Monthly Archives: February 2012

First Campaigner Challenge

This first challenge was, well, challenging. The assignment was to write a short story (or flash fiction) of 200 words or less, beginning with the words, “Shadows crept across the wall.” To make it more interesting, we were to try to (a) make it 200 words exactly; (b) use the word “orange” in there somewhere; and (c) end with the words, “everything faded.”

I’m pretty sure my feeble attempt below doesn’t qualify as “fiction.” It does, however, qualify as “short,” coming in at exactly 200 words, which should make up for the lack of a title, which I don’t have because my brain is fuzzed.

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“Shadows crept across the wall…”

I hear naught (naught?) but my fingers drumming on the mouse pad. My muse must have drifted off.

“Shadows crept across the wall…tippy-toeing like little cartoon burglars…”

Cartoon burglars? Really?

“…stealing what little light remained within the…” Within the what? Within the courtyard? Gymnasium? Bathroom?

I know! A prison cell! A bunch of prisoners in orange jumpsuits… but not all of them in a prison cell, packed in like a bunch of college students in a phone booth. No….a prison exercise yard. It has walls, it’s outside, so there could, believably (maybe?) be shadows creeping across some walls. Without doing any extensive research, though, I can’t think why those shadows would be creeping across those particular walls…surely there are other, more important things for shadows to be creeping on.

Like, in a forest, dusk approaching, the air cooling, getting heavy with dew, settling silently on the forest floor as shadows creep in slowly, malevolently muffling the sound of footsteps…

Again, really?? Where’s the conflict? The subtext? The plot?

The point?

“…malevolently muffling the sound of footsteps behind me. I turn and come face-to-face with a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit.”

And, then…YES!

“…everything faded.”

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4th Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign

Here we go again!

Rachel Harrie is hosting another Writers Platform-Building Campaign (for which, in my humble opinion she deserves unlimited kudos), and I am looking forward to participating again. These campaigns provide participants with a safe environment to test the boundaries of their creative comfort zones…and if you’re anything like me, you have to be coerced, conjoled, or flat evicted! They also help increase blog traffic by introducing everyone to other like-minded writers…not to mention other unlike-minded writers, which is even better!

I’m looking forward to the first challenge – which I equate with a roller coaster ride (not an original metaphor, but apt). I get in with shaky knees and a queasy stomach, the whole time mentally cursing whoever talked me into doing it.

But, I know I’ll be proud of myself for just getting on…

Wall Boinging does Not a “Plan” Make

I’ve been 60 years old for almost two weeks now, and I’m discovering that turning 60 is the equivalent to pulling up stakes and moving to another continent. I find myself in an unfamiliar culture with different goals and objectives…and different priorities. This move from one decade to another has, quite unexpectedly, brought confusion, disorientation…and a questioning as to how the heck I got here in the first place. Like Dorothy, I’ve come to after hitting my head on a birthday, and I find myself in the middle of Oz, but without Toto to administer a much-needed reality check by peeing on the yellow brick road.

In short, my comfortable complacency has taken a hike, am-scrayed, gone bye-bye. And with it, all sense of direction.

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never been a goal setter, which is turning out to be somewhat problematic. For the first time in my life, I’m really feeling the absence of a “plan.” And, I haven’t the first clue on how to make one up. Even if I knew how to make up a “plan,” I’m not certain one “plan” would be enough in light of how many things I’d like to accomplish. Therefore, I find myself living haphazardly, to say the least, boinging off one wall or another, trying to decide how and where to invest my precious (but aging) resources. I’m at a crossroads, yes, but instead of having three directions from which to choose—left, right, or straight on—I’ve got a hundred, minimum. And there’s a road sign with an arrow pointing at every single one, saying “turn here.” None of those road signs sports a destination, either, like “write book – 15 miles.” They just say, “turn here.” And, I can’t stay where I am because I’ll get run over by somebody a lot smarter than me who does have a “plan.”

The irony is that one of the more positive aspects of getting older is finally having time to oneself (which I’ve written about here before, so this particular neurosis is not totally unexplored). But, I think it has finally sunk in, become more fact than fiction, that while I may have more opportunities for quality time, the quantity of time itself is diminishing. I feel a lot of pressure to use it wisely—and as a result, panic begins to bloom like adolescent acne.

And with the panic come the voices.

“You’re taking all this wayyy too seriously.”

And, “What’s the point…you won’t succeed anyway.”

Followed by, “Whadaya doing? You haven’t got time for all this thinking.”

But, the voice that does me in is the one that says, “You’re gonna neglect your hubby, and then your marriage’ll go straight to the south pole and you’ll grow old and die alone, and have nothing left to show for your life.”

Sheesh. And I thought my five-year-old grandson talked a lot!

If I’m totally honest with myself (and it does happen from time to time), I’d have to admit I should have seen this coming. I do know how to count, after all. I just didn’t think it would be so, well, real. Or so immediate. After all, it seems like it was just yesterday that I was 59.

And at 59, you think you have all the time in the world…

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