Flashes of Feathers: More Tales from the Wildwood

When I ended the last of the Twelve Tales of Flashmas with “The End for now …” I didn’t have any continuation planned. It was simply that I’d loved writing them, wanted to keep working in this particular version of my Wildwood, and those two little words after The End seemed like a good way of keeping my options open. 

Which of course meant that the ‘for now’ has been bouncing around in my head all month whilst I’ve been working on other things and really wouldn’t leave me alone once I’d finished the most urgent of them. So I gave in and tried to figure out how to fit in a regular play date in my favourite writing sandbox. 

Since I’d no intention of writing twelve stories in twelve days again but had enjoyed the twin challenges of a short time limit and working with specific prompts I thought I’d try to do something similar. Plus with everything I’ve got going on this year having a strict time-limit seems like more of a necessity than a nice-to-have. As such I decided to write another twelve stories but over the span of the year – one story a month – with the further limitation that I can only spend three hours of my writing time for the month creating it.

As for the prompts, I needed to find something that fitted with the Wildwood/Folklore theme whilst not being too narrow in focus. I’d been toying with making a numbered list of the fairy and folk tales in my bookshelves and then using a random number generator to pick one each month but … it would take quite a bit to set up and in all honesty it wasn’t making my brain go “ooh, shiny” in the way I’d hoped.

A young magpie, with white chest feathers fluffy after a bath, sits in a hawthorn tree in spring.

Then, yesterday, whilst clearing a cupboard in my old bedroom at my parents house, I found one of my old notebooks. Between pages of writing that mainly made me cringe with embarrassment I found a magpie counting rhyme that, although clearly based on a mix of a couple of the old folk rhymes, had mostly been written by teenage me. 

And it wasn’t bad. At all. 

Since it took my brain approximately point three of a second after I’d finished reading it to start whirring with ideas I knew I’d found my prompt list.

Thus this second foray into the Wildwood has been nominally titled Flashes of Feathers because every story will be in some way related to the relevant line of the rhyme and it will contain at least one magpie reference in it somewhere. 

Every month, when I post the latest story, I’ll add the title next to its line in the rhyme below, so this will end up as the master post for them all and you’ll be able to see what the prompt was and, hopefully, how the story built from that.

The first story will be up by the end of January but for the moment here is the Magpie rhyme that eighteen year old me wrote:

One for sorrow: Lone(ly) Wolf
Two for mirth: Laughing Betsy and the Village Wassail
Three for a death
Four for a birth
Five for a truth
Six for a lie
Seven for a secret that makes you want to cry
Eight for a susurration 
Nine for a song
Ten for an insight as to where you might belong
Eleven for healing
Twelve for wealth
And Thirteen? Beware, it’s …

well, you’ll have to wait and see if I write a thirteenth tale, won’t you.

4 thoughts on “Flashes of Feathers: More Tales from the Wildwood

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