30 Days of Flash Fiction

Are You Up for a Challenge-2It’s the beginning of another month and I’m ready for a challenge. I seem to work better when I have an actual challenge rather than simply writing on the things I am “supposed” to be working on.

For June, I am challenging myself to write a flash fiction piece every day. That’s it. No other rules.

Flash fiction is a complete story written in under 1000 words.

There was a flash challenge that ran in April that I wanted to complete. It would have been interesting if it hadn’t been for the two other ones I had going already, i.e., The A-toZ Blog Challenge and Camp NaNoWriMo. There was little time left after all of that, not to mention energy after working all day also.

It’s been a struggle to balance all of the areas of writing that I prefer to do. Between blogging and working on my novel, there has been little time left over for working on my flash fiction.

I’m not sure what appeal to me about flash except that I like things in miniature.

I find myself drawn to things in miniature such as doll houses, tiny houses and fairy gardens. Each of these is a complete blog post in and of themselves. I’m not going to begin to analyze my attraction to tiny things.

This past weekend I wrote a piece of just over 300 words and by the end I had tears in my eyes. I often wonder if, when I have an emotional reaction to the writing, it is the words or that I am to close to the content of the story. The story is one that I hope to be able to publish but it still needs a little work. And a title.

One issue I am concerned about is how do I decide on things to write about. As a general rule I don’t have a list of ideas to write about, at least none that inspire me to sit down and write.

I have a couple of cups of ideas to draw from that I made last year when I was preparing for NaNoWriMo. I didn’t have to use them but I’ve saved them. They may come in handy now.IMG_0064

I think this is a question that every aspiring and experienced writer has. Where do the ideas come from? How do you know that an idea is viable?

Generally I don’t worry so much about this as when I need to the ideas often come. But since I am attempting to write a flash piece each day for the month of June I will need some help, especially since I write the first thing in in the morning. Ideas don’t just float around in the early hours of the dawn.

My plan is to use both my idea cups and the Story Spinner. What is the Story Spinner, do you ask? It is a fantastic idea creator made by Bonnie Neubauer. This seldom fails to help me get writing. I’ve even used it as exercises for writing retreats. One side has recipes for exercises and the other has sections for starters, settings and words to add to a story. The possibilities are endless.

I won’t guarantee that the work I do in the next month will be quality but it will be a practice in story building. I am hoping this gives me a bunch to choose from to begin sending work out. I’ll let you know how it goes.

That will be my next goal – to send work out for publication. That is a slippery slope indeed.

Where do your ideas come from?

Anyone else up for this challenge?

Perfectly Alone

coffee-750990_1280I am sitting in a coffee shop in a town far away from home, enjoying the rare quiet, reflecting on just how unusual this is.

I had just walked out of my hotel and into the hot windy weather. For a moment I closed my eyes to relish the feel of heat and wind on my face. It had been a rough couple of days and I was feeling none too positive. Somehow, the wind cleansed away the creeping dark mood I’d been carrying. A feeling of peace came over me.

As I now sit and write with soft music playing and the barista the only other person in the building, I remember what I all too often forget:

I need time alone.

Time where I am actually without another person anywhere near me. I don’t mean just being in one room of my house while everyone else is in a different room. I actually need the house to myself. I need to be able to walk outside and just breath in the air. I need that freedom to just sit and do nothing for a bit without someone speaking to me or asking anything of me. Even if they present and are quiet, it’s not the same thing.

I forget that this alone time is necessary. I forget until that moment when that creeping angst crawls into my heart and spreads throughout my body. By that time I am frustrated with everyone and everything. It is not pretty. This is when I don’t like myself very much.

We learn so much about ourselves by being alone and that can be scary. It takes courage to face and accept yourself.

As a writer, I prefer to write alone in the quiet. It is in these moments where I can put honest, even ugly, words down. I know that at some point they will turn into a thing of beauty but in that moment, I am content. I am in the moment.

Being alone can take on many forms. Getting outside and taking a walk is healthy. Sitting in a quiet coffee shop people watching or simply reading the paper is enough. Sometimes just a few moments are all you need.

Our souls crave this quiet, especially in the midst of a busy life. balance-110850_1280

So, the challenge is to find time to be alone, whether it’s for 5 minutes or 5 hours or anywhere in between.

I dare you to stop in that park you pass on your way home and just listen to the wind in the trees.

Or pop into that bookstore you’ve been dying to visit but never found the time to just browse. You don’t have to buy, it’s okay to just look.

Or while you are waiting for your kid to get done with practice. Spend some time away from the field. It doesn’t take long. Just a few minutes to remember who you are and to be in the moment.

Challenge – Find some time to be alone this week and let go, if only a few minutes, of the rest of your responsibilities. You’ll be glad you did.

Wednesday Words

This may be a quick post as my week has taken a turn for being completely busy but I still wanted to check in.

Weekend Events:

This coming weekend, May 16th, for those of you in Michigan, the Michigan Writers is hosting their annual Spring Social. Here is the flyer:

May 16, 2015 Spring Social

It looks like it will be fun and a way to connect with other writers. I’ve discovered that it is truly important to make these connections, if only to not feel alone in while traveling this journey.

We will also be talking about setting up a writing group to make the connection from NaNoWriMo last for longer than November. If you are available, come on in. I can’t wait for the live music after. It should be fun.

Bookshelf Confessions

I’ve seen the challenge to post pictures of your bookshelf on Facebook so I thought I would add mine in here:

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These pictures were from a day when I was rearranging and this isn’t even all of my books. I have another shelf full that I don’t have pictured. I think I have a problem.

Though messy, I also feel the most home in this place. I’m sure some of you can relate.

Thanks for coming with me on this journey. I really appreciate the support and kind words I’ve received. I am enjoying myself and learning so much.

Confession time: What does your bookshelf look like?