Flash Fiction Friday #3

Good morning everybody!

As per our new tradition around these here parts – why yes, I did not get sufficient sleep last night, thanks for noticing! – I have another flash fiction for you.

I’ll tell you the prompt and give you my story, and I’d love if you jump in and compose your own flash fiction along the same lines. If you do, be sure and comment below so I can find yours!

The prompt: I’ve forgotten this one exactly, but it had something to do with write a scene that occurs in a parking lot. 150 word limit.

The Late Shift

Callen wrapped her arms around herself, tucking her hands into the sleeves of her deep green shirt as she followed the path of artificial store light spilling across the pavement. The lot was nearly empty, nobody went grocery shopping at ten on a Thursday night. Strands of black clouds wrapped around the moon, laying patchwork across the cold glow. As Callen approached her car, she clutched the strap of her purse. She took out her keys, ready to unlock the door and climb in in one smooth motion. A blue sedan was parked in the space right next to hers, the two cars paired off in a sea of empty spots. Callen drew even with her car, and as she did, through the windshield of the sedan, the orange end of a cigarette flickered to life.

Good luck everyone – and Happy Friday!

PS: Get excited – I have a Super Fun Post for next week, featuring…somebody not me! Keep an eye out for it!

On the Dread Pirate Take-Your-Own-Advice

I’m not sure if you’ve all noticed this or not, but the old “It’s more blessed to give than to receive” actually works out quite nicely when it comes to advice.

It’s delightfully easy, fun, and feel-good to encourage people in their endeavors, to urge them to try harder, achieve more, believe in their dreams, and every other thing people should do and don’t. It’s less fun, and certainly not easy, to suddenly realize you might not be particularly following those words yourself.

I’m not saying I haven’t been dreaming big dreams and trying new things-but I may (read:was) have been using them as a bit of a smokescreen. I started a book I believe in,one that delves into huge issues very close to my heart. I got to 20k and froze up.

Ever had that feeling, when the computer or canvas or dance floor or instrument just stood there, silent? When you’re on the precipice of something B-I-G and you’re not quite ready to jump?

I finally listened to myself today. This week I’d been allowing myself to revise, fiddle, play with sentences, hunt up inspiration, map out story lines, all while avoiding real work. Today, at last, I sat down and put out 2500 brand new words. I jumped, and you guys, the view is beautiful up here.

So, I’m going to give you some advice, which you are now forced to take since I just proved I’m living by it myself.

Jump. Take the risk. Dive into whatever it is you’ve been skirting around. If it comes out atrocious, so be it- you can use it for kindling, or skulk out of the dance studio incognito, or pretend you had the radio on. But go for it. The reward might surprise you.

Flash Fiction Friday – #2

As promised, another flash fiction for your Friday morning – or whenever it is you happen to get around the reading this.

This piece, from a prompt given for 250 words set in the time of the Gold Rush:

GoldRush

Mud weighed Gen’s skirts down as she sped down the boardwalk, ignoring the catcalls of the miners surrounding her.  She knew when she accepted the job at the Walton’s that the distance might be a problem, but she hadn’t anticipated risking a dismissal for tardiness just days later.  She collided with something and looked down. A child’s grimy face looked up, pleading.

“Please, a bit of gold dust. Something.”

Her heart wrenched. She hesitated a moment. But the clock tolled 7, and two youth in newfangled jeans started arguing over a claim, and Genevieve ran up Somerset towards the mansion.

Please feel free to jump in, following the same prompt, if you feel inspired. Like the art? Click the picture for a link to the page of the young woman who created it, and many more, for me. I’m a great fan of hers, and highly suggest you look at her writing as well.

Happy Friday!

When Guilt Kicks In

I’m not sure if you’ve all realized this, but there’s this thing called “real life” that some people like to pretend is all important and necessary and whatnot. It involves things like gainful employment, relatively tidy homes, timely bill payment, regular car maintenance, sometimes education and/or family life, exercise…and approximately one billion other somethings that are considered important.

If you have noticed, perhaps you’ve also noticed these things make us tired. Sometimes, they make us run wild.

Sometimes, we don’t create.

While you’re recovering your breath, I’ll just go on – catch up when you’re ready.

I have this – thing – where if I don’t fill every spare moment not already packed in with all the above activities and more with creative activity, in my case writing, I feel this immense guilt. Here I’ve been begging, borrowing, and stealing to type a few sentences here, draft an idea there, etc, and when I have free time I often just want to crash.

Watch tv. Eat junk food. Mostly nap.

Please tell me you feel this too, sometimes – the desire the desire to just find rest, and not have, be, or do much of anything at all.

But that guilt thing: it can just eat away at you. This, my friends, should not be.

Guilt is a creativity-sucker. It forces us to carve words on paper, layer paint on canvas, strap on the dance shoes even when our bones ache. Guilt does not create beauty.

Freedom does. When we remember creativity, and the expression thereof, is a beautiful gift, we suddenly find ourselves overflowing with all we need. (I’m also told being fully caught up on sleep can do the same thing, but this I must research further.)

We need to rest. We need to rejuvenate, dwell in the moment, soak in life, be at peace. Maybe we need to unplug for a bit and fill our souls with all that is life.

I still struggle with mad guilt when I find some free time and don’t immediately jump to writing, but I’m trying to learn to be accepting of the time my heart and soul need, away from ALL demands – because without that time, we drain ourselves dry and the things we bring to the world are desert wasteland instead of springs of water.

If I can fend it off, so can you. Certainly don’t let yourself slip down a path of doing nothing, being an empty consumer going from day to day with little thought to your life or anyone else’s. But also, remember – that life out there, the one with bills and jogging and work-a-day grind, those things all need your unique touch. So, too, does whatever special creation you bring to the world.

To be present in life, we must be willing to separate from it every now and then. Don’t let guilt tell you differently.

Dreaming Dreams

Isn’t life just a lovely thing?

There’s always the potential for surprises, something delightful might be around the next bend.

I can truly say, even when I’m the one bending (It’s true – I’ll tell you all about that part someday) and even on the very worst of worst days, there is always at least one small joy twisted up inside the day, if you search hard enough.

People sing songs on work voicemails. Others bring you unexpected lunch on stressful days. Sometimes the sunrise paints the clouds in blush and fire, sometimes there’s woodsmoke on cool air, sometimes there’s frozen lemonade on blazing days.

I’m finding that with my writing, too. There’s always a new dream lurking around, and there’s so much in life and writing that I knew so little about just a short time ago. So many paths to take, so many adventures to make. With that in mind, this is your fair warning. There may be new things afoot here.

As I make many new friends in the writing universe, there may be some additions to the site: I’m hoping to slowly start featuring other writers who, like me, are just starting to get going on this dream, and are determined to get there even if it takes a lifetime. People who write for the love of the words, regardless of all else.

I’m hoping to show off writing that inspires me, whether from beginners or more well-known folks (I’ll try not to do any quote-blasting, but I make no promises.)

And I would like to do still more talking shop: focusing in on the art and craft, the interplay, the brain drain, the way all facets of life combine – all that is the life of writing and, truly, of all art and creating.

I’d also like to sometimes showcase other types of art, because I believe all things made by human hands can feed the soul and meld with one another into a wonderful tapestry that expresses things often missed. Photography, design, painting, music, theatre, dance – we all strive to make a mark and to share bits of life with one another. And that’s the most important thing, I think, is sharing.

So get ready, y’all. It may be slow, it may be quick – who can predict the path a dream will take? But I firmly believe I’ll get there, and hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Aside: if you believe you might fit into the categories above and are interested in some sort of collaboration, please feel free to comment below with how I can check out a sample of something – a video, a piece, etc – and I will follow up with you if I find it something that connects with me.

A Happy Week to You All!

What Are We Without E?

That’s not a trick question – we without e is just w. As far as I know.

However, I saw a challenge round about the Internet to write a 55 word flash fiction without using the letter E.   I found it on Austin Briggs’ site, and because I am a Chicken Little, I am not submitting mine – but if you’re braver than me then by all means: jump on over there and get yourself some spending money!

I’m thinking of starting Flash Fiction Fridays here, both to keep me working on the – in my case at least – extremely difficult task of telling a tight, concise story, and to make me a bit more of a regular poster!

So, in honor of this potential (read: definitely potential, since I often fall out of good habits and back into questionable ones like only emptying the dishwasher when I can’t find a clean fork anymore) here is what would have been my submission to this nifty challenge.

I really do suggest you give it a go – I struggled extremely, it was a fabulous exercise in finding new words for things with a limitation as stringent as “no E’s”!

Sins You Carry

Our girl winds through a city without harbor, no port in storms of your making. This is not my affair; you and I split and it was so. Our girl is without support but you stay lost in a world of what you had long ago. My hands hold no spot –yours carry all guilt.

Yessiree – flash fiction is a challenge for me and will continue to be…but one I embrace in celebration of being donedonedone with the first year of graduate school. We have all summer to make many words together!

Whether you do or don’t submit to the contest, I hope you’ll at least share your attempts at a 55 word no E’s flash with me!

What Every Story Has

Is a beginning- yes?

I certainly hope it does, or it would be terribly hard to tell.

Tonight’s story begins with how, in preparing for this post, I almost burned my apartment down. Yes, I’m eating grilled cheese. No, I do not think the now-added note of carbon adds to the taste or subtracts from the calories.

Regardless, that’s the beginning.

Now, for the next part: also known as the middle.

I put in for a raffle to get into a pitch contest that might lead to an agent – sadly, the rafflecopter did not land on my helipad, but I thought I’d just go ahead and do part of it here anyways. Now, you’re supposed to put up your query as well, but that I just felt was awkward. So instead, I will just share with you the first approximately 250 words of my novel, as the contest would have required.

Paper Moon on a Crystal Sea:

Padgett McClane was taking out the trash on the day the sky fell.

A cloud of cloth – blankets, sheets, pyjamas, pillow cases, dresses, pants and all tumbled down around him in such upheaval that for a moment he wasn’t entirely sure  the world as he knew it hadn’t ended – but he didn’t mind, not really.

Padgett’s world was built on routine. In the morning he swept the fireplaces, cleaned the floors and dusted, then after breakfast it was on to a multitude of morning chores, each one prescribed and planned out. He knew, before a day began, how, where and when it would end, and before the next year began he knew precisely how it would flow.

The seasons determined everything. And Padgett McClane would not have been sorry if the laundry that fell around him that sunny late morning signaled the falling of the sky and the ending of the world as he knew it.

When he discovered, however, that the sky had not fallen, Padgett went right on taking out the trash. The grand home, towers and ramparts rising to the clear blue sky, was a firm comfort at his back as he journeyed into the woods to the burning pits.  The forest was cool and dark despite the midday heat, and Padgett welcomed the shadows. His shirt was soaked through already with sweat; the kitchens were no place for anyone who couldn’t handle the weight of dampened clothing. Dirt and rocks crunched beneath his shoes as he staggered down the narrow path, laboring beneath the burden of the garbage bags.

So there you have it – those are the first few paragraphs of the novel I wrote back in November. The sequel, by the way, The Sea Between and Eternity and Time – oh yes, that entire thing was drafted in April Camp Nano, thank you very much. Only one book left to complete the trilogy! But more on that another time. For now, I’m editing madly and working a few side projects – and trying to finish graduate school for the year. Anything to share, y’all?

(In case you missed it, that last paragraph? That was the end.)