Thursday, October 19, 2017

six word stories

You may or may not be familiar with six word stories. These seem to have stemmed from Hemingway's response to a challenge to write a story in six words.  His story was
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

There have been many adaptations over the years. The popularity of six word stories comes and goes - memoir, humor, sad stories, mysteries, and so on. There have been other iterations such as six sentence stories. There used to be a publication (physical and virtual) of six sentence stories; I wasn't able to find the original site in a recent search, so maybe it has gone away.

In my recent search for the six sentence story site and searching what is out there on six word stories, I discovered that there was a resurgence on Reddit around 2014 (r/sixwordstories) and there is still some activity there.

photo from Conversations in a Bar

The reason all of this came out is from a "spark" which happened when I went to pick up dinner. I ordered from a nearby Chinese food restaurant. They have a medium size dining room and a bar I've never been in, but the dining room is to the left of the cashier station as you come in the front door , fully visible, and the bar is to the right of the cashier station, partially visible.

The karaoke nights started as once a week there, many years ago. Back when people were still smoking in bars, because that was another thing about the bar. It is right there and you could smoke in the bar and the smoke wafted out to the small waiting area near the register and over into the non-smoking restaurant.

So, tonight, I went to pick up our food. I was waiting for the obviously regular customer in front of me to pay and leave and then it was my turn. I know he was a regular because of the banter between him and the employee, she knew his pattern and said so, and they poked each other and had a good conversation.

The restaurant side seemed to be completely empty now this guy was gone. There was another customer standing out front whose order was done just before mine; they handed her the food and she left before getting to me. Two other people came in after me and were reading through the menu on the waiting bench behind me.

So, I'm standing there paying in space between the empty restaurant and the darkened bar, I can see the colored lights on the unseen wall reflected in the mirror behind the shelves of liquor lined up in front of a mirrored wall. A midnight blue glow from the dim lighting. I sense cigarettes and cigars though I know no one is smoking inside, but the body memory of it or the actual smell of it from so many years still lingers.

And a man starts singing karaoke while I'm waiting. While the employee goes back to check on my order and I'm waiting to pay.

There is no clapping, no drunk voices joining him, no one cheering him on.

One man in the bar singing a song I don't recognize and he's not the worst karaoke singer I've ever heard and I have heard better. But the point was, I thought, this is a six word story right here.

And that's what led up to this.

And the fact that I'm ramping up my daily writing practice. I have a bit more to do to get the memoir to the point I want it to be before NaNoWriMo starts (which isn't "done" - but there is a goal and I'm almost there). So I decided to start where I am and it's here.

A six word story with some research and sharing resources about the origin of the form.

My six word story:

Singing karaoke to an empty bar.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Mid-October check in

It is now October 15th.

You know what that means, right? If you know me or have followed The Writing Vein for, well, since its inception, you know what comes after October, right? And I'm not talking just November.

It is NaNovember!

Yes. Halfway through October means that NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. I will, again, be participating in the writing marathon with the goal of writing (at least) 50,000 words beginning at midnight:01 AM on November 1st and submitting said 50k+ words by 11:59 PM on November 30th.

Up until a few days ago I had no idea what I was going to write about. But I wasn't fussed by that; I am a Pantser. Sometimes I go into NaNo with nada. Oftentimes I have a title. One year I went into it with a set of characters and a starting place. But every year I have a great time and I get a ton of writing done. A few days ago a photograph inspired me and while I was talking to someone, a thought occurred - That would be my NaNo start, and my NaNoBook cover.

This year, assuming I am a winner - which I do assume I will be - it will be consecutive win #10. Go, me!

I set myself a goal of getting the next memoir draft done, with everything revised/rewritten up to my current standards. That didn't happen and I new as we hit October that I wasn't going to make it, if I wanted to keep sleep and sanity and health intact Which I do. So I revised my goal and this I will make. I am not there yet, but I do have 16 days. *smile*

My new goal is to have all of the "gaps" written and have duplication weeded out of the draft. That I can do. It will be a bit of a push (the weeded out part), but it's just enough of a push to keep me going and not too much that I develop inertia.

I also accomplished a big personal task today and that feels really good. A task which needed to be done anyway, but I just realized it is also a critical one before NaNoWriMo hits. And I did it.

Now to sleep so I can get a little bit of writing in tomorrow before I go to work.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Question: Break or No Break

... and why!

What do you think about authors taking a break after completing a draft before moving to the next step for that project? Should they do it or not? Why or why not?

Do you?

Or maybe you take a break after a chapter or two. Or after a certain number of pages or words.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


I made a commitment to myself for completion of this draft. Then I thought maybe I would complete it earlier due to vacation. Which didn't happen and I'm working with that being okay, because I was on vacation. And it's okay to have non-productive times (at least that's what I've been told *smile*).

Now I'm looking at my deadline coming on fast and I wonder how I will ever make it.

I'm not sure how, but I will try. I want this draft done before November because I want to work on something else in November (NaNoWriMo).

I've made significant progress in the past several month - but I have much to do. Sometimes I'm excited by the prospect of everything I have to do and sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that I think I should just give up..

Don't tell me I need to consider that option; I really don't want it except in the moments where I wonder how I will ever get ahead and get it published.

I will.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


photo from FineArtAmerica
Thinking about pace today.

I just returned to work after three weeks off.

The first weekend was spent in a writing workshop. Three days at the Oregon Gardens Resort with the fantabulous Lidia Yuknavitch and Domi Shoemaker and all of the incredible Corporeal Writing participants willing to dive into Eros, Heat, Summer writing, reading, being present. This was a wonderful experience, again. The best way to start an elongated time off work.

Then I spent two plus weeks traveling to, from, and being in Taos, NM. Part of my heart is there, pieces of soul connect. I don't know if I could live there full-time and yet a few days away and I'm tugged back. Maybe. I don't know. But that doesn't matter.

What matters is that this is the first time in a long time that I let down, over a period of time. There were little calls back to my other-day life: a little bit of theatrical interpreting, and I was (still am) participating in an online manuscript workshop. Those were all fine. I successfully avoided most work emails. It was an unproductive time, which in this case, is good. Really good.

Then I noticed, back here at work, pace.

It hasn't been a super fast pace most of the day (t was a little, for a while). But I hadn't realized how much I had taken in the Taos pace. I know there is one. But, wow, I really did fall into that pattern.

I could like it.

At least for a while.

Noticing the difference. And maybe I need more of that more often.


Pace. and Space. and Sky.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Check in - self-inspiration

Summer 2016 Corporeal Writing Seasonal Workshop. photo by Domi

I can't believe it is now August 10th. And don't you hate it when people start off a conversation like that? I do.

But, it is.

So - I just posted my final 10k submission in the manuscript workshop for this round. That is 30k words of my book I have shared with others. And on which I have received some really good, helpful, insightful feedback and perspectives.

I've also gained insights into the project. Revised and re-visioned significant pieces. Written new sections and taken things out. It feels like it is coming together.

I also signed up for the Winter Intensive. That online workshop in the Literary Kitchen with Ariel Gore, with daily assignments and feedback to keep my writing moving and active during that distracting and potentially triggering holiday time. And I signed up for the Winter Manuscript class. This will be the first time she's taught it in the winter and I hope to have the entire draft at the next level and ready to "take it on home" with that workshop. I hope.

That's where I'm at. Oh - and I am going to the Corporeal Writing Summer Heat writing workshop this weekend, again at the beautiful Oregon Gardens Resort. I loved it last year and I know I will this year, as well. Love it and am nervous and ready to go to that place with my writing, again.

Writing. Revising. More writing.

And trying to build some loafing into my schedule. Because loafing helps with creativity and brain and body require some down time, too. (And that was in our weekly assignment this week in the Kitchen; but I do need it anyway.)

The project is moving forward. Yes.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Revision Is Hard (for me)

I am in a 12-week manuscript class and we just passed the halfway mark.

It is an amazing experience with Ariel Gore at the helm, and a group of skilled writers with so many good stories to tell. There are writing exercises, prompts, feedback, reading other authors' words, resources Q&As, and more.

It is very helpful and my project is moving forward.

Moving forward and away from me and I chase it and I catch up and more comes along and I see many possibilities. Building that onto the revelations and experience at Writing by Writers Methow Valley retreat/workshop in May, which built onto Corporeal Writing workshops with Lidia Yuknavitch and Domi, which built on earlier workshops with Ariel in the Literary Kitchen.

Possibilities for strengthening my writing, making words clearer and the stories pop and sizzle and feel right.

And, still, I am not daunted by the new material. I am excited to work in lost or forgotten details. To take a couple of found threads of my stories to weave them together. To work with memory and storytelling and, well, you'll have to wait and see. I am excited to make changes.

Once in a while that little critical voice comes along which whispers (or yells, although its voice is losing power) that I can't/shouldn't/won't/don't dare write this thing into completion. It brings up doubts and fears and old confusion of responsibility and truth and wonder and forgetting.

The forgetting is the harder part. Forgetting is easy and it used to be that forgetting happened without notice, without any signal, and celebration or achievement slipped away, too. Not just the hard stuff but the good stuff, too. It all slipped away between a blink and a breath, shut in a room far away out of sight out of thought. Never happened in the consciousness.

But it did. But it didn't.

Now things don't slip away so easily. Now that critical voice is quieter and sometimes it gets lost in the successes and the stories and its stories have lost a lot of their power. It's good.

It's not easy. And when I go through these stories I've written and am writing. When I relive them and remember and the sensations run through me, through my corporeal being, the trick is to let them pass through and not get stuck.

But doubt doesn't go away that easily. It may never be totally gone for me. The goal is to quiet the doubt and the confusion, and let confidence and skillful means take the lead, the louder voice.

While I work on the stories of times when confidence and skillful means meant basic survival.

Revising the stories for flow and word choice and pacing and clarity. Revising heartbeats and breath, movement and stagnation, making room for readers. And me.

It may be hard, but I'm on it.

And I'm doubling down on the meatloaf and mashed potatoes. If you haven't read any of these stories, there is a ton of context missing. Just trust me - meat and mashed potatoes are in the revision.

This really was in my fortune cookie tonight!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Tick tock tick tock

I am a real writer.

Yesterday I received a rejection of a story I submitted in April. I thought it was about time for a response and, yes, the email arrived. Thanks but not this time.

Rejections are good. It means my writing is out there. Slower submission process than I'd like. But my writing time is mostly spent on the Work In Process (WIP), reading the writing of other authors in the 12-week manuscript online workshop, doing quick writes and writing exercises for the same workshop.

So, writing time is spent more on writing than submitting. Which is fine. But this was my last piece out and my goal is (somewhat sadly) to always have one piece submitted somewhere. Which means that my options are: find a place to send that particular story; pick another story and find a place to put it; or find a place I want to submit to (where I think my work will fit) and then find a story I've written that fits (or can fit with editing).

So. Rejection = successful writer.

Today I had some hours stretching out before me. After dropping S off early in the morning (hey, 8AM is early for me!) and having the rest of the day to myself until 3:30, ( was going to write.) I had Big Plans.

And I have 10k words due tonight before midnight, plus the rest of a writing exercise.

I did spend a lot of time in front of my computer. A lot. I took a couple of breaks from my writing-screen-staring. But mostly screen-staring, with moments of writing.

It is possible for me to submit the 10k words that I have as they are. I identified the section I am going to submit last week. Then I changed my mind and wanted to put in two other pieces, which meant pulling out a bunch of words. Which I did, but I had to write a brief explanation to fill in a gap.

I did get some rewrites done. Oh, because I was 222 words over the limit. So I have to at least get it under 10k. I cut a bunch of words, enough words. Then I had to do some rewrites to strengthen that story. And now I'm at 10,400. Sigh.

And how much did I get tightened and rewritten and stronger from the 26 pages? Two. Two pages.

Sometimes the time and the writing energy don't coincide. Or maybe it was because I was up too early and not optimal sleep in an unfamiliar bed.


Whatever. Dinner in 30 minutes. Then I have to return to the writing and see if I can give the whole thing one pass for basic clean up before I submit it to the workshop before 11:45 PM tonight (giving myself a little flex room in case of problems with the intermittently disappearing WiFi in this hotel).

I will commit to identifying either a place or a piece for my next submission before the end of this week.

And I will submit 10k tonight regardless of the status. After all, this is a manuscript draft class, not the finished product.

Okay, back to it.