Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 14

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

June 14

Poem:A Warm, Small Rain by Adam Zagajewski Paris Review

Story: https://fictionkitchen.berlin/2021/06/12/death-row-dinners/

Essays: The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg  – Orientation
And Not a Novel A Memoir in Pieces Jenny Erpenbeck On “The Book of Words”

Reflections

I have reread the poem several times. The sparkles from this poem for me are:

a street with no name

actors appeared,

from your dreams and my dreams

The story is from a publication I respect and read often. The story is a short list that reads to me like a character sketch. Underneath each paragraph is a brief line separated with the death row dinners. One is an olive, one is a slice of pecan pie, and the last is hard candy. It is an off center story for me.

NG’s essay is about the routines of the rituals she has established for her retreats. Sitting, slow walking, jobs, meals, etc. There is mindfulness built around everything for her retreats. One of the ideas that resonates with me is the Food Offering that is written out that students pick up and read before they eat. It is a moment of pause and reflection and appreciation. Some might call it a prayer but I like the label of offering.

She also discusses interviews in this chapter. She talks with students in groups of 4 which she says allows them to learn from each other and takes the pressure off all parties.

The Erpenbeck essay is another lecture she gave a concept she talks about is a motto Silence is Health promoted by military in Buenos Aires. She discusses how it was used in the war to quiet people but also refers to writing and reading being done in silence. She discusses writing her book and the ideas behind it. There is a lot in this essay about writing, craft, and silence.

Yesterday I had my monthly writing circle which is always an interesting gathering. We do timed writings each time and then do an activity called Readback Feedback. The teacher talks a lot about the “gems” we write and hear. It is the same concept of underlining phrases in a story or poem that pop out to you. I teach this technique to students in various contexts but especially when annotating.

There is magic in this group. Something about the chemistry and the trust is a special time. The group is three hours and it always flies by. To hear someone speak their words aloud is interesting in itself. I have come to recognize everyone’s style of writing in each of the pieces they read. There is a flow that happens while we all write together. We do a bit of grounding and meditation beforehand but I am not sure that is what causes the extra sparkle in the group. I appreciate it and try not to overthink it. There is no formula to be followed.

Next month we are meeting again for a bonus session and I am excited it is being offered. I have learned so much from this group and Jane herself. It is truly inspiring.

TakeAways

What do I take away from all these readings? We are almost halfway through the month now and I am maintaining that the Good words in = Good words out is a good motto. The conversations I have had the last 5 days about craft and writing have been some of the most in depth conversations I have had in a long time directly tied to reading. There is power in a common text within a group of people.

I feel l am more carefully crafting my sentences and pieces. The most effective exercise is using my daily prompts to write one story. I reread and revise what I have written on the previous days which makes me feel productive. I am using the 7 prompts to write one story. Today the prompt is about suet which I had to look up. The only thing I knew about it was it is used for bird feeders in craft books I read when I was young.

Next week the experiment will change slightly.

The concept of silence is coming up in the pieces. I am noticing threads through the readings and what I am paying attention to. I will freewrite with the word silence today as well and see what connections come through.

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 last day of this school year was Thursday. I am relieved to be done. This past year was full of a lot of success but too many pivots.

#BradburyRevisionChallenge.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you for my Bradbury Revision Challenge today I read

Story: https://flashboulevard.wordpress.com/2021/06/12/sherrie-flick-the-bear-and-i/

Poem: https://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2020/02/28/heid-e-erdrich-i-feel-like-a-fool-do-you/chronicles/poetry/

Essays: The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg – Schedule

And Not a Novel A Memoir in Pieces Jenny Erpenbeck On “The Old Child”

I am obsessed with Sherrie Flick lately and she had several new stories published yesterday. They are weird ones about bears and I like them a lot. I pay attention to her endings.

The poem I heard about from the How Do You Write? podcast from Rachael Herron and the author was her guest. It was a fascinating interview and I love this. poem.

The NG chapter was about the schedule of silence and readings at a retreat. NG says that you can use the schedule for yourself or a group. I have a retreat document that I need to revisit and revise. I have not deployed it yet but need to plan a day for it.

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

#writing

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I continue to write every day. With more time I am experimenting with some techniques and processes. I use my walks as part of my writing time. I do feel a bit of a transition of schedule as I do every summer. There is a changing of roles and primary responsibility when the schedule changes this much for me.

My plan is not to take any new courses right now. I have taken so many over the past year and need to play with some of the techniques and just write. With my Tuesday PUSH groups I have the opportunity to take my curated learning and share it with other writers. This gathering is a highlight of my week and something I had dreamed of creating for a long time.

Since I am teaching for the Sarah Selecky school this fall, I am reworking through some of the course materials as well to refresh. Having contact with the other teachers in the school will help in this endeavor as well. You can check out the course here. Sign ups are open until June 24th.

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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!

Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 12

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

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

June 12

Poem: Interrogation of an Alternate Timeline

Essay: The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg – Altar

Story: Big Red

Reflections:

I am obsessed with writings about time and was immediately drawn to this poem.

In the essay, NG talks about the set up for the essential pieces of how she does her retreats.

The story was published at Fractured Lit.

Today, I am just reading and allowing the good words to come in.

I am working with revision with my daily prompts and that is going well but the reading is mostly about pleasure today.

I would love to know your thoughts about writing today! Please comment!

Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 11

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

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

June 11

Poem: Kaveh Akbar An Oversight and Famous Americans and Why They Were Wrong Paris Review Summer 2021

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

Story: Thank you to Nicole Rivera for reminding me of this story!

Lost Things

They are lost, but also not lost but somewhere in the world. Most of them are small, though two are larger, one a coat and one a dog. Of the small things, one is a certain ring, one a certain button. They are lost from me and where I am, but they are also not gone. They are somewhere else, and they are there to someone else, it may be. But if not there to someone else, the ring is, still, not lost to itself, but there, only not where I am, and the button, too, there, still, only not where I am.

— Lydia Davis

Reflections:

Akbar is a great poet and I love to read his words. I was excited to be part of a poetry reading with him as the moderator through Purdue’s MFA program several months ago.

The lines I am drawn to are:

Some pain stays so long its absence becomes a different pain

I hope somebody forgets you today.

In the essay, NG talks about practice. She hosted a yearlong intensive where she asked students to choose a practice they could sustain for the whole year.

“You don’t know where practice will lead,” she says.

This chapter is longer than some of the others. She poses the question in the last paragraph about what practice you would realistically choose. She recommends tracking it in a notebook as well.

I write a lot about lost things. The first line of this piece has stayed with me. I was fascinated with the idea that items are just lost to you not the world at large.

I would love to know where the seeds of your stories come from! Let me know in the comments.

Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 10

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 10

Poem: Power Lines Ada Limon The Paris Review 2021 Summer issue

Story: Rabbit Boy from Meg Pokrass’ collection Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Essay:The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg – Some Determination

And Not a Novel A Memoir in Pieces Jenny Erpenbeck How I Write

Reflections:

One of my favorite poets is Ada Limon. She has a poem about carrots I have talked about before. The new issue of the Paris Review came yesterday and I dug right into it.

Lines I enjoyed from the poem are:

“Where wisdom once was”

“Thought power was something you could control”

Rabbit Boy is about Alice catching the scent of the White Rabbit years later with the house as an anchor in the story. It is only four paragraphs but there is loss that is a clear theme in this story. I will reread it several times today.

The Not a Novel essay was about an experiment that the author conducted about going back to high school in a quiet 21 Jump Street style. This line resonated, “In a single moment I’ve gotten ten years younger and I sit where the teacher tells me to sit.”

Another: In my free time, I work on my story about the woman who doesn’t want to grow up.

I like the Peter Pan reference.

The NG essay is about a bowl of questions that Natalie sets out for students since her retreats are in silence. How do you stay connected is a piece of this chapter. I think this speaks to me as to how I stay connected to myself and to others. [Now I am thinking about what questions Peter Pan and Alice would put in the bowl! Can you imagine them at a silent retreat?????]

In a coaching call I was a part of yesterday the idea of how we were showing up in our writing came up. The idea stemmed from the feeling that the writing that was being produced did NOT seem like who the writer thought she was. This came up for me this week in the context of risk. I wonder if I take enough risks in my writing and truly show myself. There is a truth in all writing whether it is nonfiction or fiction. The truth is always the best story but what lens it is through is the tricky part.

Bowls come up in my stories a lot. Nina LaCour has yellow bowls that are a metaphor in her novel We Are Okay and she gets comments about them all the time. Sometimes the small anchors are what guide us through a story.

These readings today are making me think of strange angles to come into a story. Who knows where this will end up leading me!

I would love to know your thoughts about where your stories come from.

Bradbury Revision Challenge Day 9

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 9

Story: http://haydensferryreview.com/cheryl-pappas-tending-the-elephant

Poem: https://poets.org/poem/teller-tales?mc_cid=fef35fc1bd&mc_eid=2fac48206f

Essay:The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg Happiness

Reflections:

The flash is one that I heard Cheryl read at a flash fiction festival earlier this year. I immediately was drawn to it and couldn’t wait for it to be published. As I have shared this piece it is interesting to me people’s difference interpretations of what it means. I suppose that it is the beauty of flash – it can be cryptic.

The more I facilitate discussions in my groups around text the more I see how individual experiences change the lens which people read the same piece. I see the elephant as a metaphor. It plays on the phrase “the elephant in the room” The marriage is in trouble and they are only passing each other and taking on the task of cleaning the elephant. They are stuck in a routine. The rest of their lives are just in the background. Cleaning the elephant is the only thing they do together – yet separate. The detail about the three time zones intrigues me as well.

The poem inspires the thought that stories are everywhere around us. In all the details while we live our day and we need to pay attention to them. Sparkly phrases are popping out all over the place to me since I have started this challenge – more so than usual.

Where do your stories come from?

The NG essay examines the question “When are you happy?”

During the May challenge one of the prompts was to write a happy story (it was Roxane Gay’s prompt as well who I adore) and I struggled. I think of stories as having conflict or transformation. There are different levels of happiness of course, just like everyone thinks different things are fun. Being a writer is about paying attention and also about seizing opportunities. You take those few minutes to write down that thought that crosses your mind or the overheard conversation in the grocery store aisle.

Today I will ask myself often, ” Am I happy?” I need to ask my characters this as well in the story I revise today. I need to notice it.

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 today!!! Last chance to join us for a generative class with a casual atmosphere of community and writing! Registration details here.

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.

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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!

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.