Twelve Tales from the Wildwood

Originally written at the start of December from the prompts sent daily by Writer’s HQ for their 12 Days of Flashmas challenge, I decided I wanted share these on my blog over the actual twelve days of Christmas (so from Boxing Day to Epiphany) pretty much as they left my keyboard at the end of each writing session. They have been checked for basic spelling and grammar, and given a sense check, but they have not been polished as they would be if I were submitting them for publication. 

Because these were not written with publication in mind. 

They were written for the joy of putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard in this case, and just seeing where my mind went with the wonderful prompts, all of which were based around the Twelve Days of Christmas song (and offered a masterclass in what freewriting on a theme can generate). Being me the inclination to add a few extra caveats to challenge, just because I could, was irresistible. So as well as being a response to something in the prompt email I was working with two further rules:

1. The story title had to fit the music for its matching line in the Twelve Days of Christmas song. This does, in theory, mean the list below could be sung but having had a go I wouldn’t recommend it. 

2. Each story had to be set within a version of the Wildwood that I have spent part of this year already working in, building a short story collection of folk and fairy tale retellings that also weaves through them all a story about a Goddess, a Witch, and a Mortal and finding one’s place in the world. I say a version because the Wildwood of the short story collection is a darker place than the one you’ll meet over the twelve days of stories (think Witcher vs Wind in the Willows) despite the Witch being the same Witch and the Cailleach being the same Goddess. It was interesting to see how they reacted to a different set up!

The one rule I did break was the length of each tale. They are all flash fiction for the publishing world’s parameters of the term, all being somewhere between 500 and 1000 words long, but at Writer’s HQ all flash is capped at 500 words. Not that anyone minded, Writer’s HQ isn’t that sort of writing group, but for completeness I felt I should ‘fess up.

It was a joy to play in a more lighthearted Wildwood, and over the twelve days it’s very easy to see that I begin by writing my way into this particular Wildwood, then find my footing, and finally start really running with the characters and sense of place. They are very rough and immediate but what I hope is visible in all of them is how much fun I was having creating them. 

Because that is why I am sharing them, to share the joy.

I won’t say much more, because I think the stories do their own talking, but I hope you enjoy them. Comments are always welcome and I’d love to know whether any of the literary, tv, and film references that my subconscious saw fit to scatter liberally through them are obvious to anyone but me. 

From Boxing Day onwards I’ll be updating this post daily to turn each title into a link to its respective story. Like the song, the first story is the last on the list, which I hope is not too confusing! So, without further ado:

For the twelve tales of Flashmas the Wildwood gave to me …

The Rhythm of Life

Joan tells the Witch a Story

Hare Goes a-Leaping

The Village Yule Ball

Dragon has a Visitor

Wren’s Wintry Wonderings

Goose Goes a-Wand’ring

Five Gold Leaves

Allan Rues His Words

Fox’s Feathered Den

Tea and Love at Doves

And Witch’s Cottage gets a Frankentree

21 thoughts on “Twelve Tales from the Wildwood

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