Sam van Zweden




The Reader


Two days ago, I recieved my copy of The Reader. This is a collection of fiction and non-fiction pieces by people involved in the Emerging Writers’ Festival.

I have to say, I was so excited to get my hands on this, and though it’s quite a diminutive publication, it packs quite a punch. I’ve so far only read about five articles, but it’s got me laughing, thinking, and wanting to lock these little tidbits of writing wisdom away in some part of my mind. I know they’ll come in handy.

So over the next few blogs, I want to share with you the places I’ve been taken by The Reader, what it’s prompted me to think about and research, and what I’ve come away from it with.

Until then…

Flash Fiction

I have a nipple piercing. I’ve had it for about a year, and it’s still the most painful thing I’ve ever done – for a week, it felt like I had a tiny tiny kitten hanging from my nipple by its teeth. That is, it was the most painful thing I’ve done, up until this morning, when my barbell got caught on a towel and ripped my nipple. Yes, ripped.

There was blood, and swearing, and panic. I explained my problem to a chemist, who got very nervous and gave me some butterfly strips to hold it all together. When my piercer opened I rang them, and they told me I’d done the right thing. With a bit of diligent care and some luck, the blessed thing will heal and not migrate.

This was a dramatic start to my day. Enough to make me curl up and sulk a little, and settle into checking out some fantastic writing.

So, to continue from my “Simplicity” post yesterday, I’d like to introduce Flash Fiction.

“Flash fiction” is the actual name for what I was talking about yesterday – very very short fiction. This is done in many different ways…
Some publications ask for a maximum of 140 characters.
Some want six sentances.
Others simply want something
under 1000 words.

Point is, they’re rather short happenings. And this works for me, with my short attention span and plot-retardation.  This also works for readers like me, I like being paid for my investment promptly.

Almost everything I write fits into the “Flash Fiction” category, given the above definitions.

So here is mine for today, with more to come in future:

“She takes ugly photos of her lips, just to see if people are paying attention. Twelve hits in five days. So she takes photos of her pretty feet, to see if people are paying attention.”

Tick-Tock Polka

“The Tick-Tock Polka”
-Samantha van Zweden.

This is how I march my way through history –
nailing down my memories
to stop them from

My lover disappeared and came back to me in pieces.
I swallowed those pieces so I’d always have her near.
My insides groaned as the pieces remembered themselves
and tore at me to let them out.

My mother always told me,
“If you can catch a bird
and put salt on its tail feathers,
you get to take it home.”

I wanted to keep it in a drawer by my bed.

I found a swallow on the ground in our yard.
Its body was broken and still,
an awkward little nature study.

I put it in my drawer and salted its tail.
I pretended.

It wasn’t the same.

I loved a girl who forgot how to love me back.
She switched herself off and shut herself away.

Late at night I climbed through her bedroom window
and, while she perspired dreams,
I severed the fingers of her left hand
leaving her only a thumb.
Her butchered digits sit mute in my pocket.

Tying down.
Putting away.
Holding too close.
This is how I claw through time.

Blog at

Up ↑