Sweet Little Nothings

Happy Un-birthday.jpg

Born on Leap Year,
she didn’t count her birthdays,
but counted moments like lucky stars
& collected memories like seashells,
so that her life was a list poem
of every good thing that had ever
happened to her,
so that when bad things happened,
she could relive those good things
until she could live the life
she loved
again.

Advertisements

Room at the Top

20180814_131036 (1)

This past week before the fall semester began, I gazed out the window of my office, watching the groundskeepers cut down the bahia grass, sprucing up for the incoming freshmen. The campus, as if it had been in hibernation for the summer, awakened with the earthy tang of fresh-cut grass. Pine straw spread around the trees are like sun-browned nests in a field of green. Moms accompanied their high school grads, the younger siblings tagging along, the air full of humidity and expectation.

The scene made me think of the movie, Liberal Arts, set in an unnamed community college in Ohio. The main character is everyman Jesse Fisher—a thirty-something college admissions counselor who returns to his alma mater to speak at an old professor’s retirement celebration.

My favorite conversation was in the dining hall, when Jesse is sitting across from a moody, brilliant kid he’s unofficially mentoring—a kid who asks him why he liked his time at this college so much, when he just wishes it would all be over, to which Jesse replies, “It’s the only time you get to do this, you know? You get to sit around and read books all day, have really great conversations about ideas…You could go up to everyone here and say, ‘I’m a poet,’ and no one will punch you in the face.”

*

When I got promoted to a higher position in the office I worked in, I had the opportunity to create a flier advertising an essay writing workshop, for which I was able to implement my creative talents (i.e. my wordsmithery and penchant for puns). I never thought I’d be interested in graphic design (as I’ve always hated my computer classes), save for the books I create on Shutterfly, but I enjoyed this project.

Every semester, I am learning more about what I enjoy doing, and could enjoy doing for a vocation.

*

My college’s motto is “Go here. Get there,” but it’s feeling more like “Go here. Stay here”—at least until I can find my niche in the medical field, hopefully, writing newsletters or press releases or something along those lines (pardon the pun).

Even though I will be taking all my classes online, college will be my home away from home, as all four of my jobs will be on campus.

Four years ago, while trying not to nod off in Health Care Law class, listening to a monotone professor read off PowerPoints from an overhead projector, I never envisioned I would be holding two supervisory positions, much less feel capable of doing so.

Despite this, and taking three classes (maybe two), I am undaunted, for, as my dad would say, “the wind is at my back.” I will not have to struggle through any more math classes this last semester before I graduate with my A.A. and my A.S.

The best math professor I ever had said something like “Just love it enough to get through it and then you can go back to hating it.”

I don’t even hate it now; I just hated doing it.

That’s progress.

*

A good friend told me it isn’t the happiness that makes you happy, but the pursuit of it. I pursued security through education, but the process made me happy, for it connected me to people who will become lifelong friends and helped me become my best.

As I’ve learned more, I’ve found myself teaching my daughter things I might not have otherwise thought about—like how the Big Bang was more like the Big Whisper, that Big Toe’s real name is Hallux, and that zero is really the first number. (She will also know how to spell Pi before Pie—that whole i before e thing, you know.)

So even though I know it’s going to be a busy semester, I look forward to all my classes—learning another language (which I like to say is like getting a brand-new set of colors you didn’t know existed), the intricate workings of the human mind (what writer wouldn’t love that?), and humanities in the arts (I predict a chapbook of ekphrastic poetry coming).

Furthermore, I will be writing, editing, tutoring, mentoring, creating, training, collaborating, and doing the kind of office work that frees my mind to brainstorm about the next “Great American Short Story.”

Maybe one day that story will be my own.

Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: Character Matters

coffee

Jezebel wasn’t always a prostitute, Mary wasn’t always the mother of God, & Santa has a life beyond Christmas. https://sarahleastories.com/2015/12/29/writers-digest-wednesday-poetry-prompt-333-theme-exhaustion/

We all transform under the right (or wrong) conditions. Carbon turns to diamonds, water turns to ice, trees turn to paper. A transformative character is more interesting than one who is impervious to change.

Never overly describe a character. Include a few, pertinent details, then allow the readers to use their imaginations to fill in the rest, because nothing slows a story’s momentum than for readers to have to laboriously build a character in their mind according to the writer’s exact specifications.

It’s fine to write a fiction book with an agenda in mind, but never be more passionate about the agenda than the characters.

Authors are no longer limited to one character’s perception when they write from the first-person point-of-view. You can pull a “Picoult” (i.e. Jodi Picoult) with each chapter being told from a different person’s P.O.V. Just make sure the characters you use to tell the stories are equally compelling.

Draw up character profiles, even for short stories. A thoughtful reader will notice if one of your characters has blue eyes at the beginning of the story, & brown eyes at the end.

Every character has habits, or quirks, that make them memorable. The same goes for dialect & certain expressions they use. https://sarahleastories.com/2014/02/17/quirks-make-a-character/

 

#Fiction Friday: #Novelines from the Book

Mormoni

Catholicism was the older sister of Mormonism: The Catholics had their pure nuns, touched by none, the Mormons their women, touched by one.

David’s face was bathed in beams of light, looking like one of those angels on Christmas cards. It was his face that eclipsed the moon.

I called God as my witness that night at St. Mary’s, that David & I would be static characters in the dynamic play we were being written in.

Though we were all invited—we could not enter heaven unless we brought the temple recommend, or invitation— which is how Brother Wiley put it.

The scent of the man David was like incense to my soul. I breathed him in. There was a very visceral part of me that wanted to take him in.

Even as Mother & David belonged together, so did David & I, in our own way—in a way the 3 of us together never could.

The man I thought was Jesus told me He’d been waiting for me all my life, & led me up the aisle like a bridegroom—the moonlight, my veil.

Sweet spices permeated me as His spirit entered. The olfactory sense was the closest thing to omnipresence a mortal could impose on another.

This rapture didn’t spirit me up to Heaven, but rather, gave me a sense of belonging on earth I had never felt before.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #449: Learning (Blank)

lights-1283073_1280

Learning Survival

She had lost almost everything once,
and so she lived
everyday
as if there was someone
or
something
out there,
ready to take it all away.
And because she took nothing
for granted,
she never procrastinated—
always feeling that if she wasn’t ahead,
she was behind.
It was so easy to forget things,
for so much was on her menu
that was added to daily.
Yet she found that by living this way,
although
physically and mentally—
yet never spiritually—
exhausting,
made her better,
her quality of life better,
for she could eat what she wanted sometimes.
Yes, she’d rather work 60 hours a week
and lose her sanity,
but preserve her security,
however temporary.
And the time that she wasn’t working,
trying to make it all happen,
she spent enjoying that which had not yet
been
taken
away.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-449

Sweet Little Nothings

Leave your phone behind

He was a blond seeking a brunette,
scrolling through the gorgeous arrangements of pixels
with impressive stats,
but the day he was separated
from his virtual connection to the world,
he found a deeper connection in the one woman
who was everything the others were not—
whose essence was incense to his soul,
whose taste was strawberry coulis to his lips,
& whose voice was warm to his ear.

Summer Writing Mini-Workshop: Writing Truths

coffee

The basics of journalism (the 5 W’s & 1 H) apply to fiction, as well. If we don’t know who, we won’t care about the rest.

Write long, & then cut it down. It’s easier to have plenty of material to work with than it is to have to “pad something out” to reach the word count threshold.

It is better to take the time to write a new story than to butcher an existing one to fit in a certain word count.

Your characters don’t have to be realistic, if they are representations of real ideals (such as in Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead”).

Writing an analysis of your short story can help improve succeeding drafts, enriching it with symbolism (& making sure all the elements make sense).

Writing is an art, editing, a science.

You will learn more from one character in real life than you will in 140 on Twitter.

If you can’t remember the characters’ names in a book, it wasn’t a very good book.

Plot-based books often get read once whereas character-driven novels get read again & again. Character matters.

A minor character can have a significant impact on a major one.

You don’t have to write linearly. If you have a scene in mind that you’d like to go ahead & write, do so. It doesn’t matter how you put the puzzle together, only that it makes sense when it’s finished.

Don’t self-publish until you’ve had your manuscript professionally-edited. Just. Don’t.