My entry for the Writers Weekly 24 Hour Short Story contest – After the Drive In – received an Honorable Mention. The prompt was this:
Their trips to the drive-in movie theater were always the same. He would fall asleep and she would quietly leave the vehicle to get popcorn, Milk Duds, and soda. As she walked back with her goodies, the car-side speakers stopped and the screen went black, throwing the entire lot into darkness. She stopped, temporarily blinded. Then, the screen lit back up again, showing…
I have attended the Ruskin Drive In which isn’t far from my home. The mosquito swarms were intense but the movie was not. It was a fun experience, one which I think is seeing a resurgence in this era of social distancing.
For the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction competition, I scored in the top 15 of my group (with 3 points) for my spy story, Flying Foxes. I hadn’t written spy before, it was quite the challenge. For round 2, I am in action adventure. I’ll post results when I get them.
I am ridiculously excited about the fact that I am holding in my hands a proof copy of a book in which my writing appears. It is solid and the pages turn with a satisfying sandy shift. A really live, printed on paper book!
My dear cat, Logan, who graced my May post cross the rainbow bridge a couple weeks ago. It was unexpected. Harsh. Lonely. Infuriating. His life forfeit in the balance between his age and the outrageous costs of veterinary care. My sorrow amplified over being forced into that decision.
I have to say, it is hard to mourn lost pets. People can be so judgmental, or uninformed, or perhaps it is just my defensive nature holding people away for fear of their barbs.
“He was just a cat.”
“He was 12.”
“He had a good life.”
“You did the right thing.”
All true. Still… He was just MY cat… my friend… my companion… for 12 years. He had a good life. He should have had more good life. Yes… I did the right thing but that ‘thing‘ still sucks.
It’s been a couple weeks. I still find myself in tears now and then. But the FB feeds have marched along and I don’t feel that I have anyone to talk to about my pain and conflict. Today I got a f**king survey from the emergency vet… a survey. Seriously. I filled it out with as much logic and clear thinking I could muster. Then I cried.
I miss my cat. My other cat, Wayne, also misses Logan. We comfort each other. The gap in our daily routines will lessen over time. They were buddies. We were buddies.
My FB writer’s group, Write Around the Block has the winner and a number of other HM folks in addition to me. It goes to show what having a supporting community or talented and brutally honest writers can do for you. They and my Pinellas Writer’s Group have helped me hone my craft. I appreciate them very much.
Whew! What a weirdly good month all things considered. My new job is going well and I like the people I am working with on the projects. I have found ways to connect with friends, new and old via online. My church is going strong. We had a socially distant parking lot service that was wonderful. I have to admit, I may miss attending services in my PJs with breakfast and coffee once we are back to live. I have been playing D&D with friends (yes, I am that much of a geek). Being able to participate in make believe is a grand outlet.
I wrote a story I really liked for the NYC Midnite Short Story Round 2. (It didn’t place.) This one is a genre I’ve never written before. Spy. It was fun but hard to do in just 2000 words. Check it out and let me know what YOU think… Mic Drop at SXSW
My writer’s group has started meeting via Zoom and that has been wonderful for kicking my work on the SCI FI WIP back into gear. I have decided to do a major rewrite of one section and remove a ‘side quest’ into a separate book. I want the story to flow faster and so it needs to be leaner. Anyway… until next time.
Ah pandemic. I am ready to be back to hugging my friends and going to work. I have a new job. I thank God for the opportunity that came along. Just in time. I wrote a few new poems, and some shorts for various things.
I have been struggling with depression and anxiety. It seems to build up in the blur of these socially distant days. When I stay busy, I am good. But there have been a few days that I felt like I couldn’t move, couldn’t think, struggled to pray, struggled. Music helped. Texting and calling friends helped. Crying it out helped but made me feel dumb. Thankfully it has been sporadic. I imagine that folks who suffer these in clinical fashions are really having a hard time. I reach out to them and hope they will stay strong Remember that all this will ease.
In Nov 2019 I changed jobs from my 8.5 year long run. The new role sounded exciting, a growth opportunity. It was good, then rapidly not good. By mid January, I knew I’d made a mistake. I learned a lot. I had a great team. It was insanely busy, 60 hour weeks and mentally exhausting. Travel to NYC, then to upstate NY, multiple times. In March, I landed a great new role. I had a signed offer letter and gave notice to my employer. My two week notice passed working from home, in quarantine due to Covid-19. March 20 was my last day. I had planned to go to NM to see my parents for a week before starting the new job. The virus, morphing into a pandemic, cancelled my travel. The Thursday before my start date, I got a call. The position was rescinded. In a flash, I became unemployed in the midst of millions of others. Damn.
Thankfully, I have been getting interviews and such. I hope to have something soon. In the mean time. I’ve been volunteering at my church. There has been time to do the BIG projects since services moved online. It has kept me moving and from going nuts with fretting about work and money. The physical labor has helped me fight off the Covid 19 pounds I would otherwise gain from bumping around my house, playing video games and watching tv. I have written a bit. Not on either of my two novels but flash and shorts for various things. I’ll post what I can here (some are still in contest mode) and will try to make more regular updates. Creativity has been hard, the quiet more filled with worry than artwork.
I have posted a few flash fiction pieces that were entered into various competitions and didn’t list (or they wouldn’t be on here yet!) I’ve enjoyed writing these. I’d been stuck on my two big works in progress for a while. The Sci-Fi novel is finally “unstuck” and I plan on writing 50K on it during NANOWRIMO in November. That will keep me from a social life for the month!
This month, I turned 53. It was an anti-climatic event. I quietly celebrated one more year. This year has been one of self-discovery, spiritual renewal, travel, and change. I wanted to openly share:
I made a commitment to a celibate life. Not one without intimacy, but definitely one without sexual interactions. It is interesting that I had already been ‘celibate’ without really thinking about it. It has been years since I engaged in sex with another person. Making a conscious decision to continue to pursue this path has been freeing.
I made a commitment to domestic travel. I have made good on that with trips to California, New Mexico, Arizona, New York, and a number of Florida trips. I have enjoyed meeting new people and visiting lots of different spots. Much of my travel has included art, outdoors and spiritual exercises. I have strengthened friendships and family relationships. Seeing new things has sparked my creativity.
I made a commitment to my mental health. I have engaged a counselor, mediation and prayer, and actively monitoring negative influences. I have moved well away from traditional news outlets and really worked at not only knowing what’s happening in the world but also gaining a more in-depth understanding about the facts around the headlines. This has reduced my sense of stress about the state of politics, planet, and people. Our news seems determined to keep us in fear and division. I have decided to stop functioning from an attitude of fear and mistrust. It is incredible how much more peaceful life becomes when you choose to function from a place of curiosity and love.
I made a commitment to exercising my creativity. Writing poetry and prose had taken a back seat to other parts of my life. Igniting those flames was cathartic. I have a strong group of authors, online and in person, who critique well and help me grow. I have been painting and sketching. I have put aside my self-doubt and fear of being judged by others to allow myself these expressions without censoring my art as “not good enough”. I have taken a few classes. Created new things. Chased the art muse. It is good and makes me happy. That means I am good enough. 🙂
I made a spiritual commitment. To learn and grow and find a place where I fit. This included meditation, crystals, stones, grounding exercises, chanting, a fire walk, cards, prayer, and lots of reading from the Bible and from other sources. What did I find? God loves me. I found a Christian church that feels like home. I put aside my negative attitudes about religion and imperfect people. None of us are perfect. I don’t need to fit. I need to follow. I am not ever going to be all the things… and that is ok. God knows me, and I’m a hot mess. I will keep walking my path, focused on forgiveness and the grace of God. I have opted to commit to developing a personal relationship with God, religion aside. This will be part of my new year… to Live what I believe.
I began, and continue, to take charge of my health. Cleaner eating, better sleeping, more exercise. This is another area I’ll continue in my next year.
I took a new job, on my Birthday! I have spent 8.5 years with Raymond James. I take my new job on Nov 4. It has been a good run but I needed a change. It will be exciting.
That’s the short version … The people I’ve met, the stories, the joy… those all keep coming.
I’ve been writing and painting and sketching. The writing is flash fiction, poetry (new: Gone), blog post (ta-da), etc. One of my latest is a flash story, from assigned prompts, titled Bait. I missed the deadline to submit as I was on ‘Nanna’ duty. Being Nanna takes priority any day.
I’m doing these exercises to help me break the mental blockage on my large work in progress, Irregular Orbit. I’m +40k words into it now. It is a sci-fi novel, heavy with universe / world building and character development. I am struggling with getting onto paper what I see in my mind, how the story goes, how the characters evolve, how good and evil can switch places before the actors recognize what’s occurred. It is broad and beautiful in my brain… now if I can just get it onto the page intact.
Overcoming the ‘stall’ is challenging. Fortunately, I’ve developed a good social network of writers. Online and in-person groups of talented and successful authors who, in varying degrees, have their work in the hands of readers. This has been hugely helpful. The writers help me hone my craft and sharpen my skills. They provide real feedback. Not polite platitudes of ‘oh, that’s nice, you write so well’ but the real, “hey this is awkward,” or “this doesn’t work the way you meant,” or “this word is flat wrong,” feedback. It has been a good exercise in actually sharing my writing as well. Not hiding it in files or on obscure blogs. 😉
I’ve committed to posting an excerpt from I.O. here by the end of the month. Stay tuned!