Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 15 & 16

For the month, I am following Ray Bradbury’s self directed MFA by reading a poem, a short story, and an essay with the intention of using the idea of good words in = good words out.

I welcome your comments, recommendations, and insights!

June 15

Short Story: Bullet in the Brain by Tobias Wolff

Essays: The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg  – Dreams and Lying Down

Poem: Sonnet for A Tall Flower Blooming at Dinner

By Yona Harvey

Southern Flower, I want to quote the bard,

to serenade you, to raise a glass to you.

lone & tall you are always parched

& hungry. You wobble in strong winds, you

pull your bright hair when it rains, you

toss off the lint of dandelions, you

lean into the evening haunts

with your indifferent afro. You

were born in the old-world city, the invisible

dark girl city, the city that couldn’t hold

a candle, a straight pin a slave-owner’s sins

to you. You are the most beautiful

        dark that hosts the most private sorrows

        & feeds the hungriest ghosts.


Today I am sharing one of my favorite short stories. It was introduced to me through Sarah Selecky’s Writing School. [Her intensive registration is open now! Here is the link for more info and sign up.]

It is an example of a story that utilizes a list. The main character is unlikable and is critiquing the robbers of the bank he is in. There is a whole list of things he doesn’t remember as he is dying. It is an interesting piece because often I list as a freewrite. This is a published story that has that type of list contained within it. I come back to this story again and again.

This poem has some lines that pop out for me

raise a glass to you

bright hair when it rains

feeds the hungriest ghosts

Poems helps me appreciate phrasing and sentences. There is beauty in words that rise up from the text like they are glowing.

This poet was introduced to me Sunday and I recommend her short poems as well. Her sentences have bite and I love them. Jane Brunette introduced me to her:

In the NG essay she speaks of dreams being tied to the unconscious. In silence at the retreat with all the sitting, walking, and writing the subconscious is listening and often brings participants tangled dreams. She talks about writing them down. I have been doing a lot of inner work with my dreams and the associations I have with the images contained within them. It is an interesting practice.

June 16

Poem: How to Live

Short Story: Death’s Messengers by the Grimm brothers

Essay: The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg  – Breaking Silence

This poem is one I have come back to often and rewritten for my own life. It changes as the years pass. Since it is my birthday I find myself reflecting about truth, risk, and my ideal life. It is the little things I have found that make a life – the good coffee, the daily walk, a surprise on the page when I am writing.

What would be in your version of the poem?

I think it would be an interesting exercise to examine a character I am writing as well. Lately a new character, Bridget, has shown up in my writing. She is the character in the story I am writing with the 7 daily prompts.

Fairy tales are a particular flavor of flash fiction. I like to retell fairy tales so decided it would be a good idea to reread them. The originals are often much different than the Disney versions. This tale is one that is lesser known. Death and a Giant get into an altercation. A man helps death so Death tells him he will allow him to know he is coming. Death is tricky however and in my opinion doesn’t exactly keep his word.

Death and a Giant are unexpected characters for sure. The idea of a man helping him is even more surprising to me. I appreciate the concise nature of the tale. It is a good lesson in telling a complete story quickly.

The NG essay is about transitions. The chapter specifically talks about coming back to speaking after so much silence. When I was training to be a yoga teacher, I went to a retreat where we did more advanced poses than I was used to and deeper meditation. I was almost in a trance after one session and didn’t speak. I didn’t feel the need to, nor did I want to. The people with me kept asking me if I was ok.

Yesterday I posted about the transition from school life to home life.Another transition I have been thinking about is coming into writing and moving out of a writing session. Sarah Selecky added Somatic practices to the Story Course lessons in this update. It is a way to open and close a session. Sometimes I open with breathing and I always feel better about it but often forget. Ending a session is simply closing the notebook or computer.

Maybe I should think about how my rituals can be revised as well.

I would love to know what you are reading! Please share in the comments.

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