Category Archives: Writing

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.

 


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

Part 1
Part
2
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?


What Dreams Are Made of (A Short Story) Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

11:23pm. Gaila’s husband was already asleep. She stared at the ceiling. The street lamp cast strange, unsettling shadows. Though she knew she had to sleep, the previous night’s dream and the literal mark it seemingly left haunted her.

She hadn’t told her husband. She hadn’t told anyone. The mark on her hand had to be a coincidence. If she told people that her nightmares seemed to be real, who would believe her?

She tried to shake the dread as she closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Tonight, she would have normal dreams. Everything was going to be fine.

4:51am. Gaila sat on the edge of the bed again, shivering. The wasps from the night before had been ridiculous, but tonight’s dream had been outrageous.

A relaxing day on a flying cruise ship had turned into disaster. The ship was hijacked by faceless thugs. There was no way to escape, so she searched for the safest place she could find. A walk-in safe would do. Before she closed the door, she realized that a tiny boy was already cowering there.

“I’ll keep you safe,” she whispered as she closed the door.

Even as she bolted upright in bed, she could still feel his trembling body in her arms.

This time, she couldn’t bring herself to go back to sleep again. Instead, she sought the safety of the bright kitchen and a potent cup of coffee.

11:45am. Gaila followed her third graders to the lunchroom. As they hurried to their usual spots, she greeted the passing kindergarten teacher. At the front of the line was a little boy. The same one from her dream. He stared at her, mirroring her confused look as he followed the teacher out of the room.


What Dreams Are Made of (A Short Story) Part 2

Three years after starting this story, it’s time to finally continue it. Part 1 is available here.

7:38 am. Gaila poured another cup of coffee. She was going to need it.

As expected, the parasitic wasp nightmare had continued when she went back to sleep. This time, it wasn’t just one hair-like wasp in her finger. They were all over her arms. Desperately, she tried to pluck them all out, but the pain was too much. When she started awake, her skin tingled where the wasps had been.

She spent the rest of the night staring at the clock, wondering what to do. Maybe she should wake her husband. But over a dream? No, that was just silly. Instead, she waited patiently for 6:00. And when her husband asked how she slept, she barely mentioned the dream. The less she thought about it, the better.

As she moved to set the pot down, the second grade teacher, Sarah, offered her paper cup and a smile. “Looks like you had a rough night.”

“I just didn’t sleep well,” Gaila replied, conjuring up her most convincing smile. How would it look if the third grade teacher had the same problems as her third graders?

“Well, nothing a little extra coffee won’t fix.”

Gaila nodded, more to herself than to Sarah. Yes, coffee and daylight would fix this. She would think about normal, non-wasp things, and that would ensure her a better night’s sleep.

7:42 am. Gaila sat down at her desk and sipped the coffee. Everything would be fine. She reached for the coaster, realized that there was a pile of papers in the way, and pushed them aside with her left hand.

As she did, she noticed something odd. A strange red mark on one of her fingers. It was right where the wasp in her dream had been.