Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #418: Thaw

Sidney, Montana, 2002

For though his sins were scarlet,
the white that was the snow
covered them,
preserving them—
that dead body of evidence.
The wife of the man in the snow
thought he’d killed himself,
his children,
abandoned them.
And so it was a silent night,
a lonely night,
the perp freezing in the lake
as the vic thawed in the woods.

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 418

The Saturday Evening Post-It

So I am writing a story to submit to the Saturday Evening Post short story contest.  See:  http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/fiction-contest

I like specific guidelines, one of which is this:  Think local. The Post has historically played a role in defining what it means to be an American. Your story should in some way touch upon the publication’s mission: Celebrating America, past, present, and future. 

I am an American who lives in America, living in a town that supplies endless material (both complimentary and not so complimentary).  Lots of writers love to write about the South (Tennessee Williams comes to mind).  I’d had the road trip for a story all mapped out, until I realized it might be too religious in nature.  It was going to be about a group of four girlfriends, one of whom leaves the comforting folds of Mormonism, and how her leaving affects the rest of them.

My idea preceding that one was going to be about two sisters, Lucy and Emma Potlocki (who go by the “Anglicized” surname of Lock), who seek their fortune by auditioning for the part of Scarlett O’Hara in 1939, then I googled for some information, and that’s when I came upon “The Scarlett O’Hara War”–a TV-movie about just that.  Sometimes you wonder if your idea is original, or, if somewhere, in the back of your mind, it’s a memory.

*

According to Branden Rathert, our local radio host, when one steps into Pensacola, they’re stepping into the year 1927.  I don’t think places like Emerald City (google it, if you want) existed in 1927, at least not openly, though Pensacola does have a church on every corner (and some in between).

However, I will not be setting my story in Florida, but rather in Sidney, Montana, where I was a live-in nanny for three girls.  Since the story has to be fiction, I juiced it up a bit.  My protagonist (I don’t use the term “heroine”, as I think it’s silly, unless she does something heroic) is from Pensacola, but has left home to do just what I did more than a decade ago.  She is LDS (as I was at the time, though I won’t make her religion central to the story; however, Mormonism is a very American religion), and that’s where the similarities between my story and her story end.  Her experience is quite a bit darker (I just can’t help myself) than mine was.

pic1

I borrowed her (and one of the main two plots) from the novel I wrote (“The Fall and Rise of Alfred Bomber”) that she is a supporting character in.  Since it will be quite some time before “Alfred” is finished (meaning edited), I thought Karsen Wood (the name of my protagonist) may as well be doing me some good elsewhere.  I see this story as Karsen’s part-time gig, rather than her full-time career in “Alfred”.  I grew quite fond of her (as she is an extension of me), in addition to the fact that her story gave me something to build on other than a blank screen.

Nonet Poems: My Geography

Writer’s Digest had a nonet poetry exercise awhile back (http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/nonet-poems-poetic-form), so I wrote about each place (with the exception of Poplar Bluff, Missouri), that I’d lived in.  I generally don’t care for poetry forms where you have to be aware of the syllable count (i.e. haiku)–I think it disrupts the creative flow.  These exercises did make me think, though.

I just read an article in Writer’s Digest yesterday that it is good to share one’s work on their blog, so I’ve decided that at least twice a month, I’m going to come up with something to share.

Just a thought:  If you’re ever in a slump, Writer’s Digest has some wonderful story prompts that would serve as springboards for constructing a flash fiction piece.  I’m working on coming up with 100 flash fiction ideas, because that, along with creative nonfiction, seems to be in vogue right now.

Pensacola, Florida

A cavalcade of freaks and weirdos;
meth-heads and potholes populate,
homeless and screaming preachers
stand on every corner.
City of bad news,
Pensacola.
Hell on Earth.
Worst. Place.
Yet.

Sidney, Montana

Strange smells waft from the sugar beet plant,
as snowflakes blanket the grey town.
An isolated enclave—
a moose in every shop.
Meat and potatoes,
the usual
dinner fare.
Hardy
peeps.

Provo, Utah

Psychological lobotomies,
using group-think, mass hypnosis,
created temples of doom
in this mountainous place
of happy faces.
Mormon Mecca,
Jell-O love,
mellow
mouths.

 

provo-mormon-temple16

Balancing Acts

scales-36417_960_720

Beginning in March, my life will be a stay-at-home mom by day, student by night, and employee by/on(?) weekends.  I just got hired at a food co-op, an industry I actually care about (natural and organic foods).  I’m one of those people who always has about seven different projects going on at once, just as my mind is like having seven tabs on the computer open at the same time.  I won’t have as much time for writing as I do now; l miss that extra time already.  Perhaps that’s why I’ve been burning the two a.m. oil every night this week, trying to make up for time I haven’t spent yet.

I have a novel (“The Rise and Fall of Alfred Bomber”) that, after eleven years in the can, I’m going to finish editing and submit to Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Contest; the book is about a Mormon missionary who returns to his hometown of Sidney, Montana (where I was a live-in nanny for nine months about a decade ago) to find that his brother has come out of the closet.  There is also the subplot of the mysterious and elusive “Summertime Rapist” who haunts the tween girls of the town, as he only attacks after the final thaw.

Then there are the three novelettes (see the Sarah Lea Sales page) I am editing for submission to Amazon for digital publication, as there isn’t much of a market for novelettes.

I am also querying and entering as many contests as I can.  My goal, once I start this full-plated schedule, it to submit at least one piece a week, while producing at least one piece or chapter of a longer work in that same time frame.

Since becoming a wife and mother, no longer living solely for myself, I’ve learned to manage my time better.  I think that [time management] is the key to prosperity (see Dave Ramsey’s list, “20 Things the Rich Do Every Day”).  I simply don’t have the time to accomplish all I want to if I spend too much of it watching TV.  I’ve since learned to be choosier with what programs I spend time watching.

I discussed the list with my parents, who interpreted it in an entirely different way than I did.  They saw the list as effects breeds the cause, whereas I saw it as the opposite.  The reason the poor watch so much reality TV, they said, is because that’s all they can afford to do.  They can’t afford to go to plays and to the opera and such.

I saw it as if you don’t spend too much time watching reality TV, but doing (not watching) something more productive, you’re more likely to be successful.  I’m not saying everyone who watches reality TV is a cretin (Megyn Kelly watches “The Bachelor”), but I know television watching has taken the place of book reading for many as the preferred form of entertainment.  When one watches a television program, they don’t have to use their imaginations, but when one reads a book, their imaginations have to fill in the blanks.  One of the preschool teachers at my and my husband’s church said that it wasn’t unheard of for one of her students to inform her that there weren’t any books in their house.  Some didn’t even know how to use a crayon!

What many people don’t understand is that kids don’t have to be entertained all the time.  They may whine at first about wanting to watch TV, and parents let them because it assuages their guilt (that’s my armchair diagnosis), but they’ll get over it and find something else to do.  I think all kids have imaginations–they just need to be given the opportunity to use them.  Maybe kids just don’t have enough work to do anymore to keep them busy.  I told my husband if Hannah ever says she’s bored, she’ll be given something to do that won’t be fun.  That is one sentence I am not going to put up with hearing in my house.

It seemed to bother one of my friends quite a bit when her young daughter said their house was boring.  A few of us told her to give the girl some chores.  What kids need to realize is that life isn’t going to be exciting all the time.  Sometimes it’s routine and mundane, and that’s okay.  There is a time for everything.

I’m no fan of Dr. Phil, but I did agree with him when he said bored people were boring.  I have to say, though I find some things boring, I, myself, am never bored.  I’m not a workaholic (I’m a big believer in having a work-life balance), but I do believe staying busy keeps us happy, as long as we make time for our family and friends.

If we have too much on our plate, we put too much stress on our body, but if we have too little, it leaves us feeling unsatisfied.  As long as we’re always working to achieve that balance, we can live full, happy lives.