Tag Archives: free writes

WritingPad: Flash Fiction

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Love is in the air

I took my first flash fiction class tonight at the Writing Pad.  The awesome Melissa Clark taught the class.  I’ve had such great experiences in her classes that I try to take them all at least once.  In May I am also taking her fiction writing bootcamp.  Somewhere, Marilyn is quoted as saying that it’s like bootcamp minus the steel toe, but don’t quote me on that.

Flash fiction is oddly satisfying.  Probably because it’s so short. It’s not flash fiction because it’s written quickly (though I heard some really amazing stuff written in 10 minutes!) but because the story is concise but so complete.  The story is told in what isn’t said as much as it by what is said. I will be making a folder for it in my Scrivener.

I did the most insane thing ever and signed up for the Reported Essay class.  It’s part personal essay, part journalistic research.  It’s bleeding on the page and then interviewing people about the theme. The teacher, Taffy, has had 12 of her student’s published.  If I’m serious about writing, this is the class that I have to take.  I’m super nervous, but I’m serious about my future as a writer and I want to write as much as possible. What a way to start my path to creating/maintaining/doing my thing!

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10 Minute Tuesday: school daze

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an empty cup of coffee on a saucer

I swear I wrote last week!  I have it on my laptop, I know I do.  I just don’t know here last tuesday went.  I’m taking each day with a flow.  Looking at where I left off the day before, and pushing forward.  This means that I’m not holding onto old ideas of where I thought my story was going to go. Instead I’m listening for and looking for the path as I write.  Its the first draft after all.  I get to try to figure things out a thousand different ways, right?

________

“See, there! Who ever said there wasn’t room for two senior reps was wrong!” Mr. James said, his hands on his hips and a smile on his face.  Amber chuckled and smiled her overly sweet smile.    That person had actually been Amber last spring when the student election resulted in a tie for the position. Instead of having a run off, Mr. James awarded Amber and I co-representative positions. Despite the warning alarms blaring in my head, I tried my best to smile.

“Now, let’s get to business,” Mr James said.  The group- eleven thanks to Amber, or me- settled in.  “First order of business, Disability Representative proposal. Amber, take it away.”  My heart stopped.

“Well,” she folded her hands across her desk and turned to give me a broad smile before continuing to address the rest of the group, “in keeping with Hellen Emory Lambert Logan’s dedication to diversity and education, I thought it would be appropriate for us to have a rep for our classmates who are differently abled.”  She curled her fingers into  air quotes when she said the words “differently abled.” Mr. James nodded, eating it up.

“Tell us more, Amber,” Mr. James said.  I wanted to punch him in the face.

“Well, I was thinking about Libby, actually.” At once, all eyes were turned to me and I felt like a prisoner on trial.  Or a caged bull.  I held one hand in a tight fist and pressed it against my thigh. The pressure kept me from popping out of my seat and wrapping both hands around Amber’s throat.  “Being visually impaired can’t be easy for her, but she keeps going.  How many of us could possibly know what its like to be in her shoes?”

She looked around at the other student in council.  The look on her face resembled that of the woman on late night television asking for donations to send to needy children in far away parts of the world.  I could almost hear Amber say, “For the cost of a cup of coffee, you could change little Libby’s life.”  My stomach turned.

 

Image: ‘Friendship / Amistad

Random Thursday: Guilt

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a building demolished by a landslide

 

Guilt does funny things to the brain.  It is best to tell the truth and breathe just a little bit easier.  That’s a really hard lesson for a teenager to learn!  Libby barely even considers it.   Lying is basic part of her life since she can’t tell anyone the truth about what her dad does for a living.  Going blind seems like just another truth she can learn to hide.

Oh, silly girl.

_________

 

I tried to peek at the passing Los Angeles scenery  and Dr. Oh’s face was staring back at me from the seat of the girl with fringed hair and odd shoes.  Dr. Oh’s knowing eyes remained even when I looked away and looked back.   I am losing my mind.

I squeezed my eyes shut and took off my glasses in order to rub my eyes shut. Opening my eyes, the place where Dr. Oh’s face had been morphed in to a dizzying blur of dark brown hair and light skin.  Holy… I slipped my glasses back on my face and tried to take a deep breath that comes in a short gasps for air like a fish left on the dock.  The smell of marijuana quickly fills my senses.  Daddy.   The dizziness subsides under the feeling of comfort.

“You cool, Libs?”  MJ’s voice planted me directly back in to reality.  My father is not at my side, but instead MJ has his hand on my shoulder and a worried look on his face.  I glance over at where Dr. Oh was sitting moments before.   She was gone, and the fringed hair girl with ugly shoes was back in her place.   She is staring at me and when I glance around I notice that so is everyone else.  Any feelings of illness and shock are immediately replaced by the  need to crumple into a ball and roll under the seats to disappear.  No more, lies, Libby. 

“I’m good, MJ,” I say.  He doesn’t ask twice, but he also doesn’t move from my side until we reach our spot.  Great, I will definitely smell like marijuana, I thought, but I am still grateful for his presence and the odd sensation of comfort his smell provides.

10 minute Tuesday: Grandmother Cummings

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Senior couple on cycle ride

Today’s 10 minute tuesday features Grandmother Cummings.  She is Troy’s- Libby’s boyfriend- grandmother.  She drives a Mercedes that runs on vegetable oil. She drinks water that has been filtered through a reverse osmosis process.  She’s Troy’s guardian while his father is away in Iraq.  She works late nights in a diner to take care of the family needs.  Troy has been known to rub her feet to relieve the pressure of varicose veins that she gets from standing all day. I’m pretty sure she smokes pot on the weekends.   She only goes to church on the holidays but sends Troy every Sunday.  I’m pretty sure she does yoga at the YMCA for exercise.

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“How’s my future, Gran-daughter in law?”  she asked  turning to me.  I took a long sip of the water, wishing it was caramel and would glue my mouth closed just for a bit.  Troy returned to his duty behind the mower, leaving me to field the tough questions by myself.

“I’m doing well, ma’am,”  I said.

“That’s not what I hear,” she lifted her eye brown and peered at me as if to reprimand me for telling a lie.   I wasn’t lying.

“I’m not dead,” I said with a shrug.  The click-click-click of the mower became faint as Troy moved further away from the driveway.

“While that is good, I meant your sight.   Word on the street has it that you’re having some sort of difficulty seeing?”

Word on the street.  I almost chuckled at the sound of it but it was too frustrating to laugh about.  By street she meant Daddy and my church.  By word, she meant rumors.  I guess there are worst rumors she could have heard.  Like the one about last Spring.

“Its getting worse I guess, but you know, nothing that a little prayer can’t fix,” I said, mimicking Daddy’s enthusiasm.  I forgot who I was speaking to because she gave me another skeptical look that said, ‘really, you believe that?’  You never can tell with some people on which side of the faith debate they fall.

“What about your future?  You’re only young once.  You’ve got to take full advantage of it before you two settle down,” she looked more emphatic then ever, as if her belief in Troy’s and my future wasn’t just stuff of wishful thinking.  I crossed my hands behind my back and squeezed out the excitement and the anxiety of that idea.  “what if all of that doesn’t work?”

My anxiety intensified.  I hadn’t ever thought of the idea of the praying not working out.  I shrugged my shoulders, and she looked both disappointed at my faithful attitude.

“You know what you need, young lady?”

“An attitude adjustment?” I said, repeating what I’d often heard T.V. parents say to their shrugging “i don’t know” attitude teenagers.

“You need a plan,” she stated, nodding her head with emphasis.  “a good plan.”

 

Image: ‘Senior couple on cycle ride

Random Saturday: The doubt phase

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Holy Ghost Revival Sign

 

My husband says that I am going through the doubt phase.  Apparently this is a phase in business development when the entrepreneur starts to wonder what in the heck he or she is doing.  Maybe the numbers are quite as high as they’d like, maybe implementation is yielding the results they’d like to see. Whatever it is, they’re starting to doubt themselves.  That’s me right now.  Or it was me a few minutes ago.  I really like my character and I really like the conflicts I’ve plotted out, I just get stuck on what the hell I’m really writing. and you know, who knows.  I have a vague idea but you know, sometimes even when you outline everything out, you gotta just write by the seat of your pants. I took a fifteen minute break from my computer to vent to my husband then came back to look at what I’ve got.  Boy do I have a lot.  The following is just transition between scenes that I wrote a long time ago and decided would fit lovely in Act two part one.  I’ve realized that I’ve just gotta keep plugging at it and pulling together the pieces where I can.

________

The church is close enough to walk to, which Daddy prefers when he’s stressed.  I prefer it as well, especially when he’s been smoking marijuana.  I can’t stand the woodsy ripe smell of marijuana smoke and would rather deal with the smell of the city then being trapped in the car with it.  Don’t get me wrong,  I can’t stand the smell, not the drugs or the people.  I’m not a dope tea-totaler.  There is no way I could be in my family- the black sheep gets the shiv.  Not that daddy would kill me.  The loneliness and isolation would though.  He’s all I have, I remind myself as we we walk slowly.  We walk in silence, his eyes staring straight a head watching for danger, mine scanning the ground a few steps ahead of me watching for anything that might send me tumbling.  He reached over and put his arm around my shoulder, holding me as close as walking will allow. Even though my feet start to get in each other’s way, I don’t move away from him.   Daddy will catch you, he always does.

Image: ‘This Way to the Holy Ghost Revival

Random Thursday: at the Salon

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Renee's Salon of Beauty sign

I wrote 2058 words today while at Starbucks.  I am telling you, that Blonde Roast is killer!  I shouldn’t do anything before I have a cup of that stuff!  I also just realized that my picture for the Josh post is of a young woman smiling. That’s because Josh made Libby smiling- not because Josh is a young girl. Though, that would be very interesting as well.  I’m on my first draft so we’ll see how thigns turn out during the editing phase.

I color coded my index cards list night and realized that I’ve been having so much trouble with identifying the A plot line because I didn’t really have one.  Libby hasn’t been doing much so far except responding and reacting to the actions of others.  For the rest of this week and next my writing focus will be on Libby’s actions.

this excerpt is from a scene where Libby is at a salon with her grandmother.  Its at this salon where she will have the idea of finding different ways  to cure her blindness.  That is her A plot- hunting for a cure to her blindness that doesn’t involve science and allows her to have the life she’s always dreamed of.  That’s all she wants: the life she thinks she was promised because of her faithfulness and her dreams.  Oh, Libby, if life was only that simple.

_____

The wail of the blowdryer in my ear as she pulled the circular brush through my wet curls made eavesdropping nearly impossible.   While Adel worked on the right side of my head, out of my left ear I vaguely heard the words blind, six months.   My curiosity switched to from the women speaking foreign languages to Grandmother’s conversation with Adel.  My ears  were definitely burning and not from the heat of the blowdryer.

I strained to hear more of their conversation, clenching my teeth and offering Manuel a closed mouth smile as he ran the nail file along my nails.  His eyes moved hungrily from their conversation to me.   My frustration boiled over whenI heard the word “shame”.

“Gran!”  I turned in my seat to face her next to me.  Adel and the other stylist went still,  their hands stopped and holding their instruments in mid air.  “Why are  you telling everyone about me?”

She took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  “Sweetheart,” she said, and everyone seemed to relax.  “I’m not ‘telling everyone about you’.  I am simply sharing with close friends my concerns for you.”  Adel smiled and the other two did the same.

“You shouldn’t have to go through this alone,”  Adel cooed, placing her manicured hands on my shoulders. I caught her eyes in the mirror and the look on her face was one of genuine sincerity.  “A girl without a mother needs a community.”

I looked away from her quickly.   I held back my inclination to shout, “I don’t need a mother or a community” but then I remembered that I needed someone to pay for this hair treatment and my manicure, so I should keep my mouth shut and let Gran talk about whatever she wanted.

“Is there some sort of treatment for this,” Gran’s young stylist waved her hands around trying to conjur from  midair the word she forgot.

“Treatment?”  The girl nodded happily at the word. “Yes,” I said,

“So, what are you doing to do about it?  When do these treat start?”  She asked.   looking away from her and all of them.  Its hard to avoid people’s eyes when there are mirrors everywhere you look.  I stared a tile on the floor.

“Leisl!” Adel reached out and sharply flicked her on the shoulder with the brush. Liesl rubbed her arm where the brush made contact and went back to hot curling Gran’s hair.

“We’re hoping for a more spiritual approach to treatment,” Gran interjected.

A chorus of “Oh’s” came from the women, even the ones under the dyers who looked as if they weren’t paying attention to the conversation.  Adel snapped a look over her shoulder that sent the women back behind their magazines.

“That’s good,” she said, patting me on the shoulder.  I smiled up at her.  If I fake it, maybe one day I’ll believe it.   She spritzed my hair with liquid from spray bottle then rubbed a serum in my hair that gave it a shine and softness that I could never achieve on my own.

Just as she clicked on the blowdryer, I said, “I wish there was some sort of magic serum you could rub on my eyes to make them go right.”  I added a chuckle to my voice and a smile to face to show that their concern hadn’t gone unappreciated.

“No need for magic, dear.  The Lord’s got this one,” Gran said.  Just as she began to settle into reading her magazine, I looked in the mirror a mysterious glance between Adel and Leisl look.

10 Minute Tuesday: Josh

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smile

I had my first swimming lesson at the YMCA in my neighborhood and I swear to you- my swimming instructor is my new inspiration for Josh, the good guy in my work in progress.  He’s completely different from how I thought I’d play him.  I was going to go with a handsome mix of black and Korean, college student, son of her optometrist.  But, after meeting my swim instructor I was totally smitten by his attention and kindness for each of us.  The new Josh is a tall, skinny, normal good guy 18 year old- the total opposite of sexy green eyed Troy.  He’ll have graduated a year ahead of Libby.  I wish I had a picture to share.  Here’s a part of what I wrote today.

Again, the tense is all over the place because its the first draft.  I’m all over the place because its the first draft.

_____

“I haven’t been avoiding you.  I’ve just been really busy.”  Really busy, avoiding you.

“Yeah, doing what?”  He sat in the chair across from me, his back impossibly straight and arms folded in front of him. He looks genuinely interested in what I have actually been doing.  I probably shouldn’t mess this up by lying to him.

“Causing my world to fall apart.”  Before I could think better of it, I am spilling my guts to her about the events of the past months.  His face remains still except for his eyebrows which change with each degree of concern (when I tell him about the fight Michelle and I had) or shock (when I tell him about walking on Troy and Carmen). His only vocal contribution is the guffaw that escapes when I tell him about Troy’s grandmother’s attempt ot feed me and refusal to allow me to leave after walking in on Troy.  His laughter begins to melt my resolve to stay angry with myself for ruining my own life.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” I said, “This wasn’t how things were supposed to go.”

Josh simply nodded his head and said, “That sounds really difficult for you.”  He didn’t even offer an “I’m sorry to hear that.”  Irritation tickled the back of my throat, but I wasn’t sure if I was irritated at him for his lack of concern or myself for sounding like a whiner.  “But I think I’ve found you at just the right time in your life.”

The irritation turned from a tickle to a scratch. Hadn’t he just heard my story?  How could this be the right time of anyone’s life?  I had no life.

“Hear me out,” he continued.  “I know your dad is against you receiving any kind of treatment or resources, but I was wondering if you’re interested anyway.”

The mention of my dad only worked to remind me of his Rapunzel stunt of keeping me from the dance which allowed Troy to cheat on me.    “Sure, yeah, I’m interested.”  I tried to smile at my form of defiance.

He looked at me skeptically.  “Don’t you want to know the details?”

Oh, yeah. “Okay, hit me.”

He tapped his fingers on my hand.  “Done.”

I couldn’t help but smile.  “I didn’t mean actually ‘hit me’ I just meant…”

“I know what you meant.  I just wanted to see you smile.”  I smiled again.

Image: Smile