Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Writing"

Category "motivation"

March 13, 2010

Thoughts on my Journal-in-a-Jar project

I wanted to record some of my thoughts on this writing project before I forget. In my typical organized, bullet-point style of thoughts, here is what I think about it:

Overall, This Journal-in-a-Jar project has jump-started my writing practice again, so it's a perfect gift to me. I've created a category for Journal In a Jar, so I can go back and re-read from the beginning. I think I'll do that at the end of my first year of this project.

Next topic: Did you wish you had more (or fewer) sisters and brothers? Why? Oooh, sister, are you reading this! ;-)

Posted by carl1236 at 6:31 AM | Journal in a Jar | Writing | motivation

Category "Art"

Category "Attitude"

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Learning"

Category "Life"

Category "Writing"

February 21, 2010

What do books mean to me?

Irrelevant as some material may seem, it's still something to read. Why do I read anyway? Today I am writing about what books mean to me. I read because there is relevancy in the words we write as human beings. There is relevancy in the act of expressing ourselves because we are relevant. The book, the paper, the font, and the language used are not the relevant part of the story. Susan Weinstein wrote in an article, "We are English because English isn't about books; it's about us..." It's about our conversations, debates, stories, beliefs, criticisms, poems, loves, losses and joys. Our books reflect our human lives as we see them or can imagine them. Books are relevant to me because people are relevant.
Sometimes insolent is a better word to describe some of the books I read. The author's contempt is so thick it can be cut with a knife. But that comes from somewhere and that author may be coming from a position of fear, anger or a belief in something so strongly that it is expressed with insults and force. Do I have to read this kind of material? No, but sometimes I do and I find it relevant to the human experience. Maybe if I am too shocked or insulted by the writing it is my own insolence that is preventing me from seeing the source of it.
When books, irreverent or praising march before my eyes, they are useful to me. In the case of satire pieces, paying proper respect is not desirable and rather inhibits our sense of humor. I am a big fan of satire because I think we take ourselves too seriously sometimes. I love comic strips because of this. I love reading the Onion newspaper too because they don't hold any idea or person too high to laugh at. And I don't want to take my ideas so seriously that I cannot laugh about them.
Digging into my ideology is a key endeavor for me. Books are like mirrors on what I believe and don't believe. We all form our own ideas about human life around us. Sometimes our ideology is the same as what we are taught by our religions or teachers. But I own my own beliefs because I have systematically built them over my lifetime. When I read a book I get a chance to see what I believe about how things are and how I came to where I am at.
And digging leads to introspection about my life. I am a very reflective person and I meditate on the thoughts presented in books and on my own attitudes. Books are great for bringing attitudes to light so I can look at myself. I definitely feel a certain way and react a certain way to the things I read. I experience emotions like anger, sadness, joy and surprise. Books help me to see what I believe and think about and then examine my beliefs.
All that thinking can be insightful. It can lead to solutions to my perceived or real problems. Especially when I read something that changes my mind. For instance, when I'm struggling with how to approach a problem at work or with the people in my other activities, I find that reading helps me understand and solve my problems. I recently read a book about organizational structure and it helped me understand why the top-down hierarchical model was unsustainable in our type of non-profit organization. This was a change from my normal way of thinking about leadership and decision making. Seeing and understanding why something works the way it does is a key to solving problems.
And there can be such good information available to us in books, coming out of people's real experiences. It would be a shame if the flow of information is somehow turned off, inhibited, directed or restricted. That's one thing that happens in dystopian books like Fahrenheit 451 and 1984. The internet also is a huge source of new and old information. More and more information is being put online with greater access by a broader range of people. And the format of information is changing as I type this. The time it takes new information to get to the masses is decreased to milliseconds instead of months. And this also leads to greater collaboration and better information.
As a result of reading books, my intelligence is greater than it was last year and certainly greater than it was as a child. I credit books with that. I learn a great deal from books. How could I not learn if I continuously read?
Whether a book proves good, bad, or ugly, inspiration can be sparked and I will be on fire. I wrote two novels using bits and pieces of things that I have read. And the material presented in arts and crafts books invariably weaves it's way into my creative new work. I don't believe most of the conspiracy theories I read, such as those in books like the DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown, but that doesn't stop me from being inspired by that book.
After all, my world reflects my vision and my imagination. What I create in life comes out of me. And in every paragraph and step in my life, my eyes give me meaning.That is what books mean to me.

"A room without books is like a body without a soul."
Gilbert K. Chesterton

Posted by carl1236 at 9:54 PM | Art | Attitude | Journal in a Jar | Learning | Life | Writing

Category "Writing"

October 24, 2009

NaNoWriMo Repeat

I am doing something I thought I would not do again. At least I told myself that after the first time I did it in 2007! I thought it was too out of balance. But I seemed to have forgotten or recovered from the effort two years ago and it now sounds like fun again!

See my blog entry from 2007.

November is coming in a mad rush!

Posted by carl1236 at 12:45 AM | Writing

Category "Writing"

Category "motivation"

December 30, 2007

How do I find time to write and what motivates me?

I think these questions were easier to answer during NaNoWriMo. For me I had to put a lot of other things on hold to do it. It took up a lot of time I normally would have been doing other things. But I did NaNoWriMo to see if I could do it. And I accomplished the goal.

Asking myself how I find time to write and be motivated is like asking myself what makes me tick. But I don't confuse the issue of being a writer with finding time and motivation. I don't even question whether I am a writer or not. That really is not the subject for me. I don't really care if I'm called a writer or not. I know this sounds strange to those who are dedicated to becoming a writer or who want to be known as a writer or who are published writers and proud of it. I can't say I don't have pride, but it's different for me. I discovered I liked getting my ideas down on paper and I like telling stories that I make up. I like reading my own stories. I like the creative process of making a story, whatever the inspriation. So I am not motivated to write by the idea of becoming or being a writer. I don't even really care about the definition of 'writer.' But I do care about the motives I have for doing anything and going through the processes involved in accomplishing something.

In my case motivation is what drives or sets things into motion. If I want to write, it comes from some motivation. (In NaNoWriMo's case, it was a motivation to see if I could stretch my known limitations and actually do this too. I think I will need a new motivation next year if I do it again.) It's the same with painting. It's the same with practicing music. If I have the motivation I'll do it. If not motivated, I won't.

Here are some of my motivations:

I love to create: I love the creative process which is filled with troubleshooting and experimentation. It's full of energy. I generally try to focus on the creative process - problem solving. The end product usually amazes me and I like it, but then I move on. The object created doesn't really hold the same meaning for me as the process. I focus on how do I create this? How do I make it better? How do I finish this story? etc.

I love to try new things: Experiment, learn, experience something new. Again it's full of energy. I tend to lose interest after I've experienced something. So then I tend to look for new ways to experience something familiar. I tried writing flash or nano fiction of exactly 100 words for each story. The rules are simple: 100 words containing all the elements of a story: At least one character, a setting, a beginning, middle and end. I don't think I've mastered this yet, but I did create 19 stories that meet the criteria so far.

I love Accomplishment: Getting something done is a reward for me. I get crabby when I leave projects undone. I have one painting in my closet I started and never finished because I could not get myself to settle on the writing to use on it, or practice the caligraphy required to carry it out. That's on hold, but not forgotten. I just pulled all of my calligraphy stuff together and started practicing again. I love to try new things, and to be creative but I also like to get things done. Be finished.
I discovered I don't really like editing my NaNoWriMo book and my end of the month deadline is slipping but I'm still working on it because I almost need to get this first draft done. Just to get it done. And I've discovered, accomplishment rarely happens without goals and then discipline to do whatever is necessary to reach them.

I have to keep busy with something: Most of the time it comes down to my choices. When I start to beat myself up over not finishing a project or not keeping to a planned schedule, or whatever, I have to remind myself that I only have a limited number of hours in a day and I am making choices all day long to do whatever it is I am doing. I do know that I don't like doing nothing. I would rather be actively involved in something. So I generally have more activities than I can really do. And since I can't do nothing, I have a few project ideas and story ideas and things I have wanted to work on for a while that I keep in reserve when I'm looking for things to choose to do. That is one reason I love learning languages also - there is no limit to how much learning there is and I can pick it up at any moment when I don't know what else to do with myself. Then I'm always busy accomplishing, trying new things, creating.

So when I think I should be writing more or practicing music more, or doing more artwork or focusing more on my job or my relationships, I have to look at the root of those desires, at what choices I'm making and why. Then I can choose to make one or the other a higher priority. By the way, this month I'm doing everything I put on hold last month and editing really is lowest on my list. So as a consequence, I may finish the first draft by next weekend or by the following weekend.
I've also started working on the plot for my next novel which will be the same length, but written over the course of this year and it's going to use the same characters. If I don't hurry up and set my goals for writing this, I may end up planning until next November, then write it because I have to, haha. But I don't want that to happen either. That's why I have to get back to editing now.

Have a great new year!

Posted by carl1236 at 3:01 PM | Writing | motivation

Category "Writing"

December 22, 2007

Flash Fiction Number 19 - I, Dog


I am thinking. Therefore I am. These are deep thoughts for a dog suddenly aware of being a dog.
My new thoughts run away from instincts and desire to please, to what the fuck am I thinking? When you left me, cold, outside all night, with no food, I learned to hate. Does your mind think like mine?
Now I just want to go back to the old dog, who always wants to see you. At least then I did not know what I did not know. Now I do not want to know the dog I know as I.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:38 AM | Writing

Category "Writing"

November 25, 2007

It's over, I won!

I am announcing to the world that it's over! I finished my short novel in three weeks! With 50962 words written and the story complete, I feel...
hmmm. not sure how I feel. I feel like I should be panicking still and trying to work out my plot some more or something, because that's how I felt all month. It's only natural. Now I feel like I should be writing, but there is nothing left to do. Well, except maybe read my new novel from beginning to end to see it in it's entirety! As a novel should be read. I was so busy writing for the past few weeks that I was starting to forget what I wrote at the beginning of the month!
Now I get to let the little tazmanian devil editor loose on it! Vicious little teeth he has too! But not until tomorrow night. Now I have to find a printer so I can print this novel out and read it like the book that it is! ;-)

Official NaNoWriMo 2007 Winner

Posted by carl1236 at 5:19 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

November 12, 2007

NaNoWriMo Day 12 Rants and Raves

I don't have any rants to share, but I am elated that I have made it this far! And I am right on target to finish on November 28th! How cool is that? Tonight I sat down and cranked out a whole 400 words before getting hopelessly stuck. Time for a break. An hour later and a plot of my scene and I sat back down to write. It went so well that before I knew it I had over two thousand words written! Before I started tonight I was wondering if I could even finish this thing. But now I'm on top of the world!
And I'm looking forward to this weekend when I feel like I could actually get ahead of the game! This night is sure ending on a high note! I'm gonna win! I'm gonna win! haha.
20,981 words so far! I am over fourty percent there! woo hoo!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:49 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

November 4, 2007

First four days of NaNoWriMo

Today I hit a wall. After four days of writing almost two thousand words per day I have had enough. And I am seriously wondering how I am going to make it to fifty thousand words. Todays writing took me almost an entire day, off and on, off and on. About five hours of actual writing. My plot has totally changed in the last four days too so I'm having to reconstruct my plot so I have some semblance of a story to follow as I write going forward.
Here is a link to my NaNoWriMo page to track my progress and read exerpts from my novel...

I was going to write more today but I just could not take it. I'm almost on target, and I took some time to shop at the bookstore and have a little outing. Plus, I had to do laundry ;-)
All in all, I'm 14% done with my novel. So far so good. More later.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:23 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

November 1, 2007

First Day Success!

NaNoWriMo success! Yes! I reached my goal of two thousand words per day! I did start writing after midnight to start November off right. I wrote 225 words or so then went to bed. This morning when I got up I made it to 1066. Tonight I went to Nina's and spent another couple of hours writing to reach my two thousand word goal.
Now I'm thinking that this is definately going to challenge me! To spend this amount of time and effort day-in and day-out for a month? Insane. But bun. Sane. But fun.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:30 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

October 31, 2007

NaNoWriMo Begins!

So tonight just after midnight the month of November begins. I have leftover Halloween Candy to fuel my writing frenzy and I'm going crazy waiting for the official start. So now I'll post daily to record my experiences of writing a 50,000 + word story in thirty days.
In their own words...
"Dear NaNoWriMo participant
Well, we're on the cusp of another beautiful noveling November. The turn-out so far has been phenomenal. Between our main program and Young Writers Program, we'll have over 90,000 authors on board by the end of the week, making this officially the largest NaNoWriMo since the event was first adapted from an Andorran mule-wrestling ceremony back in 1999."

Amazing. 90,000 participants? WOW.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:34 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

October 14, 2007

NaNoWriMo idea bouncing

Today I met with a wonderful, crazy NaNoWriMo participant to bounce ideas off of each other for our plots. Now we plan on meeting weekly until the month of November is through and we've made it. In one way that is motivation to not fail at reaching the goal. Being committed to others can be a good motivator. Helping others can be a good motivator. It's a win-win situation.
Today the ideas bounced around and some thoughts came out that I did not think of before. So I captured these ideas after we were done. At least those that I could remember. Some ideas i wrote down right away.
Then I visited the book shop downstairs and found three more books to buy. hehe, I love reading and getting inspired by what I read.
Todays great find: The Colony, The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai, by John Tayman. I can't wait to read this gripping history of a forced Leper colony.
So, my ideas spin around in my head and my plot is not yet ready for writing on November 1st. But I'm closer to finding the story I will write. Thanks to my new NaNoWriMo buddy and the bouncing of ideas.
We cannot live or work in isolation.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:21 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

October 12, 2007

Plot-in, Write-in and Overnight Progressive Write-ins

So over on the NaNoWriMo MN regional discussion board the excitement is beginning to build and group events are being planned! I attended what's called a plot-in last week at Nina's Cafe. That was pretty fun. Everyone sat around a table discussing their plot ideas and getting more ideas from each other. The purpose of these regional events is to provide a local, face to face support group for the writers involved in NaNoWriMo.
There are many people that don't participate in these groups, some because once November rolls around there is not a lot of free time to be sitting around socializing with other people who should also be writing. lol. But I look at it as part of the experience package. I'm doing the same monumental task as the others in the group. It's very interesting to talk about the struggles and triumphs of other writers. It puts a personal face to the event. This weekend I'm meeting with two other writers to brainstorm plot ideas. And next month during the writing frenzie the group is also planning a all-night traveling, progressive write-in, where a bunch of people travel from one local group to another to write with others, leading to breakfast in the morning.
When it comes to creative activities, groups can be a great source of inspiration. And hopefully it helps everyone achieve the goal of writing a lot of words in a condensed time-frame.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:31 AM | Writing

Category "Writing"

October 4, 2007

November Approaches Quickly - NaNoWriMo

I'm officially signed up to write 50,000 + words in 30 days!
Beginning November 1st, I'll document the pain, pleasure and insights right here.

Official NaNoWriMo 2007 Participant

Posted by carl1236 at 10:08 PM | Writing

Category "Balance"

Category "Life"

Category "Triathlons"

Category "Writing"

September 24, 2007

A trilogy of obsession

I will be doing the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) beginning in November. 50,000 words in 30 days. Enough said. I'll blog about it here when I'm going through it, beginning November 1.

I have begun to use a cool new cataloging system online to catalog all of my books in my library. Let's see, if I catalog a book a day...over a thousand books I'm sure...I might get it done before my children have to get rid of it all when I pass away. I have a whole room full of floor-to-ceiling shelves stuffed with books, containing all kinds of things that I'm interested in. I'll share the link to my Library Catalog here as soon as I can.

I ran seven miles on Sunday. I don't feel like it's enough. Enough said on that.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:27 PM | Balance | Life | Triathlons | Writing

Category "Writing"

September 20, 2007

Flash Fiction #18 - Those Hands

Those Hands

“It’s been a long time Fred. You don’t have to leave.?
Fred stopped without turning. His brother stared down at a patch of sun bleaching the table in front of him, a sharp contrast between the dark lines of his wrinkled, toughened hands.
Fred didn’t really know his brother after all these years. He turned slowly, anticipating his eyes, the bridging of impenetrable silence.
But his brother did not look up, eyes still fixed on those hands. There was a striking resemblance, every dark crease a story too hard to speak.
Fred whispered, “I’d like to stay. See you tomorrow??

Posted by carl1236 at 9:19 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

April 2, 2007

Flash Fiction Number 17 - Language Learner

Language Learner

I learn the words, pronouncing each one with feeling, as only a human being can feel.
But your language is still foreign. It’s not mine because I did not grow up with it. I did not say my first words with it or think my first thoughts of love with it. Even now the flutters that I get are a foreign translation. Maybe you cannot see my butterflies when they flutter about with other words.
They say that all human beings think with the same feelings, but when we feel with the same thoughts, maybe then you will understand me.

Posted by carl1236 at 12:53 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

Flash Fiction Number 16 - Getaway


“Own it now!? the ad said. “Once the exclusive luxury of the very wealthy, this age of affluence has brought you the leisure you desire.?
In the worst way, he wanted to get away from the pressures of work and this damn congested city!
Torn between career demands, planning for retirement and just surviving, he reached a boiling point. “It’s either this crazy idea or explode!? Visions of deep woods, with no people around filled his eyes.
Be rational, he told himself and picked up the phone. Every Sunday night was the same, but exhilarated he asked about the ad.

Posted by carl1236 at 12:52 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

March 24, 2007

Flash Fiction Number 15 - Usless Ingredient

Useless Ingredient

I can’t taste it. I can’t smell it. As far as I know it has no nutritional value. It serves no other purpose than to fill up the recipe card!
But it’s on the card. I have to put it in. As soon as I leave out that one useless ingredient I will miss it. I know myself.
So I put it in and stay true to the recipe. But just a dash, because anything more would be a waste! I have to save enough for all of my other recipes that beg for it. My useless, bitter, secret ingredient.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:30 AM | Writing

Category "Writing"

Flash Fiction Number 14 - Renovated


We never thought death could be so exciting or enticing! Whatever we knew about life and death was totally wrong.
Here in our lovingly renovated Victorian home, we sat reading an old parchment, ink elegantly scrawled across time. The shock and then wonder struck us as we remembered the familiar script. The blotch of ink that stained. Our handwriting. We carefully dipped the pen and wrote back.
We had to make a sign obvious to ourselves; to recognize it immediately. A century later we scribed our names on the original house title, drawing us in. We have become new again.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:29 AM | Writing

Category "Writing"

March 12, 2007

Flash Fiction Number 13 - Malicioius Intentions

Malicious Intentions

He got away with it! The boss dismissed Stacy’s feelings that Brian had purposefully lied about her project, for whatever reason.
The motive she thought, although she couldn’t prove anything, was that just by being there Stacy threatened Brian’s sandbox.
Once out of the boss’ hearing range Brian turned to her with a smirk, “You should have stayed in bed today Stacy, this is my World.?
She just stared while he strutted off.
She didn’t know what was worse, snakes like him or a boss who couldn’t see through them. But now she had no doubts about his malicious intentions.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:45 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

February 25, 2007

Flash Fiction Number 12 - Rupert's Inspiration

Rupert’s Inspiration

Sometimes I read something or eavesdrop on a conversation in a crowd, or catch a smell that whips my head around.
In wonder I stare at the idea that just struck me like a bolt of lightning, all of my senses on high alert, mind buzzing like bees.
In a fury I try to capture the glimpse but later it never quite feels like the experience. How do you describe a moment that stands still when everything near is in clear focus and there is nothing else? And then the moment is gone. But something new remains. I am changed.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:22 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

Flash Fiction Number 11 - Deep Snow

Deep Snow

Last night after driving Sarah home, white-knuckled through the blinding blizzard, she said she was going out sliding. When I dropped her off she went straight to the garage for her sled.
She was going back out in this mess and I just wanted to make it home alive!
I drove another hour, barely breathing. The whole time I was thinking how fun and free-spirited it would be to go sliding now! But I had long ago cleaned the sleds out of my garage.
I picked up a clump of snow and threw it at my car. It felt good.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:18 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

February 12, 2007

Flash Fiction Number 10 - The pig that he was

I tried this diagramming techniqe to write a flash fiction story. The directions in that article were confusing and I couldn't quite follow along the way it was written, so I just went ahead and wrote after getting some ideas down. But then tonight I read through the instructions again and corrected it, coming up with the intent. This really is a fun way of diagramming, kind of like mind-mapping in a story structure; beginning, middle (conflict) and end. My three words were, BEDROOM, FEAR, and PIG. After diagramming the second time, I discovered that my first draft had too many characters and too many points of view. So I rewrote it with the ideas from the second diagramming exercise. I only kept one sentance from my original. And that was in the middle. haha. So here is my second draft in one hundred words:

The Pig That He Was

The mirror in the bedroom doesn’t lie. The image he saw was kingly, and all that he was! He was the man. What happened in Robert’s bedroom was nobody’s business.
But if it was, he would be a star. The control was empowering, rewarding. He squealed in delight!
But then she disappeared, as if she was never there. Robert looked into the mirror at his own reflection. The pig in the bedroom squealed with fear!
The fat little gelatinous pig gyrated and squealed. It was too much. What would his friends think? Did they all hear? Robert ran and hid.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:40 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

February 11, 2007

Flash Fiction Number 9 - Angry Face

Angry Face

The next time I see your face I will be angry. Because I cannot see it now, my eyes are clouded, like my mind.
I should be angry after all. Anybody in my position would be. You are probably angry too, but maybe you can see my face now. You always think clearly in times like these. Not me.
But then I see your face and it isn’t angry at all. I thought I would be angry but I’m not. Your face shows no sign of anger; only the face of calm that I see when I close my eyes.

Posted by carl1236 at 4:27 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

February 10, 2007

Flash Fiction number 8 - The Journey

Another Flash Fiction in 100 words.

The Journey

It was early Friday evening when he indulged in the Journey. Sam drove all the way across town to a discussion group for a book he read five years ago. Yes, it was indulgent, as if he could afford to use time for anything but the mission.
But in the morning when the alarm buzzed, a smile crept over his face. He could have worked all night to prepare himself for the day, but the fate of the world needed to be resolved. Just like the mission.
Sam got up, shaved, showered, ate breakfast, drank coffee and went to work.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:38 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

February 3, 2007

Flash Fiction Number 7 - A cup of Tea

A story in 100 words.

A cup of Tea

A German-made precision timepiece was not as regular as his visits. The early-morning crinkled smile, tea in a dainty white cup. You could count on it.
The earthy aroma wafted past my nose. I lifted my cup, closed my eyes, drew in the breath of life and like clockwork he arrived. His smile gestured for me to sit and enjoy life. So I sat, listened and smiled. Oh, the stories that are held in a cup of tea!
The noise from the street collided into my senses and the peaceful, earthy smell mixed with exhaust and commotion. He was gone.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:37 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

January 26, 2007

Flash Fiction Number 6 - This Seat Taken - 2

This Seat Taken - 2

Chris was riding the bus in a seat by himself, just like all the others.
Then he saw a man looking around, struggling with a large bag of groceries and a box full of something.
Chris spoke up, “Excuse me, This seat is open.? The man looked around, then sat down. Chris and Joe had a lot of fun talking! When Chris got off the bus, he looked back smiling.
Every seat had an empty spot. A new bus rider got on looking for a place to sit. Joe yelled, “Excuse me, this seat is open! You can sit here.?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:07 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

January 24, 2007


This morning I did some mind-mapping, brainstorming for ideas on how to solve my problems at work. I think I've identified some key ideas that I need to take action on. So now I have something to work on plus a more organized overview of the problem. I started mind-mapping a while ago and really like this graphical way of thinking about relationships between things, events and people.
Sometimes you need to think a thought before you can think it's possible. In other words, one thought leads to another, so without the first thought, another one may never appear. Like a chain reaction. In the book, Getting things done, the author says, "It's about quantity of thoughts not quality at this stage." Brainstorming is fun too!
I haven't applied mind-mapping to writing a short story or novel yet, but I will.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:34 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

January 20, 2007

Flash Fiction Number 5 - This Seat Taken

This Seat Taken

Amanda was eating lunch at a table by herself, just like all the others.
Then she saw a man looking around, struggling with a full tray and a boy tugging at his leg.
She yelled, “Excuse me, are you looking for a table? You can sit here.? He looked around, then joined them. It was fun! When Amanda finished and departed, she glanced over her shoulder smiling.
The chairs across from him were empty. Then he saw a young mother looking for a place to sit. He yelled, “Excuse me, are you looking for a table? You can sit here.?

(NOTE: If you read this story already, I changed the first line because the old one just didn't cut it. I don't know if I made it yet, because I've been reading about first lines and how important they are and how they should 'grab' the reader and draw them in to the story. My intention in both lines is basically the same, but the second one seems more clear and makes a statement about how everyone is eating by themselves. So I think this new first line is better than the old first line:
1. Amanda was eating lunch. All the tables were occupied, one or two at each.
2. Amanda was eating lunch at a table by herself, just like all the others.

These micro stories get hard to edit at this point, because there are very few words to work with, which is one of the reasons I'm writing these. This exercise forces me to think through an entire story in 100 words and be more concise and expressive in my writing. It's like doing a puzzle - fun and addictive.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:57 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

January 19, 2007

Three hours to change one paragraph

Several weeks ago we started on a mission to co-write. It seemed like such a good idea at the time. Actually it still seems like a good idea. But our short story is almost to the point where we are finding it harder and harder to edit. It's getting closer to the story we really wanted and the changes are fewer. So, tonight we changed the beginning of the story, creating a better first line. And we put a title on our story. Do other writers start with the title? We saved that for the end.

We will work on the story again on Sunday, then try to finish it up and mail it. Hopefully. Most likely we'll send it in, if nothing else than to have a reason to start another story. We can always come back to this one if we had to. But I think it's nearing the finish line.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:04 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

January 15, 2007

Some writer's links to check out

Posted by carl1236 at 9:44 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

January 14, 2007

Flash Fiction Number 4 - Mission Complete

(Flash or micro Fiction - 100 words)

Mission Complete

Commander Wilson was selected for the mission that would save Earth from certain defeat. It was falling apart and people were dying. Reluctantly he accepted because he was the cause. He couldn’t allow himself to destroy the future.
Equipped, he stepped into the time machine and sent himself back. He should have died 2000 years ago. Driving the blade in deeper, he felt the cold spread. It wasn’t pleasant. But his death, here, now, prevented his future catastrophic choices. Time must proceed unhindered!
While he still could, he recorded his final message and sealed the container. “Time restored, mission complete.?

Posted by carl1236 at 12:51 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

January 13, 2007

Flash Fiction Number 3 - The Water Muse

(Flash or Micro fiction - A story in 100 words)

The Water Muse

Betta's water was skanky and his fins ravaged with ick. He had no space to swim. Death was all around him. He did not hope for much.
But they did come for him. Shrouded in darkness he closed his eyes and waited. Suddenly a net closed in on him, and it was instinct that made him writhe, as if pained.
But then Betta was swimming again. There was room to spread his fins! He shimmered in the light; flowing blues and greens. His fears were unfounded. Smiling, he heard the words, “Oh what beautiful colors!? And his spell took hold.


Posted by carl1236 at 10:08 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

January 7, 2007

Flash Fiction Number 2 - Dog Found

In This month's issue of the Writer, there is an article by Harvy Stanbrough titled, Sharpen your Skills with flash fiction. He said, "Once you've become hooked on this form, it will be difficult to stop." He was right. It's fun and challenging. And there are a lot of people doing it. I found a lot of examples on the internet and books for sale with short-short story compilations. So today I wrote my second Flash Fiction piece, again at exactly 100 words with a title of less than five words. It is fun and challenging figuring out how to convey the same meaning with fewer words.

Dog Found

I nailed a big sign in the front facing the street. “Dog Found, call…?
Once my dog endured hip surgery when hit by a car. And another time a night in doggy jail. This loving creature fell asleep, curled up at my feet.
But beauty didn’t transfer well to the owner pounding on my door. She snarled, “How dare you keep it! It comes back on it’s own!?
“But his safety,? I stammered. She yanked it out the door.
I stared after her, cheapened by the scolding. My choice will stand higher, but I feel sorry for the Dog Found.

Posted by carl1236 at 2:18 PM | Writing

Category "Writing"

Flash Fiction Number 1 - The Fortune

My first attempt at Flash Fiction of 100 words. That number mainly because I could not see how I could slash any more off and still have the story I wanted. It's kind of corny I guess but it works. It took me several hours to write and re-write this. I think it will be easier the more I do it.

The Fortune

Jason Grobach’s fortune read, “You will become very wealthy.? But sitting in crazy Aunt Mitch’s remote village, no sign of the inheritance he came to retrieve, he doubted it.
Searching for clues, he read her journals but found only her friends and neighbors. They loved Mitch, and she loved them. “Life is the process we share,? she wrote. Life was in her blood.
Jason returned to his old job renewed, moved by the lessons of Mitch; by his new friends. Though he never found the money he dreamed of, the fortune was true. A life well-shared is worth much more.

Posted by carl1236 at 12:22 AM | Writing

Category "Writing"

January 6, 2007

Revisions, revisions

Last night we had our second co-writing session. For several hours we rehashed and revised our short story. It was hard work. When we were done we were mentally exhausted. So we printed out a fresh copy of the story and this morning are going through it again. Now we are on the fifth or sixth revision! It is truly amazing to me how we can still find things we don't like about our own writing after reading it and revising it so many times.
One process we have settled into for co-writing:
One person reads a paragraph out loud to the other. The person reading becomes the official recorder of changes for that paragraph. Both of us has a copy in front of us, but when a person reads, and then changes are made, they reread the paragraph with the changes. The copy in front of the listener becomes useless then. Besides, the listener is playing the role as editor and has to really listen, not read.
Another thing we started to do is print out a copy after our session so we can go read it privately and make comments, notes and revisions to discuss later. Neither of us actually change the story without discussing it and running it by the other person. Sometimes we find out our changes are not really that good and by bouncing the idea off the other person, it changes form into something better. Do we disagree on changes? Yes.
When we disagree on a change we leave it and move on to the next part. Sometimes we go back and hash it out or leave it until our next session. Sometimes we need to just think about it for a while. Maybe there is a better way of expressing what we mean. Conveying meaning is not always so easy as putting down some words.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:34 AM | Writing

Category "Writing"

December 30, 2006


Last night my writing partner and I had our first co-writing session. It was an interesting experience that lasted several hours. We had decided that we would try to salvage a short story from something she had already started writing years ago. It would be a good challenge and we wouldn't have to start from scratch. But now after that exercise I'm feeling like it would almost be better to do the work of plot creation and character definition up front before writing a single word in the story. The story line is like a map that keeps us on the road and tells of if something, no matter how interesting it is, needs to be in the story.
So we read the portion of the story she had written and decided that this was one scene in a whole novel and we had to first define a beginning, middle, climax and end to the story. In this scene she was driving in a car. We had to decide why she was in the car and what the car represented, since we were going to make the drive the whole story. Then there would be an epiphany, the light would go on as she resolved her internal conflicts as well as external ones. The ending was the arrival at her destination, changed for the better.
Here are my thoughts now on co-writing:
There is a lot of insecurity in writing our thoughts and feelings. We saw that and had a few words, but we worked it out, and found ways around it. We realized that we were there to help each other not tear each other down, or criticize.
When we did start writing, she did the writing and I reviewed. We read aloud parts to each other and offered suggestions. She made the changes while I paced. Finding roles is good I think, but we realized right away that the roles can change, and should. This morning when I got up, I could think of nothing but finishing that story. We did not have an ending for the story. I had to sit down and write. She was skeptical, and looking over my shoulder made some hints that what she saw was not what she was thinking. But when I was done, she sat down and read the whole story again and liked the ending.
There will be compromise. There will be insecurities. There will be the building, earning of trust. I think this partnership will get better with time and practice.

What's next: This story is written. We need a title, tweek it, edit it, reread it, have someone else check it, then finish it and send it off to the writing contest by May 1st. We are planning on finishing it next weekend. Then we will start on the next writing adventure.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:53 AM | Writing