Day 2 – Story Challenge

Day 2 of May

My Agenda for the Challenge:

  • Reflect about how I approached the prompt – Did it resonate with me? Did I use it? Did I use something else or combine it with something else?
  • Write the story and analyze if it different as an outcome than what I expected when I started.
  • Would I use this prompt again?
  • Reflect if the writing surprised me.
  • Did I learn anything?

The prompt is about someplace new. You can read the whole prompt here.

I like the prompt. After reflecting about a place that I have not written about I had a hard time thinking about somewhere. I have written so many stories that a new place just off the top of my head seemed difficult. I wanted to combine it with the SS prompt today – everything I know about pearls. I feel like I have put too much pressure on myself to write a story a day even though I do it anyway. I feel like I am getting the words down but the flow isn’t there. I am focusing on a specific outcome which I am going to have to let go of.

I also got a rejection in my inbox this morning so that made me feel a little down.

I like the openness of this prompt and even see myself combining day 1 with the bridge to the new place in day 2. I will use this prompt again for sure.

The story is written and I combined several things. I used notes from the keep app, the prompt, the SS prompt and some past writing all together. It is a short story and I am not sure where I want to go with it. It feels like it should have more dramatic conflict in it but I am also overly concerned about the story structure and plot than normal.

The anchors idea that I referenced yesterday, and just below, is a technique I learned from Nina LaCour. It is a good exercise in rewriting as well. If I take just the anchor words and write the draft from scratch I am certain it will be better. If you keep in mind the anchors when you are writing then your focus can stay steady for your longer drafts.

Anchors for Day 2 story: pearls, skeletons, Montreal, scavenger hunt, layers

If you would like to read what I reflected on in Day 1 click here.

Are you participating in the Storyaday challenge? I am certain we will be discussing this challenge in my PUSH group. You should join us. We meet every Tuesday evening!

Weekend Coffee Share

Welcome to May!!

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

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am going to DisneyWorld next month! I am taking my son for a graduation present and it seems unbelievable to say out loud.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I wrote and read a lot of poems during the month of April. May is dedicated to short stories. I am reflecting on my writing process in a public way for this challenge. The posts will go up several times a week, if not everyday. You can check out DAY 1 here.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am obsessed with Elizabeth McCracken’s new book The Souvenir Museum and I was able to pick up a hold from library yesterday. I was thrilled and started reading it immediately.

Would you like a refill? Some water? I have homemade s’mores and vanilla cupcakes with my grandmother’s frosting.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I took some time off in the evenings the last week of April and it wasn’t as refueling as I thought it would be. The new schedule is tiring, but I am getting used to it. I am hosting my PUSH group this Tuesday and I am so glad. I missed it terribly last week. I could tell I did not have my intellectual conversation on Wednesday morning! I woke up frustrated and not rested.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am back to my fasting schedule and it is going well. I will be at my goal weight by the end of June.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you there are lots of exciting things coming this month and next. I have two writing classes later in the month. There are a few short trips planned as well.

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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!

I am gathering creatives for a Fabulous Flash Fiction class in early June! Sign ups will be May 15. Sign up for info here: https://mailchi.mp/d376163c35bc/fabulous-flash-fiction

I am teaching a class about What the HECK to do with all your freewrites! You can sign up for info here: https://mailchi.mp/866f580e114c/freewrites

Would you Write a Story a Day?

It is the first day of May. For me that means I write a story for each day of this month.

It is a challenge I have been doing since 2016.

I always charge myself with an added layer of personal intention for this challenge. One year it was to just get the stories done completely [no skeleton stories]. Another year it was to freewrite first and then compose the story. Sometimes I pick a theme to use for the month. It often depends on what I need to work on or what I am currently obsessed with.

I am a reflective writer who likes to grow and I always learn something about process in May. This year I am going to be more intentional about the reflection in a public way.

Since I started taking my own writing more seriously and sharing that with others I get questions all the time about my process and how I write what I do.

This year’s inspiration is a combination of Felicia Rose Chavez’s book and process, classes I have taken over the last year with Nina LaCour, Jane Brunette, and Sarah Selecky and my own need to light myself up with writing.

My Agenda

  • Reflect about how I approached the prompt – Did it resonate with me? Did I use it? Did I use something else or combine it with something else?
  • Write the story and analyze if it different as an outcome than what I expected when I started.
  • Would I use this prompt again?
  • Reflect if the writing surprised me.
  • Did I learn anything?


My overall goal is to produce better first drafts. I plan to incorporate a theme of EVERYDAY MAGIC in my stories and to pay attention to my intuition while writing.

I am hoping that blogging about it will require me to be more accountable to myself and also share my process which is asked of me often. I also hope that blogging will require me to curate and synthesize with a bit more polish instead of just ramblings within in my notebook. If there are specific questions that arise for you if you follow along with me on the journey, please ask! I hope my stories and reflection will help you with your writing in some way. Even if that is only that someone else is writing at the same time you are!

Prep

How did I prepare for this challenge?

I have a series of month long challenges I do each year. May is slated for Storyaday always and I start thinking about it one on and off for a couple of weeks before the first of the month.

One of my regular practices is to keep notes of inspiration. I call them my lists of 10. [Most of the time there are more than 10 things on the list.] I write down snippets of conversation, lines that come to me, story ideas, observations, etc. These ideas are logged in the Keep app on my phone and I move them to a Google Doc usually. Sometimes I write using the ideas from the day before and then delete them before they get put into the Compost Pile folder.

When composing, sparks of inspiration are not an issue I have. I have files of ideas and I use my intuition to guide me. An idea MUST light me up in order to use it. I often have a lot of writing ideas during my walks but often the ideas that light me up while I am walking does not work when I sit down with my notebook. I have learned to honor that feeling.

I learned the first year I did the challenge that finishing the story is a critical part. It doesn’t have to be good, but it does have to have an ending. Learning how to circle a story back is an important skill for a writer. With practice I have gotten better at this aspect of the process. Reading great flash fiction also helps. I recommend Sherrie Flick for her powerhouse stories that end beautifully each time.

I have an established daily writing practice that works for me. I go to bed with the idea that I will write as soon as I wake up. This helps the words flow most days. Sometimes not. I write anyway.

Every morning I use Sarah Selecky’s daily prompt in addition to morning pages type writing and dream work. In May, I will read the Selecky prompt and the Storyaday prompt and see if I can mash them together. This is typical for me. It leads to interesting stories most of the time that go in a direction I couldn’t do otherwise.

Day 1

The prompt is about a Bridge. You can read the whole prompt here.

I connected with this prompt in a strong way today. I am fascinated by bridges and they have come up in the notebooks in various ways over the past several weeks. I liked the idea but was having trouble thinking about exactly what I wanted the story to be.

I had my coffee and brainstormed in my notebook for about 45 minutes. I recorded snippets of dreams and other thoughts this morning. The Sarah prompt was about a coffee cup rim which didn’t work. The Sprinkled Inspiration prompt was about socks which reminds me of the Naomi Shihab Nye poem, “Secrets” that I love. There are suitcases and socks in that poem which made me think of travel.

I thought about all types of bridges in life, not just a curved cobblestone bridge that looks like it belongs in a fairytale which is what emerged in the story. A plane can be a bridge from one time zone to another. I write bridges between words to create new metaphors all the time.

The story came together fairly quickly and I decided to type it. I feel like this one is a draft and a start but will think on it more. I feel it is a skeleton story at the moment, but if something comes to me I will come back to it. I am going on a walk here soon so if something comes to me I will make notes. I do not consider the story something that must be done in one sitting although that is usually how I work.

I used the images I recorded from my walk the other day to begin the story. I like the idea of an image of a tarot card to be the last image and can see the drawing in my head. This could be a reoccurring theme for the month as an ending image for each story and could tie the stories all together and also create a way to make a collection by the end of the month. Cards can fit in your pocket and that image intrigues me as well.

Anchors for this story: thunder clouds, cobblestone bridge, lightning, questions

Are you participating in the Storyaday challenge? I am certain we will be discussing this challenge in my PUSH group. You should join us. We meet every Tuesday evening!

#FMF Remedy

Every Friday I set the timer and write with the one word prompt from Five Minute Friday.

The remedy for lots of ailments is the same thing.

I think about loneliness and creativity and the remedy for these. The smell of lilacs comes to mind. The fragrance and the blooms drip from the branches in my Oma’s garden of no more.

People are a medicine I need but often avoid. Community must be carefully curated. It needs to be energizing, not draining but always seems a fine line to me.

This week I cancelled everything in the evenings. A remedy of sorts. It was a delicious break but not as fueling as I would have suspected it would be. There was no pressure to get home or for anything to get done before I had to be on Zoom. I didn’t even take the computer out of my bag this week.

I felt off. I woke up Wednesday frustrated and the day went downhill and then back up again. I didn’t have my intellectual conversation I have become accustomed to Tuesday night. Maybe that was why.

Tuesdays seem like Fridays because of the new teaching schedule and then the rest of the week is just confusing. There is no remedy for the confusion of late it seems.

Poem in Your Pocket Day #SOL21

Every Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers Blog teacher writers share a blog post and a slice of their life. We comment on at least 3 others after we post our own. I do this every Llama Tuesday and the entire month of March.

Poem in your Pocket day is Thursday this year. It is always a day I have handed out little poems. Many years ago [many schools ago] I handed out my favorite poem, “Secrets” by Naomi Shihab Nye. A friend sent me a picture weeks ago in response to my newsletter showing me she still had it.

With all the hustle this month I almost forgot. I have been writing and reading poems all month. I have been focused on poems because of all the posts and shared poetry but honestly poetry is a part of my writing practice. I learned a long time ago poems were a way to bring students to text who were reluctant. I think it is the white space!

Poem in Your Pocket day was initiated in New York.

I haven’t decided which poem to carry around this year. I have come to know so many amazing poets this year. Ada Limon, Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Naomi Shihab Nye, Jim Harrision, Ross Gay, Kaveh Akbar. Some were new to me and some I delved in deeper to their words and images.

I think I might use Ross Gay’s Thank You Poem. Or Ada Limon’s poem about planting and harvesting carrots, “I Remember the Carrots.”

I love that some poems are small, like an appetizer. The anticipation before a larger reading session. Something you can read and reflect on in the cracks of your day. Something to reread and find something new in each time.

I Remember the Carrots:

Will you join me in sharing a poem this year? Or carry one in your pocket?

I would love to know which one.

Weekend Coffee Share

It is the last weekend of April! Can you believe it? Time has been playing tricks on me for sure.

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

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the teaching with my cohorts went smoothly this week in kindergarten. The pace feels quite different and I move groups of children from here to there to everywhere. They play separately, together which is a new experience but they are adjusting well. I am glad to be able to do cut up sentences and making words with them.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have been transcribing more stories into the Google Drive from the notebooks. I am gearing up for Storyaday. It was transformative to my writing life when I stumbled across a podcast about it so many years ago. I joined the write in on Saturday morning and saw some friend’s faces I hadn’t in a while!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am obsessed with Elizabeth McCracken’s new book The Souvenir Museum. I listened to an interview between her and Karen Russell and it was fantastic! I found several other interviews with her and listened to them on my walk as well.

Would you like a refill? Some water? I bought the sparkle water you like! I think there are some homemade chocolate cupcakes with the cream filling left too.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am sad I missed the deadline to sign up for the 2 day, 10 words, 1 poem contest. The words were released yesterday though so I am writing the poem anyway! You could use them for a story as well. They are unusual words and I had fun looking some of them up.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you my poetry class is over now and I believe I will miss it. I enjoyed this group of people immensely this month.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am looking forward to May. I have many things planned and ready to launch. It is going to be a great gathering month!

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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!

I am gathering creatives for a Fabulous Flash Fiction class in early June! Sign ups will be May 15. Sign up for info here: https://mailchi.mp/d376163c35bc/fabulous-flash-fiction

I am teaching a class about What the HECK to do with all your freewrites! You can sign up for info here: https://mailchi.mp/866f580e114c/freewrites

What Makes Your Heart Beat Faster? #sol21

What makes you heart beat faster?

Being at school,

The Hello song pulling everyone from their seats to dance,

The whisper of, “Can I hug you when we get back to the room?”

Good news on the writing front,

A vision coming true I hadn’t even IMAGINED 2 years ago,

The rejection email for the poems sent last week,

The snow falling on my walk,

Seeing the new baby horse,

The sight of the first spot being open – “My spot”,

A message from a friend,

An encouraging workshop,

A new person to learn from,

The hug and kiss greeting from my husband,

The gratitude for the life I have created here.

What makes your heart beat faster today?

Weekend Coffee Share

Thank you for stopping by! I am always glad when we can sit down to chat. I have some strong black coffee today. I keep trying new varieties and have not landed on one that I love. I keep thing back to the Intelligentsia coffee. There is a cafe in Chicago I went to several years ago to meet friends. Black Cat was the variety I believe. The way they made it there was strong and not bitter.

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

If we were having coffee, I would tell you it was a busy and rough week. Rough in the sense that there were a lot of adjustments throughout the school day. I always felt “ON”. Do you know what I mean? On Friday, I kept forgetting what I was doing in the middle of the task so I know I was tired. My students wrote a combo fact vs fiction story about the moon and Jingles the yellow dog. He went to the moon to have his birthday party – just so you know. He brought his friend Cupcake the Cat to DJ for his dance party. We worked on the illustrations for the books Friday afternoon. There was creative energy flowing through the room and it was good.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I was able to attend my poetry class and we delved into a deep discussion of truth and purpose with poetry. “Do we do enough?” was a question that came up as well. It was so interesting. This class is a great mix of female and male which I think really adds to the perspectives. I am so glad I was able to get into this class. It has been a highlight of the week.

It was interesting as well to hear about how others approach poetry. Many of us read poems every day. We are quick to abandon ones we do not like. Some special select words for the day for writing or meditation or both. Some study poems for days or weeks to see what you get out of each reading. How do you read poetry, if you do?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you dreams have been at the forefront of my mind and the topic of my last newsletter. I had several friends respond to me! I am finding that there is a strong feeling either way about dreams just like first reading experiences. I am so glad people are sharing their experiences with me. It seems I may have to start a dream sharing circle.

Would you like a refill? Some water? I bought the sparkle water you like! I think there are some homemade chocolate chip cookies left too.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have been thinking a lot about writing conferences. I need a good one…and soon. I need to be in the same room [NOT ZOOM] with some writers. I need to have a drink with another writer and talk about ideas and how we capture them. I want to fill an entire notebook in the span of 2 days. To attend a panel and then run to a spot in the sun to write a story that I love. I want to drink great coffee in a new town.

What is something you are craving!?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I had some dynamic conversations this week. I am blessed to have such amazing friends.

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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!

Look How High I’m Going! #SOL21

Swings and Sun – The Perfect Partnership on a Monday afternoon.

“The swing is tickling me!” – one of my kindergarten students exclaimed as she pumped her feet back and forth in the afternoon sun yesterday.

At first I thought she had said, “The sun is tickling me.”

The joy of being together – even masked – on the equipment is hard to describe.

After pushing another student for a few back and forths I realized what she meant.

I asked her,” Does the swinging make your tummy feel funny?”

YES! The recognition of someone understanding what she meant was priceless. She doesn’t know that is the same feeling as being on a rollercoaster….yet.

One of my favorite parts of kindergarten is how they chose their words to describe something. It is one of the many areas we can learn from them!

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Two opportunities are coming soon:

Fabulous Flash Fiction class – sign up for info here: https://mailchi.mp/d376163c35bc/fabulous-flash-fiction

What Do I Do With All These Freewrites?? course – sign up for info here: https://mailchi.mp/866f580e114c/freewrites

Weekend Coffee Share

Welcome to the weekend. Thank you for joining me for coffee today. I am always glad when we can sit down to chat.

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

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I went to the dentist this past week. I do not like the dentist. I had to wait for 30 min and was in the chair less than 30 so it was a great visit. It was strange to actually sit in the waiting room. I haven’t had that experience for over a year.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you April is all about poetry. I have been taking a class on Thursday evenings and also sharing poems with my students. Friday we read Pickles and Cheddar which my students thought was delightful! I attended a poetry reading on Zoom on Saturday which was fun. There are so many poems coming to my inbox and I love it! I sent out two poetry submissions this week as well so I am happy about that fact!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you a writing book that was recommended to me has been amazing: Writing Open the Mind. I have been doing the exercises and loving what pieces are coming out of them. It has become my new favorite writing book.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I am planning a class about what to do with all the freewrites that you accumulate! If you are interested in keeping up with updates you can sign up here: https://mailchi.mp/866f580e114c/freewrites

If we were having coffee, I would tell you it rained all day Saturday here so it was an indoor day. I wrote and read and watched movies. It was a glorious way to spend the day!

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have my writing circle this weekend and I am looking forward to it. I find the class so life giving and encouraging.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I have been using the Sprinkled Inspiration prompts to write in my notebook. I really like them and they come right to my email every morning. You can check them out here.

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

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

Are you wanting to generate FABULOUS FLASH FICTION?

This unique flash writing workshop is built for beginning to advanced writers who want to generate short pieces of fiction.

There will be prompts, a live meeting, writing time, feedback, and support In June! Sign up here to get all the details!