How Do You Satisfy Your Creative Cravings?

I am of the belief that writing is as much fun as painting or photography or sculpture or any other Creative Art. Yes, it’s frustrating, time-consuming, methodical, stressful, and more.

It’s also inspirational, spiritual, cosmic, and thrilling.

My problem lately is that I’ve gotten in the driver’s seat of my fourth novel, and although I’ve worked out the story line and am loving writing about my space traveler, I miss writing a short story now and then. I have been perusing various contests and publication opportunities, and I find areas I’d love to try. This one wants a creature story. This one wants supernatural fiction. This one wants pirates and ghosts.

What fun! What adventure!  But what do I write about?

I think I hang out in novel land because the writing is long and real and I can keep the same idea throughout the pages. Short stories require separate thought, separate ideas. Unique ideas. And eventually my love of writing starts slipping on the confusing bed of ideas and plots and endings.

Do you hide in one genre over another? Do you have a desire to paint something totally different yet stay within your safe and more experienced area? Or draw something totally out of your comfort zone?

I have a folder of stories, some finished, some barely started. Few would fit into the guidelines I so fawningly follow. Most of my good pieces are written more on a whim of the moment — an impression on the drive home, an interlude between two or more people at the bus stop. My short stories are based on a bolt of lightning that directly hits me. It’s a lot harder if I’m out searching for that bolt.

I often encourage my blog readers to break through your self-imposed sanctions and to go for it. Reach for the sky — or dig deep into the cavern.

I still believe in that.

But I sometimes think it’s getting harder and harder to dig into that fertile creative ground and come up with something new. Something that will fit within someone else’s parameters.

How do you juggle all your cravings? Do you stick with what works or do you find time to experiment and go off in left field now and then? I’d love to know that there are other seasoned and non-seasoned writers who are as confused and excited as me.

Let’s see now…as the website says…think adventures and hauntings at sea, shipwrecks and buried treasure, treacherous waters, sea spirits, ghostly galleons, giant squid, kraken and sailors gone mad.

I can do that…can’t I?

Read This Right Now!

10410939_10203578780099885_8715010658202880461_nTo all you current and wannabe bloggers, I came across some interesting statistics the other day, courtesy of Statistic Brain http://www.statisticbrain.com/attention-span-statistics .

As far as us lovers of blab go:

The average attention span in 2013 was 8 seconds.

The average attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds.

The average attention span of a gold fish is 9 seconds.

I just imagine the statistics for 2015 are even more mind blowing. What does that hold for us chatterboxes? Are we full of hot  air? Do we think we are Shakespeare when we are merely Rocky?

I tried to think of things you can do in 8 seconds.  You can:

Glance over one’s resume

Count to 8

Delete your Facebook account

Deseed a pomegranate with a spoon

Speed dial Japan

Make a bologna sandwich

So what the article was saying is — keep your message tight, short, to the point.

Right — and Abraham Lincoln wasn’t really our president, either.

I looked back at my blogs. I’ve been chatting away since 2011. I must say I have cut back on my rhetoric. Back then, Dinner with the Queen (6/22/11) was 1015 words. Chocolate and the Tuscan Sun (4/23/11) was 1016 words. My last few blogs have been more reasonable. Incredible Edibles (686).  Evidence was 452 words. BFFs was 564 words. Shhhh Kitty Kitty Kitty was 686 (am I pushing it here?). I am trying to heed the warning that these days it’s really easy to bore people. To numb people. I have them flip past your book/page/article and move onto the next. And the next.

Some articles I’ve read say you should be able to tell your story in two sentences. Anything else is wasted work. (Of course, that particular article was over 1,000 words long). I know we are all used to Yahoo headlines. After all, that’s how many of us get our news these days.

But how do you know if you’re missing anything of substance? How do you know if you’ll enjoy what you read if the story is only 20 words? How do you know what the person(s) is feeling or thinking or doing in less than two sentences? I think eating only one piece of chocolate is easier.

I could shorten my blogs to a couple of sentences:

Evidence: My cat steals things from my purse and leaves them on the dog’s pillow. She is naughty.

Incredible Edibles: Going to a Creative Leftovers School would be fun. You could learn what to do with leftovers.

They just don’t have the same panasche as the thought process of the sneaky fat cat or the  truth behind impulse buying and portion control, do they?

I suppose that’s what Facebook and Twitter are for. Short, sweet spots of information. Glance and forget. Or glance and send to yourself so you don’t forget it. I have about 15 recipes on FB that I’ve sent myself so I wouldn’t lose them in the plethora of information spinning past me every day. Don’t ask me if I’ve ever gone back to look at them, though.

I think writing, like anything else, is done half way in the middle. Sometimes it takes paragraphs to describe scenery or someone’s evil thoughts. Other times, a few words will do. You will “get it” no matter which you choose. Just be careful the tone in which you convey your message.

You may be describing a decadent desert and someone will mistake it for porn. Worse yet, you may be describing porn and someone will think you’re talking about strawberry shortcake.

 

Repeat on a Saturday Morning

rI’m supposed to be vacuuming the house at the moment; the kitchen the next battle ground. But you know what happens when creativity pokes you in the back like a stick. I started organizing my laptop, which led to making sure I had copies of all my blogs, which led me to the one I did a few weeks ago about being published, which led me to thinking that maybe not all were able to follow the link, which led me to….well, you can figure out the rest.

For those who might have wanted to read my short story but never got a chance to follow the yellow brick road, here it is. I hope you like it.

We Speak as One

 

I don’t know how many of us are here now. Our weight steadily increased until one day the machines lay silent.  The parameters of our existence really do not bother us much anymore. Weight and length and color are nothing more than shadowed measurements of something once thought important.

We are tired, some of us more than others.  Our collective consciousness is slowly seeping out of this world, thoughts of ever-after more a smile than a possibility.  I think there are six of us here on this flatbed. We mouth colors of Regal Black and Arctic White and Matador Red, but no sound comes out.  Perhaps that is what we were once called.  It doesn’t really matter now.  Our identities no longer lay within the tints of our shell. The cold September wind is whipping around us, rhythmically snapping some long forgotten trim against someone’s bumper.  We lay together, six tall, waiting for our last road trip, trying to remember what we once were.

As we try to sort our individualities from of this pile of crushed and bent steel, wisps of once-upon-a-time mingle and become one long thought:  “I carried the homecoming queen in the high school parade was the fastest car in Jefferson County remember children fighting in my backseat on their way to grandma’s my engine never really ran the way it was supposed to.”  Our minds are slow now, almost non-existent.  I don’t recall if it was me that celebrated the millennium at a park in New Jersey or the Nova two stacks above me.  One of our back seats is full of motor oil; someone else’s is full of blood.  It’s these sorts of sleepy memories the six of us share now as our bodies are crushed to one-eighth of our former glory.  The white Toyota on top tries to boast of big V8’s and posi-traction, but the collective knows Toyotas never had those kinds of engines.  Red Bel Air doesn’t remember what year he came off the assembly line, but is almost positive the first song played on his radio was “Love Me Tender.”  The rest of us don’t know if that is true — most barely remember yesterday.

We try to recall a time when the roads were ours.  When our owners rushed home to wash us, took us on drives through the countryside, sat in front of houses while lovers said goodbye.  Someone says there was a time when pride of ownership was the foundation of his existence; the car on the top hasn’t been around long enough to know what that means.  One of us has been abused since we were bought off the lot; someone else swears they were pampered until they were driven off the road in a thunderstorm.

Black Skylark doesn’t send many vibrations through us anymore.  He lies at the bottom of this crushed steel heap, his days of glory long gone.  He remembers little, as his body was mangled beyond recognition by a high-speed drunk driver one Saturday night.  But it is just as well, he moans.  Our purpose was never to last beyond our usefulness. AMC Concord right beneath me is ever the optimist. Thinks his owner will come and reclaim him from the shadows of the abyss before it is too late. If I had much emotion left I would tell him it’s already too late. There will be no reclamation for us. Nothing but transition.

The platform on which we lay is cold and hard. There are no wrinkles, no folds, no contours of steel as with us.  We hear we are leaving soon — the one, last, great adventure.  Words in the distance barely reach us.  Scrap yard.  Recycling plant. Shredder.  Those words are alien to us.  Stick shift. Transmission. Spoilers.  Now these are words we understand.  Words that ring true about what we once were.  Who we are still.

Tired now, our collective efforts to share one last glimpse into our pasts are failing.  Style and accessories mean little when you are crushed flat against another.  Perhaps we were once fresh and new, but all that is left is this pathetic tower of crumpled steel and broken dreams

We…Speak…As…One

We…Speak…No……More……

Home on the Farm

034I have always enjoyed the feel of this blog…I try to make it light, witty, and, if I’m lucky, life-affirming. This is one side of me. Like all of you, there are many facets to my diamond. I read a very warm, articulate piece by my fellow blogger ittymac (http://ittymac.wordpress.com/) which made me think about all my other writing facets.

I’m going out on a limb this evening and posting one of my favorite stories. It’s about 1,036 words long, so it shouldn’t take you too long to read it. It is a tribute (in a way) to my father. I hope it touches you like it touched me.

Home on the Farm

He woke up before the crowing of the rooster, something he hadn’t done in a long time.  There was only one rooster left now, a strutting white leghorn with tan wings and black spots on his chest.  The old man stretched carefully,  surprised to find the shooting pains in his legs gone.  Remarkable. Last night the pain had been so bad he had to double his medication just to make it to his bed.  Now — now his legs felt sturdy and strong.

Sitting up in bed, his watery eyes looked out the window towards the coming sunrise.  The light sparkled like a million crystal chips shimmering at the edge of his vision, stretching the morning clouds into ribbons of pink and gold.  Someone once told him that the sunrises were brighter these days because of all the pollution in the air, but he didn’t agree.  John had witnessed many a sunrise on his farm, many a sunrise and sunset since his father plowed the land when he was a boy.  Maybe they all didn’t sparkle like this one, but they were all unique, all beautiful.

Climbing out of bed and into the bathroom, John savored  the fact that his bodily functions were once again running smoothly.  What an enjoyable respite from the dribbling and splashing he had been going through lately!  Looking into the mirror, his large blue eyes were the clearest he had seen them in a while, the age splotches on his face nearly non-existent.  His hands didn’t tremble as he shaved, nor did he need his glasses to comb his hair. It was about time.

Donning his flannel and overalls, John called his hound to come join him on a morning walk.  The 84-year-old had not wandered through his farmland in ages, and his legs felt so great, so strong, he couldn’t resist the urge to revisit fields that had seen better days.  Bouncer didn’t come running, though, but merely slept in the puddle of sunlight that fell in front of the living room sofa.  Fine, John thought.  Sleep the morning away.

Opening the back door, the chill of the morning air danced around him, invigorating his senses.  The scent of hay and grass filled his nostrils, along with the earthy sweat of horses and cows.  John looked down at his legs and for a moment worried they wouldn’t carry him across the porch and down the stairs to the old barn.  He hadn’t been able to make that trek in quite some time, his body having grown more useless as the years passed.  But this morning — this morning was different.  There wasn’t a cloud hanging over his thoughts anymore.  No depression, no drugs to slow him down. He could do it.

He cautiously moved down the stairs and followed the dirt path that led to the empty red barn. Vivid memories of his father and mother and brothers bombarded him as he neared the dilapidated structure. His parents had moved to Wisconsin from Poland, hoping to find freedom and a new life in the rural countryside that looked so much like their native land. His father tended 25 cows in his day; John almost 40 during his middle years. Adding chickens and a couple of bulls to the mix, he made a decent living, enough to support a wife and three children in the heyday of the 50’s.

But the kids grew up and moved to the big city, and his wife took on a bout of cancer about ten years back and never recovered, leaving the farm and livestock to run wild with abandonment.  John finally allowed the neighbor to plant corn in his empty fields, providing a small but decent return that, combined with his small pension, afforded him a comfortable retirement.

The past was the past, and now all John could visualize was the barn full of cows and the chickens raising a ruckus in their pen somewhere behind the milk cans and the  ’52 Ford pickup that was down a quart of oil.  His footsteps were lighter than air, quick and sure, walking the path they had carved into the earth for the past 80 years. He saw horses in the pasture and hay bales stacked up in the loft and barrels full of cracked corn.

It was incredible how good it felt to be alive, to feel the earth and the farm under his feet, the sunshine on his weathered face, to hear his children laugh and scream and chase the dogs around the front yard.  John fleetingly wondered about his newfound energy, the firmness of his limbs, the accuracy of his eyesight. There were no hints of arthritis or pneumonia; there were no more regrets about the past or thoughts of suicide. It was as if he had always been this way.

Past the farm equipment, through the barn and out the double doors on the other side, John spotted his wife sitting on the picnic table under the huge oak tree at the bottom of the hill, laughing and talking to his mother and father. Margaret took on a subtle glow as she beckoned him to join her under the overgrown tree.  His father sat in the wooden chair that used to sit by the fireplace, and his mother stretched out on a blanket at the base of the tree.  The kids squealed in the background, the dogs barked and the crows threatened from their perches atop the trees.

The sun crested above the distant pines and the rooster crowed, cracking the morning with its triumphant sound.  At that moment John heard a jumbling of sounds:  a phone ringing, a dog howling, voices and noises and the shattering of glass.  But it must have been the wind playing tricks, carrying nonsense through the open fields from the farms down the way.  He hesitated as a thought, a rationalization, tried to take form in his mind.  But it was gone as quickly as it appeared. The world was full of enchanting sounds and scents, and it all belonged to him.  He turned, and smiling, went into the arms of his beautiful wife.

The reunion had begun.   John was home. Home on the farm.