Tag Archives: writing

Politicizing the Girl

A Woman's Place Is in the Resistance

 

You may have noticed our heroine’s twitter feed has much less to do with writing and much more to do with politics these days, Dear Reader. Fear not, I have not forgotten about writing. I’m trying to pace my outrage and get back to writing.

When I was quite young, my parents were grooming me to go into politics. Specifically their politics. They were stoic Republicans, very conservative Nixon backers, and therefore so was I. In our house, it was unheard of to think for yourself. And hey, I was 9 years old. So I went to the political meetings in my area, I campaigned with my local Congressman and did photo ops with him, and I thought I was doing my part for the country.

When I was 14, I was perhaps the youngest person to intern in a Congressman’s office in DC. Everyone thought my high school class ring was a college one and assumed I was older. I was served along with my co-interns in other offices when we went out to clubs. My Congressman, who knew me from the campaign trail, was a leader in the Conservative Union. He led the way in a treaty with the Soviet Union. While in his office, I learned a lot. The biggest lesson was what he and my parents stood for.

I was appalled.

That summer, Supertramp’s “The Logical Song” was popular and it spoke to my anger and disillusionment. I could not tell my parents how learning what their values were had sickened me. I dreaded going back home after the internship ended. Luckily, I didn’t have to get my Congressman’s approval of the research project I did for the internship program. My position was polar opposite his stated one. (Perhaps it’s small of me to note, but I’ll do it anyway: this same Congressman, who violently opposed gay rights, was later disgraced when he was arrested for propositioning a minor male for sex and left office. He went on to come out and, as far as I know, is a liberal who champions LGBTQA+ rights.)

That’s the history. I could go on, such as talking about my future involvement in campaigns after I left home for college at 16 and was no longer forced to hold my tongue. When Reagan was elected, my friends and I shared a few bottles of cheap wine and formed a small procession through the campus, carrying candles to the flagpole, where we extinguished our candles in a dramatic gesture of dismay for the country. More recently, I campaigned for Obama and helped people who were voting for their first time, young and old, to be prepared for the ballot process. I confess, I teared up with some of them, both nervous and excited to be electing him. Oh, looks like I went on after all. Sorry. Stream of consciousness blogging.

None of this prepared me for what’s taken place in our country, our world, over the last year.

My outrage is too great to let fly here. It seeps through my Twitter feed. I believe we need to stay aware of what’s going on, stay involved in the process however we can, and fix what’s wrong deep down in our country. Hearing others and healing the great rift this election exposed is a primary need for the United States. (Brexit voting shows similar trends and other countries are facing conservative backlashes. A nice way of saying racism and other bigotries are influencing the world in horrifying ways.)

But writing. I got nowhere with NaNoWriMo in November. The election devastated me. I was sick almost immediately and then both my older son and I were hospitalized at the same time. The story remains to be written and it’s entirely escapism, especially for me as the writer. As yet it is untitled. I call it the Historical Romance Trope Novel.

The real issue is getting my head out of my outrage, into my hopes for our world, and into my story world. I’m taking advice from Gareth L. Powell, who wrote a great blog post: How to Keep Being Creative in a Crisis. He writes: Art doesn’t stop for history. In some ways, art is history. That has become my reminding mantra. (Thank you, Gareth.)

Of course, when I really need a kick in the ass, there’s also Chuck Wendig‘s Art even harder, motherfucker!  (Thank you, Chuck.)

I’m going to continue to be politically active. I can’t imagine not being involved to the best of my ability. Keep making those calls. March if you can. But take time to be creative, too. It’s healing, both for you and for our world.

Are you struggling to be creative in this climate, no matter where you live? How are you coping – or ARE you coping? I’d love to hear from others who are doing well, not doing well, or just getting by day to day.

#FlashFic: Benton House

The Benton House by JC Rosen

She crept along the hallway in dappled light, dawn peeking through drapes. A sound ahead made her freeze, her bravery faltering. She had to keep going. If she didn’t, they might catch her. Big brother Jackie had told her to keep going and “don’t look back, Ellie, not for anything.” Her little hands turned to fists.

It had been a long night. Super scary, being alone in the dark, old house. The wind didn’t help. It made the building creak. Its fingers dashed chills all over her little body. Scrawny, even though she was seven, and stubborn to go with it, Mama said.

Her brothers each spent a night in the Benton House. The twins teased her until she was angry enough to show them she was as brave as they were. Braver! They were ten years old when they did it. She ignored their spooky stories of cold places and whispers. Secretly, she curled up in her room with a pillow afterward, when she was alone. She was scared all right, but she wouldn’t show it to them.

Only Jackie, her oldest brother, understood. He held her hand and told her she didn’t have to do it. It was spooky in the abandoned house, he said. When he saw her jaw set, he stroked her hair. His eyes looked sad. That’s when he took her hand and told her not to look back. He told her a lot that afternoon. Nearly changed her mind, but she gulped and held her ground. At least the twins weren’t there to hear or see. Bobby and Thom were only twelve. All they knew was how to make fun of her.

The night was darker than Ellie ever saw. There were chills even when the wind wasn’t shaking the house. Weird noises, too. The worst was the whispery sound, like voices too quiet to hear right. Ellie thought she heard “girl” a few times. It was probably the wind, though, wasn’t it? Jackie snuck her a flashlight and told her to save the batteries. She only turned it on when she got really scared. Its beam swung around her closet hiding place, scouring the walls and corners. Nothing there. Breathe nice and slow, like Jackie said. It helped.

The darkness under the door seemed to reach for her. When it turned gray with the coming dawn, she shed silent tears. Easing from the closet, she saw a dingy, harmless room. Light filtered half-heartedly through tattered curtains. She tried to laugh. It came out as a cough, her body shaking. All she had to do was get out of the house.

The sound ahead in the hallway made her freeze, her tummy tingling. Keep going, she told herself firmly. Jackie said keep going. She swung her fists at her side as she marched down the stairs and through the living room. Ellie ran when the front door was in sight. It fought back when she tried to open it. She almost panicked, but the hinges groaned open. Trembling, knees rubbery, she flew through and down the steps of the porch. Ellie turned and looked at the Benton House. It had so terrorized her. In the half-light of sunrise, it looked old, sad and saggy.

Ellie, over here, be quick.” Jackie held out his hand over the fence edging the property. Ellie smiled smugly and strutted through the yard. She did it! Bobby and Thom might stop teasing her. At least for a while.

She reached for the gate. It didn’t budge. She tried pushing and pulling. Jackie ran over and grabbed the gate. He leaned against it hard. A quiet scream built in her throat. It died as a cold finger caressed the back of her neck. “No, Ellie! Climb over, keep moving!” Jackie pushed and pulled frantically. Ellie knew it was already too late.

Invisible hands grabbed hold and dragged her away from her horrified brother. Ellie heard the whispering voices clearly. “A girl child! We’ve waited so long. Welcome, welcome.” The voices soothed away her fear. The farther away they lifted her, the more peaceful she felt.

They took her high above the yard. Below, Jackie yanked open the gate. He gathered up a small, limp girl. Curiosity made Ellie hover, watching as he shook his head and cried. Boredom came. She swirled through a window. Her new family waited.

Hella Year

 

thankyou

 


Thank you for being so patient with me!

It’s been hella year for our heroine. Mostly health related and don’t worry, I’m not going to kvetch about details. We also just moved in a hurry after at the last moment being offered a ground floor unit in a nicer apartment complex. Snagged it in a hurry!

I have not been writing. I do plan to do NaNoWriMo, so I need to get started on at least some planning and flash writing to build traction. The NaNo I began last year is in such dire need of revision (as in the first six chapters need to go!), I may use that as my NaNo and write it from word one. There are characters I didn’t develop who would add great texture to a rewrite. No cheating, though. Some plotting/planning and then writing from word one.

I’ve had some interesting ideas for writing lately, but unusually, they’ve just gone up in puffs of smoke when I consider writing. I’m beginning my own storystarters file so I can get hold of them properly. Here’s hoping I have something new to show you soon.

In the meantime, I wish you great words, great fortune, and really shiny worlds!

 

 

FlashFic: The Deading

 

A flash by JC Rosen

 

The secret to successfully being dead is to remember what it was like to be alive. Does that sound too simple? Until you’re dead, you can’t understand the big deal. Moving to the other side of the veil makes it harder to stay like a human.

I don’t know many dead people. Those I met convinced me I’m not missing anything. Lots showed me what I didn’t want to do. Being with them made me understand how to have a good life after death. What a tired saying that is. “Life after death.” There must be some other way to put it. There’s “living,” maybe there should be “deading.”

I’m rambling. I rambled a lot when I was living. I do it more now that I’m dead. Now that I’m deading. There’s so much time to fill, you see. Think of all the busy things the living do. They eat, there’s school or work, they sleep. These take up time. These help the living stay tethered to time. These are things that were stripped from me when I died. So much time to fill and no tether to time anymore. It’s easy to lose track.

Losing track of time is worse than idle hands. To say it’s the Devil’s workshop is only a figure of speech, so relax. Losing track means time passes without notice and all the familiar things blur away. The dead lose their sense of self. Just like the living, the deading get depressed, angry, confused.  They start acting stupid, brushing at the veil between the dimensions. Pushing themselves on the living. Terrifying them. It’s hard to come back from that and be all humanlike again.

The veil is gauzy thin. I watch the other world through it. I fantasize I have a tether to time. Familiar people, places and events remind me what it was like to be alive. Whisper light and lovely, the veil is so attractive. I want to touch it, even reach through it and touch my familiar stuff. I move close, too close sometimes. The idea of having an effect on my stuff is crazy cool. I miss it, but I’m afraid of scaring the living. I’m afraid I’ll lose myself in the rush, too. I dance away again, but I don’t lose sight of the familiar. My anchor to time and remembering my living self.

The living press against the veil from the other side sometimes. People who die and get saved, go back to living. Curious people, mourning or looking for kicks. Most often it’s just a dreamer. Like a nurse to a confused old patient, I say soothing things to the dreamer. “Yes, I’m here. I’m fine. I love you.” Pretty words. As close to having an effect on the living as I let myself get. No idea who they are, but they always leave the veil peacefully. It’s part of remembering what it’s like to be alive. Remembering that need to know loved ones are okay, even when they’re deading.

Age at death doesn’t much matter. I’ve seen old and young spirits lose track of themselves. They become ugly and mean, lashing out at each other and pushing at the veil. Sometimes they become desperately sad and try to reach through. Either way, I pull in tight and think myself away.
Leaving makes me lose sight of the familiar, though. Time blurs. I grasp hold of something, anything, that can be an anchor. Pets are nice. They can see through the veil. Their eyes are soothing. They make me remember being alive and loving my dog. Good anchor stuff. Good reminders of living for the deading.

Familiar things from life give way to new things as the living change. As the living join the deading, new familiar things take their place. If time blurs too long, all the familiar stuff is gone. There’s no anchor. Rebuilding the pretend tether to time is hard. Giving over the memory of living is the easy way out. I fight hard to remember living. Mom always said I was stubborn.

Don’t be sad, Daddy. She’ll be here soon, too. Hold her in your sights, let her be your familiar anchor. She’ll help you remember what it was like to be alive. Just like she does for me.

August 2015 Daily 100

Flashes

 

A few friends and I joined in a writing challenge last month. We wrote flash fiction of at least 100 words a day to get our creative juices flowing. I took the first word that came to mind and just let it flow. I didn’t edit, didn’t mull for hours. When I read back, I often found a dismal display of writing. Occasionally, I hit upon something I might continue into a longer story.

Here are a few I liked. I hope you enjoy them.

 

14th

 

“Frittering it all away, my girl,” Granda told me, papery voice nearly swallowed by the television. Yet another game show.

I put my hand over his, warming it. “What am I frittering away?”

He turned away from the television, giving me a gentle smile. “All, Emma. Listen when I talk to you.” He winked.

“And all would be…” I lifted a shoulder and a corner of his mouth lifted in a smirk.

“All, love. Time, opportunity, ingenuity… but especially time.” He closed his eyes, resting after the forceful response.

As he stayed quiet, I reflected as well as I could. I always felt these moments as what writers call “comfortable silence.” I liked to think Granda thought so, too. Wasting it all, especially time? I waited for him to open his eyes. “I’m seventeen, Granda. Going to the university on scholarship next fall. How am I wasting time?”

He fidgeted and his hand bumped up under my palm. I turned it so we loosely clasped fingers. With a sudden surge, he grasped my hand. He gave me a look so fierce and his voice was strong. “Love you, girl. I’m proud. Mind your time.”

He didn’t so much lean back as crumple, caught with a sweet smile forever more.

 

21st

 

Worn, this servomotor. Worn out and used up. Just like me, she snorted softly. Too bad for both of us, had to be cleaned up and keep on going. Angel Station was just a diurn’s flight, anyway. Had enough for some food, some fuel, and a few servomotors besides. Off to Valkyrie Hill for a meet and greet with the new clients on that crappy moon beyond Passapore. Possibly made it Passapore’s moon. Elladora made a mental note to check when she jacked into the navcomp for course corrects.

Just had to get another day out of this servomotor. Again.

 

25th

 

Grey blanketed her, in color and in mood. She had no desire to shake off either the dull, plodding thoughts or the quilt. The poor thing was tattered, worn, bearing stains of generations. It was appropriate. She huddled into its warmth, turning her face away from the window. Streaks of sunlight had the audacity to peek through the glass.

When the sunshine went away, she ventured from under the covers. Lumbering between shadows, she went to the kitchen. She didn’t want to eat. She wanted to sleep. More sleep, not food. Her shrink’s voice joined the others. “Prove you can take care of yourself this week, Marnie. The nurse will check on you Tuesday morning.” Monday night now. The battle between self-care nonsense and getting stuck in the hospital again. Right, soup and a shower.

Then she could sleep again.

 

29th

 

There was something unnatural about the way these beings moved.  Petram nearly laughed aloud, a terrible breach of protocol. She felt the eyes of the ambassador swivel her way and her merriment disappeared. Alien meant different, after all. Not of our experience. The four legged yet upright Fiirmi certainly met that requirement. Coming from a nebula beyond Terratoo’s reach sealed the deal. The hiss of their respirators pumping who knows what into their flat noses was the only sound as they approached.

Petram was far down the line from the ambassador. Celebrity had its perks, but it didn’t trump political and diplomatic credentials. Her predictions as to contact with alien species paid off bigtime when the Fiirmi arrived. As she wrote, they were the ones driving the tram. Terratoo’s people liked to think they were advanced enough to explore the cosmos, ready for first encounters. The truth is, her people were just poking about in the galaxy while the Fiirmi, and likely others, observed. Were they amused? How would she know? They were alien. Along with the others, she bowed to them, but lifted her head quickly. Mustn’t miss a moment of this.

#FridayFlash: Box of Rox

 

Diamonds are Rocks

 

“Dumb as a bag of hammers.” Harvey Feasler snorted, pointing at her.

“No, dumb as a box of rocks!” The other kids howled laughter when Monte Lyman spoke up.

Roxanne heard them in the distance. They weren’t far away, but if she listened, she’d hearseefeel everything. They stayed in the distance like all the other stimulation. Mr. Sattler called her name, but got no response. He waved from a few feet in front of her and waited there. He was safe that way.

Easing him into a space of her awareness, easing him out of the miasma of colornoiselight, Roxanne took a slow breath and prepared to engage in conversation. “Good morning, Mr. Sattler.”

“You having a good morning, Roxanne?” She searched his face for cues. A slight smile, widened eyes that might be happy rather than scared, hand palm up. That last one confused her, but he seemed to be friendly. He always did.

Trying to mirror his expression, she looked a little frightened when she responded, “It’s good.” She was busy making the colornoiselight absorb the children’s continued laughter and chanting. Was that concern on Mr. Sattler’s face now? “Thank you for asking,” she belatedly finished. His face slackened into what she recognized as calm. Filing away the information, she tried to offer a calm smile back.

Knowing better, he didn’t chatter with her on the way to her classroom. His position of authority quelled most of the abuse heaped on the poor girl. She seemed oblivious to it, even when a rowdy jock called out, “Lookie now, here comes the box of rocks!” Sattler didn’t understand her lack of reaction, not really, but decided it was a small mercy. When he held the classroom door open, Roxanne hesitated only a moment before awkwardly sidling into the room. That’s progress. He nodded, waved to the Spectrum Class Block, and quietly closed the door.

“Dumb as a box of rocks, my butt,” he muttered before shooing late students toward their classrooms and sending the rowdy jock to the principal’s office. Not a very glamorous job, being middle school vice principal.

Standing at her locker in the SCB, Roxanne peered into the shadowy space and frowned. Miss Emily watched her shrug her shoulders and knew it had nothing to do with dismissing a thought. Roxanne didn’t do that. She couldn’t do it. Giving the girl a wide berth so she didn’t startle her, Miss Emily waited patiently to be noticed. Roxanne stopped shrugging and shaking her head. She waved to her teacher and waited.

“It’s too warm for a sweater or jacket, Roxanne. You don’t have one to put in your locker,” she explained patiently. Watching the girl process the information and then light up with relief made happy bubbles dance in Miss Emily’s belly. It’s times like this when Roxanne gave a spontaneous smile, eyes alight with understanding and connection, Miss Emily knew Roxanne was meant for more than the SCB had available.

Settling in at her seat alone at a table, Roxanne began her customary decompression with paper and pencil. Miss Emily left her to it and circulated in the classroom. Nearly each student had a personal teacher’s aide who helped with monitoring and helping them with their tasks. Roxanne was able to work with little supervision, only a reminder to focus on the worksheets or computer from time to time. As she passed Roxanne’s table, Miss Emily noted the girl wasn’t writing equations as expected. Words filled the page.

She got Roxanne’s attention with a little wave from several steps away. After getting a wave back, she sat across from the girl. “May I look at your paper?” Roxanne looked blank and nodded. Nearly every line of the page held the words “box of rocks.”

“You are writing very well, Roxanne. I have a question.” She paused until Roxanne tilted her head slightly. “What is a box of rocks?”

“Dumb,” the girl replied flatly.

Miss Emily caught herself, stopping the frown before it could form. “May I show you something?” Roxanne tilted her head. Extending her hand over the table, Emily showed her rings. She pointed to her engagement ring. “Do you see this?”

“Shiny.”

“It is shiny, yes. It’s called a diamond.”

“Diamond.”

“Diamonds are rocks, Roxanne. They’re bright and shiny.”

Roxanne tilted her head one way and then the other slowly before her shoulders relaxed and she put down her tightly gripped pencil. “Diamonds are bright.”

“Right. Diamonds are bright. Diamonds are rocks,” Miss Emily nudged.

“Bright as a box of diamonds,” Roxanne said slowly.

Miss Emily smiled, her head tilted slightly to engage Roxanne more closely. “That’s very good. Bright as a box of diamonds.” She gave a little nod. After a moment, so did Roxanne. “Would you like another sheet of paper?” Another nod, another piece of paper. This time, the equations flowed.

When Mr. Sattler walked her to the bus as he did at the end of each school day, she walked along quietly as always. The colornoiselight was thick. “Dumb as a box of rocks,” Monte shouted from down the hallway, ignoring the vice principal’s presence in his enthusiastic delivery.

The voice squeezed out of the colornoiselight and Roxanne heardsawfelt it. She stopped after a couple steps. In an even tone, she commented, “Diamonds are rocks. Diamonds are bright.” Continuing on her path, she was unaware of Monte’s face turning red as the other kids heckled him about getting burned back.

Mr. Sattler didn’t understand, not really. He decided he didn’t have to understand. “Very good, Roxanne,” he told her.

 

~

Inspired by my younger son, who has autism, this story is presented for Autism Awareness Month. The character of “Miss Emily” is a tribute to one of my son’s favorite teachers. Although he’s an adult, he remembers his elementary school teacher often.

Everyone on the autism spectrum is different, but all face challenges, as do their families and friends. Please know your kindness is deeply appreciated. 

 

Casting Call

 

My Cast Was Pink

 

 

Our heroine got her cast off Wednesday after breaking her wrist six weeks ago, dear Reader.

Very lucky in that it was my non-dominant hand. I could type well enough with the first cast to keep up occasionally on Twitter. The second one was tighter and went further up my hand, keeping the knuckles from bending enough to type. One handed typing was possible, but frustrating. Naturally, I found speech to text in Windows this past Monday. Grf.

A better, more determined writer than I would have overcome it all, no doubt. Between the pain and hurdles typing properly, writing seemed out of the question. I touch type rather quickly. Many keys on my keyboard are blank now, I discovered. Picking about on the keyboard for the right key, backspacing repeatedly, and muttering curses added up to me giving up on the idea of writing. Writing anything, really. The few emails I wrote, always late, were merely a few lines with little capitalization. Writing a story or, even worse, trying to edit one? Right out.

Suffice to say I was dreadfully aware of what I could not do in all areas of my life. Not an boon given a bad mood already going on and bad stuff in local and world events.

Now I’m in a hard brace which was custom molded and is held on with a velcro strap. I’m home from the hospital for the… fourth? fifth?… time since I broke my wrist and am feeling more optimistic. My larger challenges for right now are a) figuring out what to write and/or edit and b) resting my wrist often enough that I don’t overdo it while writing. Maybe a timer for when I’m at the keyboard? I’ll borrow Son’s R2D2 kitchen timer. Excellent idea, dear Reader. Thank you.

What sorts of excitement have I missed in your lives? Any wtg to pass on? Maybe you could use some good thoughts passed your way. I’d love to join. Please let me know. Either way, please be aware you’ve been missed and I thought of you often. In a good way, I promise.