Monday, January 30, 2012

THE MONSTER UNDER MY BED

I couldn't see it but I knew it was there. It burrowed with the dust bunnies, orphaned shoes and lost socks.

At midnight, it would speak and wake me from my dreams. "Do you really believe you can do this? Aren't you too weak to handle it? Don't you know it might kill you if you even try?"

I didn't want to listen but the monster voiced my own fears about my ability to write and get published.

"Your fourth grade teacher was right. You can't succeed at writing. Go get a real job."

I tossed and turned and tried to shut him out. He persisted night after night until I would sit at my desk, pen hovering over the blank page, unable to scrawl even one sentence.

Then one day I took the broom and swept up all that lay beneath the bed. I tossed the unwed socks, the worn shoes and the dust bunnies into the trash. That night I waited to hear that voice, but he was silent.

When I awoke I filled a school girl's spiral notebook with story after story, poem after poem.

I never mourned the death of that monster.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Weekly Prompt

Write three pages on the following: If you could live one day of your life over and over again forever which day would it be? GO!

AM I A WRITER

It's 5:00 AM and the sky is a dull cast iron gray. I'm sitting at my desk, a spiral notebook open to a blank page, my purple pen in hand. After entering today's date I rip into "Morning Pages," essentially three longhand pages of moaning and complaining about my life. My biggest complaint is not having time to write, even as I sit at my writing desk doing just that! The stillness around me is so conducive to mining that rich territory of the imagination that I feel I could fill this whole notebook in one sitting, but of course after my twenty minutes of kvetching is over it's time to go to work and my writing life is aborted like a failed space mission.

So my question for today is "When do I get to call myself a writer?" Do morning pages count? Does journaling count? Do free write exercises count? Do I have to be published to call myself a writer? Oh yeah, I am published, several times in fact, and still I don't feel like a writer. I think it's because I spend two hours a day commuting so I can spend another 8 1/2 hours each day being a school administrator. I don't feel like a writer because of all the unfinished work in my file cabinet and because I don't consistently submit my stories, poems or novels.

There's a disconnect here and I can't make the connections. I have two lives, one much bigger than the one I really want--the life of the writer. I'm writing a blog post, so maybe I can call myself a writer. Well at least I will for these few moments when the words fly across the screen and fill up space. Maybe what it takes to legitimately call yourself a writer is to actually have people reading what you wrote. So thank you readers for bringing me closer to my goals and dreams.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

MORNING PAGES

The light through the window blinds is silver. It's 3:30 am and technically I have an hour before I have to wake up. Knowing I will be awake I shut off the alarm, as I do every day, so it doens't wake my husband. But this morning is a new story. I drift into a dream filled sleep and waken at 5:00 am. Very early for most, but for me it's late and I now have a decision to make. I only have enough time to either wash and blow dry my hair, or write my "morning pages." What will it be? While brushing my teeth I glance in the mirror. The hair will have to suffice for the day. I cannot give up my writing time.

Julia Cameron, in her book "The Artist's Way," recommends three longhand pages of writing each morning. I have been doing this for years. It's a mind dump and an entrance to my writing voice. It also gives me a chance to communicate with my gut and intuition and to resolve questions and issues. With few exceptions I do this every morning.

Cameron also suggests two other "tools" for connecting with our inner creative child. One is an artist's date, done weekly. You simply go off for an hour by yourself to a park, a book store, an art supply store, whatever you fancy, and spend time with yourself. The third tool is a daily 20 minute walk and an hour walk once a week.

Ah, to have time to do all that and still work full time, and be able to sleep and eat on a daily basis. And then---still have time to write. I guess I met up with my inner creative child this morning, choosing writing over vanity. But the morning pages work to get me focused on writing and that's worth that early morning wake up to silver lighting and my muse.

Monday, January 23, 2012

ON A ROLL

After a long day of work it's difficult to get to the page to write. Much as I love the process my mind is tired and weary. I want to watch mindless television and scan magazine articles. At this time of night I'd rather read about writing than actually write myself.  But how does someone call herself a writer if she isn't writing? So I pushed ahead today. I did a free write in hopes of mining the gem of an idea for a new story. I sent a short story to an online journal. I revised two stories for my class this week. And I spent twenty minutes doing the next exercise in my guided journal book. A successful writing day--plus I got in twenty minutes of exercise too. I can now go to sleep feeling content and productive.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

SNOW DAYS

Today was a writing day. With three inches of snow on the ground and driveways and sidewalks replicating the ice rink at Rockefeller Center, I chose to stay indoors. After a hip fracture and hip replacement, the possibility of sliding on the ice wasn't something I wanted to risk. I spent the cloudy cold day reading flash fiction stories, critiquing flash fictions from the members of my online writing class, and creating some new story germs from prompted free writes. All in all a creative day.  I even revised a couple of stories and finally, finally sent out a short story and three poems in hopes of getting them publsihed. I feel relaxed and productive even though I didn't get to organizing my art supllies in the plastic bins I purchased last week.

Productivity and creativity are measured by numbers of words on the page. I'd say about 1,000+ today. And I am confident my genre jumping days are narrowing. I am so focused on flash fiction now I can even put aside poetry for the moment--at least until my two online flash courses are over. I feel a new respect for this tiny literary form. Though I love novels, the concision and intensity of flash fiction make these stories deeply rewarding in 1,000 word or less. to think one free wirte of 800 words could be the entire first draft of a story. Ahhh, bliss.

I hate winter and long for summer days in warm sunshine and cool shade. I count the months until I can retire and move to warmer climates. But in the meantime I will use these cold snowy days to fill more notebooks with story drafts and to send off my literary babies to find fame (though not fortune) in the pages of literary journals.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

FAIRY HOUSES




The house fit in the cup of her five year old hand. The pink mound of flesh on the heel of her hand made the perfect front porch. She’d found the house, a tangle of twigs and leaves, tucked inside a chipmunk’s burrow. Holding her hand as still as possible the girl veered off the dirt path and into a clearing in the woods. She sat, legs twisted like a pretzel, on the cool grass. Sunshine bounced off her long curls that were the color of corn silk. Her eyes, the color of woodland violets, darted back and forth making sure she was alone.
 

She always knew one day she’d find her escape route and here it was--- a tiny unoccupied fairy house left in the woods just for her. She set the house down in the grass. She squeezed her tiny fists hard as she could against her head, squeezed her eyes shut and tightened all her muscles like piano strings and waited. It only took four seconds for her body to become fairy-sized and in a wink of time she slipped through the door of the fairy house and lived there forever.

POETRY

Genre jumping is not for everyone. Most writers I know stick to one genre and work on one project (novel, memoir) at a time.  I can't seem to muster up that much focus. I opened this blog talking about flash fiction. I am taking the online class, writing from prompts and I promise to share some of those stories and struggles on this blog. But for today---here is a new poem. Enjoy! Share your own writing and writing struggles with me and my readers!


IN THE DANCE
my arm an ivory arc
meets you halfway
across this erratic melody--
tripping on words
as if they were feet
caught in the missteps
of a half heard waltz.
Your arm is the mirror
image of mine
our hands clasped
at the center of this unfelt moment.
You gaze off toward the moon
while my eyes
watch yours
that do not see
what is lost
between us.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A POEM TO SHARE WITH YOU MY READERS

VOICES IN THE CEMETERY

Row upon row
of white marble gravestones,
each engraved with a hero’s name,
a man or woman
who once served this country.
The stones all look the same
except one---
my father’s name on one side
mama’s on the back.
My tears quench the January soil
as I lay a bouquet
on each grave.
I want to hear
more stories
more laughter
more silly hillbilly songs.
but the pristine marble
stands silent.
This field of snow
soaks my ankles
as I pour red merlot
into the cold snow.
I sip
pass the bottle to my brother
who sips too.
We hug
tears frozen on our cheeks
but still
no stories float
to the frigid air.
I call to the silent marble
then walk away
empty handed
empty hearted
bereft and bereaved.
This morning my writing thoughts are about genre jumping. Taking the online classes in flash fiction keep me focused a bit more than usual. However, I also have a great passion for writing poetry. It was the first genre I ever wrote in. I love the musical tone that you find even in free verse poems, I love prose poems, and I love the way you can tell, or read, a whole intense story in a few wonderfully crafted lines. I'd like to share my poems as well as short stories here. And would love to hear your feelings about writing.

I worked on two stories over this past three day weekend. I also crafted a poem or two. This year I wish to take my writing to a new level--one of better quality and more submissions, hopefully leading to more publications.

If only work didn't get in the way of my writing time. It's a challenge. Leads me to be creative about how to make more time for what I love.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Welcome

Welcome to my new blog. It has taken a bit of consideration before beginning this new adventure. I am presently taking an online flash fiction writing course and have enrolled in a second on the same genre for later this month. What I wish to do with this blog is connect with other writers, be accountable for a daily writing practice, discuss the process of writing, and post new stories. I read about a challenge to write a flash fiction story every week for a year. I'd like to try that. It's said that no one can write 52 bad stories, meaning as a writer I will end this brand new year with at least some stories worthy of being submitted. And that is my next challenge--to submit more. So here I will state my intentions
  • write daily
  • complete at least one flash fiction story a week
  • submit one story a week
  • don't allow completed stories to sit home--send them out into the literary world
  • create a collection of flash fiction stories to send out for publication
I hope my writing friends will take up a similar challenge for this year. I hope I will get many visitors to this new blog and make new writing friends. Love to hear from you out there, both writers and readers.