Author Archives: S.B. Roberts

Morning Walk (A Poem)

She runs ahead of the stroller,

wide eyes take in everything:

the squirrel watching from the brick wall,

the ducks swimming in the pond,

the cars whizzing by to unknown destinations.

She trots after the man on his daily ride to the store

until I call her back, remind her we have to get home.

She whispers the stories of the passing joggers

and dreams about what stories we should tell next

to the sleeping baby in the stroller and in those books we want to finish.

My world has grown small and busy,

but hers is still wide with our childhood dreams.

I may not have time to write down all her words yet,

but she keeps telling me stories

and reminding me to take in the beauty  around me.

 

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The Noveling Cycle

I’ve been working on novel since middle school. Even though I’ve crossed into 30, it still isn’t done yet. Every time I think it is, it reveals  just a little more about itself. It’s a cycle that happens every 8 or 9 years. And it’s been 9 years since the last major changes. Every time, the cycle is the same.

Phase 1: Hmm… Why am I telling the story like that?

It’s a dangerous question. Sometimes, I have a good answer. But if the answer is just, “I’ve been telling it that way for a while… but I’m not quite sure why,” there’s a danger that it’s about to be turned on its head.

Phase 2: I don’t like that anymore.

The frustration that builds at this phase is a great motivator. I want this novel to be the best that it can be, and what I have just isn’t good enough. Yet.

Phase 3: Hey, what if…?

It starts like a light rain, but eventually turns into a sudden and torrential downpour. The story starts telling itself to me all over again, showing me what to change and what to keep and why things should be the way that they are.

Phase 4: Time to write it all down!

A blank document quickly turns into the newest version of the novel. It all starts to fall together. Sometimes it takes a little while. Other times, it practically appears overnight. (And not just because I sometimes do this during NaNoWriMo.)

Phase 5: Revise like crazy.

And then, after a few years, I find myself back at Phase 1.

Right now, I’m knee deep in Phase 3. My characters are changing and becoming more complex. And I like it. I’m glad I never published what I had before because this is how the story was meant to be told.

Or maybe I’ll find myself in the cycle again after Phase 5. I guess we’ll just see.

Do you find yourself in a similar situation? Does your writing go through predictable cycles? Is it always different?


Forgotten (Flash Fiction)

WP_20180523_09_57_02_ProThe morning delivery came as usual. It plopped onto the damp ground in the light drizzle and waited to be picked up. As the minutes passed, the rain fell harder, faster.  There’s only so much plastic can do.

Four days later, the sun reemerges, but it’s too late. All that remains are paper pulp marked with tire tracks and shredded plastic. The words will go unread.

 


The End of a School Year

The school year is coming to a close. That means several things. First, I’ll have more time to actually blog. April and May seem to be the busiest months of the year.

Second, it means saying goodbye to my seniors. Two years ago, my first batch of students graduated. These ones were my 8th graders from when I taught middle school English. Since then, I’ve had graduates every year.

Now, though, it’s a little different. Most of my outgoing seniors have had me both as a middle school English and high school French teacher. That means that I’ve had some of them for five of their thirteen years in school.

Every year, I think about the students I’ll miss. This year, one of them has a special place in my heart. Several years ago, I taught a middle school creative writing class that focused on novel writing, including going through NaNoWriMo together. Some of them weren’t so serious about it, but others really put their writing skills and passion to the test and wrote at least 30,000 words. This student is one of the ones who did it with me.

Even though he’s been in my French classes for three years, we haven’t really talked much about writing lately. That is, until Senior Breakfast. He was remembering great times while holding my daughter. And he reminded me of that creative writing class and the novel he was working on.

Like me, he’s set his novel aside for now. Life is busy, and he knows that novel needs a lot of work. Sounds familiar.

I think the most amazing thing, though, is how talking to him has given me a renewed desire to get back to work. When I started playing around with the formula I’ve been using for years, I wasn’t quite sure that it was working. In the past few days, though, new ideas are starting to occur to me. New layers that I hadn’t considered before are showing up, and I’m starting to wonder if perhaps things should play out a little differently than they are now.

Does that mean I’m going to whip the novel back out and start working? Maybe not quite yet. Maybe I need the pace to slow a little more before I can. But it does give me some fresh motivation to keep going. (I’m sure extra two hours of sleep last night are helping as well.) After all, I made a deal with a certain high school graduate to send him the novel when I’m done, and I don’t want to disappoint him.

What inspires you to get back to writing when you’ve lost motivation or are sucked into the busyness of life?


Reliving My Childhood: The Dark Crystal

As an adult, I realize that I grew up watching a lot of random things.  They certainly explain my love of sci-fi and fantasy, but some of the movies were pretty obscure.

One of my all time favorites is The Dark Crystal.  This Jim Henson gem’s cast is comprised of only puppets, and it was revolutionary. A couple of months ago, it made an appearance in theaters for its 35th anniversary, and my mom and I went to enjoy it on the big screen.

One of the best things about going to special showings like this is the commentary that usually accompanies them. Not only did we learn that the original cut didn’t feature much English (changing that was a good move), but also that there’s more to the story: there are two books about the world of Thra.

While I haven’t read either of them yet, I’m looking forward to learning more about a world I fell in love with so long ago. WP_20180407_14_28_17_Pro (2)

Are you familiar with The Dark Crystal? What are some of your favorite movies?

 

 


What Dreams Are Made of (A Short Story) Part 4

Part 1
Part
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Part 3

7:32am. Books lay strewn all over Gaila’s desk. She should have been grading worksheets, but she was searching for a different kind of answers. After school the day before, she tried to find the little kindergartener she had seen in her dream. He wasn’t in the car line, and she didn’t know how to ask his teacher about him without sounding crazy. Instead, she hurried to the library and gathered all of the books she could about dreams.

After another restless night, she left early for school and hid herself in her classroom. Strong coffee was her only companion. Together, they would figure out what was going on.

So far, she had read about countless theories on dreams, but none of them seemed like the right answer. They couldn’t account for that little boy’s stare which still haunted her.

Part of her hoped that she would find him today. Perhaps at recess. Perhaps she could strike up a conversation and see if he had the same dream. Part of her thought that this was crazy. Perhaps it meant she was going crazy. But part of her dreaded that it was real somehow. And she wasn’t sure what she would do if that were the case.


The Wrong Way to Blog?

I feel deeply conflicted as I write this.  This post represents a month of debate that ended in the decision to give it a try, even though it doesn’t seem quite right. So what has left me feeling so unsettled? Writing a blog post on my phone.

I know it sounds strange. Perhaps even a bit OCD. But it reminds me of moving into reading ebooks as well as bound ones. The experience feels different, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

There’s a certain delight that comes with writing by hand. The sensation of words passing from hand to ink to paper. The art of loops and lines that are uniquely mine.

There’s a delight to the keyboard too. The click of each letter as it appears on the screen, far faster than my hand could write them with a pen.

On a phone, there’s no flourish or satisfying click. It’s silent. And while I relish silence, I’m not sure if it’s lovely or eerie.

Like many things in life right now, practically rules. It’s the practical option. With a baby cuddled in one arm, it’s impossible to work at a keyboard. So here I sit, phone in hand, wondering if creativity can flow through one thumb.

So what’s the verdict after writing this post on a phone? Like an ebook, it isn’t the same. However, it’s not just how the words end up on the screen. It’s the delight of capturing those words whenever they want to come, and the phone allows that to happen.

How do you prefer to write? Do you write posts on your phone or would you be as hesitant to do it as I was?