The sun rose in the exact way that it shouldn’t that morning. The colours that bled across the horizon were all wrong, almost in the same way of a double-cooked soufflé. I mean, it was like nature needed to put that sunrise back in the oven for a while. So it would come out better second time around. It would still be slightly off, but not wrong.
Jack squinted at the sunlight and tasted the air. Yep. Something was off. And it smelled foul – like danger and death had interbred with the colours in a frenzied orgy through the night. “And on this day of all days”, he spat out, to no-one in particular. It was Not-Bakery-Day. He went into town twice a week. Tuesdays for the basket of fresh bread, pastries, fruits and juices packed for him, and Thursdays for the booze and the wimin. Today was not Tuesday.
He had to warn them. He was a prophet, after all. It was his duty. A broad, twisted smile crept onto his face as the realisation hit him. He would be the Herald to Pineville. People would throw themselves at his feet and beg him to protect them. He would live like a king until Death arrived. He giggled as he thought about how every day would be Not-Bakery-Day.
“Every! Day! Every! Day!” The words became a chant as he began to skip toward Pineville, kicking up the dust and fallen leaves beneath his feet. He grew excited as he allowed himself to tap into the destruction. It would be catastrophic.
So this was how it was going end. He had better get his popcorn ready.
Dalene Titus's flash fiction, Not Bakery Day, was selected as our favourite from our 2nd #WriterPrompt event held in May. We asked her about her writing.
SSDA: Why the apocalypse theme?
DALENE: The apocalypse theme was mostly inspired by the character. I thought that portraying imminent world death through the eyes of someone who could profit by it, instead of fear it, would be an interesting twist. Also, I don’t necessarily enjoy standard run-of-the-mill plot lines. My writing varies in tone and style, and I try make it as original as possible at all times.
SSDA: You studied Speech and Drama – do you have any interest in script writing?
DALENE: It was my love for words that brought my love for the stage. I was privileged enough to attend one of John Kani’s lectures back in the day. He described actors as, “Reading something so beautiful and profound that they simply have to share it with the world.”
My interest in writing was side-lined a bit after the stage took its strange-yet-magical grip on me – but yes, script writitng is definitely on the bucket list.
SSDA: A favourite YouTube clip amongst writers is Dylan Moran's rejection clip, Bernard's Letter. How do you deal with the dreaded, no?
DALENE: SWSWSWSW…. J
Some will, some won’t – so what? Someone’s waiting.
I don’t think a “no” is necessarily a bad thing – it usually comes along with some invaluable advice/constructive criticism that you can use to develop your skills. In the end, “no’s” are almost as important as that final “yes.” If it doesn’t grow you, it doesn’t change you. And if it doesn’t change you to be better, there’s no use in doing it. Besides, it makes the “yes’s” that much sweeter.
SSDA: Tell us about your writing process.
DALENE: I’m a big supporter of Ernest Hemmingway’s style of writing.
“Writing,” he says, “Is easy. All you have to do is sit at your typewriter and bleed.”
I think at the end of the day there are two styles to writing – the first is to plan your work and work your plan. The second is to just, you know, bleed. I usually type until my fingers hurt and then leave it for a couple of days before I edit. Seems to work the best for me. Everyone has their own styles, however, and with all things creative – you kind of just have to do what works for you.
SSDA: What writing advice do you wish you knew earlier?
DALENE: Letter to my younger self in terms of writing:
Read. Read. Read some more. Question everything. Read Joseph Campbell’s “Hero with a Thousand Faces” and study the Hero’s Journey in depth. Also, find a group of similar minded friends and make sure one of them is an editor or at least studying editing. Be the grammar Nazi. Read your work (sic). Edit it doesn’t sound like work anymore (sic).
Dalene Titus is a part time writer and full time dreamer. She can be found most days with her head in the clouds or doodling on her notepad. Because she always has a notepad. And a book. She is also a lover of Dramatic Arts and will be moving to Cape Town to host workshops, talks and immerse herself in community work. You know, with her notepad. And her book. And her head full of dreams.