Lockdown Lessons

Many are saying that 2020 is the worst year ever. And I agree, I never would have chosen to stay-at-home. Many are suffering in ways that breaks my heart.

But if you are a glass half-full optimistic type person, there are silver linings. (I have been on a cliché kick lately). For some of us, this has been a time of reflection of our lives, and a time to ask for divine wisdom on where to go once the doors are open to rebuild.

I learned the joy in writing posts.

I learned that God provides in unusual ways, requiring me to step out of my comfort zone in two separate situations.

I have reassessed my writing projects, putting one on the back burner: my Coos Indian flash fiction series. I am writing my first sonnet, and I have to say I hate it. I will do it once to say I did one. Not all bucket list items are fun.

I opened my college grammar book, and decided it was time to brush up.

I have heard the phase “New Normal.” I don’t accept it. I see the major writing magazines writing many articles around this concept, and in a few this concept has taken center stage over their main mission – writing encouragement and advice. I enjoy writing as a hobby and hoping to touch a few lives out there, so I don’t read many articles on publishing. But I have been taking notice of the writing industry and how it will change in the days ahead, in this cultural war.

Banana Curls

“Suzie, stop that—makes you look unattractive. Go put on your leotard and get your coat on and gather your tote for ballet class,” said her aunt.

Suzie glared at her, twirled a fast and furious pirouette, and sacheted out of the entrance hallway to her room. She couldn’t remember where she had placed her leotard last and started tossing items high in the air, looking before they hit the floor again. She finally found it, pulled it on. She grabbed her tote, and added one more item she might need.

Her aunt came to her room to make sure she was getting ready. “Did you wash your leotard since the last practice? She walked over towards her, taking a whiff of the air. “Suzie, we don’t have time to wash and dry it. Just look at this room-how can you stand it? Hurry up and get your coat and let’s go, we’re running late.”

They walked to the car and her aunt drove fast to her hair appointment. Suzie clutched the door arm turning street corners a couple of times. At least it distracted her from what the other girls might do or say when they saw her hair.

Suzie held her nose at the smell of the permanent solution. Having to sit in the beautician’s chair for over three hours made her squirm like a puppy in a cage. The beautician was running late, being late for ballet class a possibility. No, she couldn’t get just get a body perm; her aunt thought banana curls were oh–so–cute.

They opened up the front door and the girls were sitting on the benches tying their toe shoes. Some of them looked up, their eyes widening, then nudging the ones who did not notice. Suzie grimaced, the silence of those looking away worse than the giggles.

Her aunt sat in the parent’s section. Suzie sat on the bench, away as much as possible from the other girls and pulled out her toe shoes from her tote and tied them on. The teacher called the class to order, earning Suzie’s gratitude. The class was rehearsing for the Christmas recital.

After class was over, Suzie took off her toe shoes and put on her street shoes, then put them in her tote bag and carried it to the bathroom. She locked the door, and took out the pair of scissors she had put in her tote, and took a satisfying snip for each banana curl, dropping them one by one into the garbage can. She looked at herself in the mirror, admiring her handiwork. She took a deep breath and opened up the bathroom door, closing her eyes and opening them to her aunt’s disgusted face.

Flash Fiction Tidbit

To make a story whole, the story needs an arc and character. That’s difficult in a short work. The people that are best at it are the folks that have the ability to create the iceberg, with 10 percent of the story showing up and 90 percent below the water.

Gregory Jeffers quoted in July/August 2020 Writer’s Digest

Have a blessed weekend!

Flash! Thoughts

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I am reading John Dufresne’s Flash!. When I was looking for books on writing flash fiction, there were not a lot of choices. With stories that are so small, it would seem that there is no need to write a book about them. But they have the same elements that other stories or novels do, just much more condensed. Upon reading Flash!, I know I picked a good one.

He devotes a good part of the book using flash fiction stories as illustrations to the points he is making. And they are well-chosen. Humor makes it a fun read.

In the “Writing a Short Story; Writing a Very Short Story” chapter, he shows you how step-by-step to write a first draft, using a situation of his own. One thing that he stated that surprised me was the first draft should have the same amount of material for a short story as a flash fiction story. Then comes the editing and condensing.

If a novel is the art of the gaze, and the short story the art of the glance, then the very short story is the art of the glimpse-a gleam or flash of light.

John Dufresne

New Social Media Site

As I mentioned in a previous post, writers need to plan for the days ahead as the lawmakers deal with the censorship issues. I was undecided on which to use as a backup to Twitter, knowing that it may in the days ahead become my main social media site. I have even contemplated getting off of social media if Twitter bit the dust.

I had tried Parler a year or two ago, but did not stay long. But today I watched Congressman Devin Nunes’s interview with the CEO and founder John Matze. One major thing that Nunes mentioned was a user can parley (their version of tweet) up to 1,000 characters – enough for almost a short story.

Since I am currently reading John Dufresne’s FLASH!, this caught my attention. That is roughly enough space for a flash fiction story. And they are working on monetizing the platform very soon.

This is not an endorsement: I just opened my account today. But I am hopeful for a productive and censorship free experience – a moral one! – but censorship free. The user interface is much more agreeable than Twitter. My handle is @hrenell.

Parler is a French verb meaning to speak.