J is for … Jameson

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I was inspired to write J for … Jameson after reading an entry in Mslexia magazine for their regular ‘L is For…’ competition where a piece of creative non-fiction writing is inspired by a single alphabet prompt. Although my story is fundamentally non-fiction, elements within are tweaked to fiction and as a result I doubt I will be submitting this one but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the challenge, particularly the exacting and creative re-write and edit to be within the 300 words limit.

84 thoughts on “J is for … Jameson

  1. restlessjo says:

    It’s well written and worked, Annika, as is all of your work. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Being of a more pessimistic outlook I feared the bottle would win, in the face of such a tragedy. My own stepdad found it the only solution when my Mam died, many years ago now.

  2. jena c. henry says:

    I saved your post to read- and now I’be sipped my coffee and savored your story. And because I waited, I received the benefit of reading all the well-thought comments and insights. Well done to you! And I can relate- I recently stopped drinking.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Jena, that’s so sweet of you … to wait and read this whilst relaxing with a cuppa of coffee! πŸ˜€ β˜•οΈ I’m so glad you enjoyed the story and the comments-thank you so much for reading! I feel honoured by the depth of the ensuing discussion and it is interesting to share everyone’s thoughts. Even though I drink very little, just the odd glass of wine, I have seen its effect on others … sometimes tragically so. This story must have carried special poignancy for your since you can relate to stopping drinking. It must be so hard. xx

  3. Jina Bazzar says:

    I’ve never been able to limit a prompt to a specific number count Annika. I feel constricted and for some reason, that makes me write more – or fall short on words.
    Sadly, i wasn’t able to read your story, it’s a screen shot and my screen reader only says there’s an image there. I’m sure though, from all the complimentary comments i read that it’s a great piece.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Jina, I too am cautious of word limiting pieces and started writing this without a thought to the word count. Of course the first draft was quite a bit longer, which I kept for myself. To my surprise I loved editing the story to length, tightening the writing … but definitely not for everyone, I agree.

      Thank you so much for reading all the comments and I am sorry you couldn’t read the actual story since it was a screen shot. I had problems satisfactorily formatting the story and took this way out. Your comment shows that this approach hampers screen readers and really brings home to me to be more aware of this in future. I’ll avoid screen shots and also when posting images with words on them, to write these out in full beneath. Finally, many thanks for your email and comment of the story I sent to you … I wholeheartedly agree, most would succumb to the whisky — luckily not the case for Zach here.

      • Jina Bazzar says:

        Annika, that was really a kind gesture. This happens a lot and i know it’s unintentional. I myself never paid much importance to captions before i became blind. And thanks again for e-mailing me the piece. I apppreciate that a lot.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Mary Ann, thank you so much … I enjoyed writing this a lot and will see if I can enter it somewhere – your encouragement means a lot. πŸ˜€β€οΈ I know, what you mean about being perfect blog length – sometimes I feel a bit ‘guilty’ putting on longer short stories as it asking quite a bit of time from the reader. In such cases I usually make a cup of tea and sit cosily for a long read!

      • maryannniemczura says:

        Annika, it’s always a pleasure. Unfortunately, the world today moves too fast and everyone expects a Tweet-length post. I am too verbose for that. 500-800 words is about the max I can post to keep people’s attention. Shorter poems work for me better I think. Cup of tea? I loved the tea I drank in the UK and can’t seem to replicate that here in the US. Just like I can’t do a French baguette or wonderful BrΓΆtchen from Germany. Next trip to Europe, I have to get all these things.

        • Annika Perry says:

          How true it’s difficult to replicate favourite food from abroad … I recall a break in France and one day I visited the local bakery five times to buy various baguettes, croissants. Delicious! I still long for those treats but never found anything to match them! My teas are all herbal … much to my husband’s chagrin who insists on the normal stuff!

          Oh I know, stories the length of a tweet abound but I don’t attempt these! I do find people will read longer posts now and then … poetry ones are always a joy and your share so much of your life through them. A treat! Wishing you a lovely rest of the day. xx

          • maryannniemczura says:

            Our wonderful memories keep alive the tastes and smells of favorite foods and beverages. I do have an herbal ginger lemon tea for my throat sometimes but prefer the regular kind as well. These days, it’s espresso and Americanos from Starbucks where they place the red carpet down for me since I am such a GOOD customer! Once per week, I enjoy my coffee pick-ups which I store in the refrigerator. The Empire apples are now harvested and are my favorite New York apple. Have a good week.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much, Miriam – your words mean a lot to me. It was indeed a challenge to edit to the word limit but an enthralling task and one that required just as much creativity, I feel. So glad you could feel the power and emotion in the story.

  4. Julie Holmes, author says:

    Nicely done, Annika! And so much story in only 300 words! It’s a brilliant way to practice vivid prose. Sad ending, but hopeful as Zach chooses to change.

    Have a wonderful rest of your week! (sorry I’m late; seems NaNo is getting more of my time these days. πŸ˜‰ )

    • Annika Perry says:

      Julie, I hope your Nano writing is going brilliantly … I’ve been thinking of you and others taking part this month. It is definitely much quieter on WP at the moment and I’m not so active either for now.

      I’m so happy you liked this and it’s challenging but hugely enjoyable to write such a short piece … an intriguing prompt.

      Wishing you a good rest of the week and weekend … do you get a day off?? xx

  5. Baydreamer says:

    Wow, what a heart-tugger, Annika! I felt as though I was there with Zach! But you convey a powerful message in only 300 words – the fateful ramifications of any addiction. As you know, I’m not a connoisseur of short story writing, but I like how you fast-forwarded to three years later in a seamless manner. Great writing, as always, my friend. Big hugs!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Lauren, thank you so much and it’s lovely to read your comment! At first I was worried the flash forward three years would be disjointed but I’m glad you feel it works well. I wanted to leave the story with some light and closure … especially after the preceding heartfelt events! Your supportive and kind comments about my writing mean a lot. love & hugs xx

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much! πŸ˜€ As with so much of my writing the inspiration for this one came whilst out on a long walk … this time in the forest in Sweden where my mind played through the alphabet for something a bit unusual.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Yeah, great to meet another Mxlexia fan … the magazine is superb and inspirational! I read it via my iPad and it’s always interesting to read further on all the links provided. I really hope you are published there soon, Andrea and wish you lots of luck with your submissions. I’ve sent in pieces of writing a couple of time but never heard anything, alas! Many thanks for your comment about the story and it means a lot coming from a writer as yourself.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Many thanks for reading and your comment, Curt …too much alcohol mixed with anything is often a potent mix, alas. It’s insidious encroachment on everyday life is saddening.Glad you found the tale powerful – just what I was aiming for but feared I might lose in such a short piece.

  6. Book Club Mom says:

    This is excellent, Annika. So sorry to read that it is based on real events and experiences. It’s a very powerful story and I think the 300 word limit makes it even more so. Keep them coming!

    • Annika Perry says:

      David, hopefully much more interesting and captivating than most such announcements! It is sad to see how alcohol quickly and quietly slips into people’s routine of life. Many thanks for reading and your comment. Wishing you a good evening … I’m listening to the Vivaldi again and you are very lucky to be treated to such music everyday in person! πŸ˜€

  7. robbiesinspiration says:

    This is a most thought provoking story, Annika. It is true that it is very easy to fall into bad habits with regards to alcohol. I do like to have a glass of wine but I never have more than one no matter how tempting it is.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Robbie, I hoped to capture that ease with which alcohol can gain hold over the most innocent people, insidiously creeping into, and here, ruining their lives. Snap … I too like just a glass of wine now and then … chocolate is another matter!! πŸ˜€

  8. D. Wallace Peach says:

    I love your writing, Annika. This is perfectly told, not a word out of place and a complete story in just 300 words. Sad, but with some redemption in the end. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading. πŸ™‚

    • Annika Perry says:

      Diana, I’ll definitely keep writing and with such a keen reader I have even more incentive … your comment leaves me smiling! πŸ˜€ 300 words is tight and especially for everything I wanted to say – I surprised myself that it worked so well to edit down – it really is a matter of making every single word count!

  9. Mike says:

    Wow how do you do it Annika? You have managed to convey so much in only 300 words. An art in itself. Love the story and the twists, even though it’s a tragic tale. More of the same please – are we likely to read “K is for………” any time soon?
    Keep up the good work.
    Mike

    • Annika Perry says:

      Mike, you’re closer to my initial thoughts than you know! πŸ˜€ I started sketching some ideas for other letters of the alphabet and considered a whole series … we’ll see! You might have to be patient though! πŸ˜€ So glad you liked the story, its twists and it’s an exciting and taxing challenge to try and fit so much into so few words!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Jacqui, as I was writing I realised I wanted to give some hope and positivity at the end and I was pleased with last paragraph… Jameson the drink had been partially the cause for so much sadness and luckily Zach found the courage to let go of its hold. Yes, may we all find the same strength to face seemingly insurmountable problems. Wishing you a great weekend! πŸ˜€

    • Annika Perry says:

      Clare, thank you so much! πŸ˜€ I wasn’t sure if I could edit the story down to 300 words and still retain the tension … and I’m so glad you feel it is still there! The initial draft was just over 400 and my first reaction was to say it was impossible to edit down … but then discovered the joy of inventive and close precision work.

  10. quirkywritingcorner says:

    A great read and very nicely written. Don’t we usually get our stories from real life?
    I like the idea of writing a story based on a single letter. Earlier this year I wrote two short stories which happened to both be time related. That was purely by accident, but it gave me the idea of using phrases for story ideas. The first set was called Time and Time Again. I plan to continue with that theme until I run out of phrases!

    • Annika Perry says:

      Connie, thank you so much for your lovely comment and I’m so glad you enjoyed the story. I agree, that our stories are usually drawn from life, even if only the emotions, or a snippet of event leading to new fiction!

      Oh, I love the the idea of your series of short stories based on phrases. The possibilities are endless and the title you mention is intriguing. Are you writing a collection? Do you publish them elsewhere? Happy Writing … and you’ve given me a few ideas … thank you!

  11. Behind the Story says:

    When my mom was in her late 70s and getting a little unsteady on her feet. she was in my yard with her little dog. He wasn’t on a leash, but when he ran toward the little drop-off to the driveway, she ran forward to save him and fell. She wasn’t seriously hurt, but she did get a few bruises and scratches. This incident was the first thing I thought of when I read about Amy holding onto Jameson’s leash and getting pulled over the cliff.

    Good story–tragedy with some hope at the end.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Nicki, I was holding my breath a I started to read your comment, rushing to the end and phew, so glad your mother was okay but it is too easy to not think of oneself, just act instinctively. No wonder you recalled this incident when reading my story and I hoped people wouldn’t find it too far-fetched. So many elements came together to lead to Amy’s (literal) downfall but preserving the life of Jameson was one huge reason.

  12. balroop2013 says:

    Alcohol and drugs have snuffed many lives, afflicted many more. I see a little light in this story that warms the heart despite the sudden loss. Short story has to be compact but this ends abruptly. I was wondering if it starts from the ending point, wouldn’t it be more effective?

    • Annika Perry says:

      The power of alcohol and its insidious destructive appearance in so many lives is frightening.

      As so often happens when writing, the beginning came to me whilst out for a long walk and I wasn’t sure of the ending until I started writing the piece. I understand what you are saying about the literary technique to start with the ending first and I find in novels, especially crime ones, it works very well. I’m not sure how successful it would be on a shorter writing piece of only 300 words? Many thanks for your thoughts, Balroop and always fun to discuss.

    • Annika Perry says:

      Thank you so much, Brigid.

      As for your last point, alas, many still take this route though, drinking to cope … I wanted to end with a positive future for Zach but know too often this does not happen.

  13. delphini510 says:

    I felt whilst reading that I was hungry for a story by you. You write with such power and insight
    to the charachters and sketch the surroudings quickly and vibrantly.
    This story builds the drama from the romantic sharing of ‘ just a smidgen’ to dependence.
    From romantic walks to unsteady ones and a sudden horrific end.
    Yes, I got tear eyed and sad for the couple.
    The ending with Zach making a decision to live is excellent.

    Miriam

    • Annika Perry says:

      Wow! Miriam, thank you so much for your amazing comment, both about my writing and the story. You sum up Amy’s and Zach’s lives perfectly, the sad dependence, their love and his ultimate will to live…I’m so happy you find the characters are vibrant and the writing powerful. Miriam, your words here have given me such a boost and I must make sure you don’t have to go too long hungry for my stories! ❀️

    • Annika Perry says:

      Shari, why is it that writing tragedy is so appealing!! πŸ˜€ In my original longer piece there was more of a build-up to Jameson and the cliff but this version is tighter and more intense I feel. Yeah, glad you remained entranced and thank you so much for reading and your comment.

      • Sharon Bonin-Pratt says:

        Tragedy is appealing, I suspect, for the same reasons that so many people like horror and thriller books – and the biggest roller coasters. We like being scared out of our wits – while our bums are safely planted in an easy chair. Though I can’t read horror or watch horror movies – they give me nightmares.

        Congratulations on having shortened this story to fit Mslexia’s parameters. I’m always trying to shorten my works as they tend toward way-too-long. You did a great job as the tension built to the end.

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