2015 in review

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 460 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 8 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Let’s just say, for having the blog up for such a short time, I’d say we did pretty well for ourselves! Thanks for making this such a success so far, and we look forward to a great new year!

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Wednesday Night Words

Wednesday Night Words

We’ve started meeting more regularly to help jumpstart our writing. A difficulty in this has been finding a more permanent meeting home in Nashville. We were so used to having the privacy (and quiet!) of an office conference room that it’s difficult for us to deal with public spaces: the intrusion of servers at restaurants, the inconsiderate talking of other people when we’re trying to write, and especially the judgey looks the neighboring tables give us when we’re all laughing and talking at once and probably being too loud.

Either way, we do get a little bit done. I’m currently in the middle of starting yet another novel, exploring some characters and their motivations.

For those of you who are new here, the word prompts work like this: we each put several random words into a hat, and we draw them out 2 or 3 at a time. We then get several minutes to free-write, incorporating those words, and then move on to the next set. This is a great way to jump-start your writing because the sense of urgency is heightened.

Here’s what I was able to drum up in our last set of word prompts.

Words:

Oreo/lace/religion/capture/pair/moving van/polka dots/date/fanfare

Get your ass in here, Mari! Denise yelled down the hallway to her friend, who was about to knock on the door. I’m in the kitchen!

Denise was putting together one of her famous dessert trays. Tonight’s featured: crackers with kraft singles folded into a stack, oreo cookies, and a bunch or two of grapes. All of these were set on a plate that she would then set on the big lace doily on the coffee table in the living room.

Making these crazy hor d’oeuvres plates was almost a religion for Denise. She loved pulling together anything crazy she had in the cupboard and fridge and throwing it on a plate to make it look all fancy. She felt like using the fine china and setting food out for guests captured a mood of a party, rather than just eating crackers from a box standing in the kitchen.

Mari had joined her for dinner, and the two were about to crack open a bottle of wine. Denise pulled a pair of wine glasses from the china cabinet, and dusted the off with her polka-dot apron. She knew they weren’t dirty, they were just a bit dusty from storage.

Mari picked up an oreo and walked to the front window, twisting the cookie open and smiling to herself that the crème was perfectly on one side. She noticed that a moving van was parked outside the house next door.

That wasn’t there earlier today, was it?

What wasn’t?

That truck. Moving in or out?

Oh, they’re moving in. I haven’t met them yet, but I guess I should actually put together something other than kraft singles on triscuit if I want to introduce myself.

Meh, Mari grunted as she shrugged. You don’t have to make a big fanfare about it, do you? What’s wrong with just going over there and introducing yourself?

What? Like this? Denise gestured to her ratty jean shorts and cut-off tee, and the pink and yellow 40s style polka dot apron she wore more for fun than to protect herself from any food crumbs.

I think you look hot, Mari said, grabbing a glass of wine and toasting her friend’s sweaty top knot and bare feet. I’d do you.

I know you would, but I’m not looking for that kind of thing. Denise smiled at her friend and winked.

–Thanks for reading! Sorry about any spelling errors and definitely the punctuation. Again, these are time-restricted, so I don’t spend a lot of time on things like quotation marks. I would love any comments!

Day of the Dead: a Poem

Day of the Dead: a Poem

It’s become a regular thing for us to free-write at our semi-weekly meetings. We often choose several words randomly out of books, usually just by pointing at a page. The words for this poem were [machine, skeleton, breakfast, accident, engine]. Where do poems come from? Who knows, but I’m particularly proud of this one. I did a little bit of editing after the meeting: took out a lot of gerunds (-ing nouns), replacing some adjectives, tidying up some of my punctuation, but overall, the feel and the theme of the poem are the same as when I wrote it. I hope you enjoy it. Please leave your thoughts in the comments!

Day of the Dead

Gears grind

Smoke fills the air

The people scatter

And the fire glows

The coals burn hot

The bellows bow in and out

The man digs his shoulders

The shovel scrapes the earth

Moving amongst the belts and wires

Shadows melt and reappear

While the heat builds, wavers.

Windows high above

Show the night sky, its blue-black

Scrubbed and grey, a few stars peek from behind the smoke

The constellations are skeletons of their former selves

Swirling in the sky and nearly collapsing

Sugar skulls for Day of the Dead,

They lick the ash from the moon as they travel by

On their way west

They will eat a breakfast feast:

Brunch with the saints.

The stars depart as the sun struggles over the cloud-choked horizon

Dragging itself home like an old, accident-prone alley cat

Who can’t quite find its feet—instead takes a tumble before slinking across the sky

And we, the night shift, the machine,

the parts of the machine, the engine and its pistons,

The cogs and the coal,

Stumble to the nearest bar for steak and eggs and a cold High Life beer;

Sold on the dream that we won’t hold, the machine that runs us instead.

October Fire

October Fire

The air is dry and snaps my hair like twigs

Fires burn along the ridge of the mountain

Ashes swirl down and settle in our hair, grey wigs

Of your auburn locks and my brown mop

 

Blow in the wind as the leaves fall

I hear them crunch under my shoes as I walk

Red cheeks glow as I sit close to the fire pit

With the cool wind haunting me on Halloween night

 

October fire glowing inside the pumpkin

October leaves crunching beneath my feet

October fire that brought me life, color and warmth

October fire that cooks and melts marshmallows

 

Warm and safe we gather here,

We take the time together,

We build our fire, and tend to it,

Our guardian from cold weather.

Wednesday Night Prompt

Wednesday Night Prompt

The Skirts Up Writers get together every other Wednesday to write together and support one another in our writing and editing pursuits.

Lately we have been doing the following: each of us writes down a word or two on slips of paper. All the slips go into a hat, and are drawn out one at a time. We take 2-3 minutes to write, incorporating the words into our writing. It’s simple and works to jog our creativity.

Here’s my attempt from last week. It’s a little dark, but thoughtful. Enjoy!

She had many habits. She considered herself a collector of habits, some were good and some were bad. The good habits, like running, kept her going. The bad habits, like smoking, were just remnants of past days. There were also the little rituals that you could call habits as well: brushing her teeth starting from the same side of the mouth every time, or putting on her lotion in the same order every morning: upper then lower back, belly, breasts, right leg, left leg, left arm, right arm, hands, face.

Habits were what made her day happen. She began and ended her day with them. They were good in the morning: starting off with a cup of coffee and three pages of her journal. Two or more sun salutations, depending on how sore she was, and a little meditation. Towards evening, it all started to unravel, maybe because she had made so many decisions in her day, or maybe, like a new baby, she just had no self-control.

She really wanted to pull it all together. She wanted to make good decisions and encourage good habits: running, eating well, writing her fictions in the evening. But the beer called, and the porch awaited. There were books to read and stories to watch on TV. So much sloth to endulge in. So much avoidance to be done.

Is it really avoidance if you know you’re doing it? If it’s conscious and purposeful? Or at that point is it just procrastination? When we, as consenting adults, look at the beautiful things we could do with our lives and put our hands out toward them saying, “No. I’d rather fill this coffee cup with whiskey and ice and sit on the porch. I’d rather smoke this pack of cigarettes and watch the fireflies. I would rather surf Twitter and Facebook and some tabloid websites. I would rather consume this beautiful world, break it down and spit it out again, breathe it out of my black lungs with the tar of the cigarette smoke, than actually create something new and beautiful.”

So, once again, she opens the cupboard and pulls the white coffee cup down off the shelf. The one with the handle that’s cracked right where it joins at the top. She moves quietly to the freezer, even though she knows that pulling ice from the bin will make noise and alert him to her movements. She looks again at the box of girl scout cookies sitting in the freezer. What if she ate those instead? Would she feel better? Probably not, and it would interfere with the taste of the whiskey anyway. She closes the door, making sure that the old seal takes.

Pouring, she is less than careful, because the more it slops the less she can blame herself for the over-pour. It’s going to make her sick, this last drink of the night. She can already feel her stomach churning at the sugar, but she can also smell the burn in her nostrils, and that feels good.

Picking up her cigarettes, she walks by him. “You going outside?” He says. He tries to sound non-judgemental, but it’s hard to do that when you’ve made yourself so tough for so long.