The end draws nigh…

This past week I’ve felt a little in limbo with my writing.  I’m quite sure there was a list of things I wanted to get done this year and, as the end of January approaches, I have the sinking feeling that I haven’t made much progress in checking things off my list.  I feel like I’ve just been keeping my head above water and lucky to get a little bit done every day. 

The Yahoo! Contributor Network asked for flash fiction on a Display Only basis so I gave them my homage to Gershwin and Dubose Heyward’s Porgy and Bess.  I called it Sweet Summertime.    (I do like how you can generally find a picture in their files to go with what you are submitting.)  I wrote that a couple weeks ago so not much effort on my part there. 

 They had also asked for a short story based on an image but I’ve looked through my files and nothing is inspiring me right now.  I think my muse took a mid-winter vacation.  I may have to get off the beaten path and create something original to submit, which is what I tend to do anyway, see what bubbles up through the seamy underside of my brain. 

 This past week I’ve been writing just a tiny bit on a new short story each night before I fall asleep. Unfortunately, this is not my most creative or productive time.  But then, muse deficient writers take what they can get and you shouldn’t look a gift goat in the mouth.  (They eat everything.)  Morning is definitely a better time for me to write but since I’m in a perpetual state of sleep deprivation, that’s a little hard to do and make it to work on time.

 Makes me start wondering about the incidence of Hollywood remakes these days.  Could it be we’re all a little muse deprived?  (Heck, that flash fiction was an homage.)  Anyway, I just saw a blip that said there’s going to be a Super Bowl commercial starring good old Ferris Bueller.  Makes me feel kind of nostalgic.  I may have to look for an old eighties film this weekend.

 I’m also reading a book of short urban fantasy stories, Naked City, edited by Ellen Datlow – very well crafted short stories by authors like Jim Butcher, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman.  I’ve noticed Jim Butcher contributing to quite a few of these types of collections in the past few years.  Seems almost a little backwards, attain your rep as a writer and then you can start contributing to anthologies.  Didn’t it used to be the other way around?  Write short stories to get your chops then you can get a publishing contract for books.  I’ll admit I’m enjoying the short stories a little more these days and admiring authors for developing characters, setting and plot well in a short format.  There’s nothing extra in these stories and they pull you along at a fast clip.

 Anybody else experiencing a seasonal slump?  I’m going to have to get my muse a calendar or Day Planner, maybe a Blackberry.

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The Micro Form

I’ve been playing with micro fiction.  I’m really taken with the idea of trying to fit the whole story arc of introduction, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution into just fifty words.  We had our writer’s group last night and I wrote another based on the prompt I chose.  (Mine seem to read better on the paper than being spoken out loud.  At least, that’s my opinion.)

For the one I wrote last night, I had the image in my head of watching the snow fall at night through the lamplight out on the street.  Then I remembered what it was like to be in a car, driving along, and then be gently sliding slowly around to rest, looking back the way I’d come.  It turned into this –

Snow lazily drifts through the lamplight, twinkling.  A car glides silently down the deserted street. It’s forward momentum diverted, it spins gracefully around in place.  It comes to rest, as gently as the falling snow, facing back the way it came.  The car turns round and continues on its way.

My fascination began about a week ago when I was rocking my child in the middle of the night.  I had been working on an essay about the night a tornado hit our house.  I wondered, if so much happened during such a short period of time, could I turn it around and pack all of that into just a few words?  I came up with this –

Snatch baby up and run.  A roar – house lurches.  Through the kitchen door, down the cellar steps into an old coal bin.  Baby cries.  “Shhh… mama’s gotcha.”  Lightning flashes, water pours in the corner, subsides.  Venture upstairs.  Smoke?  No, plaster dust.  Grab car seat, purse and cell.  “Something’s happened.”  “I’m on my way.”

Of course, I realized the next day that it isn’t technically fiction, more like a flash essay.  I tried again and came up with this one – a little homage to Porgy and Bess

C. and F. met in the sweet Summertime.  They were young and sharp.  They fell in love, hearts soaring with the score.  But like notes in a syncopated jazz song, they were never quite in step.  At the end of the song, their love fell flat.

I highly recommend playing with the micro form.  It’s fun and may just inspire you to look at your writing a little differently.

Flash Fiction

I have heard of flash fiction, of course, but I must confess that I’ve never given this fun genre a try.  That changed last night.  My Yahoo! Contributor Network assignment desk offered a flash fiction assignment in 50 words or less.  I thought, this is perfect for someone with my limited time! 

Somehow I still didn’t get to try it during the day.  Then my daughter took two hours getting to sleep and woke up less than half an hour later.  As I sat rocking her, I began to think and plot, as my mind is wont to do.  I thought of the night our house was hit by a tornado and how so much had happened in so short a time.  Could I write a flash peice where so much happens in so few words?  I could and did. 

Then it occurred to me that isn’t fiction.  It’s a flash story, but not fiction, so I’m still thinking about it and playing with it.  I started to do a little research and learned that flash fiction word limits are variable, depending on who is assigning it.  I like the idea of writing a complete story with rising action, a climax and falling action in just 50 words though.  I’m up to the challenge.  Anybody out there written any?

An Auspicious Start to the Year

This past week has been a busy one on the writing front.  It started on Sunday, New Year’s Day.  I had gotten up to put the chicken in the slow cooker and feed the cats then found myself with a little time all alone while my husband and the munchkin slept in.  I could clean the bathroom?  Or start vacuuming the downstairs?  Nah.

I sat down on the couch with my lap top and the notes from my writer’s group about the essay I had been working on.  It took me longer than I expected to edit but I got it submitted to the Yahoo! Contributor Network.  It seemed an auspicious way to start a new year that I hoped to fill with writing.

I waited impatiently for word on whether it was accepted.

Our writer’s group met Wednesday evening at the library.  (If you’re not a member of a writer’s group, I highly recommend it.  I’ll post about that soon.)  There were only three of us that night but we had an interesting discussion about online publishing and I went into my account to check on the essay.  It had been declined.  I wasn’t crushed, just slightly demoralized.  A fellow writer explained that when that happens to him he re-submits for non-exclusive publication then starts submitting it to other sites.  I decided to do the same with this essay and see how it works out. 

When I got home that night I posted it as a non-exclusive story and was met with a suggestion to submit it to Reddit, Dig and StumbleUpon, if I felt it was some of my best work.  Why not?  I went in and created accounts with each of them but have only figured out how to submit it to Reddit so far.  I’ll have to do a little more looking at the others.    

A short story had been germinating in my brain all week and as I read Folly Beach by Dorothea Benton Frank the past few days, little snippets helped inspire my thinking.  I expect it will take a little time but I think it will work and, if it does, it will be the first piece of fiction I’ve written since November and the first I’ve completed in it’s entirety for even longer.  I finally started typing up the thoughts last night.

WordPress is offering to make this blog http://melorajohnson.com for a nominal fee.  I think I’m going to take them up on the offer. I like the idea of having my own web site, after a fashion.

I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot this week and yet there is so much I want to do.  The week isn’t quite over yet so we’ll see how far I get.  It just feels nice to be able to find the time to write and promote my writing.

A personal memoir posted…

Well, I took the plunge and submitted a rather personal memoir on love, pregnancy and having faith to the Yahoo! Contributor Network.  It has been posted.  I hope it offers someone out there some consolation or encouragement.  I debated for a while on how much to say but I know, in the end, if I’m going to touch others, I need to be as honest as I can.  So, here it is… Faith, Hope and Love – http://voices.yahoo.com/faith-hope-love-10777773.html?cat=43

Alan Rickman in a Broadway show about writers?

I’m so there!  Well, if I win some tickets I will be.  Anyway, if you’re interested in entering, check out the contest on the Writer’s Digest web site.  http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/special-giveaway-win-tickets-to-see-the-new-alan-rickman-writing-comedy-seminar-on-broadway#comment-110191 

Good Luck!