Tag Archives: writing

10 minute Tuesday: Embarrasment

Standard

cat covering her face

I’m back!  I have been doing a lot of writing by hand lately.  Sometimes it’s just helpful to switch up those pathways to creativity.  The problem with that can be that I need to type everything I write. There are worst things in life, I’m sure.  I’ve also been reading a lot lately.  I finished The Weird Sisters and am listening to Tanavarie Due’s The Good House.  But enough about me, here is my 10 minute write.

____

Only Mr. Henry would arrive at someone else’s party full of demands.  Even though I’ve made my way back down stairs, I hang back in the kitchen, grazing the veggie platter  and giving myself a pep talk.

“You can do this.  This is the last visit until Thaksgiving. It will not kill you to go back out there.”  Just then an arrow lands with a sharp “thwat” into the hedge outside the kitchen window.  “Okay, it might kill you.  But would that really be that bad?”

Daddy’ and Mr. Henry are laughing loudly at Edgar Winston who was standing next to the hedge and is shaking with nerves.  “Man up, son,” Daddy says giving him a clap on the shoulder, “You’re looking like casper.”  Edgar, who gets his pail skin from his white mother and his kinky hair from his black father, has gone sheet white.  He shakes his head and our eyes meet when he looks into the kitchen window.  I offer him a weak smile and can’t keep from shaking my head in embarrassment and relief at the thought that, hey, at least it wasn’t me out there.  Sorry, Edgar, not today.

 

Image: ‘Mooki feels shame

WritingPad: Flash Fiction

Standard

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!

Read-a-thon: Breaking Beautiful

Standard

book cover "breaking beautiful" by jennifer shaw wolf

 

I know that the 24 hour read a thon is over but I ended up having an impromptu one this weekend anyways!  I started reading Breaking Beautiful on Friday and just finished it now at 9:15pm on sunday.  I was first heard of this book on The Contemps website and my major attraction was based solely on it not being based in a post apocolyptic setting.  Seriously, come on, how many more of these do we need?  Okay, maybe a ton, but I don’t need to read any more.

I am so impressed by this debut novel.  Jennifer Shaw Wolf is one hell of a writer.  Her language isn’t over simplified or poetic- it just is.  Set in a small town in Washington State,  the main character, Allie, is the lone survivor in a car accident that killed her abusive boyfriend Trip.  She’s lost her memories of the night and no one in the small town will let her forget who she was or who she is. This is especially an issue when her best friend takes care of her  and fills the isolated spots in her life.

What Wolf does best in this piece is plot.  I found it to be seriously tight and completely captivating.  She also does a great job of capturing the simple voice of a teenager.  I’m not saying that teenagers are simple people, I’m saying she does away with the dramatics and the over emoting that could turn complex emotions into cliches.  I totally aspire to have this type of ability someday.  Told in first person present tense   Allie’s emotions are raw and real, not cloying or hackneyed, as she takes us through dealing with her boyfriend’s death, her secrets, and dealing with the town and their need to know what happened the night he died.

I couldn’t put the book down.  I look forward to her future work!

24 Hour Read-a-thon: Parable of the Sower

Standard

I just finished Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. It is truly the answer to my constant question of “where are all the people of color in dystopian fiction?”  Post Apocolyptic America is a huge theme in young adult fiction (Delirium, the Hunger Games, Matched, etc.) right now, as well as fiction in general, especially if you include the zombie themed writing (World War Z, The Walking Dead).  The difference between YA dystopian lit and World War Z and The Walking Dead is its curious lack of diversity. (World War Z happens all over the world.  The Walking Dead graphic novel is way more diverse then the TV show.) This lack of diversity in the main characters was really annoying to me.  It’s not the world I live in nor the world of many of my friends.

Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower starts in 2024 and takes us through September 2028 in Southern California.  Written in 1993, Butler creates a Southern california and a United States that is seriously resembles issues that we currently face in 2012.  The issues the characters face in the story aren’t on the door step of Main Street but they are definitely around the corner.  The main character, Lauren Olamina, sees the writing on the wall and decides that being prepared is better then being complacent.   The story begins when she is fifteen and takes us through the events that shift her world and disrupt her community.  I feel like I can’t say too much about the plot without spelling out major spoilers, which I hate.  I will say that an important theme is how Lauren’s understands God and the development of the Earthseed.  This is threaded throughout her recolletion of events that make the plot but its not overwhelming or disrupting the plot.

I really enjoyed this book.

Things I learned and hope to include improve in my writing (I will try not to include any spoilers.:

– using clean and simple language.  The story is told through entries in Lauren’s diary, a young girl, so it lacks the flowery descriptive language in which I tend to get myself caught up in order to show and not tell.  I didn’t feel like I was being “told” anything.  I felt that I saw exactly what needed to be seen.

– the characters were people, diverse people, not caricatures of people of color though race was still an issue in the story.   This was not at all a panracial world in which Lauren lived, which I appreciate as a person of color.  Lauren describes how race impacts the relationships within her community.  Each character is like a person any of us might know but because of the situations that pull them together and Lauren’s knowledge of how the world works, there are very real descriptions of  their race and gender effect there lives.  Each character has lost a lot.

There is so much more but I’m struggling to write about it because I don’t want to spoil the book for you.   I just really  hope everyone gives Octavia Butler a try!

24 Hour Read-a-thon: Book 1

Standard

Reading and reading a lot is key to being a good writer (as well as writing, and writing A LOT).  Last night I went to a book reading by author Tayari Jones at Eso Won books in Lemiert Park and wow, am I inspired to  not only write, write what I want to write, but to read and to read a lot.  At the reading I met a woman from a book club, Mocha Girls Read, and another woman in Los Angeles who quit teaching and is writing. She’s writing freelance, which pays, and could be an awesome mentor.  When I joined the book club there was also a link for the Dewey’s Read-a-thon.  The read-a-thon is just reading for 24 hours straight.  I have to work and waking up at 5am is not really that productive for me so I’m starting some of those hours tonight.  I’m really not sure what I’m supposed to do other then read, so read I shall. To kick off my first read-a-thon I am reading Octavia Butler’s Parable of the sower.

 

Book cover Parable of the Sower

 Goodreads’s synopis: When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister’s young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny… and the birth of a new faith.

As of 4pm on Friday after a few hours of reading, I really like the book.  I enjoy her use of simple language to build vivid detail.  This is not a quick read or an easy read but it is interesting.  I think I read for story as well as for language and structure . I want everything to influence what I am trying to do with my life: write full time.

Not-so 10 minute Thursday: River

Standard

Autumn leaves at the top of the weir

I made list of worst case scenarios for a teenage girl who is slowing going blind.  I totally intended on writing about going to school with all your clothes turned inside out, but that didn’t happen. Nope.  Instead I got stuck on writing a scenario that would be embarrassing for everyone- not just my main character.

____

Though I appreciate the glories of a school uniform and the lack of decision making it requires everyday, I couldn’t help but appreciate it more the morning I woke up to a dark room. Even with my glasses on and my bedside lamp shining the light in my room was reduced to an ashen gray.   Once I’d watched a documentary about the eruption of Mount St. Helens that sent tons of dirt and debris rushing down the side of the mountain. My room  was kind of like the aftermath of that: dark, the outline of normalcy still there but unseeable.

I didn’t call out for Daddy.  The last thing I needed was to give him any more reason to treat me like a two year old. Or worse: to treat me as if I was making a big deal out of nothing.  I focused as hard as I could, using my hands and memory to lead my through my room.  My desk and dresser were right where they were supposed to be, easily in reach without running into anything.  I pulled off my pajamas and considered showering.  Could I make it to the bathroom without tripping over myself?  As soon as the word bathroom floated through my mind, my bladder reminded me that I didn’t have a choice of whether or not to head there.  Unless  I wanted to spend the morning cleaning my bedroom floor, I was headed to the bathroom.

Wrapping myself in my red fluffy robe, I opened my bedroom door but stopped before I took a step.  Drawing a map in my head of the hallway that led to the bedroom was important.  Choosing the wrong door would lead me to the linen closet, the den, or worse, Daddy’s bedroom.  Trying to conjure a memory of the last time I’d actually stood and looked at the hallway, I drew a blank.  The most I could come up with was that the bathroom door might be open, while the others were likely to be closed.

“Why are there so many doors, in this place?”  I mumbled as my bladder reminded me to get on with it.  I took my steps carefully, one foot in front of the other, my arms out stretched to run my fingers against the wall. Passing two closed doors, I held my breath and focused on reaching an open one.  The picture of the hallway in my mind became more clear as I concentrated on trying to make out the shapes in front of me.

As things became clearer, my urgency to reach the bathroom increased.  It no longer felt like I had just woken up and was getting ready to use the bathroom.  It felt like I had been holding back a river all day.  I cursed myself and the glass of water I’d had before bed.

“Libby?” Daddy’s voice came from behind me, causing me to jump.  And to lose my grip on holding back the river in me. My bare legs became wet as the warm water pooled at my feet.  I started to move forward faster. With each step it became more difficult to hold it back. I couldn’t think. Reaching the open door, I threw myself into the room and slammed the door behind me.  It was too late.

Image: ‘Autumn leaves at the top of the weir

10 Minute Tuesday: school daze

Standard

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