Irregular Creature: Flash Fiction Challenge

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A little writing exercise this week as inspired by Chuck Wendig on his blog Terrible Minds.  Hope you enjoy.

Irregular creature

I hear the sound from the end of the hallway. I slouch in my desk chair so that no part of me can be seen. Because being in its site equates to engagement. I look around to make sure that I am fully tucked behind the shadow of the chair – just like when I slept in my parents’ home those many years ago and was protected from all the farm house’s evils, if only every part of me was covered under the down quilt.

The sound means the creature is searching for me; it wants things from me, things at this moment I do not want to give. I want to be left alone. I do not want to be bothered with its needs, for it requires so much of me to just keep it satiated. I close my eyes, like that of the 10-year-old me who thought that the irregular creatures that roamed the forest which abutted the farm’s border could not see me if my eyes were closed. Perhaps it will work on this being which now creeps down my hall.

The call comes again. The squeak and pip, it rips through my eardrum like a bullet barreling down my ear canal. It incites dread that races in circles around my brain, pinging back and forth between what I want to do and what may happen if I move, even breathe. I know the sound and the being to which it is attached. It only rouses further efforts in me to be a hidden statute in my giant desk chair, knees pulled up and hugged, breathing slowed to that of a hibernating bear.

There is a thump, a pause and then another thump. Another squeak and pip erupts behind, yet closer, its nonsensical vocalization. I don’t understand them. For years now I have been terrorized by its presence, its sound – in fact nearly a decade. Yet, its disruption of my life continues, just when I think I will be left at peace, it roars back, destroying the house – it slinks in mud on its form – seemingly sprayed like that of a wet dog from stem to stern of my home. Not neat prints or tracks to sweep and mop up in a flash when it decides to leave me alone, no, it leaves sticky goo of unknown origin on my walls, the dining room table, the bathroom sink, or worse, slimy rings of muck that will not leave my bathtub.

This haunting, however, I brought upon myself, I reflect as the stomps and shrill song of nonsense that this creature emits to bring its prey – the one it wants to entertain it or feed it or otherwise fulfill its desires – continues to bring dread hailing upon me.

Stomp.

Clomp.

Silence.

I’m frozen; I can hear its breath. I hear it shuffling its crud-encrusted feet behind me. It smells like stinky slippers. I want to gag. It exhales; I hold my breath. It edges closer, its body heat right behind my chair.

Then the chair is pushed and rotated; I am exposed.

“Mom! There you are.”

Share and share alike

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I read a lot of blogs about writing.  I share what I learn with my writing group, but I haven’t been too good about sharing it with my readers here.  Noting it here is a great way for me to reference them when I need them and give props where props are deserved.

What I’m reading this week:

Receiving Critiques (really good advice — and like I said above, some of the same I have given my own writing group)

Creative Everyday (Life is about creating yourself. Again, what I tell my fellow writers all the time).

Writer Diversions (When I’m taking myself way to seriously and should remember why I love what I do).

Getting Personal (Because Neil teaches all us writers to not be afraid to share our personal process and life with our readers)

I need some inspiration (This author who goes by various pen names has 47 books in 5 genres, I find her very inspirational).

Freelancers Must Read (aka – Non-Fiction Paychecks. Because Ms. Goodman helped put in perspective all the things I already knew about what I should be doing).

Because I love the weird and wild (Mr. Sterling epitomizes why science fiction and fantasy is so engaging).

My fav of all time (Ms. Kiernan details her life as an author and her writing process in such an intimate way you are smitten immediately).

So, tell me, what is your favorite writing-centered or creative-centered blog?

Riding the Magic Train

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I recently recalled a story at a gathering of my fellow writers about the time our family tested out the Blu-ray player my husband had coveted for years. When I retold the story, it occurred to me – which the element of imagination is missing sometimes from readers. Not all readers. But those who seem to miss the point can be the most vocal.

We had saved to purchase it along with an appropriate television to view this new-geek-inspiring technology. My husband was all about how much more real our television viewing was going to be. One of the first films we watched in “Blu-ray” was The Polar Express.

Things being accurate, real, these are the things which are a focus for the engineer’s mind; such a mind my dearest one possesses. How he ended up with an artist, I’m sure perplexes many of our professional colleagues (they are just blind to the art of the code poetry they do in their computer engineering work).

Regardless, there is a scene in The Polar Express where the train jumps the tracks over the frozen lake and finds its wheels back on the tracks after quite the Evil Knievel jump back and the conductor and children inside the cars survive the iron horse acrobatics unscathed

“Oh that’s not even plausible! Come on!” My husband explains.

I respond, “Your suspension of disbelief left the station?”

It’s then when our daughter, 24 at the time, piped up and said, “Dad, weren’t you paying attention earlier – It’s a Magic Train, Dad!”

Hubby shakes his head and we continue to watch the film. Again there’s a scene that makes my hubby yell out again in aggravation at it’s unrealistic possibility. Before he can interrupt the viewing experience of the rest of the family my daughter repeats herself more emphatically now. “Dad, It’s a MAGIC train.”

He slumped back in the sofa left to brood about what that means.

What was it about the story that our adult daughter easily picked up on that my husband dismissed or completely missed? Because in the beginning of the story, one of the children in the story clearly states “It’s a Magic Train!” because the protagonist is suffering with the same issues my spouse was whilst viewing the film.

In today’s modern world, I feel like the audience out there (meaning anyone taking an interest out of working three jobs and slaving every day to read for pleasure) is insistent on the experience being so real that they forget the magic of fiction. I’m not saying that as a writer you don’t have a responsibility to suspend disbelief, you better be sure to do that. But, there is a bit that the reader gives, too. They have to not miss that it’s a magic train when it’s a magic train and that is one of the main elements why this is such a unique story.

When I recall this memory, it is because I’m struggling with balancing the magic in my story and the reality my readers may demand. Then Neil Gaimain’s words come into the internal conflict inside of me. Why are you writing this story? Who is directing it? It’s not your readers or the internal editor. It is you the writer, the vessel with which the voices in your head become real.

You can lead your readers, your characters, the story itself where it needs to go. And sometimes it’s not where you expect or intend – or when you intend it (read: missed deadlinesa), but it is where it needs to be. Sometimes that means it requires a leap of faith and knowing that sometimes it’s a magic train.

What’s your magic train moment?

The Word Warrior Readies for The Battle for Joy

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This past week I was hit by a virus locomotive. Seriously, this virus du jour was not a Mack Truck as folks often like to say when they get the annual winter cold/flu. Mine was an entire train wreck of viruses all smashed up into one body. I’ve suffered many a malady in my nearly 45 years; but, this last week there were honest moments that I thought death may be imminent. I still sound like Goofy, all full of snuffles, congestion and the dreaded cough. But, I’m not stuck in the creative void I had been the few days leading up to the illness and the creative black hole that happened during it. But somewhere between the combo sinus headache and migraine – in fact I think it was while I was lying on the cool bathroom floor too afraid to be far from the porcelain throne – I broke free from the gravitational pull of Planet Writer’s Misery. As I was able to physically sit upright again, and the wretchedness of virus locomotive’s tracks on my being was leaving the station, the vision of my future became clearer and clearer. It was topped off with producing six pages on a project for my university studies that had been eluding me for three weeks. I have about 36 more pages to produce, but hey, it’s a start.

If that kind of break through wasn’t enough, I met two goddesses for brunch today, they pretend to be the human mothers Kymberlee and Janaya. We drank mimosas, heavenly coffee and ate eggs with vegetables. Throughout our conversation they showed me a mirror of who I am creatively – the Word Warrior. I’m currently in a battle to win the war between surviving and thriving. I know how to survive. Now is the time to live my joy. It is time to give back through the words and works that I create and not be afraid.

Kymberlee did a mini oracle card reading for the three of us. Mine focused on the natural rhythm and cycles of life. Change. It truly is the only constant and everything is about the flow. I joke constantly to my colleagues at TSSDJ* that you have to be fluid because flexible is too rigid. I’ve been too rigid lately. That’s why my psyche is being bruised so often lately. I have to allow the change to happen much like the seasons. I have to embrace it – both the light of it and the shadow of it. I make my characters in my stories do that – embrace the dark so that they can get to the light. The author needs to write the same kind of acceptance into her own life.

“So look-out you rock-n-rollers!…” as my Uncle David Bowie (no he’s not really my uncle, but he may as well be with his words of wisdom) says,  Casz has her armor on and she’s leading the charge to win the war against doubt and live the dream as reality. Sing it with me now, “Ch-ch-ch-Changes!”

Need to get into step with the changes around you? Add this to your soundtrack:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMQ0Ryy01yE

Now tell me how you’re living your dream….

Those who do also provide teaching link soup…

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I am very excited about the upcoming months. I am teaching a slew of workshops in my little community.  See here – Memoirs, Muse Cooking and Just For Teens. If you know anyone who is in the Greater Seattle Area that might be interested, please do spread the word. I thank you in advance. 😀

I haven’t heard yet if I have any students. I hope so. If not, I won’t give up.

I’m going to do some non-fiction stuff for SnoValley Writes! work session this Sunday.

And I am going to completely rewrite a short story and submit it to Glimmer Train by Jan. 31.

There’s something about homework that is necessary, too.

I must also not forget to work on the next episode of Martius Catalyst.

Why this busy beaver writing work all in one weekend?  Because as of July, I will be at minimum going to part-time on The Soul-Sucking Day Job (aka TSSDJ). If the agency does not allow me to job share with the other specialist that works part-time. Then I will be making a huge jump to full-time freelance. My doctor even said, “You must reduce your stress.” She also said I needed to reduce my waistline. That’s a different post. But I’m working on that, too.  Yuki is making me.

I have been boosted by so many folks giving me encouragement from my writing group, to my college classmates, or my Detroit brothers and  sisters and even my new found Seattle family.

All of this and its my beloved’s 43rd birthday today. We do the big celebration with the family tomorrow; but, we did go for a nice long walk today with Yuki and get a nice cup of coffee — just the two of us. Simple things. It all makes it worth while.

Do note the change in the title of the Blog. You can all thank my newfound and very supportive friend, Janaya for it.  Thank you my friend. You are an artist and a scholar. Thanks for shining a light in a corner of my mind that needed illumination.

I  must also give thanks to the gentleman Logan Lo for his kudos and encouragement. I am sending apps for writer-in-residence. I will keep everyone updated.