Terrytown's Library

Terrytown's Library
Raised in Terrytown, Louisiana

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lydia Fitzpatrick

I think what kept me reading Lydia Fitzpatrick's short story In A Library In Saltillo is the wondering what was going on with the protagonist Sadie, and her cousin J.T and J.T's friend Javier. I kept reading to learn, first that Sadie was pregnant and second that she was to marry Javier to allow him to stay in America and the motives of the characters. She was imagining a married life with him and he seemed to for a little while. I loved this short story. Right away, I felt for Sadie and I wanted good things to happen for her.


The story is in the Glimmer Train literary magazine Winter 2012. It's part of a novel-in progress, though I wish it were part of a short story collection in progress.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Master of Fine Arts submissions

It's the beginning of December and I'm getting ready to submit my applications for a few Master of Fine Arts programs. I've been asking God everyday to allow the decision makers to see something special in my portfolio and essays that will allow them to take a chance on me and accept me.

I'm learning that to be a writer means taking chances and I feel that applying to MFA programs is one huge risk for me to take. My goal is to be a regularly published author, edit short stories for literary magazines and or anthologies and teach on the college level. I need to publish a novel or collection of short stories if I want to teach on the college level. I've got lots of work to do.

Can't believe it's December already.

today's writing prompt is to look at a picture of anything and write about. Challenge yourself. What short story would you write after looking at a picture found in a celebrity gossip magazine or a news magazine or even a cooking magazine? Find a picture online and write about it. I might use a picture of a cash register to inspire me.

Happy Writing!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Write Scenes

Writing scenes helps you concentrate on getting the story down. You aren't worried if its cohesive or logical, you're just writing down things that your senses can touch. My next writing prompt for the online writer's group that I belong to is to write a piece without using any adjectives or adverbs.

I woke up and blinked the light outside my bedroom window. I hated living in New York, living in this tiny, cramped apartment with a girl I wasn't sure I could call my friend, though it was good of her to let me crash here for a while. My aunt and uncle's large brownstone was getting cramped and I couldn't live the life of a single twenty-something woman in my grandmother's apartment. She thought staying out past four was late. My uncle has already said that as a black woman, there were certain places in Brooklyn that I just shouldn't go. He failed to tell me what these places were. Was it Red Hook? Was it any of the places I was already going, any place where there was a Barnes and Nobles? I laid back down and prayed for sleep to return.

This scene raises a lot of questions that I didn't have to be bothered with just yet. I'm simply trying to get the story down. I'm not yet trying to understand the characters, their motives, their yearnings or desires. I used this method for a story that I'm working on and for future stories that I started writing. You can find it in The Architecture of the Novel: A Writer's Handbook by Jane Vandenburgh. I'm still in the first chapter, but it's been very helpful.

The library was closed when I walked up to the entrance. The street lights were on, but would go off in a few hours. There weren't any cars on the street and I couldn't see anyone driving or walking up. I looked at my MP3 player for the time and realized that I had at least a 30 minute wait.

I think Vandenburgh especially work when you've been trying to write a story that you haven't been able to. Things happen in scenes, even when nothing seems to be happening. Characters reveal secrets, questions are raised that you have to go back to when you're ready to write the story. This method makes writing even more enjoyable. Pick up this book when you get a chance.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Writer

I am sitting in a Banes & Noble in Decatur Georgia and I'm writing my essay, which is part of my MFA application. I'm excited. Technically I'm writing and rewriting the first paragraph of the essay, but I'm equally excited. While I'm working on my essay and short stories, I am trying to think of who I can get to write recommendation letters and I've tried old college professors. Only one wrote back telling me that too much time has passed. I'm collecting ideas so that I can finally begin to create the life that I want to live. I used to think that it took courage and bravery, two things that I don't have. I'm plagued with doubt and low self esteem. Actually it takes being fed up with your current life and deciding what you are going to do to change the predicament that you've managed to get yourself into. It's not easy, but it's do-able. The only thing that you need to have is persistence and support and I'm learning that I actually have both.

Today's writing prompt is to write a short story based on the life you wish you were living right now. My sister gave me this assignment years ago, and I'm finally getting around to it, because I finally see myself as a real writer.

And, I'm in the revision phase of the short story that I mentioned in the previous blog. I still can't believe that story came out of a book teaching kids how to write sentences. It was a prompt about a lost puppy. The seeds for fiction stories are everywhere.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Can you write a story using this photo as a prompt

This a painting in my aunt's house and both my sister and I love this painting. Join me on facebook. Hope to see you that where we can talk about writing and reading.

How To Be A Writer

I'm reading Barbara Baig's How To Be A Writer and it's truly helping me with my latest short story. She talks about practice writing, which is free-writing to find your subject and to find the material you'll work with for your piece. I think not jumping into a first draft is really helping the story. I feel like I know my story and my characters. There's always more to learn.
This book is for anyone trying to write whatever it is they are trying to write. I enjoy the fact that I can start writing. I don't have to worry if this sounds good, because I'm not trying to write a story. I'm simply looking for scenes and conflict.
I'm going to use this method to write my Master of Fine Arts essays because I truly need to complete those applications. My goal is that my applications will be sent out, completed by the end of the year. I'm telling everyone that I'm working on my Masters of Fine Arts essays and that I'd like to work in the academic world teaching fiction writing on a college level.
Pray for me please. Thank you.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Becoming a Truely committed Writer

Everyday I'm learning what it means to be a writer. One meaning, the most important one is that I'm writing every chance that I get. The other half of being a writer is promoting myself as a writer as well as promoting my writing before I'm even ready to get anything published. Look for another blog that is more polished than this one. I loved creating and writing this blog, but it's time to take it to another level.
Yesterday my mom took me out for my birthday. We went to a steakhouse called Tokyo and experienced their hibachi grill. Those flames were so hot that I even felt them when the chef was another table. The food was so good, so delicious. I want to somehow set a story in this restaurant. I think another important thing about being a writer is to always be on the look out for fiction stories. Especially now with my sister disciplining her 18 month old child.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Decatur Book Festival


The Bookzilla is Back
The festival began with the writing conference which was held on the campus of Agnes Scott College, a woman's college in Decatur Georgia. There were several sessions to help writers with their fiction, nonfiction, playwriting and poetry. I chose a program called the Meat and Bones of Your Story, which was taught by crime novelist Gregg Hurwitz. The advice he used is good for all genres of fiction.

I learned that you can make up your own rules in your fiction. You just can't break your rules anywhere in the story. It's the consistency that makes your rules believable. I've heard this before, and will try to apply it my writing. You have to know everything about your character. It never made sense to me, but now I'm going to write my next story using this piece of advice that I've heard before. Every character has to have a point of view, a reason for being there, a motive.

I learned a lot about this conference. I'm so glad it began with something for writers. I look forward to talking with other writers and festival goers today and tomorrow and then Monday, since it's labor day, will be a full writing day. A marathon as suggested

by Judy Reeves A writer's Book of Days. It's a great book to cure you of writer's block. Reeves suggests having a writing marathon. Which is what I plan to have this Monday, putting Gregg Hurwitz's advice to good use.


Today's writing prompt is to create a character based on someone you've seen who has captured your attention. I am going to write about the guy I saw walking around with a small acostic looking guitar strapped to his back. He was very interesting. I could actually set a story in this Barnes and Noble on Moreland in Atlanta. Artists work on their craft as well as writers. Who can you base a character on?

Happy writing





Friday, July 29, 2011

P.S

I recently read a book called You Can Write A Novel. I think this advice works great for short stories. The advice was to write two sketches, the opening and closing. I changed it to simply sketch incidents and scenes. What I like about writing sketches is that you're not waiting to write while you figure what the next scene is. You're doing simply sketches and then using them to tell you what the character is fighting, which gives you a better outline to write the first draft of your story.

The sidewalk was hot against my white bare feet. I should have used the last of my allowance to buy those water shoes, but then I'd have to wait another week to have some cash. Besides, mom said she was going to follow dad's advice and not give me any more money to spend. I had very little thanks to buying stuff for this trip.

I stood on the edge, hopping a little because of my burning feet. A sensible kid would have jumped in for the cool relief of the water. Something about the water scared me, though I swam nearly every night in the pool at the apartment complex where I lived with my family. My brother said, when I was younger, sometimes I loved the water and other times I was scared of it. I guessed this was one of those times that I was scared of it. But, why?

This is based on the prompt I just gave you. It's one sketch that I can possible use for a short story.

Writing

I've rewritten the poem I have on my poetry and fiction blog, the retail hostess. It's hardly recognizable as the same poem. I thought the poem needed a lack of focus, one aspect to write about. I wrote about working in customer service. I'll post it when I can. In the mean time I'm realizing that my characters need a goal to struggle to reach and I think that's why my stories fail. You can't have conflct without a goal for them to try to accomplish.

I'm looking forward to a weekend marathon of writing with work in between. These past few days I've been doing a lot of writing and I want to keep it up. I'm looking forward to getting some writing pieces ready to send to some small literary magazines. Maybe even find some local newspapers willing to publish my story or poem. My time is about writing and exposure and being creative.

Today's prompt: take a what-I-did-this-summer essay and write it as a fiction piece.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Terrytown and other places I've lived

I've rewritten and rewritten Peter's story called New Year Resolution until I've had to take break. But this guy is still with them. I think I need to discover his story's goal. What is this guy after. I know his problems, know what he's about, but what does he need or want and what problem is he trying desperately to solve. That's my main problem. My other problem is that this story won't fit in the collections I'd like to write. The one I'm currently working on will have stories set in either Terrytown or in Jeffereson Parish, where Terrytown is located, I'm just not sure yet. Another story collection I'm thinking of is stories based on my family, reltaives and ancestors.

I'm still rewriting Retail Hostess trying to figure out where I want to go with that and what exactly do I want to say about working retail. Perhaps I'm trying to say too much in one poem. I want to also write a collection of stories based on working in retail and maybe have a few voices from the shoppers view points as well as co-workers view points.

Here's another exercise to try, a sentence. I love first sentences:
The water was boiling on the stove. I'm not even sure what to do with it and I came up with it.

P.S. about the title. I want to write a collection set in places I've lived but I'm not sure how to connect all of these pieces into a story. Hopefully I'll come up with it.

Basically I'm trying hard to work on my new philosophy, which is just start writing words. Because, those words, if you trust them and let them, will turn into something you've either always wanted to write or have been trying to write. I have a writing prompt for you. It's this:

Your character is in an elevator when something happens. It can be a realization, a firm determination, a baby being born, someone dying, a vision happening, it can be anything you can imagine. And the story or scene does not have to stay in the elevator.

I still love my what-would-so-and-so write fiction exercise. Maybe try combining this exercise with the one I just gave you.

Happy writing

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Prompts

I completed the first draft for the response to my writing exercise. I wish I knew how to pasted it onto my blog rather than having to retype the whole eight pages onto my blog. I'm excited about reading and rewriting and revising it. I was thinking the other day that it seems I have a hard time writing stories that are based on my experiences. It's something that I'm working on.

I think I'm going to use my prompt, if so-and-so wrote fiction, what experience would they based stories on because it really worked for the story I call Christmas Penance. For now, the next writing prompt is to write a story based on a regret.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

If So-and-So Wrote Fiction

This is an exercise I thought of a few years ago. It's helpful to get you thinking about your experiences as well as the experiences of others, whether or not you know them.

If so-and-so wrote fiction, what experience would this person base their story on. Examples of so-and-so are:
  • A police officer might write a story about meeting his/her daughter's (first) boyfriend only to discover he/she arrested the guy at least once.
  • A high school student might write about the medal he was just short of winning
  • What would your family member write about
  • What would your 20 year old self write about or your 50 year old self
This exercise allows you to imagine different experiences and it allows you to go inside of your own experiences as well. Who have you always been curious about? My 19 year old self would write about having to suffer another semester of high school, which happened during River Phoenix's death.

My second idea for today is to honor a loved one, event, celebrity with your writing. This is something I've always wanted to write. I want to honor my ancestors, recent and distant past, with stories, especially those like my dad, grandpa, and one of my great aunt's who were writers. My dad even wrote Oprah a letter. I'd also love to honor music, in particular my two favorite genres of music, country and rock, with stories.

These are the two exercises I'll be working on for the rest of June. I hope to post my responses on my blog. I hope you join me. Have fun and happy writing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dreams Into Fiction

Dreams are an excellent place to get story ideas from. I had one last night that I don't know where it came from, but I hope to use it in a future story.

Dream:

Two white children were let in a house by an older white couple. The
children were scared of being caught by the people who had them.
(It's never said exactly who the people are.) The couple hide the
children when someone comes to the house looking for them. The couple
is able to get them out without losing the children. Later they
attend school. (I wish I had more details.)

Second part of dream:
A white couple (not the same couple who let the children in) are
riding on the motorcycle. Man is driving without a shirt. He stops
the motorcycle by a tree and he and the woman he's with lay down where
they see kites flying, large kites, one is white with red hearts and
circles on it. ( I can't remember how, but the couple on the bike
were somehow in the first part of the dream. As bystanders I think.)

I think it's usable and no one comes up with the exact same story no matter how similar the source of the story is. It's up for grabs if you would like to use it and just maybe you'll see my version published somewhere.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Evaluation

The second day in May, which means evaluating what you've done to achieve your goals and what more you can do. It also means being honest with yourself about what you have and haven't done. I believe that I could have done more last month and maybe even the month before.

1) I'm not going to worry about what to write and how to write it. I'm just going to write a phrase and/or a character's name and see where it takes me.

2) I'm going to re-read each draft, take notes and figure out what can be fixed, what have I learned so far. I'm going to base each future draft on these notes.

3) I'm going to let the story go and begin another one in the same way.

The playground was dirtier than yesterday. Mollie stood on the hill that used to be look out tower when she was a child. Children couldn't play here anymore. Too much danger in the park, too much filth. Mollie had to decide to leave her home or try to clean up her neighborhood. She wanted her children to have her same, fun memories about this playground, look out tower. Mollie smiled wondering what would her children rename look out tower. Maybe the singing mountain since they loved to sing.
A harsh, male voice took her away from her thoughts of the park and of her children.

The possible beginning of a short story.

Writing exercise:
Write a phrase/sentence and see where it takes you

Write a character's name and imagine who she or he is.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Author Day At Barnes And Nobles in Cobb Parkway in Atlanta

The writer's I met over the weekend gave me some great advice, particular Seressia Glass who writes an urban fantasy series. She basically told me how she got serious about being a writer, she writes from midnight to 2 in the morning and she joined a romance writer's organization. I need to figure out what getting serious about writing means for me and how I can invest my time, effort, energy, and money into writing.

My first thing to do is be firm about my writing time, the time in which I set aside to work on a fiction project. And then I need to submit more of my writing to the critique group that I belong to. And, when I join a writer's organization, I need to figure out how to attend their meetings and events.

Don't forget to check out my blog ksfiction-poetry.blogspot.com There's only one post, but I plan to work on some new pieces so I can quickly populate the site. My goal is at least twice a month.

This weekend has me excited about writing, about attending more author events and finding some writing events and simply writing. I'm passionate and excited.

Writing Prompt:
Write a story about a character's morning. Base it on your morning or imagine it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

ksfiction-poetry.blogspot.com

I created a new blog and I posted a poem on it. This will be the blog where I post final drafts of my writing for feedback.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Back

It's been a while since I've blogged. I created a blog that's just for fiction and poetry. There's a spot for comments. My niece had a great birthday, thanks to her parents and she seemed to love her presents. I'm working on a short story to post on my new blog, ksfiction-poetry.blogspot.com and I'm writing poetry that I can't wait to post as well. I have an idea for a short story or maybe for a collection of poetry or both called cashier. I've been rewriting a poem about being a cashier.

I'm working on improving my writing, how can I make it clear. A writer in my critique group said that I've been hiding my story, something I hadn't thought of before. If a reader can't get through the muddled writing, then they can't get to the story, which is the whole point of writing fiction and poetry and any other writing that we do. For the first time I'm taking critics seriously and I'm using the comments to improve my writing. I can't wait until I can write a great story that is readable.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Free Writing

Free writing is the best thing a writer has against writer's block. You're looking for a subject, an experience, a character, a way to begin. What you're really looking for is questions to answer. I like to start writing with a character, whether or not I have a subject to write about.

The zoo was the best place to be. It was dark and her friend loved her enough to do anything for her. Sure she was using him, but she needed this time away from people, at least for now.

I don't know what this means, but I can answer the questions or use the questions it has already created. Why is the zoo the best place to be, because she doesn't have to deal with people. Why doesn't she want to deal with people? And why for now? Is she usually a people person? Did someone let her down? Did several people let her down? If so, how did they let her down?

I begin again with these answers in mind.

Each animal had something different to say and they were all misunderstood, as she was. She looked up to see her friend coming towards her. She knew he wished she'd stop calling him and asking her to sneak in the closed zoo. She knew he'd be fired if his boss ever found out.

I still don't have all of the answers, but I feel like I can continue with what I know. I can write a first draft with everything I've learned.

Your prompt is to free write on anything you want to.
The cat and I both stormed out.

I find that no matter what I'm writing, in the end, it's always a story I wanted to write or one that I'm enjoying writing and can't wait to get to the final draft so that I can really make the story sing.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I have been doing a lot of writing and that feels really good. I completed the second draft of a story based on a dream I had, I completed a first draft of a story based on my friendship from high school and I've written several scenes that I hope to expand into short stories, particular the one I just posted on my Fiction Side Blog. Hope you will enjoy it.

I feel like my writing is changing in a good way, as if I'm finally paying attention. It's something I'm learning to do through out my life.

A slight detour, I'm also looking for a better job that will allow me to finally be in my own apartment. I've applied for an administrative assistant job in a library and I might have a chance of another administrative assistant job thanks to my sister. I'm starting to feel comfortable writing fiction stories because I know that I'm supposed to be a writer. I just have to keep working at it and never give up.

Hopefully, within the week, I'll be able to expand the scene into a short story.

Writing prompt: Your character gets on a plane... What happens next, why is she getting on a plane?

Happy writing

Friday, February 4, 2011

Gryphon


Last Sunday I purchased Charles Baxter's New and Selected stories. I have read and enjoyed every story I've read, especially this story called Shelter. I felt like Cooper took me into his life and said this is what I was going through at the period in my life. It was his guilt over his dislike over the homeless. He knew something had to be done about them. He didn't like seeing them so he brought them food and was surprised to learn that like anyone else, they can be rude and seem a little ungrateful. These stories make me hope that his next book is a collection of new stories.

If you haven't read anything by Baxter yet, start with this selection and go straight to Gryphon, a story set in a class room about a substitute teacher who forces her students to think and not just sit in the class room and believe everything the teacher says or any adult says.

I enjoyed what I read of Saul and Patsy, one of his novels and can't wait to buy it so I can continue reading it at my leisure, but I enjoy this man's short stories much better. But, I'm biased towards this form. When we tell each other the stories about our work or our home lives, if we wrote them down, they'd be short stories. Andre Dubus said: "I love short stories because they are the way we live. They are what our friends tells u, in their pain and joy, their passion and rage, their yearning and their cry against injustice." And I agree with him and with Steve Almond who also praises the short story.

I've mentioned this literary magazine before, Narrative Magazine.
Narrative Magazine. It's a great magazine full of short stories and it's online and free to subscribe. John Updike's A&P, another story I keep mentioning, can be found online. If anyone has seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons should read the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The short stories is different and the differences surprised me. The movie did an excellent job, I loved the movie, but when I read the short story, I was surprised at the differences. I knew Hurricane Katrina wouldn't be in the short story and it would most likely stay in the past, but I wasn't prepared to see how different the Brad Pitt character was or how different the father was.

Another short story made into a movie was Broke Back Mountain by Anne Proulx, found in her collection called, Close Range: Wyoming Stories. It's possible that they still sell it by itself. I thought it was better than the movie

There's something about reading short stories that you can't get from novels. I love reading novels, but reading a short story is so satisfying because you meet all sorts of characters between the pages and are taken to a variety of places. I've always believed that one T.V. show episodes equals a long short story while the show itself is the collection of connected short stories.

Other writers to read
Danielle Evans Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
Ron Rash Burning Bright
Richard Lange Dead
Boys
Laura Van Den Berg What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us

Also pick up a short story anthology:
New Stories from the South (Kenneth Calhoun's Nightblooming)
The Best American Short Stories (Wayne Harrison's Least Resistance)
The O.Henry Awards Prize Stories

Pick up a short story and read it. I promise you'll want to read another short story and another one. And writing them is just as fun, maybe more because they are your stories.

.http://www.narrativemagazine.com

These are the stories I love so far and I can't wait to read more short stories. Don't forget about the literary magazines that are on the shelves; Glimmer Train, Zone 3, and Tin House to name a few.

Today's prompt: Write a story, your version of a short story you enjoyed reading. I'd write my version of Charles Baxter's Gryphon or John Updike's A&P.

Happy writing



Monday, January 31, 2011

Rewrite and Characters From Work

Rewriting the story again, this time changing everything. Something simply isn't flowing for me, but this is the way we write. We try something, hope it doesn't work and we try something else when it doesn't work. I'm learning that writing is trial and error, it is the willingness to throw out pages and characters, etc. and start all over. I'm also learning that writing is about paying attention, which is what I did at work this weekend. I have a writing friend in Alpharetta who told me that I have to leave work with at least one character. (She may have said two.)

Mia said to her cousin, "girl, you need to get yourself a lunch box." Her aunt Regine just laughed, but something about the box the girl swung looked both familiar and unfamiliar. She turned from Mia and Lisa and went back to trying to choose the least expensive outfit to put together for her daughter.

"Your daughter is just too funny. She's got everything in that box of hers."

Jerry shook his head, but didn't say anything. He barely smiled, which was odd to Regine because he smiled and laughed at anything his daughter did.

"Are you okay?"

Jerry shrugged. When he glanced at Regine, she thought he might tell her something, but he went back to staring at the girls underwear.

"Does she really need anymore of that." Regine lowered her voice, "you do know what happens when you hold it all in?"

Jerry jerked his head from side to side. Regine sighed but didn't go back to looking for clothes for her daughter. Rather, she watched her brother while he seemed to be pretending to pick up items for her child.

This piece is based on something a customer told me at the register. Right now, I like it. Actually she was talking to the woman with her, I just listened in. She was telling both of us how this little girl picked up a lunch box that no one paid for and put all of her stuff in it, which the cashier had to take out once they were checking out. The story she told me stuck with me.



Friday, January 28, 2011

Working On Rewrite

I'm working on a rewrite of the story I published on second blog, the fiction side. It will be a little different because I think I set the story in the wrong location.

The third prompt I came up with is write about something, either as a whole story or a piece of a story, you or your character heard on NPR or another news program. I believe I can work this into the story, just as I've worked the second prompt into the story, write about a place you've visited or want to visit someday or want to return.

In the meantime I completed the first draft of a story that I started yesterday. I can't wait to write and complete the second draft and I can't wait to complete this draft, which I hope to be able to do this weekend.

Another thing I've always wanted to do is to use another type of art to write a story, maybe a painting or an image. I would love to write a story based on a song, maybe write a collection of stories based on music. I love music. I think I'll work on that soon.

I'm trying to use this time to get beyond my fears and find ways to write the stories I've always wanted to write.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Maeve Binchy's quote, from her book, THE MAEVE BINCHY WRITER'S CLUB has slowly become my favorite for beginning fiction stories and I'm sure it works for nonfiction pieces. She said, "Something happens to the main character at the start, and we follow him or her dealing with it, or not dealing with it, or ignoring it, or making it worse." I like this quote because it encourages you to start your idea and your story with a problem. I want to write an updated version of John Updike's fiction story (which I've probably mentioned a little too much already) 'A&P.' The protagonist wants to quit his job, but he stays until he sees his manager treating three girls badly simply because they were wearing bathing suits. He walks out knowing the consequences when he gets home. My character wants to quit her retail job, but she's not as young as the main character. There are consequences are worse for her. There's a such thing as keeping your job until a better one comes along and that hasn't happened yet. What does my character do? She sulks and writes fiction stories. (It's hard creating a character based on you and your experiences without making her a writer.)

Start with a problem, and then write a first sentence. That way your story will have further to go. How's this for a problem: she's tired of her this man hitting on her. Why can't she do anything about it. That will be this week's writing prompt. I'm actually trying to work on another prompt I've come up with a friend of mine. Write a story based on a past event or person returning to your present life in some form.
*
I feel that everyday you need to motivate yourself in becoming a writer. I agree with quote in Paul Raymond Martin's INSPIRATION AND MOTIVATION, "You cannot decide once and for all to be a writer. You must renew your commitment to writing every day." I'm not sure how I'm going to do that, but I do agree with it because there are sometimes I don't believe that it's possible and other days I feel like my collection will be published as soon as I can complete it. I do believe that like a novel, a collection needs a theme that connects the stories. It just might be easier to write the collection by starting with a theme the way that some writers feel that starting with the end is how you get to the beginning. This is how I'll write those stories that I can't seem to begin and I will let you know how it's doing.

Remember those two writing prompts, choose one and begin with whatever can happen to the protagonist or main character at the beginning of the story.

Next entry will be about using literary magazine submission guidelines as a prompt.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Improvisation or Spontaneous Writing

This is my favorite type of writing. I think it's the best way to get a ideas for anything that you're trying to write.

"Sometimes I feel like I just want to write and other times I feel like I want to get away, but I'm afraid of picking up my pen or turning on my computer." Kelley looked past the therapist who, every so often, scribbled something down in her notebook.

"You mentioned fear. Why are you afraid?"

"I've already been told not to write anymore--."

"No Kelley, why are you afraid? What are your expectations of yourself?" The therapist, who was actually a graduate student, moved back in her chair. Calling her by name would make it seem real. It was easy to think I have a therapist not to mention her name. Then it wouldn't be casual and she might have to admit that she was crazy. At least that was her thinking. She didn't know that some of her family members and relatives either were in therapy or had sought therapy for their problems. Everything embarrassed and intimidated Kelley.

"Think about what your expectations are of you and don't worry about what anyone else may think. I want you to write about it, anyway that you feel comfortable and then show it to me next week."

Kelley nodded and then stood when her therapist stood. Kelley's smile was grim. She shook the graduate student's hand and thanked her for another session. It was free, the only thing she could afford without any insurance. Her job didn't offer any benefits and it was possible that no schools would need substitute teachers for a week or longer. Luckily, Kelley was needed everyday at various schools. It was almost like they were fighting over her. She smiled at that image as the therapist followed her and talked about how great their session was. It was the same thing she said every week.

Spontaneous writing allows you to write those stories you've always wanted to write, but never could figure out how.

"The car's broken?"

"No. Runs just fine. It was my," he paused in trying to decide what to call Diane. He decided on fiance even though he hadn't proposed to her when she was killed. By her own hand. That, Mark thought, sounded better than suicide.

Mark watched the young, chipper college student walk around the car a few more times. It wasn't anything fancy, but Diane loved to blast Little Richard and Elvis Presley when they drove. You'd think they were their parents rather than graduate students in their mid twenties. But she loved anything ancient and antique. It was why, he knew, that he was the only guy her age that she ever had a relationship with. Every other boyfriend was thirties or older. She even attended one old boyfriend's funeral. He asked her a few times what was wrong with her and then stopped asking when it only offended her and he realized that she wasn't ever going to give him an answer.

Spontaneous writing gets you past the story idea and into the story. Everyone should try it. And if you try it, have fun with it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Paying Attention

I'm working on paying attention to my writing. My stories need conflict and motivation, but they also need better writing. I'm realizing that if you can't get passed the beyond writing, then no one will ever be able to read your story. This is something I should have learned in my early school years, something I should have paid a bit more attention to, but it's obvious that I didn't. Working on my craft means perfecting my writing as well as the conflict and motivation of the story.

My favorite way of writing will always involve beginning with a first sentence. I think ideas are in that first sentence. I just need to pay attention to; He was there again, sitting against the square post near the shelves of reference books. He seemed to always be there. I'm trying to write short stories based on my personal experiences and this is one I've been trying to write about living and working and writing in New York. I'm still learning to add to the experience to better the short story. I'm trying to be truthful to the story and the characters, not the experience the story is based on.

"Won't even say hi." I was pulling a book from the shelf when he spoke to me. His voice was loud in order to reach the new book fiction section I stood in front of. I pulled down Lee K Abbott's new and selected stories called, All Things, All At Once and turned to him. I was slow in walking towards me because I knew the conversation would be about my healing process since Hurricane Katrina. "How can you have a boyfriend," he said when we first met, "when you can't move past pain. No one wants to hear that." We'd been leaning against the wall beneath the window for a while, which was probably why he felt comfortable enough to give me advice. He had been confiding in me all day and I didn't tell him anything about my life. I sat down next to him and braced myself for the worst.

In real life, there's no guy I met in Barnes and Noble. So far, I like the character. The story that I'm working on now, I need to cut out a few characters that are only talked about and I like those characters, but it might help the story a lot.

"I like to say there isn't anything you can do now that will be worse than what has already happened," he said after a while. He smiled, eventually and we fell silent for a while.

It's truly good to know what you need to work on. I can't believe it's already 6:50. It was 5:41 not long ago. I didn't think I fell into that trap called, but that's how it really happened. Doesn't matter what really happened. What matters is the truth of the story that your trying to write. It's the story and characters that you have to be true to, not the experience.

Happy Writing

Next entry will be a writing prompt and my response to it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Completing Drafts

It feels incredible to complete a draft, even better the more drafts you complete. I feel that I've accomplished something and that I'm closer to even greater accomplishments, like submitting it to a literary magazine, enter it in a contest, having other people read it. I wish everyone could know this feeling, could have something this great that they want to run and tell everyone what they did while at the same time wanting to keep it for themselves. I've had people, past co-workers, to not care about what I call my writing achievement. I ignore them and keep on writing because I know that I did something so wonderful and that it will lead to more wonderful things. Writing fiction, especially completing drafts gives me so much confidence that it can only spill into the other things I'm trying to achieve, like getting a better job and moving into my own apartment and calling libraries and colleges to find out how I can give talks there about writing and reading fiction. I'm going to try Georgia State University first. I took a semester there and would love to talk to writers, one student writer to another.


Every time I complete a draft, I feel more confident in the possibility of having a career as a published fiction writer. Becoming an indie fiction writer.

I'm also going to start working on a story about being snowed in for three days so far and why it doesn't have too much affect on the protagonist of my story.

"Hi, welcome to Baby Care," I said to the couple who came in through the door that the woman left carrying her bag of baby bath things and a thermometer. Seeing her cart-less made me look to the front of the customer service box where I saw an empty blue cart at an angle.

Maybe I'm writing a story right here on my blog. It's a continuation of the scene I wrote earlier.

"It's great to be here," one of my co-workers Jasper said.

I knew he was being sarcastic, but I played along. He was cute. "Sure is." I was being partly sarcastic. It was great having a job, even if I was working far less than part time. I had a paycheck and hoped to have a second job and a writing career soon. Who didn't want to do something other than what they were doing right now.

It's probably going to be my next story. Maybe a story about silence that I'm supposed to be working on for my critique group. Or, and it will be my version of John Updike's A&P. Everyone should read it.

Everyone happy writing. Let's prayer that the snow and ice quickly melts for those who really need to be out on the road.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Characters

The second day of being snowed in. I completed another draft of Dawn's story yesterday. I'm going to see if I can reread it, make some corrections and type it up and prepare to submit it somewhere. I'm pretty excited about the story, which is about realizing that a friend has changed so much that there's nothing left to do but to move on. And it's not easy to do that.

It's a great day to catch up on some household chores and to do some writing. It's a great day to do some writing prompts and especially to create your own writing prompts.

I rang up her purchases as I smiled at her, but she was fumbling in her purse looking for coupons. The customer before her was on the phone and barely looked at me. I rotated my shoulders and head when I finished ringing her up. This was not the job I imagined when I was walking across the stage in New Orleans to get my Bachelor Degree. And it was barely paying the bills.

"I do have some coupons," the woman said without looking up from her purse. She smiled at me and then returned to digging around her large purse.

I smiled and said, "it's okay. Take your time." She was the only person in line and no one was coming after her. "You can bring your coupon in with your receipt and get a price adjustment, as long as the coupon is still good.

She kept looking as if I hadn't said anything. "Found it. Way at the bottom of my purse." She smiled and waved at me as if it was a winning lottery ticket and I had the million dollars in my register to give to her. She sighed with relief when I accepted the coupon and scanned it using the price gun.

This is probably my third, if not fourth, attempt at writing a story based on my retail job. I'm reading Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way and I'm doing her twelve week course; the morning pages, the artist date. I'm only on week two, but it's been fun so far and informative. If you can, pick up the book and dive into the twelve week course.

After she left, I looked around the customer service box to see what I could do to keep busy while waiting for the next customer.

Friday, January 7, 2011

I'm so excited that I'm finally working on a second story for my short story collection. Childhood was initially going to be the link between the stories, but now I think it will be music since music was part of Dad's Death and music is part of this latest story, whose title is probably going to change, but for now is called, Life After High School. I've been drafting this story for a week and a half, took a break and then pulled up the file and started rewriting it. So far, both stories are set in Louisiana and are based on person experiences of mine.

I'm praying that my interview at Rooms To Go will land me a full time job at one of their locations, a close by location. Other than that, I'm still searching for any full time job that will allow me to move into my own place and buy furniture and pay bills and pay off debt.

I'm so pleased that I'm writing stories based on my personal experiences. Right now it's the past, but I'd like to write stories based on where I'm living now. I want to write my version of John Updike's A&P story. I think I can do that. And I want to write some what if stories. I have ideas, like
  • What if my high school friend's ex came into the store I worked in What would he have to tell me about my old friend.
Working in retail has given me a few stories that I have yet to write, but I will and I'm excited about these future stories.

For all of the writers try this writing prompt. Take something or someone from your past and put it into a story based on your present life.

I wiped my brow, wishing for fans above the customer service box. I felt like I'd been standing in the desert or I was back in the school gym waiting for Hurricane Katrina to leave us and then waiting to be rescued.

A man walked in the store, but he didn't turn towards me. Instead, someone at the baby registry greeted him and then gave me a curious look. I couldn't answer and I couldn't stop staring at this man who I hoped wouldn't buy anything while at the same time hoping to learn what happened with my friend.

This is the beginning of my what if stories. How about writing yours? Happy writing.