Microfiction: Unlocked

When Holly tried the unmarked door at the end of the hallway in her building, it opened like it had been expecting her. She carefully placed the pile of papers in her arms on the floor, copies of a report that meant nothing to her.

A wind blew in excitedly, traveling up her pinstripe skirt, and a honeysuckle scent tickled her nose. Sunlight caressed her sandaled toes, even though she had walked through the rain not long ago that morning. Birds sang softly. Someone called her name.

Holly slipped inside, the reports forgotten, the stack tipped over onto the carpet.

Microfiction: From God

Anybody who tries to say that Creation is easy is a damn liar.

First, you need the foundations: air, water, earth. Animals come very last. Otherwise – woops – Death. You hadn’t even plotted out what that was supposed to look like!

You have to think it through, right? Because with enough time, it’s not like it’s all going to stay like that. You shape and mold and craft and then, oh shit, heavenly bodies.

Lastly, the hard part: giving it away. You hold your breath and hope they like it. Don’t break it.

Don’t watch. Walk away.

Rinse. Repeat.

 

Microfiction: Meat

She ran her hand along the alligator’s ridged spine, her fingers catching on the edges of natural armor. The salty brine smell hung in the air, a comforting brackish blanket over the pier. The cuts of meat splashed as she dropped them in front of the brute, and she shrieked with delight as it devoured everything in quick, violent gulps.

Suddenly, her stomach tightened, and her entire body curled in on itself. The hand sticky with raw juice shot to her pregnant belly. “I should go,” she said.

But she lingered, bargaining with the coming terror as long as possible.

30! (And microfiction!)

I’ve been doing this thing off and on that you all may have noticed if you’ve been here a while. If I’m feeling awesomely motivated, I try to set tasks at the beginning of the month that are ’30 (fill in the blank).’ This month, I’m doing these things:

  • 30 doodles on Instagram
  • 30 quirkyalone things I love on Twitter
  • and 30 pieces of microfiction here!

Let’s get started!

“Be kind to people. That’s what I’ve done for three hundred years.” Sergio stuck his hands into his jean pockets, fingering loose change.

“That’s all you’ve done with your immortality?” Charles asked as they stood on the bridge, watching the water below, and he pulled his collar around his sneer. “What a waste.”

Sergio shrugged. Fog covered the cityscape, leaving them suspended in a dream of white and gray. “It’s what I would have done with my mortal life, too. Take it or leave it.”

Maybe after a hundred more years, Charles might change tactics. He would wait and see.

 

Woe is You, Maybe, But WHOA is Me!

I read a piece in the New York Times today that I found during my nightly looksie of the Twittersphere. It was tucked away between political ramblings, San Diego Comic Con calm down and adorable doodles. It was about writers and their perspective on their body of work, and how there seems to be this constant malaise after pieces are done. According to this writer, at the end of the day, writers can’t even stand to look at what they’ve done, and there is this terrible feeling of disappointment.

And I found myself tipping my head and feeling really, really sad.

During my twenties, I owned the whole image of ‘serious’ writers as these downtrodden, perpetually anxious, sighing lot. “Writers are supposed to be miserable,” I was essentially told. “Happy writers aren’t good writers.” Being a writer meant, if the ‘classic’ examples were to be any indication, hating the process, loathing the words themselves and doing it because it was a calling. For if we did not, then who would? It all came off very masochistic. And not even in the good way.

If I had a time machine, I would go back to the twenty-something me, shake her a little and go, “Yeah, okay, that’s garbage. Stop looking at that shit and go write something you’ll love.”

And I don’t just mean the content itself, but the whole process. Write something you’ll love making. Write something you’ll look forward to looking at. Write something that you can hand off to a friend and be like, “Hey, man, I wrote this thing. All of these words came out of my brainstuffs!” Don’t look at what you’ve written as some sort of reminder of your mortality or some posse of gargoyle antagonists sitting on your shelf, waiting for you to go to sleep so they can whisper thoughts of fear and failure in your ear. Put party hats on your books. Sure, the early stuff probably is ripe with terrible prose, but laugh at it the way you would at baby pictures.

Yeah, dude, we’re all going to die (unless someone is here and willing to give me robot parts, because seriously, sign me the eff up). So if you’re going to take on something as your art and you are going to be spending at least a decent portion of your waking hours doing it, then maybe you ought to at least like it, right?

The Simplicity of Giving Advice with Neil Himself

This weekend, I got to watch something really cool on Twitter.

As a bit of background because you may be new here, I think Neil Gaiman is a pretty cool guy (and the Award for Understatement of the Year goes tooooo…). His fiction is great, the people in his life are awesome and inspiring (I interviewed Cat Mihos for How to Have a Day Job, and she is a really fantastic lady), and he is a wellspring of cool.

On Sunday, while waiting for his plane to take off, Neil took questions on Twitter. About anything: writing, love, publishing, John Hodgman (well, I think John just showed up to the party), etc. And I found myself really moved by the simplicity of his answers. Not even in that ‘you only have a thimble’s worth of words to use on Twitter’ but just how straight to the point it was. It felt like finding little stones at the bottom of a rushing stream. I found myself moved and inspired.

A few of my favorites included:

“I have a lot of ideas, and even more unfinished stories… How do I pick up the pencil from here?”

“When’s the best time to write?”

“And advice to someone who want to start writing?”

“Advice to self-doubting writers-in-training who got extremely rusty after a long time of not writing?”

Notice a theme?

Always write. Even if (especially if) you don’t know what you’re doing. Make it happen. Let the words come out. Make the art. Your hands will learn what to do, but only if you hush up the brain and let them move.

And remember, whether you’re an artist or a human being:

“How do you get over heartbreak?”

 

Draw Your Heroes

I can’t fly or deflect bullets with my hand
But I can put pen to paper and create worlds

I can’t commune with the dead or crush resurrected corpses
But I can draw new beginnings and better times

I can’t wave a wand and summon marvels
But I can shape creatures out of clay and cotton

I don’t have a shield or a belt or a thousand mechanical servants
But I have a voice that can sing or scream or comfort

I don’t wear a cape or a suit of armor, for battle
But I do have comfortable shoes and soft clothes, for getting to you

I don’t have super powers

But I am full of love

And I can’t turn the world back but I can keep people looking forward

 

Taking Back Social Media

For a while, I was not liking social media. I didn’t like Facebook, I didn’t like Twitter, I didn’t even like Instagram.

I was burnt out. I had gotten tired of ‘social media’ seeming synonymous with ‘I am going to show you all the worst things about myself.’ There was a tiny percentage of people whose thoughts and opinions I actually cared about, and they were like those tiny clams you see at the beach when the waves are receding. You catch just the quickest glimpse and by the time you leaned down for a closer look, there’s another wave, and they’re gone.

For a while, it was easy to just say ‘no thanks’ and spend my time online on websites that I enjoyed. But then I realized that I missed the feeling of connection and community I had in those spaces online. I missed seeing stuff from writers I liked. I missed getting to keep up with friends who lived far away.

And then I had a bit of a duh-piphany (that’s an epiphany that, at second look, you realize that it’s kind of dumb you didn’t realize it before).

I get to choose the type of experience I have online.

When I started “building my platform” as a writer, I found myself feeling like I had to be consistently following everyone. As if I was going to regret it someday if I didn’t follow them and they were suddenly looking for me. Or, in the case of my more familiar crowd like on Facebook, I thought that somehow I would be compromising my integrity unfollowing people just because I didn’t agree with them.

Now, I’m unfollowing with reckless abandon! I’m kicking people out of my feeds like it’s going out of style! I’m finding artists and writers and creative people and I’m filling in the gaps with stuff that makes me smile.

I’ve heard it said at writer’s conferences that when you deal with social media, you should focus on the ones that work for you. But the other part of that is also focusing on what works for you within the ones you choose. You don’t owe it to anyone to be miserable when you’re online. Keep joy close and the people who are watching will feel that warmth come from you.

And limit how many news sources you follow. Damn, the news is depressing.

 

5 Writer Reminders

  1. Not everything is going to be awesome. Still keep writing, though, anyway. You never know when one of those rocks is going to be a gem.
  2. Look at the world through the eyes of your pen. Make note of how things are, how things make you feel, and then put it into your work.
  3. If you are writing anything, you are doing more than a huge population of people in the world. Perspective: appreciate it.
  4. You can’t write all the time. Still try to.
  5. You are your own worst enemy. Worse than the rejections, worse than the critics, worse than all the people who smile and nod at you. Because they get to be outside of your head until you let them in.

Kitchen Crises (averted)

A teapot does not lament the soft roundness of its porcelain curvature
Nor does it aspire to the lofty place of honor that is the flute in the cabinet,
The glass never begrudging its harvest moon use.

A spoon does not hate its wide breadth, its unrelenting width,
And a fork never says that it is too sharp, too abrasive,
That existence would be easier as a knife.

The sniffer does not sit and consider constantly its fragile state,
Waiting for the day that it breaks in either an explosion of fragments
Or a slowly stretching crack from the inside out.

Stoneware does not cry.
The cutting board does not bleed.

And the spork does not fear oblivion.