out on a limb

branchFrom time to time I dabble in short story writing. For the past few years I’ve entered Country Style Magazine’s short story competition. The theme for 2015 is ‘branching out’, and I’m stumped!

Last year, inspiration came to me via a dream. But so far this year my dreams have been the crazy fare of perimenopause… no writing material!

Adjacent to our Sydney apartment balcony is a huge eucalypt. I gaze at its long pale branches in an attempt to invoke wisdom. The tree is a source of food & shelter for numerous birds and butterflies, but has yet to proffer creativity!

I know the muses are hanging around, not goofing off in Ibiza: they’ve been amusing me with blog post ideas but enigmatically silent on ‘branching out’, even during 3 am wakefulness when bright writing ideas usually coalesce necessitating employment of scribble-in-the-dark-decipher-later skills.

When I think of ‘branching out’ the only things humming through my brain are misheard Rick Springfield lyrics

“…Speak to the sky trees and tell you how I feel
and to know sometimes what I say ain’t right,
It’s all right
cause I speak to the sky trees every night…”

interspersed by lines from the poem Trees by Joyce Kilmer

“I think that I shall never see

A poem lovely as a tree…

…Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.”


If you are an Australian resident and so inclined, details are:
Country Style Magazine Short Story Competition. Concludes on May 29, 2015 at 23:59 (AEDT). Entries no longer than 1500 words and previously unpublished.

Otherwise for both Australian and non-Australian residents is the 2015 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. Single-authored short story of between 2000 and 5000 words, written in English. Stories must not have been previously published or be on offer to other prizes or publications for the duration of the Jolley Prize. Entries close at midnight 1 May 2015



29 thoughts on “out on a limb

  1. I wonder what causes our muses to abandon us? I’ve been trying to write a short piece for several months and the thoughts just won’t come together, and yet I manage to pull together a blog post once a week. Hmmmm. Sleep has been eluding me on a regular basis, too, so perhaps that doesn’t help? Best wishes to you!


    1. Thank you 🙂 I truly think my muses are underwhelmed by the theme. I’ve begun and discarded several efforts, and have something that could go each way – competition short story or blog post story… or into the WIP file… I try not to waste any efforts so save the discards regardless. Sometimes sleepless quiet time is gold… sometimes not…


      1. Different readership, maybe… I’m sure there must be examples of your life out there which are amusingly different from your working life? It’s a start, and if inspiration strikes while you’re at it, follow that new rabbit down its hole too.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m ever so sorry, as I’ve been awake at some ridiculous times I may just have monopolised the muses a little. I shall cease and desist forthwith and send them straight back. You’ll have your inspiration before the weekend is over.
    xxx Mega Hugs xxx


    1. Oh ho… the muses have been moonlighting! If they’re coming back from you then they’ll be a lot more talented than when they left here… and maybe you’ll get some sleep 🙂


    1. Thank you, that’s so lovely for you to say. You writing is wonderful – I enjoy your posts and the guest post at Celi’s. I wish I could cook & write like you & Celi do!


  3. I think you have it.. that tree..the eucalytus.. . What has it seen in all its years. My Mum said that if you put a small branch of the gum tree by your bed at night you will not be bothered by the mozzies! So we did, every summer and the scent was divine.. cannot remember about the mosquitoes though.. c

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you to you & RC 🙂 Maybe I need cat fur too, the magic ingredient! Plenty of time… of course, I never do anything until the last minute… where all my best words come from, rather than the ones I suffer and labour over!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Special ruff fluff wafting your way. Molly was crestfallen, so HRH said surely you’d happily receive a soft white clump of undercoat. (It’s clean. RC insisted in giving it the going over before setting it a adrift…husband says he can empty the shop/house vac if you require more…strong enough winds today to carry it.) RC is fretting that some bird may snatch it for a nest – so she is scowling warnings out the window and ordering Molly to wag tail to give it lift and push on the way. It’ll probably land in your coffee – not much way to aim it once in flight.


  4. Um, I am assuming you know your story is to be about a tree? Don’t wait for ideas, just start writing. Write anything you can think of, and see if something comes. That muse is an unreliable cow anyway 🙂


    1. It’s become apparent one of the stories is meant to be about a tree! I now have a few coherent ideas, to add to the weird and wonderful WIPs. The muses remind me of myself, so I try to be a little kind but they can be exasperating 🙂


  5. Why does it have to a tree??? Branching out implies growth, but that growth can take 101 forms. For example, you branched out and got married. You branched out and bought your retirement home. I’d say you’ve been doing a hell of a lot of branching out the last few years. 🙂


    1. You’re right, the story doesn’t have to be about a tree and I hadn’t considered it until Celi’s suggestion of a story about what the tree next to our balcony has seen. And Sara has good instincts that I can’t discount! I now have a few WiPs… a couple along the lines of the scenarios you suggested… It seems I’m not an island; no wo-man is but I am, figuratively, a tree… so… ah well… any growth is good growth!


  6. Hope your muse returns. I haven’t been inclined to write a short story in some time (other than for my blog). I’m barely working on my WIP novels. Sigh. Good luck, Miss D.


    1. Thankyou. My muses were inspired by the comments but of course now I’m busy with day to day life and work, so the muses are in a huff. But I have time, and if I miss the deadline, the ideas will make great story fodder anyway 🙂 As they say, for both of us… all in good time!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. How about branching out in life–exploring new things, finding new people, new interests? Or branching out into a phase of your life with marriage? Just some thoughts. 🙂


    1. Thank you 🙂 It’s wonderful to have been able to workshop this… I understood the topic just couldn’t see how to apply it via my storytelling parameters… now I have some ideas.


    1. Thank you, there’s another good thought… getting out of here, we’re working on it! and it could be a story. I was feeling ‘branching out’ is quite a hackneyed term, I simply couldn’t apply it, but there is an abundance of material.


  8. I think branching out is very clicheéd, but after being with GO for years, I agree with other commenters that it marks a change. No idea what I would write though if I was to enter. Doesn’t inspire me either.


    1. The suggestions have inspired ideas for several stories… it may be I get one done/select one for the ACS competition or they may end up as blog posts… but I agree and I continue to be ho hum about the theme.


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