Saturday, September 17, 2011

Satia Saturday Sampler

This is another one from my personal archives, a rough draft for a short story.  First 250+ words.  Enjoy!

William walked in the front door and she was there, Sally, doing her receptionist duty for the first hour of morning, just as she did every morning.  He felt the stir of memory in his penis, the dream from the night before coming back to him although he had tried to forget it.  The dream in which his wife had left him, had found another man, and he had taken Sally home with him, knowing it was wrong, a sin, unprofessional, to take an administrative assistant home with him.  The dream stretching the way that dreams do, three hours of oral sex, mutually performed, before the penetration.

He woke up with a hard on that ached, firmness beyond anything he experienced when he was making love to his wife.

He looked at Sally, behind the desk, without turning his head.  Her top is too low cut, he thought in the flash of perception before escaping to his office.  He flipped the daily calendar his wife had given him, read the Bible text and closed his eyes, saying a quick prayer of gratitude.  Thank you for helping me arrive at the office safely.  Thank you for the job I have.  Thank you for another beautiful day.

He had said at least ten prayers already that morning, prayers of confession, seeking forgiveness for the dream, shamed with guilt for turning over from the dream, still stiff and eager, and seducing his wife.  He should never have used her as a vessel for his lust.  He was sorry.  Please forgive me.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Weekend Writing Prompt from DIY MFA

The following are my responses to the questions posted on the DIY MFA website. There seems to be some issue with the Amazon Associates gadget so the weekly quotes will be a little late this week. Not that this is unusual. But this week I have a reason. Not necessarily a good one.

Weekend Writing Prompt

1) Do you read regularly? If so, how many books per year, on average?
I’m going to say that, on average, I read about one book a week. Now those of you who follow my book review blog are probably balking at this but bear in mind, I am currently unemployed so I have more time for reading than I would if I were working full time. So my answer is more a reflection of my normal reading pace than it is my current reading pace.

2) What are your Top 3 preferred subjects or genres?
I suppose if I were to narrow it down, my top three genres would be fantasy, young adult, and . . . poetry. (I don’t think poetry is a genre. And where would nonfiction works fall? Is memoir considered a genre? What about books on writing, which are typically shelved in bookstores somewhere between the reference books and foreign language and testing resources? I am obviously responding with “genre” clearly limited to fiction writing which is why “poetry” probably doesn’t belong. Okay. Replace “poetry” with “cross genre” or “inter-genre” where more than one genre is merged with another.) 

“Subject” is harder for me to determine. I want to say dystopian novels because I’m such a sucker for those. I also love quirky character driven novels. I avoid romance novels and mysteries because I rarely enjoy them but now I’ve shifted over to genre again. Subject . . . ? That’s a tougher one for me to narrow down. I just read something I thought was interesting in Emily's Quest by Lucy Maud Montgomery: But the materials of story weaving are the same in all ages and all places, Births, deaths, marriages, scandals—these are the only really interesting things in the world (2). I thought this was interesting because how often have we heard that “all the stories” have been told? Too often. However, we are then told “But nobody can tell your story in your way.” But I think I’ve digressed enough. Perhaps the problem here is that I’m not clear what is meant by “subject.”

3) List the last 5 books/magazines you’ve read.
(Full disclosure: I fluffed on this one a bit because I read two books on teaching children back-to-back but I’m reading those to brush up my disused parenting skills now that I am a grandmother.)

  • Poetry 
  • Tricycle 
  • Diabetes Forecast 
  • Prevention 
  • Health 
(Full Disclosure: I didn't actually read so much as flip through the last two. I am surprised by how inane most of the content is.)

1) How long have you been writing regularly?
So long I can’t even remember a time when I didn’t. As an early reader/writer, I filled notebooks with stories and drawings. I used to make my own mini-books, folding paper in half, sometimes even cutting them in half and folding them again into even smaller books. I would illustrate my stories or set a goal to fill a notebook with words, words, and more words. Many of my “ideas” were derivative. This is why I threw out my first novel manuscript, when I was in my early 20s, because I’d written a fantasy that I felt was too similar in plot development. Years later, I was watching The Power of Myth and I realized I’d thrown away a potentially good rough draft because I had done what so many storytellers had done; I’d written a classic hero’s journey fantasy story. I didn’t appreciate then that formulaic writing within some genres is not only acceptable but often expected.

2) Do you have a project you’re focusing on? Or are you experimenting with various things?
Yes and yes. I have a project, a novel manuscript, that I am revising. I also have a collection of short stories I want to which I want to give some attention—the collection is far from complete so I have some more stories to create for it. I also have two poetry chapbooks I need to revise, perhaps adding a few poems to them as well. On top of that, I’ve been requested to write some personal essays. As if that were not enough, I am the editor and copyeditor for a monthly e-newsletter. Sooooo . . . I do a lot of writing and have many different types of writing I do on any given day because of the various projects. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t easily answer the “subject” question above.

3) How often do you write? Is your writing schedule regular or sporadic?
Again, yes and yes. I write daily and some of what I write is scheduled, some sporadic. I certainly don’t sit around waiting for “The Muse” to come to me. On the other hand, there are times when life doesn’t give me a great deal of time and, if I am inspired in the moment, I can’t wait for life to get out of my way. When this happens, I may rush off a piece or at least an outline while the enthusiasm is there. Later I can return to it, flesh it out, see if the idea still holds interest, and move forward from there.

1) Do you belong to a writing group or have writer colleagues who read your work?
No although I sort of have writer colleagues who read my work. I sent part one of my novel (there are other novel manuscripts but I’m focusing on one at this time) to a friend earlier this year and she gave me some notes for it. I then shared the same part with two family members—one a published writer and the other an aspirating one. Both have the education and vocation to be able to give me the feedback I need; the former has already gotten back to me with so much excitement about what she read that I practically feel obligated to revise it now. I am not waiting on comments from the third person. Instead, today I have scheduled part of my day to go over the notes I have, add a few of my own, cherry pick the ones that feel right but keep the others for reference, and I may very well try to revise part one beginning this weekend.

2) Do you participate in workshops at conferences or other live or online events?
I’ve gone to the Wellness & Writing Connections conference a few times. I’ve participated in online workshops, which has been more traumatic than beneficial. I would love to go to more in-person conferences but I’m currently unemployed and unable to afford them. Hopefully, that will change sooner rather than later. I certainly don’t let these “hopes” prohibit me from working on my craft,, however.

3) Do you take time to evaluate the feedback and implement what resonates with you into your work?
Absolutely, assuming I trust the person who wrote the comments. I have a “test story” which I typically give to people for critique and my level of trust depends a great deal on the comments. If I see that the person has enough sense not to trust a grammar check and they “get” the theme of the story, then my ability to trust them grows exponentially. This is not to say this story is flawless but some of the recommendations I’ve received have been an insult to my intelligence (or dare I say evidence of a reader’s stupidity?).

1) Do you have writer friends?
I used to have many writer friends but marriage, children, and more have caused them all to move in directions that left me without a solid writing community. I’ve tried to create writing groups more times than I care to list and haven’t had much luck with those either. In fact, my attempts at getting writing support could be either a comedy in errors or a treatise on how not to find writing support.

2) Do you engage with other writers either face-to-face or online?
I am uncomfortable engaging with anyone online because the anonymity that the internet affords allows some people to be vicious. I’ve also had no success with online writing support but that doesn’t mean I have given up altogether. (Obviously, I would not be involving myself in the DIY MFA if I were completely opposed or turned off.) I think face-to-face is best even if it is not always easy.

3) Are you a member of any writing associations?
I was before I became unemployed and I have a list of associations, by order of preference, which I will be joining as soon as we can catch up on our bills and such. I think it would be a great way to meet other writers and perhaps immerse myself in a new writing community, since I miss my old one so very much.

Weekly Quotes Part 37

Business, you know, may bring money, but friendship hardly ever does.  (297)

Emma denied none of it aloud, and agreed to none of it in private.  (362)

Although I didn’t find Emma nearly as amusing as Pride and Prejudice, I did chuckle at these two quotes I found while reading the novel.  There were probably some other humorous remarks to which I didn’t respond and didn’t end up in my notebook. 

The bottom line is not how fast you make your dream come true, but how steadily you pursue it.  (September 10)

Remember, the longer it takes for a dream to make itself manifest, the more comfortable you’ll feel owning your talent.  (September 11)

Okay, that second one is obviously one of those quotes one uses to pacify the self-doubts and frustrations of striving for a dream not yet fulfilled.  After all, some lucky person who achieves early success can’t possibly appreciate it as much as someone who worked hard for it for decades.  It’s funny the misplaced consolation we desperately grasp to placate our inner demons.

But the materials of story weaving are the same in all ages and all places, Births, deaths, marriages, scandals—these are the only really interesting things in the world.  (2)

Aside from the curiosity I feel as to why Montgomery or the publisher chose to capitalize “birth,” I think this is one of those observations that lends itself to discussion but probably not to debate.  There is the truism—all stories have been told already.  Writers are exonerated and are often told, “However, nobody else can tell your story the way you would tell it.”  And, when you get right down to it, she’s not really far from being absolutely right.  As I said, we could probably discuss this further and perhaps add a point or two to her list but that wouldn’t contradict so much as clarify her initial point.

For any writer, the ability to look at a sentence an see what’s superfluous, what can be altered, revised, expanded, and, especially, cut, is essential.  (2)

I absolutely agree and have no clue how this is accomplished.  This is why writers often need that objective eye, to point out that a beautiful metaphor may not be best placed in a particular paragraph or that a sentence doesn’t read with the same smoothness it supposedly had when it was composed.  For instance, I’m terrible at attribution and I tend to avoid using it but every now and again a “he said” or “she said” would do wonders for clarity. In my mind I know who is speaking so I can’t hear that I’m being vague but another reader can.  And, when I’m very lucky, they are a good enough reader to point it out to me.

Where Are You Starting From? « DIY MFA

Where Are You Starting From? « DIY MFA:
I wanted to share this link with you, my readers. This MFA blogger is offering some MFA tips and tricks for those of us who cannot take a full MFA course ourselves. No, you won't get a degree when all is said and done. But if you're looking for some inspiration to get your writing momentum moving, this might be a good way to get it going.
If you jump into this, leave a comment. Maybe we can encourage one another, check in from time to time, see where we are and where we're heading. If nothing else, maybe I'll see you commenting over there and say, "Oy! I know that person!!!" 'via Blog this'

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wondrous Words Wednesday

Image from this site.
Here yes, a deep grey, with dark eye-lashes and eye-brows, had never been denied their praise; but the skin, which she had been used to cavil at, as wanting colour, had a clearness and delicacy which really needed no fuller bloom.  (168)

intransitive verb : to raise trivial and frivolous objection
transitive verb : to raise trivial objections to

I obviously am taking some liberties with the illustration on this one because that's Henry Cavill, who played Charles Brandon on the SHO television series The TudorsBut I really couldn't find an appropriate image to clarify  the meaning of the word and look . . . he's so pretty.  I also wanted to point out that for years I didn't know how to spell grey or colour because I'd read a number of British books when I was quite young and, as a result, I "misspelled" these words, as my teachers were eager to point out to me.  I still second guess myself sometimes but I think I'm more consistently American than not.

Image from this site.
I must do my caro sposo the justice to say that he need not be ashamed of his friend.  (283)

An example of a word, or in this case a word phrase, I did not need to look up.  I assumed that it meant "dear spouse" or something along those lines.  I further guessed that, had the speaker been talking about a female spouse, it would have been cara sposa.  I looked it up and my assumptions were right across the board.  As for the image I chose, it amuses me that if you google "wedding cake toppers funny" images like this are so common.  Not because I think these wedding cake toppers are amusing.  On the contrary; I find them tasteless.  But within the context of the quote, the image is somehow apropos because the speaker, Mrs. Elton, lacks in good taste and manners.  What I find amusing about it is that there are so many examples of these insulting wedding cake toppers and it probably is more indicative of my ongoing profession that I am not so much commitment phobic as I am committed to the sanctity of marriage.  I shudder to think the destiny of a couple who chooses this as their wedding cake topper.    

Image from this website.
She was a little shocked at the want of two drawing rooms, at the poor attempt at rout-cakes, and there being no ice in the Highbury card parties.  (294)

There is a recipe for these in The Jane Austen Cookbook by Maggie Black & Deirdre Le Faye.  Interestingly enough (or so it is to me), there is a Kosher recipe available on this website which is slightly different from the one in the book.  Hands down, however, is the discussion of rout cakes I found here.  Now I think I need to do some baking.  I'm hungry.