Monday, November 2, 2020

Out of the Way

Story A Day September went well. I achieved my goal of writing one story every weekday for a total of 22 stories. Of course, some stink like tortoise poop, while others have potential. 

 

But writing momentum came to a standstill in October. I could not get anything going. Everything I wrote came across blah, flat. I couldn't submit my work anywhere. Nothing I wrote was good enough. 

 

An entry for one of Janet Reid's flash fiction contests had me tearing my hair out (and since I have very short hair, this is a real problem.) I liked my idea but could not for the life of me get it to work. I finally said f@ck it (this is a tortoise friendly blog, people!) and wrote it – fast, sharp, without the usual protagonist and set-up, etc. It was good enough to submit. It didn’t win, but it made Ms. Reid's list of standout entries. Her comments gave me a creative boost and a sense of validation. 

 

Next project – I spent days on an idea I liked, but once written, turned into such a big yawn fest I put myself to sleep. So, again, I said f@ck it (which I really hope is not going to be my new mantra or I'll have to start covering the tortoises' ears.) The new story came together in a day, and off it went to a Crystal Lake Publishing contest. I'm pleased to announce it made the finals!  

 

Both times, I got out of my own way, but more importantly, I got out of the story's way. Sometimes I'm afraid to let the story "go there." To let a twisted protagonist rule. To let an inanimate object own the POV. To let the story roar over the page like a hurricane. To let it slither onto the scene, licking lines with a poisonous tongue. 


To let the story lead the way.

 

*****

 

Here's my entry from the No One Moves to NY for the Weather contest with Ms. Reid's comments at the end. A list of rules apply, like the 100 word limit and the inclusion of the following words: cold, blue, shiver, sox, fox. I hope you enjoy it!

 

She is his oxygen. His passion. His obsession. She just doesn't know it. Yet. 

He is the shiver down her spine. The shadow sliding behind her on the sidewalk. The sly fox slinking in the woods near her house. The presence she senses but does not see. 

He daydreams. His knife traces the cold blue roadmap of her veins. He licks the hot red river it leaves behind. 

She pays attention now. Looks over her shoulder. Watches out her window. 

He has gotten sloppy. She has gotten ready. 

He just doesn't know it. Yet. 


Utterly brilliant. It's not quite a story, but this is stunning writing. 


*****


Are you standing in your own way, with writing or something else? Or have you in the past? Any suggestions on how keep out of the way? 

28 comments:

  1. I don't know - if that mantra is working, stick with it. Yes, I can safely say I get in my own way. Congratulations on just going for it and the stories doing so well.

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    1. Hmm, maybe if I say the mantra out of earshot of the tortoises? Or clean it up a bit. :)

      It's a shame we often get in our own way. I mean, really, isn't there already enough stuff out there doing that for us?

      Thanks so much, Alex! Appreciate it. :)

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  2. Hey! Congrats on making it to the finals and for the shoutout on the notable entry list! That's AWESOME!!

    I've wasted a lot of time being afraid to let a story go places it really seems to want to go. I have yet to regret going there. But I always end up regretting how long it took me to get on board. :)

    And if that mantra is working for you (And that's an amazing mantra, so why wouldn't it...) maybe just say it out of the tortoises' hearing. :)

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    1. Thanks so much, MJ!

      I am so with you on this - "I have yet to regret going there. But I always end up regretting how long it took me to get on board. :)"

      Or I could wait until they're inside their shells. :)

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  3. Brilliant story, brilliantly written. Well done. Sometimes just stepping back for a moment works wonders.

    Your mantra is my mantra at the moment - and we're probably not alone!

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    1. Thanks, Annalisa!

      Ha on the mantra! Although, I do like the line in your post about "taking the biscuit." :)

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  4. Wow, that's really high praise. Congratulations!

    22 stories in one month is phenomenal.

    I usually get to a point in the middle of my books where I freak out because I have no idea how it's going to end. But I've learned I just need to keep writing, and it'll figure itself out.

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    1. Thanks, JH!

      You have faith the story will find its way, will figure itself out. Now, if only we could skip the "freak out" part, right?

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  5. Sometimes saying F**k it and letting the chips fall is the best thing to do.

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    1. I'm definitely starting to realize that. And not just writing-wise.

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  6. Excellent entry and wonderful writing. I'm glad you're managing to get out of your own way. I seem to be having that same problem with my work right now. >_<

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    1. Thanks so much, Loni! Maybe this post will be the kick in the pants you need to get out of your own way . . . starting now! :)

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  7. Wow! Great story. Your writing is so evocative!
    I have to get out of my way, too. I try to have a dog-friendly writing life, but some days, yep, I have to say that to get out of my way. My cat doesn't mind. 😂

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  8. I'd have to agree - that is awesome! I'm in awe of how you worked in all those words. Really compelling writing.

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    1. Thanks so much, Ellen! I try to be creative with the required words, but some people are wildly clever with them - blows my mind. :)

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  9. OMG! I have shivers running down my back. Literally! Stunning writing indeed. Sounds like you are learning to let yourself go creatively, and boy, it's working. So happy for your Madeline! I think you are an incredibly talented writer, and it's a pleasure to see you move forward.

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    1. Wow! Thank you so much, Liza! I really appreciate your comment. I hope to keep growing and improving as a writer - I don't ever want to let my readers down.

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  10. I loved it too. Maybe it should be your mantra. At least until the first million. ;-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  11. That is brilliant! And what high praise. Congratulations!

    The older I get, the more f bombs my brain drops in my head.

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    1. Thanks so much, Elizabeth!

      You know, I'm finding the same thing re the f-bombs. Maybe it's because I wasn't really allowed to say those things when I was younger? :)

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  12. Don't worry about your new mantra... I'm fairly sure it's pretty much become the universal mantra these days. And if saying it helps propel you forward with your writing, all that much better.

    I have to agree with Ms. Reid. You did some absolutely stunning writing in that short piece. Maybe you should use it as a stepping stone scene to something a little meatier... ?

    Keep on keeping on!

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    1. The mantra - when I remember to use it! - really does seem to clarify things, as if it gives me permission to clear away everything gunking up the true focus.

      Thanks so much, Susan!

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  13. Back again and thinking of you. Hope things are getting better. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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    1. Aw, thanks, Anna! Looking ahead and looking forward to 2021! :)

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  14. Sorry I missed this last month, because it is, indeed, brilliant! And with every word, your trademark shivery prose. Loved it!

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    1. Thanks so much, Lee! I always appreciate your support. :)

      (And you, of all people, have nothing to apologize for!)

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