Learning From the Masters

chalkboard-620316_1280I am on a continual quest to improve my writing. Those first million words are the hardest.

One thing I’ve discovered is that many author’s want to give back. One way they do this is by offering services in their area’s. During my writing retreat in June, I met with a couple of writers who have been published that offer teaching and feedback for your writing.

Katey Schultz is one such writer. She writes and teaches flash fiction and is currently working on her first novel. She’s written a book of short pieces called Flashes of War, which won the Military Writers Society of America’s 2013 book of the year. This book is a fantastic read no matter if you enjoy short or long pieces. She also has a blog entitled, Katey Schultz Writer at Large. Check it out if you have some time.

This summer, Katey has offered a service called Flashy July. This involves weekly prompts, short-short stories and feedback. It is a good opportunity to expand writing skills.

There is an unexpected side effect of this type of challenge. When I signed up, I was very excited about the prospect of someone in my genre seeing my work and giving feedback. But since the beginning of the month, I have been paralyzed in my writing. The first story is due tomorrow and I am so not ready for it. I have a story but it is most definitely not in submission form.

My goal tonight is to do a rewrite of the story just to clean it up. Tomorrow I will actually finished the edits as I don’t think the story is due until midnight. Regardless of how nervous I am about this process, I am excited to get the feedback from someone who writes flash.

This is my first experience with this type of feedback process. I hope to give updates, whether good or bad as we go along. I believe each experience has something to teach as long as I am open to learning.

Wish me luck.

Just a Bit of Flash

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Since I am spending June writing pieces of Flash Fiction, I’ve decided to share a recent piece. I hope you like it.

Full

I slam the cabinet door shut in frustration. The day is ruined. A slamming door and angry words complete it. All that work for nothing.

Cutting, chopping and stirring for an anniversary dinner. Hoping this time he would enjoy the meal. Steak, medium, just the way he likes it. His favorite potatoes and a herbed tossed salad, the meal complete and full. To top it off, chocolate peanut butter pie, a favorite of ours.

His smile, cool and expectant, gives me hope. Just five minutes more and we can eat, I tell him. He nods and sits in front of the silent television. I see him waver between turning it on and letting it go. He lets it go.

Six minutes later I have everything perfect. Steak, made just right and his favorite salad dressing sitting on the table. Its ready, I tell him. He comes without a word. The smile on his face is stiff. Thank you, it looks wonderful, he tells me.

We both begin to eat without another word. He cuts into the steak with a butter knife. I smile inwardly because this time there can be no complaints. We finish the meal without another word.

“What’s the occasion?” He asks.

Shock appears on my face and I cannot speak. Does he not remember what day this is? Before I recover, he goes on. Didn’t you remember that I am not eating red meat? Are you trying to sabotage my efforts as usual? How can you be so thoughtless? With that, he stands and walks out of the room.

As I sit, still unable to comprehend what has just happened I am reminded of another time such as this. I remember a favorite teacher and wanting to show her a picture of my favorite dress. For my effort, I was punished for using the wrong paper. I don’t remember shedding tears that day but my heart still hurts when I think about it.

That day I remained silent but no longer. I am done. I find a bag and throw some things inside, not caring what. I look toward where he sits, glowering, behind a closed door and find my purse. I walk out without another word.

 

Ready for Retreat

stones-530865_1280It’s nearly the middle of the month so I thought I would do an update on the happenings in my life.

I started a challenge of writing a flash fiction story daily for the month of June. As of this moment I am right on track. I have discovered that I like the stories I am creating in this month. Several of them have a lot of potential. I’m not stopping to edit them but hopefully after June I will be able to.

I am also getting ready to head out to this writing retreat. I’ve never done this before. I’ve been to one day writing conferences but this one is four days long and will focus on novel writing. I’m rather excited since I struggle with moving forward with that particular piece of writing.

A few days ago I presented my first chapter to my writing group and got some incredibly helpful feedback. I’m looking forward to taking those comments and the rest of my notes to this event and hopefully putting things together.

While I am gone I will also be attending a one day blog conference at the same location as the retreat. The subject is on the content of blogs so perhaps I  will be making changes in the future. I tend to implement what I learn at these conferences and I believe this will be incredibly helpful. I can’t wait to get there.

I have been reminded how hard it is to get ready for a week away from home. There are so many things to think about, pack and prepare. I’m quite certain I have overpacked but you never know what you might need.

It’s been a busy week and next week will be too. I think I will need a vacation from my vacation.

We forget that peace and quiet is needed too. Though this retreat and summer are proving to be quite a challenge, I am still looking for those still, silent times. If water is involved, all the better. If not, I will still enjoy the moment.

How do you plan to retreat this summer?