Exploring the art of prose


Author: Rosaleen Lynch

Author’s Note

I love a one-sentence story that flows like a stream of consciousness, that feels like taking one deep breath, from the source brimming over with possibility, to plunge down the mountainside, gravity taking the words, to where the paragraph pools on the page, as a lake, or spills over, down into the sea, each page a wave and this flow or cycle fits with a life cycle or a fire from incipience, to growth, to fully developed and decayed, and seasons, and the vicious cycles experienced by some in poverty, or as carers, or living with depression or the cycles of immigration to an area, like Tower Hamlets in London, where I live and work as a youth and community worker, a place that has a long history of welcoming immigrants like me, a place where the rate of child poverty is 56%, a place that’s being ‘regenerated’ without enough affordable housing in the most densely populated borough in the country, moving and making homeless those who can’t afford to live here, a regeneration like slash-and-burn, a shifting cultivation since Neolithic times, that clears the forest, cuts and chops it down, leaves it dry, sets it alight, to burn, so the soil is fertilized with ash, to plant, until the earth, exhausted, is left fallow to regenerate, but like the life cycle of fire and the character of the story, slash-and-burn must be managed or the forest will be destroyed, and the earth, and the person, but ‘Big Farming’ lobbies and gets its way and in my homeland Ireland the season for slash-and-burn is extended, ignoring Irish Wildlife Trust’s concerns about the effects during nesting season, and ‘Big Farming’ is clearing the Amazon for cattle ranching and ‘Big Farming’ is mechanised, has no time for leaving fields fallow, letting the regeneration start again, and in war, slash-and-burn just leaves death, but this isn’t where I started with ‘The Life Cycle of Fire’, the first draft called ‘More’, came from a twenty-minute sprint, when lacking inspiration and motivation, I used a prompt to spark and a writing sprint as accelerant, to find the writing fire I needed for my depression but also lost because of it, while in this fallow time I was supporting a new mum through postnatal depression, and of course some of our blues came through in the story, in a ‘write-what-you-know’ way, from a card prompt on how a child might feel ‘grown up’, and I was a big sister to three brothers, and we’d a caravan, duffle coats, lived in Ireland and had an auntie with a farm, but it’s all fiction, and the second title was ‘The Waiting’, the third was ‘Three Faded Colours of Blue’, which at under three hundred words I subbed and it was rightly declined (though I didn’t think so at the time), so I edited, added more fire, in a rise from depression, and the name became ‘The Life Cycle of Fire’ and the blues were countered by the warm reds of the fire, the heat, of work, of passion, embarrassment and struggles, and blood, and the blues were also in the fire’s flame, and the cold sky morning, the glass of the window, the chill in the air, the dew, the water to be boiled, the condensation, the plastic container, and the blood in the vein, and this cycle, this rebirth of generations of individuals with their own troubles in life-sustaining flames, finds its own fuel, like in the fields and home fires, like the Irish for the idiom ‘There’s no place like home’ or ‘Home sweet home’ is ‘Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin’ meaning—there’s no fireplace like your own fireplace.


ROSALEEN LYNCH, an Irish youth and community worker and writer in the East End of London with words in lovely places like SmokeLong Quarterly, Jellyfish Review, Ellipsis Zine, Mslexia, Litro, and Fish Publishing, shortlisted by the Bath Short Story Award and the Bridport Prize, a winner of the HISSAC Flash Fiction Competition and the Oxford Flash Fiction Prize, can be found on Twitter @quotes_52.