Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 8

Each day in June I will follow Ray Bradbury’s MFA schedule of reading a poem, a short story, and an essay with the intention of revising a story already in my drive. I will share my reflections along the way.

I welcome your comments and insights as well! I also welcome any recommendations you would like to share with me.

Day 8

Poem: 

“Sadder Summer” by Zachary Schomburg

The house was crumbling down slowly around me like a paper marigold. It had been a summer full of interviews. I had become simplified into my most primitive body. Now me experienced, me said. Now me not alone.

Story: https://flashboulevard.wordpress.com/2021/06/05/meg-pokrass-there-are-these-powers-that-bring-me-to-my-knees/

Essay:The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg – A Moment

Reflections:

The poem today is short but powerful. There are several phrases that pop out to me:

paper marigolds

summer full of interviews

me not alone

As I have been reading these poems with more intention over the last 8 days I have been thinking of sentences and the how they convey my thoughts. Concise language is needed in order to be understood. Sometimes this is with an image or a peripheral memory of something you thought forgotten. Sometimes there needs to be more words, sometimes less.

These poetic lines make me picture paper flowers like the ones we used to make for dances in middle and high school.

I wonder if the interviews were for jobs or for something else. Interviews for friends? spouses? That makes me think of what unusual thing could you interview for and to make it into a story. Or search the drive for one I can incorporate it into.

The flashes from Meg Pokrass are intriguing to me. I like her stories but always feel like I have to read them more than once. I took a class with her 2 weeks ago. Her imagery is intriguing and unusual. I keep rereading searching for something that I think I might have missed.

NG talks about a small moment that shifted your perspective. I call them before and after moments. When I read the chapter this morning, I couldn’t think of anything that fit her description. I still can’t!

Today I am mostly just inspired by the readings. No specific revisions are coming to mind for the stories I am working on.

I would love to know your thoughts about these pieces or writing in general!

Feel free to leave a comment or question. Let’s have a conversation!

###We start the Fabulous Flash Fiction Class on Wednesday!! Join us for a generative class with a casual atmosphere of community and writing! Registration details here.

Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 7

Each day in June I will follow Ray Bradbury’s MFA schedule of reading a poem, a short story, and an essay with the intention of revising a story already in my drive. I will share my reflections along the way.

I welcome your comments and insights as well! I also welcome any recommendations you would like to share with me.

Day 7

Poem: Playing The Telephone Game

Story : What Once Housed a Family and On Finding My Childhood Home on Zillow

Essay: The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg The Opening Point

And Not a Novel A Memoir in Pieces Jenny ErpenbeckTime

Reflections:

The poem is interesting to me today because it is about a concept one of the stories I am revising hinges on: the game of telephone. We used to play it in the car with our kids and the crazy sentences that came out it were hilarious. I like how this poem plays with language and the sounds. It is a poem that cries to be read out loud.

I love this little story, but I am not a fan of the title. I keep trying to read it and stumbling over it. After reading this story, and the one below it I suddenly remembered the address of my childhood home. I looked it up and saw the remodeled pictures. I am not sure this story will inspire a revision, but it will inspire a new story. I warn you this story may lead you to an internet search of all the houses you have lived in before. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

NG talks about those flashes of moments that come to us and we don’t always understand them. Sometimes they are ideas or feelings we are running from. Those are the moments that we need to write about.

I would love to know your thoughts about these pieces or writing in general!

Feel free to leave a comment or question. Let’s have a conversation!

###We start the Fabulous Flash Fiction Class on Wednesday!! Join us for a generative class with a casual atmosphere of community and writing! Registration details here.

June #CoffeeShare

Welcome to Sunday! It is COFFEE TIME! But honestly, when is it not?

#thankyouforsharing

Thank you to Natalie for hosting the link party for all things Weekend Coffee Share!

#lastdays

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my students’ last day was Friday. It was a strange feeling to have two last days since I had cohorts for the last 2 months of school. It didn’t feel real. It was a good last two days actually. Thursday was field day all morning and then Friday we pet baby chicks, made cube models out of marshmallows and toothpicks, had a scavenger hunt with Bomb pops at the end, and had hot dogs for lunch. I have a week of teacher days still but planning for kids is over for this school year. I am tired and burnt out and am looking forward to resting.

#graduation

If we were having coffee, I would tell you this weekend is busy. My two oldest are graduating. I am excited for them and what they are moving forward with in their lives in the fall. It is going to be 90 degree celebrations!

#BradburyRevisionChallenge.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I would love for you to join me for the Bradbury Challenge this month. I am posting daily what I am reading for revision. I am reading a poem, short story, and essay each day and applying those lens to a story already in my drive.

Would you like a refill? Some water? Something stronger? I feel like talking for a bit longer.

#fabulousflashfiction

If we were having coffee, I would tell you registration is open for a short time longer for my Fabulous Flash Fiction class I am teaching June 9-13th. Slots are already filling up! If you cannot make it but know someone who would be interested please share the link with them! You can find more info here. There is a kick off Zoom meeting that will be recorded if you are unable to attend. The class is asynchronous so you can do it at your own pace and schedule. There are no other live meetings.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you it was a busy weekend. We went to two graduation ceremonies and a graduation party. It was an emotional two days. Honestly, it was a build up so it was more than just a few days.

——-

Thank you for joining me for a coffee today. I always love when we chat!

I would love to hear what you are working on and what you find inspiring.

I am already looking forward to our chat next week!

Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 6

Each day in June I will follow Ray Bradbury’s MFA schedule of reading a poem, a short story, and an essay with the intention of revising a story already in my drive.

I will share my reflections along the way.

I welcome your comments and insights as well! I also welcome any recommendations you would like to share with me.

Day 6

Poem: The Shortest Night

Story : https://www.passagesnorth.com/2013/06/boiled-clear-by-sherrie-flick/

Essay: The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg What is Writing Practice

And Not a Novel A Memoir in Pieces Jenny Erpenbeck

Reflections:

There is so much I love about this Victoria Wang poem. It is short and punchy. You can reread it several times because it is so short. The last line resonates with me strongly.

NG’s essay outlines her writing practice rules that I have written about several times.

  1. Keep your hand moving.
  2. Feel free to write badly.
  3. Be specific.
  4. Lose control.

Her last line? Put your life on the line.

Sherrie Flick recently became one of my favorite flash writers. I was introduced to her work during a Flash Fiction Festival and have been devouring her stories. She is a master at endings. This story is in a respected publication and has a lot of food in it. I am hoping to take a class with her sometime in the near future.

Kathy Fish also is hosting her reunion this weekend so I am thrilled to have new prompts from her. Kathy has a great newsletter and she is working on a book which I will preorder as soon as I am able!

I would love to know your thoughts about these pieces or writing in general!

Feel free to leave a comment or question. Let’s have a conversation!

###There are a few more days to sign up for my Fabulous Flash Fiction Class! Join us for a generative class with a casual atmosphere of community and writing! Registration details here.

Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 5

Each day in June I will follow Ray Bradbury’s MFA schedule of reading a poem, a short story, and an essay with the intention of revising a story already in my drive.

I will share my reflections along the way.

I welcome your comments and insights as well! I also welcome any recommendations you would like to share with me.

Day 5

Poem:  Fire by Judy Brown  https://wordsfortheyear.com/2018/06/02/fire-by-judy-brown/

Story: http://www.smokelong.com/the-sugar-that-comes-from-funerals/

Essay: The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg Slow Walking chapter

And Not a Novel A Memoir in Pieces Jenny Erpenbeck : Homesick for Sadness and Hope

Reflections:

The poem was one that Sarah Selecky shared this week. I am drawn to the idea of space that is represented in the poem and the need for it in order for fire to burn. You cannot pack logs too tightly or it will suffocate. Stories need a certain amount of space in them. I like flash for the reason that you can leave space for the reader to bridge the ideas together. I need to think of this when I revise my story today.

The story is from a publication I admire greatly. This story is told in smaller pieces that are collaged together. I am drawn to these lines: She made me feel like a chrysalis on the verge of opening up. I haven’t decided if the lips I’ve yet to kiss will taste like the salt that comes from the ocean or the sugar that comes from funerals.

I have used the last line as a title before. I have also taken Kathy Fish’s advice and used a cut line as a title.

For some reason, I am drawn to the use of salt in a story.

NG’s chapter is about the idea of slow walking: feeling the bottoms of your feet connect to the ground to anchor yourself to the world. I like anchors for a story. If you followed. my posts during May you would know that I included anchors for most of the stories I wrote for storyaday. If I keep certain things in mind, especially a list, then I will not veer off into a weird direction.

Slow walking is a piece of her in person retreats.

Her last line: It’s good to do ridiculous things. Please, not on a highway.

The memoir flash pieces are interesting. One is centered around a school building that isn’t there anymore and alumni write an obituary for it. This made me think about how to incorporate an obituary of an unusual object into a story.

The essay titled HOPE has a pattern of one sentence paragraphs. She toggles between three generations and ages and their hopes.

When my grandmother was ________________ she hoped ___________________.

I like this repeating pattern and plan to play with it. I am sure that a new piece could emerge. I cannot think of a piece I already have right now that it would benefit to use as a revision tool.

I am working under the idea that good words in with the challenge means good words out when I write.

Kathy Fish also is hosting her reunion this weekend so I am thrilled to have new prompts from her. Kathy has a great newsletter and she is working on a book which I will preorder as soon as I am able!

I would love to know your thoughts about these pieces or writing in general!

Feel free to leave a comment or question. Let’s have a conversation!

###There are a few more days to sign up for my Fabulous Flash Fiction Class! Join us for a generative class with a casual atmosphere of community and writing! Registration details here.

Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 4

Each day in June I will follow Ray Bradbury’s MFA schedule of reading a poem, a short story, and an essay with the intention of revising a story already in my drive.

I will share my reflections along the way.

I welcome your comments and insights as well! I also welcome any recommendations you would like to share with me.

June 4- Day 4

Poem: In Praise of Dreams by Soto

Essay: I am rereading the book The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg. Meditation (Sitting) Chapter also

And Not a Novel A Memoir in Pieces Jenny Erpenbeck : Pressure Cooker

Short Story: Escapism:  https://www.matchbooklitmag.com/margariti

Reflections:

In the essay/chapter NG writes about the darkness, that moment when you try to understand something, and we don’t have an answer. Her illustration is about a joke that was told to her.

This place of darkness, unknown, the place where there is nothing to hold onto is the “goal” of sitting she says. Your breath is your anchor. She also uses the phrase “allow it to be” which sparkles for me off the page. She is referring to allow things she doesn’t like (her neighbor’s barking dogs) so that she may have peace with something she cannot control.

The Pressure Cooker essay is a memoir piece. This book it is from [link above] is a collection of flash memoir pieces. It has started out in East Germany which I have family ties to so that is of interest to me anyway.

The story ESCAPISM ILLUSTRATES the idea that flash is about one moment. One subtle shift or reflection. There is a repeated element of the name, Harriet Houdini repeated at the beginning of almost every paragraph. Sometimes repreated elements take me out of a story.

Today the readings bring the idea of repeated elements in stories to me. It also makes me think about what I choose to allow. Sometimes I have to sit with the idea of the unknown in a story. What I mean is, I dont know what is oging to happen yet. It is a space if I allow will come to me. Sometimes it is in the shower, sometimes on a run or just a random time.

I also will read aloud my drafts today to hear how it sounds after I read the flash aloud right before it.

I am working under the idea that good words in with the challenge means good words out when I write.

Kathy Fish also is hosting her reunion this weekend so I am thrilled to have new prompts from her. Kathy has a great newsletter and she is working on a book which I will preorder as soon as I am able!

I would love to know your thoughts about these pieces or writing in general! Feel free to leave a comment or question.

Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 3

Each day in June I will follow Ray Bradbury’s MFA schedule of reading a poem, a short story, and an essay with the intention of revising a story already in my drive.

I will share my reflections along the way.

I welcome your comments and insights as well! I also welcome any recommendations you would like to share with me.

June 3 – Day 3

Poem: Cure for It All

Essay: I am rereading the book The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg. Why Silence? chapter today.

Short Story: The Witch Who Walked the Shore

Reflections:

The poem was one I learned about when Sarah Selecky shared it at a Centered Community monthly call. It couples nicely with the silence chapter in the Goldberg book. I have trouble with silence personally. I always feel I should be inputting something but I am working on it.

A line I love from this poem is:

Breathe
until you stop needing
anything
to be different.

I also center on the word ALLOW in the poem.

Yesterday I wrote in silence and just noticed the wave of the air conditioner. It was a lovely feeling.

Silence is a subtext. I enjoy silence sometimes but love input more. It is another perspective. NG proposes a silent experiment – to go through your day in silence. Nodding when you to but not speaking. I find this idea intriguing. I do believe communication has a high percentage of nonverbal cues.

I have to ask myself the question: what is my relationship to silence?

There is a lot of punishment feelings around silence – the silent treatment or being ignored to be hurtful.

NG’s beautiful last line of this essay: “Silence can be the door to listening, which is one of the great cornerstones to writing – and also to eventual peace and reconciliation within you and in this world.”

Listening is important to writing – to develop characters and to listen to reader’s feedback. I always like to know how a piece of writing lands for a reader. It helps me bridge the gap between what I intended to say and what is received.

I believe I am going to use NG’s influence for my last lines of pieces. I have an interesting story I am working on today about food and an unusually eating plan formulated from my main character.

The story is the winner of the Janus Literacy contest. It is a heartbreaking story about the stories we tell ourselves and the ones we love in the name of protection and how many times it comes back to bite us anyway.

Today the readings bring the idea of large ideas that are conveyed in short amounts of text.

I am working under the idea that good words in with the challenge means good words out when I write.

I would love to know your thoughts about these pieces or writing in general! Feel free to leave a comment or question.

#IWSG June

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer – aim for a dozen new people each time – and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

June Question


June 2 question – For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?
The awesome co-hosts for the June 2 posting of the IWSG are J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria!

Short stories and flash fiction are shelved for at least a month. Honestly, I draft so much that there has to be a reminder of a particular story or when i am searching for something else it appears.

The story has to light me up in order for me to revise it.

I usually go through spurts of being in creation mode or revision mode. I typically draft in the morning and then do revision work in the afternoons or evenings.

To trick myself to revise this June I made a challenge for myself. I am using the self-directed Bradbury MFA idea of reading a poem, short story, and essay each day as a lens for revision. Sometimes it will be a direct craft move from the author to one of my own pieces and other times I am working with the idea that good words in mean good words out.

Over the weekend, I was organizing my drive and found so many unfinished and unpolished flash pieces.

I usually operate under the idea to “just get the words down” and “I can fix it later”. However, later rarely comes because I love drafting and the new so much. One of the reasons I am drawn to writing short fiction is because I get bored easily. In a writing podcast last week I learned of an author who writes 1000 words a day. The next day she rereads her words and cuts and revises. She then writes forward from her favorite sentence.

I have been trying to utilize this technique for the last few days. To reread something I have written to get my eyes on it in small chunks. I have a limiting belief that revisions have to be “serious” and sometimes I set aside large chunks of time for. This is the case in some instances but I can make a lot of progress with just 10 minutes of revision time.

#happyreading #happywriting

Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 2

Each day in June I will follow Ray Bradbury’s MFA schedule of reading a poem, a short story, and an essay with the intention of revising a story already in my drive.

I will share my reflections along the way.

I welcome your comments and insights as well! I also welcome any recommendations you would like to share with me.

June 2 – Day 2

Poem: The Incognito Lounge

Essay: I am rereading the book The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg. The Greatest Pleasure chapter today.

Short Story: My Grandma Picks Fights with Contestants on the Price is Right by K.B. Carle

Reflections:

The essay states the greatest pleasure is sleep…and writing. There is power in changing your life and attitude with writing. When I am writing I am a much happier person. It doesn’t matter what it is…I just need to do it. There are few others things I feel that way about. Goldberg believes everyone should write – for their own good. She fills one spiral notebook a month.

I have been writing in the same type of notebooks for over a year now. They are black with gridded pages in faded gray. The paper is thin so I can write a lot before I have to change over notebooks.

Sleep eludes me many times but I use the time when I am awake is time to write.

I am drawn to the title of the poem and also the strange descriptions of the faces of the players in the poem. I used some of the inspiration of this poem for me to write a piece about wings this morning in my morning coffee writing session. It started in one place and morphed to another. Sometimes I will take phrases and finish them in a different way to see where that takes my story. I have to type it out from the notebook because now it is in the wrong order.

K.B. Carle is a talented writer who I have taken classes from in the past. I admire her work and where she has published. I believe she is a reader for Fracture Lit as well. This structure is one I like with headings throughout the piece that orient the reader. With the structure also being a game show it reminds me of a draft I have called TELEPHONE based on a child’s game.

I am working under the idea that good words in with the challenge means good words out when I write.

Sometimes I will use the pieces read as inspiration and sometimes a direct way to revise a piece. It is still an organic process for me and one of influence. I have to be lit up either by the reading or the draft in order for it to become better.

I also find that the more good words I read the more random ideas come to me when I am running, or watching a show, or in the shower. Reading good words turns on a creativity idea faucet somewhere!

Stop Writing Alone posed a question yesterday on IG: What’s Your Writing Struggle? in her Let’s Talk Tuesday series. I cannot revise unless I am excited or lit up by it. There has to be potential wonder there for me. This is why I do not like plot structures or story formulas most of the time. If I sit down to write and know exactly where it is going that is boring to me. There has to be a surprise and wonder.

I would love to know your thoughts about these pieces or writing in general! Feel free to leave a comment or question.

Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 1

Each day in June I will follow Ray Bradbury’s self-directed MFA schedule of reading a poem, a short story, and an essay with the intention of revising a story already in my drive.

I will share my reflections along the way.

I welcome your comments and insights as well! I also welcome any recommendations you would like to share with me.

I spent a good portion of the day yesterday wading through a ridiculous amount of documents. I came across a few stories I moved into a folder in order to revise them with this challenge.

(I also sent a submission off!)

June 1 – Day 1

Poem: Poem Revisedin a Twelfth-Floor Hotel Room After Seeing a Man in the Building Across the Street Holding What Appeared to be Binoculars by Camille Dungy

Essay: I am rereading the book The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg. Introduction today.

Short Story: Rest Stops and Parking Lots by: Aaron Burch

Reflections: I love the title of the poem and used it to play with titles for a #storyaday story that I wrote in May. I am playing with the idea of longer titles to add to the layers of my short fiction.

The Burch story is from X-ray and plays with the idea of footnotes. You can add layers to a story or tell an alternate story in the footnotes.

The essay makes me think about what are my true secrets to writing? Writing is about connection – to the writing, yourself, and the readers. This book will also make me solidify plans for a real writing retreat this summer that follow Goldberg’s structure: timed writings, walking, and silence. There is a reading list for Natalie’s retreats but I am going to pass on them for now. I am some other things I want to read including a memoir that is written in pieces. I am already sucked into it and want to savor it.

In true Natalie Goldberg fashion, she ends the chapter with a zinger of a last line. The last line of the introduction is: Sit. Walk. Write. That’s the true secret.

The overall lesson I am taking away is that there are ways to add complexity to a story with titles and other structure elements like footnotes. There is a John Green novel that told part of the story with footnotes. It is an intrguing concept. It needs to add to the story though, not just a party trick for the story.

It is about play and experimentation.

I will use the footnote idea with one of my stories. All of the footnotes begin with Because and I will play with that format myself in a short story of mine called Backwards Boston. It is a CNF about my experience running the Boston Marathon in 2012.

Also I will mess with the title of the same story. I used the Burch story for the title.