already standing on the edge of the pool.
“Hey, Pete,” I would shout out. “Wait for me. Don’t jump in!”

Then, without looking to see if he would do as asked, I darted downstairs, past my smiling step-mom whose understanding brown eyes always followed me with a playful flicker, and across our freshly-mown lawn.

I rarely had the time for the official passage to Susan’s, but usually used the wicket gate our fathers had made in the wall, out of good neighborly manners. Our fathers were friends, indeed. I think they had gone together at University, if not even something more. One morning, I passed through the gate and reached the pool, only to see Pete and Susan making out at the near pool bank. First, I heard Susan’s giggle and hurried whispers, then I saw them. Seeing me, both pushed away from each other and looked different directions. I didn’t care what they did, but I was thankful they tried at least to keep some decency and not make us all uncomfortable in their presence.

Pete snapped, “Where’s Alex?”
“God, Alex,” I would slap my face. I had forgotten her again. Alex was my half-sister. She was my father’s daughter from his marriage to my step-mom: a cutie, 4 years old, and very gentle. She was often ill, her lungs had some difficulties. I don’t know what was wrong with her then. The only thing our parents told me was I had to take good care of her and not molest her in any way. I liked the kid, so I didn’t mind looking after her whenever I could. Sometimes I forgot she existed, though.

When Peter asked his sleek question, intending to send me away so he could steal a couple of more kisses and squeezes from Susan, I ran back to our house. Alex was waiting for me on the steps in front, smiling. Her mom was right behind her, holding a towel. Rebecca had already left for her parents’ villa somewhere on the coast. Alex was my responsibility now.

I stopped insecurely. My step-mom had seen me, as usual, when I passed through the kitchen, but had said nothing. Why hadn’t she made me stop and wait for Alex? She had only looked at me in her peculiar way.

“Alex,” I said, “are you ready? Let’s go swim.” I stooped and pinched her on the cheek. She beamed, “Let’s, Quentin. Let’s.”
Turning to her mom, she waved, “Bye, mommy.”
Her mom let a vixen-like smile and silked out, “I’ll be dreaming of you, honey.”

I felt great discomfort. It was as if this was meant for me. I looked at her, but she was smiling innocently like a Madonna, tenderly patting her daughter’s shoulder. Maybe I was wrong. Alex took my hand and we went to Susan’s. Bobby was already in the water, inflating a rubber toy for Alex. I didn’t see Peter, but Susan was sitting in a chair under a parasol. Her sunglasses covered her eyes, so I didn’t know if she saw us. Alex tore her hand from mine and, screaming with joy, jumped in the swimming pool. Bobby met her with a welcoming hurray and hurried to reach her. Alex couldn’t swim at all, no one had taught her, but she managed quite well while in the water. Bobby was holding on to the toy and pushed it forward for Alex to grab on to it. She did and, screaming even more, struggled to climb on it. Finally, she tried to jump over Bobby. They liked each other very much. He stood still so that she wouldn’t tip and helped her stand on his shoulders. I was looking at them, and didn’t notice Susan had disappeared.

When I finally got in the water, I took a look around the swimming pool and noticed that we were alone in the entire yard. “Maybe those two are upstairs in a bedroom,” I thought disgusted and curious at the same time. I tried to imagine what they could possibly do in a room with a bed, and I remembered the films showing a man and a woman alone, but I wasn’t sure exactly how this was done. I wasn’t that curious either. OK, I was, but only to a certain degree, and then, I preferred playing in the pool.

Then we heard the scream. And another scream. Alex froze, her eyes fixated on an upstairs window. Next thing, she gasped and dropped from Bobby’s shoulders in the pool. She breathed in trying to speak, swallowed some water and choked. Bobby held her tight and made a stroke toward the edge of the pool. I was right after them. We took Alex out and Bobby patted her on the back slightly. Alex was not OK. She continued to cough, her thin shoulders jerked up and down, and she could not breathe. I stared at her, and exchanged panicked looks with Bobby, who continued patting her. We had to try to make her breathe freely, but we didn’t know how. We laid her down on the tiles. It just got worse. So, we decided to turn her to her side. Seconds passed by and Alex didn’t recover. Her small body was turning stiff, her face got blue.

We completely forgot about Pete and Susan. The house on the other side of the swimming pool did not exist. The swimming pool was not there. Bobby and I stopped breathing, stared at Alex, and we were holding her hands. Alex was not breathing either.

Then we heard Susan.
“Help! Help me! Bobby! Quentin! Help!”

I looked at Bobby and nodded. He darted toward the house. I stayed with Alex and trembled. Alex was dying or maybe dead. I didn’t know how to tell the difference. I was so cold and so afraid, that I didn’t dare to think. I remember now that hot tears rolled down my cheeks and shocked me. I wanted to wake up and see that all was a stupid and horrible dream, but I knew it wasn’t, so I cried in my helpless 15 years. I just slumped on the tiles beside Alex’s cooling small body, still holding her thin white hand, while my elbow was hooked under her head, now hanging loose and heavy. I wept, not caring who will see me or how I looked. I broke down and my shoulders shook until numb. My face paralyzed distorted and my thoughts were illogical, they felt like frightened deer scurrying through a forest scared by each leaf shadow and every moving shrub.

I didn’t know how much time had passed. When I finally looked up, I saw Bobby walking slowly and mechanically, like a zombie. He came out of the house and stopped, unsure where to go. For a moment I thought he would walk straight into the pool, but he checked himself and only then he noticed us. He ran to Alex, and squatted next to us, but didn’t touch her. Only then I saw his hand was cut and bleeding.

“What happened?” we both asked the other one. Looking at each other’s eyes, we knew that we were lost.

Our childhood was over.

© 2014, mariya koleva

NaNoWriMo 2013 – How Well I Did?

NaNo winner 2013This year, for the third time, though not exactly in a row, I took part in NaNoWriMo. After I did it first in 2010, I have never stopped seeing myself as a fiction writer, although somewhat insecure at first.
Here is a summary of my achievements this time and an overview of how those stand next to past years’ achievements:

  • This year I managed to cover the 50k distance and did it even faster than before. I validated on the very last day, but the total pure writing time I took this November was maybe just two thirds of the two previous forays.
  • This year I finished my story. I did the same the second time, too. This year I finished the story on the very day when NaNoWriMo finished, and I actually validated a complete text. As a comparison, in 2011 I finished my story around Dec. 8th. As another comparison, the story I started in 2010 is not finished yet. I continued writing it for most of January, then had another go in July. It is still a mess.
  • This year, I edited my story. That is, I made a first edit. There must be lots of things to do more. But I will need an editor and a professional to tell me that. As far as I go, the story makes me happy. As a comparison, my 2011 novel never made it to an editing round. I read it 6 months after writing it, and bitterly regretted not doing even a rough editing.
  • This year, I took advantage of sponsors’ deals and bonus offers. I purchased Scrivener for half-price.
  • Since my story was complete, written and edited to some decency, I submitted it to the Writing Accelerator run by Lulu.com where I will get a free review. It may also happen to be one of ten novels to get really rewarded. We’ll see the results later
  •  I uploaded my novel on the Wattpad website where people may read it, comment on it, and vote. Not only popularizing it, the website will be drawing one lucky winner who will grab $2,000. Hoping that might be me. I tried to get a free book on Amazon, using their promo code, but it didn’t work the right way.
  • I sent my first chapter to the JukePop Serials, where novels are posted in series, so as to raise suspense in the readers. A couple of days later, I heard back from an editor there, that my text was accepted. I am again taking part in a competition, where the prize will be $500, to be distributed among the three serials that have collected the most +Votes by the end of the contest period.
  • I would really like to edit my 2010 novel and submit it to a YA Romance contest. We’ll see about that.

NaNo Winner 2013 Continue reading “NaNoWriMo 2013 – How Well I Did?”

Sombre Chapbook FREE on Smashwords

My poetic work, entitled Sombre Chapbook is FREE on Smashwords, as part of the sitewide promotion that is held in July. Last year I had good sale volumes with Lily In The Moonlight, and hope to see some again. Last time only Lily participated, and this year I decided to include the poetry book, too.

sombre-chapbookHere is the direct link to the book. Use the coupon code SW100 at check out and get it for FREE.

Then, all you have to do is enjoy and later on tell me what you think. I welcome reviews as comments here, to my email, shared on your blog, and, of course, on Smashwords site of the book.

While you are on the site, check my Young Adult novel, Lily In The Moonlight. You may get it for FREE, as well, and enjoy the summer read.

Riding the Wave

Not-Bobbers’ Anniversary

Since high school I’ve wanted to write. It took me a long time to actually do it. I passed through several complex stages of touching writing, without doing it.


I majored English at university, and started a PhD right after that, hoping that theoretical literature will be a good enough contribution to literature in general. Teaching literature was another such good contribution. Somewhere on the way, it turned out theoretical stuff didn’t bring any joy at all. At a certain point, I felt more and more inept, without really being so. I couldn’t handle Homi K. Bhabha and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, nor the writings of Tsvetan Todorov or Julia Kristeva (check them out, you’d be amazed). To make the long story short, I found out I was not able to meet my mentor’s academic expectations. Besides, a novel or even a short poem have much more value to it than any theoretical piece on literature. If a single soul reads it and remembers it for life, or has their life changed by it, that would be much more helpful. I tried my hand in a couple of short stories, but didn’t like them at all. All that time I used to write poetry. It’s much easier than prose, as most poets would agree. Yet, I’ve never considered poetry to be real writing.

In a new attempt to get involved in literature turned to translation of fiction. That went on for several years, and then I signed up for a Twitter account, because I wanted to help my deteriorating official translation business. Twitter didn’t help my business, but brought me to the Poetic Asides community with the regular Wednesday prompt and the Tuesday poetry chats (remember those #poettues?). The blog format of Poetic Asides where all participants commented in a single thread was very suitable for a novice like me, as I would read through the whole conversation and just a couple of months later it was November, so I took part in the two major projects of my new life. I did November PAD and NaNoWriMo very successfully. Then, I discovered I could write. Apparently, I needed a longer form to find that out. Sadly, long forms need much time, which I never have. I became more or less a regular at Poetic Asides, even if only for checking on the conversation and a poem or two.

Last April, when Robert announced his planned Platform-Building Challenge, I was ready for that. In fact, it came as a miracle, just when I had realized how much I needed that. So many times during the two past years I had heard/read about Platform and how important it is, that I was starting to feel my failures are partially due to the lack of one. I did my best to follow the challenge and some of the steps were easy, some were more demanding. Overall happy with the outcome, I got involved in the #MNINB April-platform community and just rode the wave as it came. Since then, I have been included in the Wordsmith Studio project, have had my Bio and pic there, wrote some guest posts for the blog and I have been participating in discussions and challenges. I must admit that sometimes I’m too slow, but still, I am there. Over this past year I have been working towards a new Master’s degree, and that consumed most of my spare time, as I also work and have a very young child. Those “side activities” have been getting in the way of writing and following as much as I have wanted. Some members of the WSS (as we call it now) have been more active and have taken initiative to make a website and set it up so we, as a community, may use it. Members there have been very encouraging and supportive in everything and finally, I am among like-minded people who don’t actually care that I can’t cook well or am easily intimidated by perky shop assistants. Smiles… They have set up a group on Goodreads, hold regular chats on Twitter, too. The only places I can participate, though, are the FB/G+ and the WSS site itself. And that is more than enough, honestly speaking.

Since last April I have been bold enough to submit some poetry and got a couple of acceptances. I wrote a short story for the Snake Oil Cure magazine and they published it and then I had a short story of mine published without even submitting it. Linda Hatton was so kind to like it and send me a message about that.
The wonderful thing about the WSS community is that we are multi-functional. We have people for everything. There are photographers, designers, people who know about “site hits” and traffic, among other things. What we all have in common is that we all WRITE.

After I completed the challenge I found out that I don’t fail for lack of a platform. I fail for lack of persistence, SEO-team, advertisement, marketing strategy and so on. Of course, talent is also need for success. I found out I had a pretty much precise idea what a platform is, I simply don’t have the resource to build it properly. Since I’ve been going on my own snail speed, I am happy to part of that something larger that supports me and moves me to progress. Team-work really matters and that is the most valuable achievement of last year’s challenge. I don’t know if anyone expected that, and I guess Robert is glad to see our progress as a stand-alone group. I hope that is to continue and shape into something beautiful and beneficial to all.
Happy anniversary, Not-Bobbers!

This is another of a series of anniversary posts this month, and here is a list of links to each one of the previous ones, all of them personal, curious, special and worth reading. Numbers before the names designate the date in April the authors chose. Names are clickable links. Will open in new tab 🙂

1) Kiril Kundurazieff
3) Veronica Roth
4) J.lynn Sheridan
5) Elizabeth (Beth) Saunders
6) Sopphey Vance
7) Melanie Marttila
8) Heather Button
10) Gerry Wilson
12) Emily E. McGee
13) Anne Kimball
14) Khara House
15) Barbara Morrison
18) Mona AlvaradoFrazier
19) Jeannine Everett
20) Linda G Hatton
24) Claudine Jaboro
25) Carol Early Cooney
Out of the list: Kasie Whitener

The Theme behind November PAD


Image credit: Rebecca Barray

For today’s post I decided to tackle the November Poem-A-Day Chapbook challenge and focus on its prompts. Some time into the challenge in 2010, Robert asked whether or not we have found any particular theme behind it. Then I managed to identify a theme for myself and formed my chapbook around it. Of course, I didn’t follow that theme throughout all my poems. Not only does it need a lot of pre-planning, which I am completely incapable of, but that also means very severe sticking to the theme, another incapability of mine.

In 2010, the theme I saw unfolding behind Robert’s prompts was the cycle of a love affair – starting with opening the new page, all the way to lessons learned.

In 2011 I participated in the challenge again. I do that alongside NaNoWriMo as a way of pumping my creative enthusiasm. My busy daily routine then, however, didn’t allow me the time to sit down and consider whether or not there was a theme behind the prompts. Moreover, I skipped several and that only added up to my frustration.

However, here I am, participating in NovPAD again. A fellow-poet, Maxie Steer, put that theme question across, so I started thinking. This time Robert doesn’t offer the prompts himself, so we can’t suppose he has a hidden theme for the chapbook. This time he picks prompts from participants’ suggestions. The challenge started with my own Matches prompt (which was a great honour). Here is the list, so far:

  • Matches
  • Full Moon
  • Scary
  • Just Beneath…
  • Texting
  • Right /Left
  • Circle
  • Talk Back to a Dead Poet
  • When He’s Gone
  • Foreign Word/Phrase
  • Veteran Poem
  • Non-existing Device (that should exist)
  • Letter/Recipe
  • Stuck
  • Tradeoff
  • Last line becomes First: Thrilled
  • Wheel
  • Glossa-form
  • Gathering/Letting go
  • Song Title: On a Lonely Island
  • Paradise
  • Deep

I started by a love poem, then I wrote a life-asserting poem, some vague scary stuff, a self-irony poem, a love lost poem in the unsuccessful form of a text message, a pun poem and then the Circle prompt came by and I wrote a poem of my Daddy. After that, and after talking to Maxie, I started thinking that perhaps this chapbook may focus on my daddy and my relation with him. I have many poems written about him, but several more won’t hurt. After that the When He’s Gone prompt hit it again. In between, however, I still wrote either love or nature-inspired poems. What can I say? Sometimes I just want to write that, depending on the prompt!

I must state it honestly that I am a bit behind on the prompts and I have been thinking about what to write, or, more precisely, how to write it. I have just vague ideas and feel I am too slow. Luckily, this post is not about NaNoWriMo, because I have had a complete crash over there 🙂


What is your incline with the PAD prompts this year?

Slipped His Mind

SLIPPED THE MIND, after Flashy Fiction

Image credit: Kerala Photos


You see, the consequences were grim! I work at the railway station, the central one. There I have to take care of various things as arrivals and departures, but not about schedules or communications, what the complicated females at the office do. I am responsible for the real, physical trains that come into and leave our station.

So, one morning I came late. That was the minor trouble, as I came in drunk. Maybe I wasn’t too drunk, but I had been drinking all night with Heavy-Metal friends and the 4am shift came a bit early for me.

Uhm, I was at the station at about 5 am. That is early enough, considering only few trains move at that time. Besides the night shift had stayed longer to cover me. All in all, things promised to come right, when at about 10am I felt very sleepy.

There were two things I had to do that day: mind my work and take my son from school to his theatre practice. I am divorced and enjoy certain days to see my child. “Enjoy” is a word my lawyer taught me. “It shows enthusiasm,” he says. As he knows better, I agree. After all, he has studied for 17 years, as he quotes so often, while I had trouble completing 10th grade out of 11 necessary to obtain high education diploma. I doubt it my lawyer can make it on the street, or at the railway station as I do, but in court he is the boss.


The part about my lawyer is too long. He is of no importance to my story. I needed to mind my work and take my son from school to theatre practice.

The first thing didn’t come right at all. At about 10am when I started to feel weirdly sleepy, I had to lead a train into the station by redirecting the rails. My colleagues tell me they found me head over the switch board, pressing the lever with my heavy forehead. Sadly, there is no one working with me in the direction cabin at the remote end of the station. That way, my fellow could have seen me drop my head and could have saved the day.

That started a whole series of complications. Police needed to get to the spot, also the Railway Authorities. After all, an entire train had derailed and crashed! I was so lucky there were no lives lost. I may be a drunkard and generally no good, but I won’t take a life on my slate!

Amidst all the hustle, I was asked to step out of my duties, hand over the “representations of my office” – they called the baton and the red head-piece I was wearing that. All in all, I was at a loss. True, I was street wise, but that sort of administration clamour had never occurred to me. I felt I was not apt for the challenge. Best of all, I yearned to be left alone to take a healthy nap on the sofa in my high-air cabin.

So much so, that I forgot all about my son. The official held me at the station till after dusk and then a colleague drove me home, I was so shaken. When I stood in front of the door, I saw my son asleep on the door mat there. His mother had left us, so she wouldn’t have known.

“No theatre practice today, ha, son?” I asked, guilty in my heart.

“No, Dad.” he said humbly. “Today was the final rehearsal. We stage the play on Sunday. Will you come?”

I heard the hope in his voice, the hope not all has been lost. Youth’s foolishness, I thought, as I slammed the door and yelled, “When do you plan to do the dishes?”


© 2012 Mariya Koleva

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

There you have it – The Light At The End Of The Tunnel prompt for a flashy. How would I miss the opportunity to have a twist of irony with that topic? No way, of course.

Image credit: Flashy Fiction site



Believe it, or not, I was ready to die. All of a sudden, death did not appear as scary or impossible anymore. I was ready, no, I was willing to embrace it. All the small things that had formed my small joys were gone, and the idea of not seeing the sun tomorrow, had simply expired.

How is that possible, one would ask. Is not the human being one that never loses hope or the love of life? Is not that the reason humans are at the top of all reasonable creation?

I don’t have an answer for that. I just know that I was indifferent to life, I cared not. To be honest, I was indifferent to death as well. It was not attractive in any way, moreover so, as the experience was entirely unknown to me. The downright truth was that I did not care. For the moment, death meant escape from life. Life had become a nuisance, a dark pit of losses and failures, from which I would rather break out. Since I had no power to struggle anymore and I had no faith that my struggles could bring about a life any different from the one that lead me here.

Then I spotted that vague light area far ahead. I blinked once or twice to make sure I can see it correctly. There it was. A very dim and unclear dot, not disappearing. I must have reached the bottom, I reckoned, if that is the light at the end of the tunnel. I have never believed one could see such a thing. I must be at the end of my tether, indeed. Once I had swallowed the bitter realization that I have nothing to live for, I started thinking what to do about this light. I mean, if I see it, am I supposed to undertake any particular piece of action? Do I need to feel hopeful again, resurrect my expectations, my will to fight, or was the light going to do something for me?

“Good evening.” A sharp voice stated ahead of me.

“Good evening.” said I not sure what to think.

“We are sorry to announce that due to recent huge spendings, we are forced to turn off the light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for your hopes and have a happy afterwards!”


So… I blinked a couple of confused blinks. Huge spendings, I thought. Suddenly I didn’t feel like giving up. Curiosity overwhelmed me, as I headed towards the place where that voice sounded a moment ago.


© 2012 Mariya Koleva

This story was published in MouseTale Press, a literary magazine, in January 2013.

Two For Tuesday: F2K and NovPAD


Image Credit: Wikipedia

Today I am very lucky to have the chance of a twosome Tuesday, because I have at least two topics to write about. It is November, so everybody guessed it already: NaNoWriMo and NovPAD would be my two things. Quite right, yet, not quite.

The first thing I plan to discuss is my participation in the F2K free writing course, held at the WWU. That course was suggested to the Wordsmith Studio community by Rebecca Barray, who had already taken part in it and highly recommended it. As it was free and demanded nothing in return, I decided to give it a try. Of course, such a decision is never a simple thing with me. I rarely step down from the course of action I have decided upon, so making a decision is very similar to concluding a binding contract for me. A contract between me and who know whom, binding to me mainly.

The F2K course takes part several times a year and lasts for 7 weeks. In this particular session, the schedule started on Sept. 19th. Each Wednesday a Lesson is posted comprising theory on a particular aspect of the art of writing, together with a writing exercise to be accomplished as part of the Lesson. Each attendant then reads and studies the Lesson very carefully and writes a text in answer to the exercise. Attendants are divided into different Classrooms, have a mentor and an intern to guide them and answer their question and some extracurricular activities offered as part of the programme.

At first I had to find my way round the site and spent some time to make friends. There is a Wall, similar to the one on Facebook, there are Groups, Friends, Direct Messages and the option to “expose” yourself by posting pictures and videos. You can chat to friends of yours who are online and see others’ activities on the Wall. You may “like” and/or comment. Everybody involved gets notifications about all related activities. That happens in the Play section.
In the Work section, the attendants take part in the Forums. There is a Caf?, where I went only once due to lack of time, a Support Forum to address all issues technical, and a Creative Lounge, where additional prompts are posted, in case writers have spare time and strength to practice more after they have posted their Lessons. I visited the place a couple of times, all before the end of Week 3, but never really got down to writing to the prompts.

Initially, I was worried I won’t be able to follow. Then, I learned that once a Lesson is posted by the Headmaster on Wednesday, we have all the week till next Tuesday to write our own Lesson. Only that. There were some additional activities, such as optional Warm-up exercises based on a book we could buy and the Global Chats, which were scheduled way beyond my time zone, so I never bothered.

The hub of activity is feedback. The entire course is held on it. The classroom mentor only gives feedback in Weeks 1 and 2, and that not to all participants. After that, if you want your mentor’s feedback, you have to pay a small fee. It is really a small amount, so were I in the States, I’d most probably have paid it and enjoyed the benefit of our mentor. As it was, I mainly practiced after consciously reading and learning some theory on the art of writing. As a first time, that was enough.

At first, we all needed to write an introductory post and then give feedback to each and every one of our classmates. That is the rule. During that first session I managed to count 25 participants in our classroom. I was overwhelmed with the perspective to have to give feedback to so many people, after actually having read what they’ve written. That seemed time-consuming. Besides, after receiving some feedback for Prompt 1, I started feeling that the course was useless. Most people would just say: “Oh, great. Good job. You’ve done a perfect job with this one.” I received a couple of neutral ones, like: “It could flow better, but overall it’s OK.” What I craved for was feedback from our mentor for the first prompt and for Lesson 1. When I saw her giving feedback to each participant in the turn of their posting, I was sure that would be the case for those first weeks. Sadly, she never chose to comment on my texts. So, when Lesson 2 came and promised to be very time-consuming, I was halfway out of the course. I was so disappointed and angry that I couldn’t help sharing my resignation. My wall-posts got immediate answers, most certainly kindled by the general policy of this place to try and appease all rebels, variance of opinions, etc. After all, that is a friendly and supportive community, and not a fighting ground.

All of a sudden, time passed and my classmates who would post their Lessons became fewer and fewer. It was becoming easier to give feedback. Another all of a sudden, it turned out that the rule of “proper giving feedback” in our classroom was not giving feedback to each and every one Lesson assignment posted there. Somewhere along the way, our mentor said we need to give feedback “to at least three Lesson assignments”, which I easily accomplished. There was a participant who would receive many comments, and I was always looking for less-commented posts, so I would spend my time on not popular posts, and sometimes couldn’t fined the time to get to his posts. And, to be honest, he wrote very interesting texts.

Another routine is that one Lesson per classroom is selected for the F2K Ezine. I never made it there. I really hoped to appear in the Ezine and made sincere efforts in Lesson 1, which I loved most of all, because it was all about me.
The only thing I wrote from scratch was my first Optional Prompt and Lesson 1 and 2 assignments. For all the rest, I happened to have ready texts. I must admit that, the first short fiction I wrote was after the April Platform-building Challenge, when I decided to develop an Editorial Calendar. When I did that, I had some idea what topic I would write to on particular days, so for some time I would write flash fiction, instead of blog posts. The very first one I wrote, Twisted Minds for the #TwistedTuesday stream, was the one I chose for Lesson 3 when we had to re-write a paragraph from a different POV. Then I would use another, and then another of my pieces which I edited and polished in order to fit the assignment. Some classmates chose to follow a certain theme or to use the same characters throughout, usually the character who did the initial introduction. I chose to follow a different path and use different stories, in order to show what I am able of and receive feedback to the various aspects of my writing. Week by week, the feedback became more useful and to the point. That was mainly a result from the Headmaster’s instructions, as he included specific questions to consider for each task.

Overall, I found the exercise useful. I didn’t write anything new, but I managed to take a new angle viewing my fiction. For example, I found it was not so dull and uninteresting, as I thought it was. I actually intended to edit and work on some of it further and see what happens.

The main problem with this particular course was the partial uselessness of feedback. I say partial, because from time to time a classmate would post really helpful opinion of my texts. Yet, the tendency is different. Normally, your classmates would only tell you what they liked in your piece, but very rarely what they don’t. I did no different, of course. Being aware of my own poor quality as a writer, I never dared to express the real issues I would see. Several times I read awfully written stories, and yet kept a neutral to positive tone. That problem is best overcome when you pay for Mentor’s Support, so you are sure to receive line-by-line feedback from at least one person. A couple of times I ran into misunderstandings because of feedback and it was really awkward.

I am still unsure what to think of the course and the perspective of taking it again. Most probably, I’ll try it again. Maybe next time I’ll join a session at another time of the year. The final week of F2K free writing course starting in September coincided with the first week of November, so it got somewhat assimilated in the new challenges. The possibility of joining the WWU is also very attractive, as it holds creative writing courses which have amazing annotations.

Now, briefly of NovPAD
This is my third time. That is the first event I joined in my early months on Twitter, which led me to become part of a supportive and friendly poetry community. Gradually, I made friends, we started visiting our blogs, participating in other prompt-challenges and got involved in a group to share and comment each others’ celebrations and lamentations. The NovPAD holds a special charm for me, as it coincides with my other great challenge, that really helped me start writing and fully realize my not-all-conscious desire to develop as a writer. I have been building myself as an author for two steady years now and looking back, I can see the long way I have come and a larger portion of the whole picture. My greatest acknowledgment came as my prompt was selected by Robert Lee Brewer to kick off the NovPAD challenge. I was overwhelmed by all the positive reactions and the “thank yous” I received for an excellent prompt. Considering that it came just a day after my first short story, “Diamonds Below the Agulhas Negras”, was published in the Snake-Oil Cure, I had almost a week of praise and hails on FB, Twitter and on my blog. In that way, NovPAD is still a very special event for me and I am really attached to it. I’m not sure how it will end, but I have liked the month of November very well so far.