The Ridler and Heller Challenge of Challenges!

Last week, I took on a short story challenge with the intrepid punk rock writer and genre nut Jason Heller, the only writer in history to write a science fictional biography of President Taft and be able to recite the lyrics to any Bob Stinson-era Replacement ssong. No mean feat.

Heller was looking for a challenge after finishing a project, and so was I. It had been nearly a year since I’d written a new short story, and that’s just plain wrong. So, I decided to toss this challenge at him: Write a new short story in four days. Then, in the remaining three days of the week, crank out flash fiction, one for each day.

I managed to get all my stuff done (hooray!).  Here’s the tally-oh:

1. One 5000 word short story for the upcoming Homeless Moon Chapbook (huzzah!)

2. One 1000 word flash tale told in a rollicking Tom Waits fashion which I hope to clean up and get to market soon

3. One prose poem about the pitfalls of freelancing. Not pleased with this one, but I was sick so what ya gonna do?

4. One prose poem, based on a Japanese poem I’d read and written while I was listening to Mogwai (them dudes is weird). Here’s the poem I used as a prompt:

I dreamed I held a sword against my flesh

What does it mean?

It means I will see you soon

I seem to do well with challenges. Every year I force myself out of my comfort zone and see what happens when I’m flying without a net. Sure, some of the stuff that comes out ain’t worth a damn, but some of it is and I likely would not have written it if not for the challenge. And some of it sells! Check out this little ditty, “Grudge Match”, written last year during my SEVEN DAYS OF FLASH challenge.

No way I would have written this unless it was in the white heat pressure cooker deadline-o-rama world of the SEVEN DAYS OF FLASH challenge. Not sure what to do with the other six, but maybe I’ll revise some of ’em this week.

Now on to my regular day of dogs, the history of counter insurgency, and Monday Night Raw!



About ridlerville

Jason S. Ridler is a historian, writer, and improv actor. He is the author of A TRIUMPH FOR SAKURA, BLOOD AND SAWDUST, the Spar Battersea thrillers and has published over sixty stories in such magazines and anthologies as The Big Click, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Out of the Gutter, and more. He also writes the column FXXK WRITING! for Flash Fiction Online. A former punk rock musician and cemetery groundskeeper, Mr. Ridler holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. He lives in Richmond, CA. Visit him on Facebook at
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