First off, let me apologize for going so long without a post. The end of school and start of summer break is always hectic around here, trying to switch routines without the kids turning into complete computer zombies. My efforts have met with moderate success thus far. I’ve also started cardiac rehab following the installation of seven stents spread through all three major heart arteries, so that eats into my schedule as well. Anyway, enough excuses. On with my writing difficulties.
I’ve started several stories, just throwing out the ideas that wander through my head to get something on paper (or screen, as it were). I’m trying to use different styles and voices to see if I can find my writing center. Unfortunately, everything I write is coming out first person. I’ve written in third person before. I’ve written hundreds of five-paragraph essays for school assignments and to win bets. Win bets? Yes, I’ve been stupid enough to brag that I’ve written so many of those high school standards that I can write a well-argued essay on ANY topic. Sometimes I get called on it and have to produce a paper on something ridiculous, but I’ve always managed to pull it off. These days, though, everything is coming out first person. Most of it is leaning toward stream of consciousness. There’s nothing wrong with that, mind you, but I thought I was more versatile in my writing. So here’s a question… Do you ever find yourself stuck in a writing rut, and if so, how do you get out of it? I’m ready to try anything!
Until next time, keep on writing!
Yesterday afternoon, my son, who is in fourth grade, came home with a writing assignment. He had to write a short story about something he’d done and then have the class guess what this thing was. He fussed and dragged his feet and whined that he’d much rather be playing Minecraft than writing a stupid story. I suggested he write about playing Minecraft. “You can do that?” he asked. I assured him it was quite possible, as I had once written a sonnet about how much I hated writing sonnets. He still didn’t have any ideas. I suggested he write about building one of his elaborate houses. He thought for a moment, then asked if he could write about fighting monsters. Sure, kid, anything to get you moving. He went to his room and pondered for about five minutes, then sat down to write. About three minutes in I hear, “Hey, this is fun!” So here’s my son’s first attempt at what I guess is a fanfic. I made a few spelling and punctuation corrections when I typed it for this, but the words are purely his. Hope you like it!
In the Mine
In the mine – dark, wet, and cold. I had no torches to light the way. I had some sticks, but I was on a quest. I could not stop for coal. I must go deeper to find the ultimate prize. As I explored deeper, it got warmer. Suddenly a tall black figure appeared behind a pile of rock. I slowly drew my sword, then it disappeared! There were light footsteps behind me. I quickly spun around to slash it. It fell to the ground clenching its pearl, its purple glowing eyes fading. I took the pearl. It was a valuable treasure but not valuable enough. So I went deeper. I heard bones rattling. As I went deeper it got louder. The passageway came to a little dome when an arrow whizzed by my head. A skeleton with a bow was shooting at me! I pulled out my bow and shot back. I missed, so I hid behind a stalagmite and peeked out and shot it. It was a small victory but the treasure was right ahead. A lava pool blocked it and a zombie moaned right behind me! I was startled and fell forwards, but quickly recovered and drew my trusty sword and sliced it to bits. I pulled out the pearl, thinking, “It has to be a perfect throw.” I threw the pearl and it landed right next to the jewel. “DIAMONDS!” I yelled as I mined to count the five diamonds. Right behind me I heard a hiss. *hsssssssss* My heartbeat slowed… *BOOOM!!!!*
One of the first computer games I played on my remarkably powerful Apple II+ was Zork. For those of you too young to remember it, Zork was one of the first text adventures and if you went into a dark place without your lantern you ran the risk of being eaten by a grue. The nice thing about this game, other than the random bits of humor, was that you could tell it how often you wanted to see the room descriptions. If you wanted all of the information every time, you set it to “Maximum Verbosity.” Apparently, I spend my entire writing life set to Maximum Verbosity and can’t seem to find the menu to change it.
In ninth grade I had the most amazing Honors English teacher named Mike Entrekin. Lest I get sidetracked, I will save him for another blog post. We read Plato’s “Parable of the Cave” and were given a week to either draw a picture or write a short story to show our understanding of the essay. On the due date I stumbled into class, bleary-eyed and almost snoring on my feet. I placed the 23-page (typed, double-spaced, 10-point font) “short story” on his desk and said, “I’m sorry the end is so abrupt, but my parents wouldn’t let me stay up past two o’clock.” I had worked on that story every free moment for that entire week and still had a couple more sections I wanted to add when my parents threatened to unplug my computer.
I love words. Finding the right combination to get my point across and paint a vivid mental picture makes my soul soar. Unfortunately, I love them so much I want to share as many as I can with everyone who gets close enough to snag. That’s one reason I’m trying some of these flash fiction contests. Otherwise, everything I write will be the size of The Stand with about half the content. So, if you happen to see the command to switch from Maximum Verbosity to at least Verbose if not Terse, please show it to me. 🙂
I started a new story today. I’ve got my protagonist and her sidekick, a shadowy enemy, some interesting personality quirks, and the potential for plenty of action. I don’t know if it will be a short story or something bigger, but, given my tendency to over-describe everything, it will probably end up novella length at the very least. I’m trying to set aside at least 30 minutes a day to just get words on the screen and worry about the quality later. As Stephen King and many other authors have said, the only way to become a better writer is to actually write. We’ll see how it goes. Wish me luck!
A lovely blogger named Lillie McFerrin holds a contest called Five Sentence Fiction each week. She offers an image and/or word as inspiration, and you run off with the concept and form it into the best five sentences you can manage. I discovered this on the blogs of the ladies I mentioned last post, and encourage you to check out their work at The Other Side of Sorrow (former student) and Anonymous Legacy (former fellow instructor). Anyway, this is my first attempt at something like this, so let me know what you think!
Happy Mother’s Day
“Oh, I love chocolate covered cherries, you sweet girl!” the disgusting mountain of quivering flesh squealed from the couch that had become its permanent home as it ripped the top off the shiny red 3-pound box.
“I just wanted you to have your favorite on Mother’s Day, Mom,” I replied as she shoveled the morsels into her gaping mouth.
“I’m just going to have a few of these, then I need my sponge bath and pedicure, and don’t you dare paint them that hideous pink like last time! Really, girl, I can’t believe I birthed such a stupid, unreliable, ugly creature who can’t even remember the polish color I like.”
I nodded and walked back into the kitchen where I wiped down the last few bottles from the case of Syrup of Ipecac I’d bought with cash at the next town over and tucked them in the bag with the slightly chocolaty syringe for later disposal.
So there it is. Feel free to let me know what you think, good or bad. I’m a big girl. I can take it. 🙂
When I was a kid, I wrote constantly. I was five when I wrote my very first “real story” on my grandmother’s electric typewriter. A story I wrote the summer after ninth grade was published in a college literary magazine. Small college, small magazine, but hey, published! I look back at it now and shudder a bit at the angst and insanity in it, but I’d just been dumped by my first Real Boyfriend, so I think some of that can be excused.
As I got older, my writing slacked off. Things like a husband, children, and a whole house for which I was responsible ate into my free time severely. I still had ideas, and would tell myself stories as I washed the dishes or mowed the grass, but nothing ever actually got written. Now that I’m in my 40’s (barely, mind you) I find the urge to write is becoming almost unbearable. I’ve started a few things, but run into two big problems. Either the plot sounds almost exactly like whatever book I just finished reading, or I have a great beginning and then get stuck with nowhere to go that doesn’t sound trite, cliched, or just utterly ridiculous. Sigh. I’m hoping that I’m just out of practice and haven’t completely lost my creativity to band fund raisers and Minecraft discussions.
I used to teach for a homeschool group, and both one of my fellow instructors and one of my former students have writing blogs. They both write some beautiful stuff, and as soon as I figure out how to insert links, I’ll send you to them. In the meantime, reading their blogs has just intensified my urge to get words down on paper… or screen, as the case may be. Part of the reason for starting this blog is to make following them a bit easier. Part of it is to force me to actually get some words down, though my first attempts probably won’t be exactly stellar. Nonetheless, it’s a start. So thank you to anyone who reads this. Comments are welcome and encouraged, especially constructive criticism, so let me have it! Now I’ll finish my breakfast, start a load of laundry, and steal a few minutes to compose a bit of something. Until next time!