The advantages of pen and paper

I decided to change the point of view on a piece I was writing. After manually changing two lines of  I’s to He’s, I got bored.

Find and replace feature came to my rescue.

A warning box popped up. “This action can’t be undone.”

I accepted it, without a second thought.

It didn’t change all the word I to the word He. Instead, it changed all the i’s in the whole document to he. My 2500 word chapter looked like this:

“Bobby, don’t pHeck at tHe wallpaper.” Mom saHed.
He rubbed my hand across floral-covered panelHeng. SomethHeng felt odd. “Mom, look, tHere’s a bump on tHe wall.”
“Uh huh. Leave Het alone.” Her thumbs clHecked on Her phone.
He contHenued to run my hand around tHe rHedge

They say you can’t reverse it? Nah, I’d just use find and replace again and do the opposite.

I found out that when they say you can’t reverse it, they mean you can’t reverse it. All the i’s in the whole document were now a capital letter–and the is spelled tI. I wondered if I should just retype the document.

“Bobby, don’t pIck at tI wallpaper.” Mom saId.
I rubbed my hand across floral-covered panelIng. SomethIng felt odd. “Mom, look, tIre’s a bump on tI wall.”
“Uh huh. Leave It alone.” Ir thumbs clIcked on Ir phone.
I contInued to run my hand around tI rIdge.

At that point, I glanced at the binder on the left side which shows all the documents I’d written in 2018. They were all in my new hieroglyphicslooking writing.

Instead of Find and Replace File, I’d chosen Find and Replace Project.

 

No worries. I’d restore from the backup on my hard drive.

Except the latest backup was last week.

After manually updating all the files I’d worked on since last week, I looked at the clock to see an hour and a half had passed.

I’d run out of time to write. 

Maybe I should rethink using pen and paper?

Brave is Being Afraid and Doing it Anyway

Photo by Leximphoto on Unsplash

This is a flash fiction piece I wrote. I used 299 of my allotted 300 words. I needed to use this sentence in my story, “I am here because I want resolution.”


I’m worried about you. You sit in that corner hour after hour. You should be playing outside with the other rabbits.” Squeaker sunk lower on the wall and waited for Mama rabbit to finish sweeping his room. He was comfortable here, he thought as he pulled on the loose yarn from his sweater.

At supper, Ellie was talking about her adventures in the garden.“I was scared, but I did it anyway.” That night after being tucked into bed, he whispered to his sister.

“How do you get the courage to go into the garden? Ever since the close call last spring, I’d rather stay safe than risk being lunch”

“Can I tell you a secret? That ole cat scares me too. But each day he doesn’t eat me, I am glad I took the chance.

Squeaker shook as he dressed. Today he would take his life back, afraid or not. As his paws stepped on the soft dirt, he inhaled the smells of fresh air and crisp lettuce and was glad he decided to go outside. He nibbled his way down the row and hopped over the fallen rake as he heard Ellie scream.

“Squeakers, watch out.” But Ellie was too late. He turned around to look straight into Patches green eyes.

“You’re mine now.” He growled.

“I am here because I want resolution.” Squeakers stood tall, faking brave. “If you want to eat me, eat me. I’d rather live one day free than a lifetime in prison.”

Like lightning, Patches claw scratched Squeaker’s face. Squeakers ignored the pain and jumped on the handle of the rake. The end flung up and hit Patches on the head. With Patches startled, Squeakers darted for home.

As Mama tended his wounds, he thought about how he could outsmart Patches tomorrow.

I’m Aiming for 100 Rejections this Year

I don’t like rejections. I don’t think anyone likes rejections. So why am I aiming for 100 rejections this year? Because I am afraid of them.

And I’m tired of running from what I fear.  Because this the only way fear won’t control me.

I watched my friend receive rejection letter after rejection letter last year. As she swam in the deep end of the pool, I sat on the edge and watched her. Sometimes she swam a beautiful stroke and other times the water threatened to pull her under. I saw, in the end, she didn’t drown. The rejections didn’t kill her. She didn’t go into a corner and quit writing or become a Walmart greeter. (No offense to Walmart greeters) She finished her first novel. She got four acceptances letters. She wrote every day.

I’m such a copycat. If she didn’t drown, quit writing or become a monk—maybe I won’t either. 100 rejection letters. That means I have to show up each morning and write something. It’s so easy for me to sit at the computer and do non-writing things. When I sit down to write it becomes important for me to check emails, do a little research, or buy an armband for my phone.  None of which will get me rejection letters.

If I submit 100 pieces this year, I have a much better chance of getting a couple of acceptance letters if I submit two or ten. I’d rather aim for 100 rejections and see each rejection as a step toward success than aim for 5 acceptance letters and see each rejection as a failure.

 

It’s Not You, Darling–It’s Me (Flash Fiction)

“Pretty lady, a flower?” I sealed my velum against my nasal passage to block the fish stench of Monastiraki Square. Then I see him. His green eyes drive deep into my soul as he pulls me into himself.

“Jacqueline, my delight. How I’ve missed you.”

“And you, my love.” I lean into his kiss.

“Pretty lady, you like a flower?” Jose bats away the vendor like a fly.

“Everything is handled. We leave on the 3:15 train.”

“I’m packed and ready, Darling.”

Doll, you have made the right decision. We are so good together.”

“Of course we are, my dear. You’re delightful.”

“Pretty lady, flower?”

“Back off.” Jose flashed a steeled look. “Don’t make me lose character.”

Not a muscle of the vendor moved, except his eyes. He raised them quickly to mine and then looked away. A move not missed by Jose. He raised his fist—

“Stop, wait,” I said.

“Jacqueline?” In that awkward moment, I wished I was like mama. Bold. But I was a coward. I couldn’t get the words past the hammer in my chest. The earthquake of my own doing was splitting my world in two.

“Jose.” I looked into his eyes at the green sea of confusion. “Coward, coward,” rang over and over in my head. I willed myself to bare my soul.

Instead, I reached out and picked up the rose from the vendor.

I couldn’t meet his eyes. “You love me more than I love you.”

“No. We are good, baby doll. Come, let’s catch the train.”

The vendor touched my shoulder. “We should go.”

“Jacqueline. What’s going on?”

I allowed myself a glance into his eyes, “I”m sorry, Jose. I never loved you.” I turned, linked my hand with Edwin, the vendor, and walked away.


This flash fiction contest was to write 300 words or less. The theme was Casablanca. I hadn’t seen the movie so I watched a few YouTube clips. I was intrigued so I rented it. I realized how far TV has come in the last 70 years. Not only was it in black and white, but the characters used facial expressions instead of many of the props we have today. If you haven’t seen it, I’d recommend it.

 

NanoWrimo is here! #IWSG

The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group.  Every month there is a new question which you answer on your own blog or use it as a springboard to share your thoughts on your writing journey. Talk about your doubts, fears you have conquered, struggles and triumphs. After posting, visit the master list and visit and comment on twelve new blogs. This is a safe haven for writers to connect, share and encourage each other.

November 1 question – Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?


It’s that time of year! November 1 means one thing–NaNoWriMo–National Novel Writing Month. Each November gads of people from all over the world work towards a goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by November 30th.

Two years ago, I joined the challenge and completed the goal. As a new writer, I learned the art of sitting my butt in the chair and write every day. What started out as a memoir morphed into a fiction story. I have always loved reading and escaping to new worlds. It was a magical experience watching my fingers create a world of my own imagination. While I’ve yet to try and do anything with my half memoir-half novel, the experience gave me confidence that I could write a novel. And I fell in love with writing.

Did I participate last year?

I didn’t. It came down to priorities. With a blog, other writing projects and two kids at home, I wasn’t willing to add another thing and become the obsessed mom who locked herself in her room frantically pounding out keystrokes while my peeps scrounged around the kitchen for scraps of bread only to find they were moldy.

Am I participating this year?

I want to. As November gets closer, I’m so tempted to. My kids aren’t home anymore. I love the idea of just pure writing. No editing. No thinking. I love the high from watching the slider move each day closer to the goal of 50k words.

But I’m not going to.

It’s about priorities—again. I am taking a Fiction Writing class that ends midway through November. I also recently joined Toastmasters and a writing group. Outside of writing, November will be busy with Thanksgiving and my daughter coming home from three months in Germany.

Because I have this insatiable need to complete everything I commit to, I would lose character if I tried to add NaNoWriMo to the list. Rest assured, I would have my speech prepared for Toastmasters, my homework done for my class, and my story written for the writing group–while completing 1667 words each day for Nano.

But it would be ugly.

I would be grumpy and stressed and just not too much fun to be around. I want to love my daughter and the rest of my family well. I want to bake and shop and laugh instead of rushing through a to-do list. This is a season I’m not willing to be absent from. So for this year, I will say no. Maybe next year.

 

Autumn

Green leaves
Firmly rooted to their branches
Frolic gaily blind to their coming fate.

Yellowing leaves cling to their lifeline
Fearing the next exhale of wind
May bring an end to their days.

Wrinkled and dried the brownish leaves
Loosened their grip
Today is the day.

Peacefully, graciously
They let go and flutter to the ground
Content at a life well lived.

Bob’s Last Party *Flash Fiction*

This is a flash fiction I wrote for microcosms. The prompt was to incorporate this sentence, “The guest didn’t move, having been dead for over an hour.” 300-word max.


Bob’s Last Party

Fran raised her glass, “Welcome to our 5th annual block party. I’m glad you could all make it.”

The party started off like any other party. In a few months, the evening would have faded in everyone’s mind if it had not been for Bob.

As dusk was turning to dark, Fran sat by the edge of the pool sipping her margarita and watching the lights sparkle on the water. She congratulated herself on a job well done. She loved to throw parties, especially this one because she could show off her newly remodeled kitchen.

“Is this seat taken?” Betty sat carefully on the folding chair. Her sensible shoes and stocking firmly in place. No chance she would be dipping her toes in the water tonight. “Great party, Fran. Thanks for inviting Bob and me.”

“Are you guys having a good time?”

“I certainly am. You know Bob though. He hasn’t moved off the couch all night. After 52 years of marriage, I do love Bob, but he can be so set in his ways. I tease him that I am going start dusting him when I dust the furniture because he’s always sitting in the same spot.”

“Well, let’s add some spunk to Bob’s life. I’ll get a game of cornhole going. He won’t be able to resist that!”

After twenty minutes of shooing everyone to the empty lot, Fran looked around for Bob wondering what was taking him so long.
“I’ll go drag his derriere off the couch before he becomes a permanent fixture,” Betty said.

Moments later a blood-curdling scream came from the house. As if in slow motion everyone ran in unison to find Betty stunned and pointed to Bob. Bob didn’t move, having been dead for almost an hour.

*Rewrite* Should you force a child to share

The next exercise was to rewrite the piece adding character details.  I’d love your feedback if you have thoughts.  Thanks!


“Ellie, share your toy with Susan. Good little girls share their toys.” Betsy watched her two-year-old little sister’s curls bob up and down as her face turn red and bottom lip stuck out in protest. At the same moment, her mom’s blue worn purse began vibrating. Betsy reached her hand to try and help by retrieving the phone.

“What do you think you are doing, Little Miss? You do not go in my purse.” Betsy backed away hurt and confused. She was just trying to help. She slumped in a corner with a library copy of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe wishing she could visit new worlds through a magical wardrobe.

“Betsy is usually such a good little girl—quiet, obedient and always with her nose in a book. What more could a mom ask for?” Betsy cringed at the word little. 11 years old is far from little! To say it when they were alone was one thing, but did she have to call her Little Miss in front of her aunt?

“You don’t just take a piece of pizza from the middle. That’s selfish of you to take the biggest piece. You take the next one in the circle.” Betsy drew her feet under her as her finger tapped rhythmically trying to stop the familiar spinning in her head as her field of vision grew smaller. The pizza she was looking forward to moments before felt like rocks in her mouth.

Her mom had come into her bedroom a half hour ago, “Come on, Betsy. Dad is surprising the family with pizza. Let’s go pick it up.” Betsy rose and followed her mom obediently to the car, never mentioning that she needed to finish studying for a quiz tomorrow.

Later that night she made her way to the top bunk unsure of what made the crunching noise under her feet. She couldn’t avoid stepping on her sister’s clothes, books and toys that covered every inch of the floor. As she climbed the ladder, the familiar dread that haunted her each night coursed through her body on cue. It would be hours before the sun went down and sleep would come. She remembered she hadn’t finished studying for the quiz. She would have to fake sick tomorrow during Geography rather than explain to the teacher why it wasn’t done. Even though it was only 7:30 pm, getting up wasn’t an option. She knew what was expected of her and she knew what would happen if she didn’t obey.

Across the hall she overhead her mom telling her dad about their day. “Ellie is nothing like Betsy. They don’t look or act alike. Betsy always shared her toys so well. She is such an easy, compliant child. Maybe Ellie instinctively knows she’s a cutie pie. She always seems so confident and knowing her mind. It is exhausting trying to squelch that before it got out of hand.”

Betsy tossed in her bed and tucked her opinions and needs deeper inside where they would remain safe. She would be a good girl. She wouldn’t argue or talk back. Stay invisible. See what they might want and give them that -then maybe they would like her.

 

Should you force a child to share? (#FLfiction)

This is a 500-word short story for a fiction class I am taking.  The prompt was to turn on the radio and use the first thing that comes on as a springboard for a story.  K-LOVE was talking about a post on Facebook, My child is not required to share with yours.  Adults have boundaries and don’t share everything with everyone.  Why do we insist our child share? Is it ever ok for a child not to share?  How do you give a child a heart to share?


“Ellie, share your toy with Susan. Good little girls share their toys.” Betsy watched her mom discipline her two-year-old little sister as she heard her mom’s cell phone ringing and reached for her purse to hand it to her.

“What do you think you are doing, Little Miss? You do not go in my purse.”

Betsy backed away hurt and confused and sat in a corner with her book. She overheard her mom commenting to her aunt at what a good girl Betsy was, quiet, obedient and always reading. Yes, reading was good. In books kids could run and play, they laughed, and their world was bright and safe.

“You don’t just take a piece of pizza from the middle. That’s selfish of you to take the biggest piece. You take the next one in the circle.” Betsy drew her feet under her as her finger tapped rhythmically trying to stop the familiar spinning in her head as her field of vision grew smaller. The pizza she was looking forward to moments before felt like rocks in her mouth.

Her mom had come in her bedroom a half hour ago, “Come on, Betsy. Dad is surprising the family with pizza. Let’s go pick it up.” Betsy rose and followed her mom obediently to the car, never mentioning that she was taking a quiz for her fifth-grade Geography class.

Later that night as she laid in bed she felt her throat tightening, and a sense of dread come over her that accompanied bedtime. It would be hours before the sun went down and sleep came. When she would walk from the bedroom door to her top bunk ladder, she was never sure of what made the crunching noise under her feet. Every inch of the floor was covered with her sister’s toys, books, and clothes. She remembered the unfinished quiz knowing she would have to fake sick tomorrow during Geography rather than explain to the teacher why it wasn’t done. Finishing it now was not an option. The thought of doing anything but laying there never crossed her mind. She knew what was expected of her and she knew what would happen if she didn’t obey.

Across the hall she overhead her mom telling her dad about her concerns with Ellie not sharing well. She is nothing like Betsy. Betsy always shared her toys so well. She is such an easy, compliant child. Ellie, on the other hand, seemed to know her mind. It is exhausting trying to squelch that before it got out of hand.

Betsy tossed her bed and stuffed her opinions and her needs deeper inside her where no one would suspect they existed. She was good. She didn’t argue or talk back. Stay invisible. See what they might want and give them that -then maybe they would like her.

 

The mouse in my cubbyhole

 

By Douglas P Perkins (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I am writing from a hotel room this week. The first thing I did when I got to my room was read every piece of literature they leave out on the desk.  I know where all the amenities are and what to do in case of a fire. I’m not worried about a fire, nor do I need to know where the closest ER is.  I’m just curious.  I enjoy the quest for knowledge from simple mundane things to deep philosophical ones.

Words are the key to knowledge

Long before I could string a row of letters together to form words, I remember sitting on my mom’s lap while she read stories to me.  We had two sets of encyclopedias.  One was a kid’s set. I spent hours looking at the pictures in the 12 hardbound books, each with a different bright colored cover.    The second was a grown-up set that my mom would take off the shelf and let me look at.  I remember being awed by all the words on the pages –rows and rows of beautiful words.

My love for words grew with my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Clifford. My favorite part of the day was when she read books to us in the front of the class while we colored at our desks.  We had rows of cubbyholes in the back of the classroom where we stored our lunch pails, coats, and books.  I began to write stories about a mouse that lived in my cubbyhole.  I don’t know what she said to me, but I remember she made me feel so proud of my words like I was a real author.

Throughout the rest of my school years, I found comfort, safety, and happiness in other worlds created by books.  I read on the bus, I read while doing dishes, I read when I should have been doing my homework.

My curiosity was insatiable.  I would beg my mom to drive me to the library, and I would make two trips to and from the car just to return the 50 book maximum allowed on my card and get 50 more.  When I wanted to learn about a topic, I would search the card catalog and get every book available.  I am so thankful for the internet these days!!

As I married and began a family, my love for reading never waned.  I began reading to my babies and continued to read to them through junior high.  In 1998 I was diagnosed with Degenerative Myopia.  By 2005 my vision had deteriorated, and I saw five images instead of one. The loss of being able to read well was one of the hardest challenges. I began to listen to audio books and practice typing with my eyes closed to train myself to type blind.  My world became small around me when  I could no longer read cereal boxes, billboards, or pill bottles.

In 2015 I became a candidate for femtosecond laser cataract surgery. This procedure was life-changing.  I now have double vision in the distance but can see, and function, especially in my two favorite things –creating new worlds or immerse myself in world’s others have created.


Thanks, Kelly for the writing prompt.  What about you? I’d love to hear about your writing journey.