Archive for October, 2013

Simpler Days

Inspired by this week’s picture prompt

I never felt so alive as when I was with her. Maybe it was the way the sunlight always streamed in, turning everything it touched into gold. Maybe it was just me, since I was such a young thing, and quite impressionable. The first time I saw her, I was sitting, as I always was, in the gazebo at the end of Clover Park. It was always so desolate that time of day, and that’s why I took such notice of her. I noticed her radiant, raven hair, her contagious chuckle. She started to come at the same time of day, always after dinner time but before dark, almost every week night. Some days she’d talk, and I’d just listen, fascinated. “I really enjoy this time with you,” she’d say. I could’ve sworn I blushed. “It’s funny how things work,” she told me one day, her smile sparkling. “When I met you, I didn’t know how wonderful you are. I never thought this would happen.” I never thought so, either. You see, I’m not composed of flesh and bones, like most are. I’m cast iron and wood, and I’ve always let that define me. Until I met her. With her, things were different.

One evening, she stood up, and I thought she was about to leave. I longed to tell her to stay – stay forever. Then she told me something more beautiful than I could’ve imagined. Her voice started soft, and then gained volume as she gained confidence. “I’m telling the world that I’ve found the one.” She grinned from ear to ear. “I’ve found you, and that’s all that matters.”

I thought nothing could ruin our moment. Something did. I saw him, walking towards the gazebo, towards us. She threw her arms around him – not me, but him.

“So you’ll marry me?” He asked.

“Yes,” she cried, “A thousand times yes.”

How could she desert me like that? As she embraced him, I that she grasped something in her hand. A rectangular object. Now that I thought of it, she’d been holding that object to her ear during all or our talks together. I couldn’t believe it. Maybe she’d been talking to it all along. Maybe she didn’t mean any of the things I thought she said to me.

Well, in the ensuing months, I suppose I went through the five stages of grief. It’s rough – unrequited love. I went through a nostalgia phase. Why couldn’t she just come back, so I could hear all her beautiful words again? I longed for simpler days. Then I went through a phase of self-doubt. I was just a cast-iron bench. I sat in the gazebo at the far west end of Clover park, and she never stopped by to see me anymore. No one stopped to see me anymore. Why? It was because I was different. I was not made of flesh and bones, as they are. It’s hard to be discriminated against, especially when I couldn’t change who I was. Then I came to a realization, that just because I was different from them, it didn’t mean I wasn’t important. I had a purpose. Without the gazebo, without me, would the two of them have gotten together the way they did?

It’s been two years. I’ve quite reconciled myself with what happened. Last week, she started coming back – well, it was him, her, and a tiny, sleeping baby. I don’t mind the differences between us. She still has radiating hair, but now her smile radiates too, and with joy.

No, I am not flesh and bones, but I made someone happy. I realize now that bringing joy is the most noble of any accomplishment.

Picture Prompt – The Bench


Where is this bench? Why is it empty now? Was the bench placed in such a place in memorial of anyone or anything?

Stay tuned for this week’s prompt stories, and share your creation in the comments!

Why We Should Write

By: Rebecca Taylor

 

The writing world is often scary. Like the globe, it stretches far and wide and there are many paths and avenues we can follow. For example, should we make writing our careers or should we choose a career that is a bit more certain. I opted for the latter option, based on sound advice years ago. This doesn’t mean, I don’t still write as you can see because you’re reading this. Despite the fact that it is scary and exhilarating, often all at the same time, why should we write?

 

1. I think it’s in our blood. If we’re meant to do something we will, for me, writing is one of those things, it is therapeutic, it is good entertainment – I can spend lots of time doing it without spending much money.

 

2. We have something to say, and we need to say it. Writing can help you get it out there.

 

3. Writing is a discipline and it requires editing. This is a good thing because sometimes when we have something to say, it requires proper thought formulation in order to make it convincing and not a rant. Editing can help us filter the writing so we only keep the necessary points.

 

4. To challenge ourselves. Yes, we’re going to be rejected but we have to understand that that doesn’t mean we didn’t have valid points in our articles, that our poems weren’t humorous or poignant, that our short stories and novels didn’t have great characters that were relatable. It just means that at the time that our work was read by a panel, or one or more editors, that their publication didn’t have the need for what we wrote or it didn’t strike the same emotions in them that it did in you. We all like different things, we all feel different ways when we read different pieces. It all comes down to interpretation. So we pick ourselves up, ponder the letter if it has constructive personalized comments in it and pick up our pen or head back to the keyboard and get to work again.

 

5. Whatever, the reason you write, you must keep at it, because as we write we grow. We learn new skills, develop new ideas and sometimes we get a yes on our writing. Getting a letter or e‑mail that says I want your work, is an amazing feeling and we want more of it, so we continue our craft.

Writing Buddies

On why it’s important to have a writing buddy:

1. You can bounce story ideas off each other and figure out the focus for a story.

2. You can each write a story with various parameters (i.e. same title, character with certain personality traits, same setting) and they will turn out vastly different.

3. After reading each others stories, you can give great critiques!

4. You can analyze your stories and try to identify what personal experiences affected your story which helps you learn more about yourself.

5. Writing buddies understand you on a deep level. You can geek out with them!

 

 

21 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Write

Because we all need a kick in the pants sometimes.

  1. Bribe yourself. Example: If I write for two hours, I will go buy that hat for myself.
  2. Put on inspirational music while you write. Examples: movie soundtracks, classical piano, instrumental versions of your favorite songs
  3. Set a timer.
  4. Eat a meal before you write. You’ll have energy, and then the distraction of “I’m hungry” will have no place in your writing session.
  5. Have an accountability partner waiting for a word count of how much you wrote.
  6. Have a reward waiting for yourself after your writing session. Examples: chocolate, pie, a movie
  7. Set a realistic word count goal. Example: I will stop writing once I have added 900 words.
  8. Set a scene goal. Example: I will finish the scene in which Renée meets her grandma for the first time.
  9. Find a word war Facebook group, and actually word war with other writers. (A word war a timed race in which writers race to motivate each other. It’s invigorating and wonderful.)
  10. Set a water bottle by your desk. Every time you find yourself griping about writing, take a drink. Pretty soon you’ll be so sick of water, you’ll be begging yourself to stop drinking, stop complaining, and just write.
  11. Turn off your Wi-Fi signal or unplug your internet cable. Twitter and Facebook? Let them be a reward after you write.
  12. Write somewhere new. Examples: coffee shops, parks, your front steps, libraries, restaurants, your attic.
  13. Invite a writer friend over and have a writing session together.
  14. Drink several cups of coffee before you write. This can make for interesting scenes.
  15. If you don’t a have a deadline for your current writing project, give yourself one.
  16. Think of why you began writing in the first place. Use your reasons to motivation yourself.
  17. Think of your characters. Until you write their next actions, they are frozen in time, trapped forever in nothingness. Stop being cruel and write them back to life.
  18. Writers write. Don’t be a hypocrite.
  19. Realize that you have potential as a writer and then write. Smart people have potential and use it. Stupid smart people have potential but choose not to acknowledge what they could do. Don’t be a stupid smart person.
  20. Use reverse psychology. Remember any time when someone told you that writing was a silly or delusional or the like. Use that to empower you and prove them wrong.
  21. After you read this list, do not Google more ways to motivate yourself to write. Just rip off the Band-Aid and write. You’ll feel better once you do.

Froid Snowflake’s Journal

by: Rebecca Taylor

(this was a contest entry to a Perspectives Magazine challenge a few years ago).

*************

Dear Reader,

 

            What a day this has been, a true test of my fate, you can read my journal entry to find out more.

 

March 19th, xxxx

 

Dear Journal,

 

            Here we are the day before spring, what a day it has been. This morning I awoke as my alarm clock started playing Anne Murray’s “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” the sunshine was gleaming on the snow outside my window in Winterland. When I first woke up, I could not believe that I had spent the night having a terrifying yet fulfilling experience. I spent the night dreaming about a couple that needed my assistance in getting back together, so with a group of snowflake friends, we knocked out electric and telephone wires and brought them back together. It was very romantic. I was just sitting up in bed this morning, when out of nowhere the Spirit of Spring appeared, a frightening experience, his dark eyes were like sketch pads and his heart was aflame with powerful emotions. He was dressed all in grass green and on his head was a straw hat that was topped with a bird’s nest figurine. He was opaque yet you could see the flames in his heart, the sight of him made me shudder. I had a difficult time identifying his odor; it was a mixture of flowers, rain and mud. He stood there at the foot of my bed for several minutes before speaking.

            “I am the Spirit of Spring; I am here because you need to learn the real meaning of appreciation.”

            “But I already know about appreciation,” I answered, “I just had a dream about it. It has made everything a lot clearer.”

            “You may understand some of your life better now, because of what you did in that dream, but dreams don’t take away fears, only make you face them if you’re strong enough to try.”

            “The dream must prove what is going to happen on hopefully my last trip to Earth.”

            “It only proves what you want to happen. Do you have enough courage to go to Earth and face the crowds and the cold and the unknown?”

            “Why are you here? This has nothing to do with Spring; it’s Dr. Frost who gave me the assignment.”

            “There are many different reasons why a Spirit like me could come to you. Let me tell you why I’m here, you’re feeling guilty because you don’t really care about what happens to Craig and Jolene Freshman, you just want to be able to retire. Your job is to make them proud to be touched by a snowflake, but if you’re selfish you can’t do it.”

            “Maybe so, but still why are you here, it’s still winter and I’m a snowflake, so why didn’t the Spirit of Winter come to me, not you.”

            “It’s the last day of Winter; I was wide awake and raring to go, Spirit of Winter is very busy working with the Seasonal Council on deciding how his season should leave. I have a meeting with them later to go over the forecast. Weathermen, hog wash, only the Seasonal Council with the Spirits of the Seasons can control the weather. The trouble is that sometimes our signals get messed up and there are devastating effects. Anyway, that’s a different story than what we’re talking about, if you’re going to make a real difference before you retire, you need to really care, because otherwise you may be sent to the Freezing Rain Squad, and you know what that means with your temperature issue, instead of returning to Winterland to retire. Role models are needed, can you be one?”

            “Yes, I can, really I can, I’ll do better. I promise.”

            “The Ruler of Snowflakes will hold you to that, remember either you do a good job or else you’re going to be ice, literally,” replied the Spirit of Spring, and then he was gone as quickly as he had entered my bedroom and as strangely.

Spring time is a time for new beginnings which often mean changes, and I wondered what this meant for me, would I succeed on my earthly mission or would I end up desolate in the Freezing Rain Squad, a dismal ending for a snowflake, if your destiny is to be freezing rain, that’s one thing but I was born a snowflake and that is how I would like to stay. Could I embrace my fears and then return to Winterland where I wanted to spend the rest of my life or was I going to be shipped off to stand a different fate. It was the not knowing that made my snowy fingers tremble. Well, Journal, I guess there isn’t much more to say but that I have to get going and see where my life is heading,

 

Until I write again,

 

Froid.

 

            I closed my journal and heard the clasp go snap. I headed to my closet and picked up my suitcase and headed for the door, for a brief moment I contemplated turning around and repacking, I was thinking about running away instead of taking on the mission that Dr. Frost had given me but I knew I couldn’t because then maybe I would end up as freezing rain and I could not let that happen to me. With suitcase in hand I reflected on the items inside, a stress ball to calm my nerves when I became encircled in crowds, a book of poetry because I thought maybe somehow I could use it on the unhappy earth couple, a package of sparkles and a paint brush, which I did not know how I might use them but when I was shopping had been drawn to them. And just before I plummeted softly to earth with the gentle guidance of the wind, I faced the public, which I could not see but knew were there, and said, “Remember you can try to run from your fear but you’ll only be hurting yourself because the one thing you cannot run from is yourself.”

Maybe…

“Maybe we could just leave,” I told my friend Kathy as we watched the people walk by the bench we were sitting on.

“Go to the airport?” Kathy suggested.

“Buy a ticked for Nowhere, Anywhere. Hop on that plane and see as the world becomes as round as we’ll ever see it,” I replied, thinking of the yummy pretzels they sometimes hand out on planes.

“Let’s make it international.”

“Yes! Then we can have the TV’s with good movies during the flight,” I said with a wishful smile.

“There might even be a yummy flight attendant,” she stated casually and then looked over and smiled at me. “Or maybe there would be two.”

“Yes please. I just want to leave, get away from the dullness here,” I said as we watched a weird, ugly red car drive by.

We both digested for a moment.

She sighed. “I know, I know. But there isn’t a way for that to happen with a good outcome.”

Her reply reminded me of what we had. She could read what I was thinking and know how I felt about it without me explaining it. We hadn’t known each other for too long, but we knew a lot about each other and interacted quite well nonetheless.

An old man walked by us and stared about ten seconds longer than anyone wants to be stared at by an old man.

“We could have left with him, he seemed very keen on taking us home,” I pointed out, giving Kathy an I-know-you-want-to look.

“I was picturing more of a paradise. Either Maui or Madrid, something nice,” she responded, a look of sadness crossing her face.

I knew I had gone too far.

Those were the times I couldn’t believe she would be my friend, the times when I brought her down with my negativity to my critically realistic look of life.

I forced a smile. It looked real. I knew because faking a smile was something I did more often than I let myself think back in those days. “Oh, I bet he’s got a winter vacation house in Maui.”

She smiled back, because she was someone who I could train to smile when I wanted them to smile. Someone who I knew I had that sort of charismatic authority with, who I could make feel better even if I was lying about how I felt or who I thought I was.

“Well, here comes the bus, so we are leaving. Just not quite the direction you were hoping,” she told me, laughter in her eyes. And I felt a little bit better.

Or maybe I was faking it.

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