I’m a Writer!

I often comment–to myself, to people around me even if they’re not listening–on celebrities who seem to lack awareness–self and otherwise. Gwyneth Paltrow in all her goopiness and Kanye West in all his Kanye Westness are the biggest offenders, IMO. But, now, I have to admit, I only recently became aware of something–I’m a working writer. Like, for a living. Kind of…

I’ve always thought my version of being a writer meant fiction, or rather my dream was to write fiction. I’m still dreaming of that, but I realized writing for a living comes in many forms. And for me right now, that means working professionally 9 to 5 in marketing. Maybe it’s not just for right now. Maybe it’s going to be the one career of my life. That’s OK. I really enjoy it.

I spend roughtly 75% of my job writing and editing, including internal articles, blog posts and tweets. The challenges of writing for business to business are far different than writing fiction. But, writing really is writing. Any writing is beneficial practice.

Is there something that took you a long time to realize about yourself?

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Tipsy Lit Prompted: A Bold Adventure

Tipsy Lit Prompted: Something New

This week’s Tipsy Lit Prompted is about a character’s bold adventure.

A bare bulb dangled precariously from the ceiling, strung up by a frayed cord. Light flickered around the room and across her reflection in the mirror. She splashed her face with cold water, the only side of the tap that worked, and looked into the foggy mirror. The bags under her eyes were darker, more pronounced that they’d been just two weeks prior.

“I look awful,” she thought as she vigorously rubbed her face to a shiny red with a rough paper towel.

“I can’t believe I’m doing this…that I have to do this,” she said to herself in the mirror.

“Excuse me?” a scratchy, ancient voice said behind her. Startled, she jumped slightly and looked up into the mirror to see a dirty, chubby woman emerging from the center stall. She hadn’t bothered to flush and probably wouldn’t bother to wash her hands either.

“Um, nothing. I was just talking to myself, she said as she escaped into the desolate waiting room.

She took off her backpack, and placing it carefully in front of her, she settled in to wait for the bus that wouldn’t be there for almost another two hours. Thoughts of the last few weeks raced through her mind as she wondered if leaving was the best thing to do.

She nodded off and was awoken later by the air brakes of a bus in the dense, dark night. Gathering up her things, she noticed only two other desperate souls had shown up for the bus with their worn, dusty luggage.

She boarded the bus, slightly hesitating as the smell of urine and sweat–the musty stench of despair–wafted up from the back of the bus and smacked her in the face.

Well, there she is. What do you think?

Tipsy Lit Prompted: Something New

Tipsy Lit Prompted: Something New

This week’s Tipsy Lit Promted is about a character doing something new.

Sweat dripped from his scalp, rolling down the bridge of his nose like a stream. Deep breaths, he reminded himself. The air was chill and still, the only sound a slight rustling of the ripe corn stalks at their bases, where the ground gave them life. The prey, he thought, that’s them.

He scanned the sky, looking left to right and sweeping with his gun.

Let’s go! his dad called from the end of the field.

The group slowly walked forward, boots crunching the harvested corn stalks laying in the field.

Bird! Someone to his left called.

He could hear his heart beating in his ears and raised his gun, finger on the trigger but stopped short of squeezing it. Pop! Pop! Pop! Shotguns went off to his left and right. Pheasants fell from the sky.

The sky was empty; the clear blue no longer sprinkled with brightly colored feathers. He lowerd his gun.

After all the lucky birds flew away and the unlucky ones were retrieved by overeager labs and vizslas, his heart beat slowly made it’s way back to a normal pace.

With his adrenaline lowered, he realized how cold it was. The sweat across his forehead began to freeze. He reached up with his forearm and wiped it away.

Did you get one? the man to his left asked.

Nah, I don’t think so, he responded. Of course he knew he hadn’t; he hadn’t pulled the trigger.

Well, next time, he said kindly as his dog approached with a dead pheasant limply clutched in its mouth. Good boy! he said enthusiastically to the grinning black dog.

After the commotion and back patting–dog and human–stopped, the line reformed. He resumed his position with his gun firmly held in his hand.

Walk, his dad said after a brief look to his right.

His hands gripped a little tighter as he took his first step forward. The only sounds he heard were the ground crunching under his feet, his deep breathing and the excited panting of dogs. Then a rustle, crow and wings beating as a dozen birds rose up in the sky to escape.

He took a deep breath, aimed the gun and tracked the colorful rooster’s movement. He placed his finger on the trigger planning to squeeze it as he’d been taught. Another deep breath, but he couldn’t do it. The birds cleared the air again. He lowered the gun.

Tipsy Lit Prompt: Family Traditions

Tipsy Lit Prompted: Altered Reality | www.tipsylit.com | Original Writing from The 1000th Voice blog

This week’s Tipsy Lit prompt was to write about a family tradition that’s changed. I used that as inspiration and went rogue. Here’s my fictional story, titled The Wake. 

Mom walked toward the front of the room, down an aisle lined on each side with rows of folding metal chairs. The kind that always made froze my little butt. She was gripping my hand and dragging me along with her. I didn’t fight. I didn’t know to fight. We were in a long line of people, dressed in dark clothes, tissues in hand and dabbing at the corners of their eyes.

A lone, sad voice warbled it’s way through “Danny Boy” in a room of huddled silence. A box was up in front of us. A long, wooden one. The top was open and lined with a white, slippery-looking fabric like the dress my cousin had worn for First Communion a few weeks before. Was that her dress in the box, I wondered.

People stopped, looked in to the box; their lips moved as if speaking to themselves.  I squirmed around, trying to see anything, to understand.

I was four, and my grandpa had died. Or went somewhere. The way my mom explained it to me, anxious with sadness choking her voice and tears streaming down her face, he could be anywhere.

The line was slowly getting shorter. And we soon approached the front. I still couldn’t see in. I couldn’t see what was in the box. Why everyone was so fascinated by it. What they were talking about. Mom clutched the worn, gold crucifix at her neck and looked down into the box, whispering what I’ve come to realize was a prayer.

“What’s in there, Mommy?” I said.

“Your grandpa, sweety,” she replied.

“What’s he doing in there?'” I asked and brightened. “Is he playing a game?” She didn’t answer but looked down at me sadness and confusion in her face.

“Can I see?” I’m still not sure why, but my Mom agreed. I wonder what was she thinking as she picked me up and showed me a waxy, white figurine of my Grandpa sleeping. But he wasn’t sleeping. I could see that. Tears welled up in the corner of my eyes, and, as my cousin tells it, I started to bawl like nothing any body had ever seen before.

“Wake him up! Wake him up!” I wailed as my Mom panicked and drug me out the side door. My dad was there.

“What happened?” he asked my Mom.

“She wanted to see; I didn’t know what to do,” she said tears streaming down her face again.

“And you thought that would be a good idea?” Mom couldn’t respond to this.  She’d broken down completely and wasn’t able to think to stand, let alone talk.

I’m not terribly proud of this piece. It definitely needs some work, but I’ve wanted to practice my writing more and share my writing more. What do you think?

Extrapolating Ideas to Develop a Story

As a young, naive would-be writer (read: about a year ago) I believed that a story came from one place or one idea. In other words, it came to a writer whole, and he or she only had to write it down. I didn’t think the job of a writer was easy, or merely as a scribe. I just fully believed their minds were full of brilliant ideas and inspiration in one piece.

I believed that when a fit of inspiration struck, the entire story would be lodged in my brain. And I wondered, what am I supposed to do with these tiny, odd sparks that seem to shoot out of some unknown place in my mind? How do I train my brain to give me a complete story?

I’ve learned that’s not the case. I’ve learned that little fit of inspiration needs to be extrapolated and developed into a greater story. That I need to train my mind to take that scrap and think about how it can be molded into a story. All those scribbled lines of images, scenes, characters and insightful thought need to be considered and molded into a story. It doens’t come all at once (or at least not for most people).

This is where outlining or using the snowflake method can come in handy. Some people can just start writing, but I’ve noticed that my main tendency is to just give up when I’m stuck, when I’ve transcribed that brief insight. And then I never return to it.

Digging through my old notebooks is always a treat. Some of my insightful ideas are downright embarrassing, but some of them seem to hold some shred of promise. Some little scrap of something that could become a story.

#AmWriting

…sort of. I’m here, thinking about what to write. I’m formulating a couple story ideas for Paper Dart’s 800-word short story contest. Yeah, that’s right only 800 words.That should be really easy, right? It seems like it, until you consider how difficult it is to tell a story in 800 words.

Whenever I think of flash fiction, I think back to Raymond Carver’s grim and gruesome, horror piece “Popular Mechanics.” Those who’ve taken a creative writing class that included writing short stories in the curriculum has probably read this piece and admired it for its brevity but disliked it for its unsettling story. It is inspiring, but reading through it once again was enough for awhile. I think I’m fully informed on telling a brief story.

Well, I should be back to the drawing board to fully formulate my winning flash fiction ideas.

Journaling

I’ve kept journals on and off for as many years as I can remember. My very first journal was more of a day book, where I could write one little thing from each day. That wasn’t nearly good enough; I wanted to be much more prolific than that.

It’s fascinating to look back through them. What did I think was a big problem back then; my writing style…it’s all fascinating and a little cringeworthy.

But all the cringeing aside, I’m glad I have them. They remind me of the little details I would otherwise forget. They remind me what it was like to be 12, 14 or even 20. They remind me who I am and how I got here.

And someday when I’m famous and dead, a biographer will really be able to understand what it was like to live with my genius!