Tag Archives: fiction

Confidants

The bee buzzed a secret to his friend the rose, who swore she’d never tell, but the days grew cold and her head drooped low, the burden too heavy for her withering petals; she whispered the words to a vagabond crow–what could it hurt, this wandering bird–but he sold the news for a scatter of seeds, the tree promising to keep the secret to herself, which she did until the sweet southern wind came around once more, tapping at her door, and her blushing leaves gave it up to him, which is why there’s no honey this sad, sad spring.

~*~

Via confidant.

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Everyone Is A Writer

One of the blogs I follow had a link up to a zillion free romance novels on Amazon today. I took them all because… why not? The lovely thing about free books is that if they’re boring or otherwise unappealing after a page or three, I can toss them aside without a second thought. Well, not literally toss, since these are books on my Kindle, and I’ve destroyed my quota of devices for a while.

But wow… here was another reminder that there are so many writers. So many people have put time and energy into creating a written product, for a hobby, maybe hoping to turn it full-time, and, eventually, the books don’t sell and are given away for free. These aren’t writers like me with a couple reviews from friends ~ these novels have racked up hundreds of reviews. And yet. And still. They’re in the giveaway pile.

Zing. Ouch. Reality stings.

Writing Misc.

I’ve read a few books lately that have broken some “rules.” They’ve mixed first-person and third between chapters. They’ve included pieces of a “destroyed” diary in italics, so the reader would know what was going on when the first-person protag didn’t. They’ve told stories in the present tense, first-person, and then stuck in an epilogue from another character. On and on. Yet, I enjoyed these novels. Just shows to go ya!

*

I don’t have writer’s block. I’m not sure how to describe my “ailment.” I’ve written a boatload of bloggery lately, a bit of it fictional, some poetry for Twitter, etc. I still feel that all my previously outlined story and novel ideas have potential… but I can’t work on them, given my lifestyle.

One, I’m no longer capable of getting up at 5am and writing for a few hours before work. Just can’t do it. Maybe once a week, but not consistently like I did 10 years ago.

Two, I’m not capable of writing fiction for 3-4 hours at night after work. Or even two. I’m tired. I can fling off a blog poast and some texts, but my eyeballs rebel at doing solid screen work.

Three, I’m too OCD to let my cleaning and chores mount up on weekends to write. I need to get stuff done. And I enjoy seeing movies, hanging with friends, and, most of all, spending time with family when I can. I’m not going to give up that stuff to pound out chapters of a book only a dozen people at best will ever read. Not motivated.

But that’s not the same as writer’s block. If I had the time ~ if I were retired, forex ~ I’d be cranking out those stories like I did years ago when I had more energy. They are still in my head. Dunno how long they’ll stay there. That’s a different issue.

*

Conversation with my daughter…

Me: I don’t feel safe putting my documents in the cloud.

Sharon: Why not?

Me: Because I’ve already shared a photo folder with people, so they might be able to see all of them.

Sharon: You’ve sent emails to people. Can they read all your other ones?

Me: Good point.

Sharon: Now I know how Mark Zuckerberg felt in front of Congress.

Mom’s Flowered Suitcase [flash]

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I stood alone at the empty carousel. It had finished spinning out the bags from my flight and mine wasn’t among them. I glanced at the people around me–they were busily texting and briskly wheeling their suitcases outdoors toward ground transportation.

“What did it look like?” The friendly customer service rep was trying to help me find my lost bag as I waited in her office.

I was a little embarrassed. “It was small. And green. With um bright flowers all over it.”

She smiled. “Oh! We have it here. I’m sorry but it seems to have come apart a bit, so we kept it safe.”

“That’s the one.” There was no mistaking the unique floral case the rep brought out from the back. It had been shabby to start with, but now the handle was dangling off and one side was shredded. “It was my mother’s. I guess I’ve had a hard time letting it go.”

“I understand. I could tape it up as a temporary solution.”

As I watched, I thought of the broken vase and the lost earring and the other disappearing mementos. They would all be gone eventually, except for the ones in my heart.

~*~

Flash Fiction for the Purposeful Practitioner #28 -2018 

199 Words

Ch-ch-changes

I just downloaded the WordPress app and so far it seems fabulous! They’ve really improved it since I tried it a zillion years ago. It takes a lot of motivation for me to deviate from my habits, so this is a big deal, blogging from an app. Truth be told, I’m a bit resistant to apps in general, misliking the idea of cluttering up my phone with icons. Why can’t I just use my browser? But this WP app is very nice. Very nice indeed. Of course, now I’ll need to d/l more apps to even out the row, but never mind that.

My motivation is partly due to the fact that blogging from a phone browser is rather clunky, and while I have a semi-solution in my old Kindle Fire, it’s still imperfect. (Hard to access media from there.) Also, I like using one device. I already have a sweet Kindle for reading and the Fire is pure backup, which I like to keep at home.

Isn’t this fascinating? I thought my fans would be enthralled with an OCD data dump.

I’m feeling good about all the things I’ve abandoned along the path toward enlightenment, or death, whichever comes first ~ husbands, real estate, dating sites, Facebook, fiction writing, and thigh highs. Thank gawd I never have to wear stupid thigh highs again! What a dumb invention.

Oh, and sushi. Blech!

Regarding Writer’s Block

Jenga

Dusty commented about WB in my last poast. It’s true that I can’t seem to sit down and force myself to write the things I believe I “should” write, such as the next short story in my epic collection of long connected stories, or even finish one of Anna’s hot romances I’ve left in limbo. But that doesn’t mean I can’t write anything ~ in fact, I’ve been blogging a ton (have actually deleted several ridiculously verbose and pointlessly rambling poasts in the last several weeks before I hit publish), emailing a bunch, and tweeting a twitload. I have even poemed a bit. It’s just the fiction I’m not into any longer and thus have given it up.*

Fiction writing feels like regression. Maybe that’s a lazy copout, but it’s how I feel right now. Writing fiction was an escape from bad times in my life, and my life is no longer bad. I don’t need an escape into a fantasy world of make-believe characters I focus on instead of my own situation. Unlike poetry, which stimulates my love for language, wordplay, and brief, intense emotional exploration, writing fiction feels hollow and fake. (This doesn’t apply to fiction reading at all, which I still love. Or movies dur!)

Writing about real events, however ~ slightly enhanced for entertainment value ~ such as the “dating stories,” is still a lot of fun for me. I was going to write about my trip to the wilds of Los Angeles last Tuesday, the crazy Bentley who tailgated me (a freaking Bentley!), the trippy sidewalks, my adorable granddaughter (I’m a grandmother now, if you didn’t know), etc., but there wasn’t any outstandingly funny moment to regale y’all with, and I’m all about the regaling.

[Just had to delete some amusing nonsense about regal and regaling because the words aren’t related. Dictionaries are our friends! But eccentric comes from outside the circle of normal, which was the WOTD yesterday, and since I can’t sleep in this heat even with a Valium and it’s now tomorrow, that word is definitely appropriate.]

Now, at this point you may be wondering if this poast isn’t one of those ridic rambles that should go into the trash heap… no! First, this is an experiment to see if it’s easier to blog from my old Kindle, since it’s larger than my phone and has a more finger-friendly keyboard. Second, it allows open tabs to be visible at the top, like a puter, which is helpful for switching back and forth when looking stuff up while blogging. Third, it’s difficult to create links when blogging by phone (have not tried the WordPress app) ~ basically have to write them down on a piece of paper and type them in again like a cavewoman. But on my Kindle I can copy and paste like a normal person. However, there is one issue: my bitmojis! I only have access to media already uploaded to WP, no new bitmojis or photos on my phone, since this thing isn’t connected to my phone. Of course, I could save this as a draft and then reopen it on my phone, where all my pics are. But that is not exactly an efficient, streamlined operation, is it now?

I put the previously used Jenga blocks up top, meh. Other solutions were: (1) use a previous bitmoji that didn’t really go with this poast; (2) use an ugly stock WP photo of blocks; or (3) begin some complicated process of installing an app on my phone that will give my Kindle access to photos, but it is 3am and I don’t wannu.

There is a rumor going around I might be getting a Mac, which will render all this angsting obsolete, but in the meantime… the blog abides.

*One of my friends said he learned in a yoga class recently that stress damages the brain and is potentially one of the leading causes of dementia. So, this just proves I’m on the right track giving up stressful things like dating, Facebook, fiction writing, etc. If only I could give up driving, that would be AWESOME!

Oh, now I have to stick on all the tags that will allegedly attract zillions of readers to this poast. Bwahahaha!

My Independence Day

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I celebrated this July 4th by flinging off my self-imposed yoke of fiction writing tyranny. Hurrah! Instead of dumping tea into Boston Harbor, I spilled it all over my laptop and destroyed my keyboard, thereby depriving myself of the means to gaze at the screen wondering why a best-selling novel authored by me doesn’t materialize while I screw around reading the news. Tuesday I had a meltdown while visiting my daughters because I’m so frustrated and stressed over my lack of writing progress and success, so I suspect the tea spill was a subconscious rebellion.

Of course I could buy a new laptop, but I don’t want to. My hard drive is fine and safe, if anyone cares, and most of my stuff is backed up, but I can’t write fiction on my phone. I feel relieved. I spent the day watching movies and doing NOTHING. I’m tired of telling myself that the minute I get home from the office, after typing on a computer all day, I have to start working on a novel or else I’m failing at life. Most nights I don’t even write ~ I just sit there, tired and miserable, staring at the screen, until I crash into sleep.

Maybe my subconscious was also at work when I titled my last book of poetry All She Wrote. At the time, I meant it about a specific situation… or so I thought. In any case, I don’t intend to stop blogging or tweeting, or even writing the occasional pome, all of which are phone-friendly. I’m only talking about giving up the agony of fiction writing and the hopelessness of self-promo. These nowhere goals have been adding to my depression. (I probably shouldn’t use the word depression, but since I allow people with regular bad headaches to call them migraines, I figure I can haz a pass.)

These are the movies I watched yesterday:

1. Spaceballs! So freaking funny. I can’t believe I never saw it before. Loved it. Just what I needed to cheer me up. And whatever happened to Daphne Zuniga? So pretty! She was in a sweet romcom with my honey John Cusack back in the day. What was that? Be my google.

2. Winter’s Bone. Yikes, what an intense movie. I can see the appeal of Jennifer Lawrence now. She is incredible in this utterly bleak yet fantastic film.

3. The Age of Innocence. Generally I don’t like narrated movies, but there are exceptions to every rule, and this is one. What a lovely film. Everyone was superb. Daniel Day-Lewis is such a gifted actor ~ what a shame he retired.

I plan to feast madly on movies and books from now on. Other people have created delicious art and I’m simply going to nom up theirs and shoot down any idea that I need to write a novel, should such a crazy notion ever raise its nasty serpentine head again out of the tangled jungle of my mind. Begone, slithery, sanity-stealing, ego constrictor of doom.

Freedom!

Earning the Ending

HEA

I think most of us like to feel that an ending is deserved in a book or a movie and that applies across the spectrum of genres. I’m only going to discuss romances however. The other night I watched Set It Up on Netflix after reading a glowing review from Vox. Meh. While the office humor was cute, the romance aspect was basically all snark and zero chemistry. The ending basically consisted of the protags going hey we might as well get together now since we’re both free and sarcastic. But there was no real epiphany or character arc or anything interesting wrt either one of them. What’s sort of ironic is that this is how we often behave in real life, since people don’t like to work for things (work? waaah!), which utterly sucks ~ and idk about you, but I want my fiction to be better than real life!

Compare this to one of the best romcoms of all time When Harry Met Sally. The protags change during the film and make the audience feel an anxious longing for them to work through the obstacles preventing them from being together. When Harry runs through the streets of New York City on New Year’s Eve to find Sally, we’re right there with him, feeling his desperation. Harry and Sally both grow as characters during the film (which takes place over a decade) and do more than just snark at each other to create sparks. Think about your favorite romcom ~ you’ll likely agree that the protags have to change and overcome character traits or fears in order to be with their soul mate. This doesn’t just happen via lazy banter and geographical convenience. Love should be earned and fought for, not handed out in the last scene like a party favor.

The same goes for romance novels, which are heavier on the romance and lighter on the comedy (though the best ones are witty too). I recently read two that seemed similar cuz they both were about fictional dukes in England around the same time period, but one had an earned happily ever after ending and one did not. They were both enjoyable, for different reasons, but I gave one 3 stars and the other 4, because of the earned aspect.

In How to Forget a Duke, neither protag changes significantly during the novel other than falling in love. The main issue that keeps them apart is resolved by someone else fixing it, not by either the hero or heroine figuring out a way around the issue or deciding it is not as important as their lurve. That gave me the sads. But in From Duke Till Dawn, both protags change during the novel (and more than once) and have various epiphanies about each other, themselves, and life in general. It’s a really good book and the ending is earned. I didn’t give it 5 stars because I simply can’t bear ridiculous coinkydinks, and if a duke with his massive resources can find people anywhere, why couldn’t he have found Cassandra when she disappeared the first time? Anyway…

I’m glad I stumbled across that Vox article I linked in the first para because it referenced The Daily Beast’s 2014 essay declaring that the romcom is dead, which I hadn’t heard before. Is that true? TDB makes a good argument for it ~ and I haven’t seen many (any?) decent new romcoms in the last 5 years or so. I loved The Big Sick, if that counts as one, but even if… that’s just one. Can you think of any other recent big-screen romcoms?

Oh well, there are still are romantic books to read. Remember books? 🙂

Anything, Everything

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Anything is not possible; everything is not possible. We can begin there. If you disagree with those premises, I think you would be part of another conversation, Childhood Myths 101. Just down the hall.

I’ve always enjoyed fantasy though. It doesn’t seem incompatible to me, to disbelieve in the supernatural and also to entertain the possibility of impossible things. Maybe once, a long time ago, more things seemed possible to me. I think that must be true.

Fiction has to be more “believable” now to me in some ways however for me to escape into it. Forex, I’ll go along with time travel, but I won’t accept a character with a posh apartment overlooking Central Park on a waiter’s salary and no other means of support. Nope. I’m hyper-aware of economics in movies now. It really irritates me when writers give their characters homes and cars way out of their apparent budget sans explanation. But it’s fine if they stick a ghost in that same house. No problem.

It’s very trendy now, ever since Gone Girl perhaps, to give us unreliable narrator/s. One of the first times I can recall digging into such a story was as a teenager with Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing. It didn’t hold up as well on a much later re-read, but regardless it set the concept for me that an unreliably told story was something I enjoyed. The reader has to do more work and I don’t mind that at all. A friend mentioned that Hereditary could be viewed in this light, as a story told completely through the eyes of the schizophrenic son with no supernatural elements involved at all. Interesting idea!

One of the criticisms of romance novels is that they’re “formulaic,” but to the romance reader that’s not a bug but a feature. We want to know going in that no matter how bad the odds look for the future of this couple, no matter how much they appear to “hate” each other when they first meet, and no matter how many miles separate them, they will end up together at the end. The pleasure is in watching them navigate all the obstacles set in their path, knowing they will overcome them because they love each other, simple as that (as opposed to real life where people break up over the dumbest things). I don’t enjoy romances when the protags aren’t struggling to be with each other and it’s only a twist of fate which throws them together at the last mo. Unsatisfying!

I think the Jennifer Crusie romance novel Faking It about art forgery/fraud would make a good movie. Someone should get on that.

I sometimes enjoy an action/adventure movie where the protag (or anti-hero) takes crazy risks when I know he’ll prevail. It’s funny how these films aren’t usually dismissed as “formulaic” while romcoms are, maybe because they’re marketed more to men. It’s fine to be formulaic if we’re talking car chases and gunfights! I never hear 007 flicks disparaged like that. Anyway, I like these on occasion, even though we never get to see the ones where a hero takes a risk, fails, and ends up on disability for the rest of his life. There’s a lot of various suspension of disbeliefs necessary in many of the action movies too, such as why the hero never misses with one shot while managing to dodge a hail of bullets from professional assassins, etc.

I’m ready for some good dramas ~ I was telling peeps this last night. The Seagull was good and I want to see a few more on that level or better. Complex, character-driven stories that stick with me for a while. But I don’t know if any of those are coming up in my area. On my list now: Distorted, The Cakemaker, Mamma Mia, Puzzle, The Spy Who Dumped Me. Assuming any of these end up playing conveniently near me, that is. So tired of seeing my local theaters all overloaded with blockbusters on every screen. BORING. Do not want to see dinos, migraine triggery cartoons, or Star Wars #857. Changed my mind on The King, since it’s not actually about him but the 2016 election. Gahhhhhhhh! Talk about a horror movie.

I go to the movies to ESCAPE from that.

Diamonds, Daisies, Snowflakes…

That Girl!

That Girl

I can’t believe no one guessed the correct answer. Some of you got close with MTM, etc. ~ shows about single brunettes navigating big city life. But alas, nobody got That Girl. I’ve been enjoying reruns on Prime and am just starting the second season. A good friend bought S5 for me as a gift and watching some of those motivated me to start over at the beginning. Okay, let’s discuss…

First, we’ll address the theme song (music only until S5 when lyrics are introduced), which I see via google is not super popular. I guess people hate happy, sappy lists. Does this mean “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music is hated now too? Bye cream-colored ponies, off you go. We’re tossing the crisp apple strudel right in the trash. What the hell is wrong with lists of nice things? Does every piece of music have to be dark and dystopian with singularity death robots clawing out our livers? Eff that. We can haz nice lists.

Second, That Girl is a nice show about nice people, who mostly do nice things and end up getting into mild predicaments. So, you’re thinking omgawwwd boring. No. You know what I’m bored with? Criminals, jerks, liars, druggies, drunks, narcissists, wackos, and psychopaths. But enough about men from dating sites already, eh? Pffft.

Sometimes it’s just darned good fun to watch a show about normal people negotiating the quotidian. Kind of like Seinfeld, in a way… many of TG’s eps are also about “nothing” or nothing more than the minutiae of daily life gone awry via misunderstandings or miscommunications. This was prior to texting and email, so people have to talk to each other face to face to work things out. This generally resolves an issue quickly rather than our current method of trying to “text it out,” which further mires us in the muck of miscomm. Yes, I realize it’s fictional. 😛

Third, there’s a refreshing absence of sex, drugs, and violence. I’m no prude, but I’m just tired of the emphasis on those three things in entertainment. Once they’re introduced, they tend to dominate the script. Ann and Don are steadily dating, but we haven’t seen them in bed. Good. I don’t want to; it’s uninteresting to me. In one of these early eps, they wade in a stream while picnicking and she remarks that it’s the first time she’s seen his ankles. Why? Because they haven’t slept together or cuz he has sex in his socks or what? The questions crossed my mind, briefly, and I’m happy not to know. There’s a mafia ep where the bad guys end up in a food fight then a fist fight but not a gun fight and it’s hilarious. Etc.

Fourth, surprisingly, these old TG eps offer many situations that are still currently relevant. How to maintain a close relationship with your parents when you move away and choose a different lifestyle. Can you conduct a professional relationship in the same office with someone with whom you’re romantically involved? The struggle of pursuing your low-paying dream while juggling two or more side gigs to make the rent. Etc.

Plus Marlo Thomas is funny. So are Ted Bessell, who plays her boyfriend, and Lew Parker, who plays her father. But many actors could have done these roles, imo, including Marlo’s. This is not to disparage the actors, who are certainly fine, but the writers should get the credit for the show. Always credit the writers! Check out that link… interesting.

K, I’m off for more teevee! 🙂