Life Assignment

I stepped into a sterile glass box that whirled as it carried me into the computerized brain of the Ancient One. Red lights ran the length of my body, gathering data for the algorithm that would determine my life’s purpose or, as the Ancient called it, Life Assignment.

A disembodied voice told me this was the day I’d truly begin living my life, but what the machine considered living…wasn’t living at all.


Written for: Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week 106, Only 100 Words

Continue reading “Life Assignment”

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Morning in the Fields

Rolling hills nestled
Under a verdant blanket
Speckled with fresh dew,
Shimmering in Heaven’s Light
Just breaching the horizon.
Continue reading “Morning in the Fields”

Shadows In the City of Light

In the City of Light, there was one
Whose warm, gentle luminance made her
The epitome of all that was good.

But then her admirers noticed she possessed
Something that no one in the City of Light
Should have: a shadow. A flaw.

No longer was she a symbol of purity,
But an object of disgust. So, her beloved
Admirers turned their backs on her.

As they walked away, she noticed dark voids
Trailing behind each of them that her light–
Now an object of disgust–couldn’t illuminate.

“Shadows,” she realized with some disbelief.
“Shadows as dark as mine.”


Written for: Patrick Jennings’ Shadow ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #125, Pix to Words

Rest

She lay rain-soaked on the cold pavement. Her eyes fixated on the gray clouds overhead as a paramedic pumped stale air into her lungs. She inhaled, but her lungs refused to contract.

I’m going to die, she thought. Yet, her body continued its futile fight for survival.

Then the blaring sirens, roaring rain, screaming paramedic, and her laboring breaths dimmed as if someone had turned the volume down on her life.

It was just her and the paramedic in the rain, but she could feel another presence. A safe presence.

Something warm caressed her cheek. “Rest, child,” a voice whispered. “Rest.”


Written For: Bikurgurl’s 100 Word Wednesday (week 56)  Continue reading “Rest”

Writing + Day Job: How I Found the Time to Torture Fictional People

…to write a work of genius is almost always a feat of prodigious difficulty. Everything is against the likelihood that it will come from the writer’s mind whole and entire. Generally material circumstances are against it. Dogs will bark; people will interrupt; money must be made; health will break down. Further, accentuating all these difficulties and making them harder to bear is the world’s notorious indifference.

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Writing is hard and it gets worse when Life grabs you by the throat and throws you around like some wild animal. This happened to me during my first two weeks at my day job. It was difficult to juggle my new schedule, college, and writing. I did something horrible and I stopped working on my writing projects because I believed I didn’t have the time to.

But there’s always time! All I had to do was change a few things in my routine.

I decided to sacrifice something

I needed to be honest with myself.  How bad did I want to write? Pretty freaking bad. What was I willing to give up? Hmmm…two hours of sleep?

Yep. I did something I NEVER thought I would do. I started waking up an hour or so before I needed to get to work and used the extra time to torture my characters. I felt pretty good about myself afterward. I’m not too sure what that says about my mental health, however.

I kept a notetaking tool on me at all times

Whenever a good idea pops into my head, my inner self says, “You don’t need to write this down. You’ll remember it.” Then, four hours later, the only thing I can remember was how awesome the idea was. Content be damned.

This is why I started using OneNote to jot down ideas or freewrite. I don’t have the luxury to write during my working hours, so I usually do this during my breaks.

I learned to suck it up and write after work

Like any other introverted weirdo, I feel mentally exhausted when I come home from work. All I want to do is kick back on the couch and rest my eyes for two seconds…which somehow turns into a three-hour power nap.

My art is important, so I do my best to push through the exhaustion and write anyways.

…Or that’s what I would do if I was a responsible writer. Instead, I work on my projects after I take my power naps. Don’t judge me!

I started making the most out of my off days

I know. Days off are sacred! It’s a time to relax, party, binge watch a new Netflix series and etc.. However, it’s a waste to squander a free day. So before I start a six-hour gaming session, I invest some time into my projects because they’re important to me.

 

Now, these are the strategies I use to work some writing time into my life, but it may not work for you. I suggest analyzing your day and habits. What can you give up / limit? Where can you squeeze some writing time?

Whatever you do, the most important thing to remember is that there’s always time.

How do you find time to write around your day job / non-writing career? Share them in the comments below.

My Letter to Fear

Dear Fear,

You’ve always been there for me. Always made sure I was safe. Always kept me alive. Always looked out for me.

…Until the day I dreamt.

Remember that day? When I had the audacity to believe I could be more. When I thought I could spend my days bathing in my creativity. When I was stupid enough–your words, not mine–to believe I could actually become a self-sufficient writer.

Remember?

You ought to. You poisoned that dream with paranoia, paralyzed me from achieving it and, worst of all, brought me down when I showed the slightest inclination to defying you.

Guess what? I‘m done letting you control me.

I’m not completely abandoning you (you’re necessary to some degree), but I’m limiting your influence on my dream. You will try and stop me, but this time…you’re not winning.

Sincerely,

A Dreamer

 

How I View Writing Contests and Magazine Submissions

When I first started submitting my stories to contests and magazines, a question bothered me: would the judges praise me for my goddess-like storytelling skills or want to cleanse their eyes after reading my garbage?

My naive mind couldn’t handle being rejected from my first submission. I felt like giving up on writing and didn’t pen anything for months. I eventually realized that my expectations were unrealistic and developed a new mindset. It goes a little like this…

It’s not impossible to win or get accepted, but it’s also not a guarantee.

Why do some writers feel disappointed when they receive a rejection or lose in a writing competition? I think it’s hubris (What do you think?).

The reality is that it’s unlikely your fiction will come out on top if you consider the slew of other writers who submitted along with you. Think about it: if you submit your fiction into an international contest or magazine, your piece will be competing against BILLIONS of other pieces.

This isn’t to say that it’s impossible to win, but it’s most definitely NOT a guarantee!

Don’t be snooty!

Non-paying avenues can be just as beneficial to your writing career as paying ones.

If a free-to-enter, non-paying magazine with a large audience base features your work, guess what? You’re getting exposure on a well-established platform with readers looking for awesome writers. It’s a chance to grow your platform and advance your writing career.

Rejection means not for them. Not “not for the entire world!”

Whether your piece wins a contest or is accepted at a magazine depends on the judges and editors reading it. They’re humans—like you—with unique tastes and they may not like your work. That’s fair. Get over it. Art is subjective and fiction is art. You can’t please everyone.

Rejection doesn’t devalue your writing. It just means you have to keep submitting until you do find those who will like your work (side note: some contest judges and magazine editors will give you a free critique—use it to improve your writing…or not!). You can even use your stories to build your readership on your blog or sell them as a collection.

 

Ever since I adopted this philosophy, I stress less when I submit my stories. It’s not a full-proof plan, but’s it’s something!

Do you have any submission philosophies? Is submitting to contests and magazines beneficial? Let’s chat in the comments below!

Short Stories That Moved Me

I’m always amazed when I read a good short story especially since I know that they’re not easy to write. Despite their difficulty, short stories aren’t talked about as much as novels (or maybe I’m wrong?). So, let’s talk about them!

Whether they had me crying or cringing in fear, I’m going to share with you four short stories that moved me this year.

What it Means When a Man Falls From the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

31522415In Arimah’s story, global warming crippled today’s political giants causing them to flee to Africa for safety. It’s here where our gifted main character, Nneoma, lives. She’s a rare mathematician that uses a special formula to extract emotional pain from her subjects—for a price! Like most in her profession, she’s wealthy and only caters to the highest bidder. But there’s an unforeseen price for taking in all those horrible emotions.

While the world building, overall story concept, and Nneoma’s unlikable personality were interesting, what moved me was the people Nneoma encountered. She wanted to avoid a young girl, for example, because she could see the child’s pain–and it was a doozy: her family died in a flood, she was abused in refugee camps, and was hated because she wasn’t a full African citizen.

Heartbreaking, right? Nneoma came to tears when she extracted the girl’s pain into herself and, honestly, I almost did too.

Kin by Bruce McAllister

3149899Since Earth is overpopulated, a young boy’s unborn sister must be aborted by government decree. He reaches out to an Antolouian assassin, an alien from a complex culture, to kill the man who signed the order. As the story moves on, an unforgettable friendship form between the desperate boy and lonely alien assassin.

Their relationship starts off professional, but, as we learn more about the alien’s culture and that it’s an exile, the two begin to respect each other.

What makes this relationship moving is that everyone is afraid of the alien and for good reason. It’s kinda creepy:

Closing his eyes, the boy could see the black synthetic skin the alien wore as protection against alien atmospheres. Under that suit ropes of muscles and tendons coiled and uncoiled, rippling even when the alien was still. In the doorway the long neck had not been extended, but he knew what it could do. When it telescoped forward—as it could instantly—the head tipped up in reflex and the jaws opened.

But the boy shocks the alien when he ignores his fears and treats it like a person. Turns out the alien only wanted to be…well, wanted and treated with decency.

Don’t we all?

The Shadow in the Rose Garden by D.H. Lawrence

22587315We follow a not so happy couple on their anniversary: the wife is manipulative, the husband (Frank) is possessive, and both are emotionally withdrawn from each other. The wife decides to take a stroll in a local garden where she’s reunited with her long lost lover, Archie, who supposedly died in a war. Only he’s not the same because…well, he’s bat shit crazy. She runs home distraught and demands to be alone. Frank, however, has had enough of her disassociated behavior. The two argue and both walk away broken hearted.

The difference in how the couple communicated in the beginning (withholding their emotions) versus how they communicated in the end (explosive emotional argument!) is what grabbed my attention. Plus, Lawrence’s writing made me drool. His characters purposely try to hurt each other and the descriptions between their dialogue speaks volumes:

He shrank, and became white, impersonal. There was a long, paralysed silence. He seemed to have gone small.

“You never thought to tell me all this before I married you,” he said, with bitter irony, at last.

To Room Nineteen by Doris Lessing

1290402Susan Rawlings has a marriage that would make anyone green with envy (at least, that’s how her peers felt). Only it’s not so great. Her husband cheated on her and being a stay-at-home mom isn’t fulfilling. She decides to separate herself from her family by renting a motel room where, after discovering her husband cheated on her a second time, she commits suicide.

I thought it was sad how Susan felt so unsatisfied with her life. She couldn’t get the things she craved (like returning to her creative career at the advertising firm) because others depended on her for their happiness. To make matters worse, she was too prideful to express her inner troubles and this unwillingness to be vulnerable is what leads to her downfall.

 

There you have it: four moving short stories you should make time in your life to read.

Has a short story ever moved you in some way?

Coffee Share: In which I’m trying to be more creative

I think I know how vampires feel…um, the running from the sun part not the weird blood craving thing. Daytime highs around here are always in the upper 90s and sometimes kiss 110! I’ve spent most of my Summer trying to hide from the big, bright jerk in the sky. So, if we were having coffee, we’d have it later in the day when it’s cooler. Then, I’d tell you…

I completed my Creativity Challenge (aka I’m a Camp NaNoWriMo “Winner”)

Camp-2017-Winner-Profile-PhotoI learned something about myself this year: if I’m not being creative, I’m filled with anxiety and am very cranky. After going through this for six months, I decided to do something about it.

So, I used Camp NaNoWriMo as an excuse to be creative for at least 90 minutes everyday (2790 minutes total).

And…I performed better than I thought I would: I’ve written a total of 69 pieces of flash fiction, short stories, micro poetry, and micro fiction; spent twenty hours outlining Knight and then completed a 15,800 word first draft; and brush lettered for six hours.

Today, I feel rejuvenated and ready to have more fun with my creativity. So, yeah, mission accomplished!

I saw Spider-Man: Homecoming

In my opinion, this was the best Spider-Man movie EVER. It totally bypassed the origin story and just got to the point. Thank you, Marvel!

I’m renovating my blog with an emphasis on creativity

I’ve blogged here since 2014 and it’s been great! I’ve met awesome readers/writers, gushed about reading, shared my writing life and discussed the technical side of writing.

But…it’s missing my creative side—and that’s the side of me that wanted to start this blog in the first place.

I’ve been renovating my blog in between writing sessions so that it better represents me as a fiction writer. This meant fixing my homepage, rewriting my About page, and making my WIP page more dynamic. I’m also thinking about posting some flash fiction or creative nonfiction just to spice my posting schedule up (after I, you know, get over the fear of sharing them).

 

So that’s my coffee share! What’ve you been up to?