When people encourage you to write this is what happens

So a friend was encouraging me to keep writing fiction last night. This is just a short writing exercise, but here it is:

She had her suitcase packed, she was leaving for good this time. This whole past year had been nothing but an embarrassment for her. She had been too shy, then been too rebellious. Why couldn’t she just relax and be herself? When people knew the real her they  liked her, they actually loved her. I know I did. But, I couldn’t tell her to stay. We were both in 8th grade and I obviously also couldn’t let her go, but I had to think of something.

I had seen Carol pack her bags and pretend to run away from home with Bobby in an episode of the Brady Bunch, but I didn’t think that would work with her. What could I say? What could I do?

“Why do you have to leave? If you really want a fresh start, can’t you just change schools?”

“I can’t ask my parents to move so I can switch schools, there’s no way they would go for that.”

“Well… maybe you could pray that they just decide to move on their own,” I suggested. I knew that probably wouldn’t fly that well with her, since she wasn’t into God or prayer, but it was something I believed in, so I had to give it a shot.

“That’s stupid. Why would God care if I run away or switch schools or anything else?”

“You’re right,” I said, “In fact, he probably would just want you to be miserable anyways.” Somehow my reverse psychology/sarcasm could get her thinking sometimes.

“Just give me a week to pray about it, and we can see if your parents want to move or the school spontaneously combusts or something. Can you please make it one more week? You know this week is important to me with the play coming up and all. So you’re just going to feel selfish if you end up ditching me on the biggest week in my middle school life.”

“Fine. One week. One week of me hanging out and talking to you and only you at school. And then, if nothing changes, I will take matters into my own hands.”

That week passed too quickly and too slowly all at the same time. Everyday I was looking for some miracle, something big to happen to let her stay. Not just for her, but for me too. I cared about her a lot, I’m not even sure in which way, but I knew that I would be miserable if she left. Wednesday rolled around and nothing major had happened. Before I knew it it was Thursday evening, the night of my big play. I was a little nervous but also very distracted. What would I do if nothing happened? God had to come through for me or for her in some way. She texted me that she was on her way to the play. I was rehearsing my lines one last time, when suddenly an alarm went off telling everyone to evacuate the school.

We stood in the parking lot having no idea what was going on. There was no way this was a fire drill, not with parents coming so soon to watch the play. A bomb threat maybe?

“Hey what’s going on?” she tapped my shoulder, scaring me out of my thoughts.

“I don’t know, we were just running through our lines when the alarm went off.”
She looked at the ground playing with her feet.

“Sorry for the inconvenience, everyone,” Principal Schultz said. “I was doing our annual inspection of the building, when they told me that we have termites. I asked if we could at least hold off on evacuating the school until tomorrow afternoon, but they said there was no way they could let it go on for two more days without reporting it to the city. So, unfortunately, our school is officially closed for the time being. Classes are cancelled tomorrow – we will update all of your parents as to what you will need to do as soon as we figure it out. For now, please go home.”

A wave of relief washed over me. Termites! It may not have been a spontaneous combustion, but hopefully this would be the answer I was waiting for!

I Wish Life Was Like a TV Show

I was watching Gilmore Girls this week with my husband. It was an episode where Rory’s ex-boyfriend Jess shows up to see Rory. He’s a high school drop out that she hasn’t seen in awhile, and comes to tell her that he’s written a book and is working in a small publishing company that a guy he knows started. As I watched, I let out a sigh and my husband asked what was wrong (yes I am that dramatic). I asked how he – a high school drop out and bum in the earlier episodes- wrote a book and is working in publishing. I mean, I’m an averagely motivated person. I could be more driven and focused, but I do try hard and come back to pursuing the things I want over and over again. I haven’t written a book. I don’t have a job working for a small publisher. He just rolled his eyes at me and told me it was just a TV show.

I know it’s just a show, but it’s so frustrating to see things on TV that don’t seem like a real possibility in life. Who do all these jobs go to? How do they even get there? In the movie Postgrad also starring Alexis Bleidel, she gets super frustrated because she’s worked hard in college and can’t get a job after. That was my life! That was the life of most of my friends. Unlike Alexis Bleidel, however, it didn’t end with us getting our dream jobs after a tough summer. Instead you work and work and work and life still seems like an unclear path. And this is true for, I think, the majority of people. You go through college, working hard, excited about your future and what you’re studying and then when you get out, all the structure you’ve had for the last 16 years is out the window. There’s no clear cut, do this and get an A. A lot of my friends who have the careers they worked hard for in college aren’t even happy in those careers. So, I guess I’m stumped. I don’t know how Alexis Bleidel can do it in Gilmore Girls and Postgrad. I guess it’s my own fault for not going to Chilton and Yale like Rory.

How do you feel about your job? Did school prepare you for this? Is there a career you want but have no idea how to get to?

Just sayin’ hey

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. Yes, I know, that’s the understatement of the year.

I don’t have anything in particular to say, but was just looking at my blog and thought I’d check in. Since the last time I blogged, I’ve gotten married and bought a house! And we got a dog named Sushi.

I guess I’m at a bit of a holding place (isn’t that what people say?) as far as pursuing all of my dreams in life goes. I took a couple classes and thought about pursuing Physical Therapy – but am at least on hold with that, but may not pick it back up. I still want to write or edit or own a bookstore one day, but I guess I just don’t know the best path (or any) to follow to do that. So, this is me attempting to write again.

i guess that’s all for now.  :)     :-P    :-/    I’d love to hear any comments or feedback on writing/editing or anything else for that matter.

Writing Exercise, Sentence Stealing

Here is the first part of a short story I started. The prompt came from Poets & Writers.com:

Sentence Stealing:

In Writers Recommend, author Alix Ohlin writes: “When I’m in direst need of inspiration, I do what I call ‘sentence stealing.’ I find a sentence from a writer I admire and write it down. ‘In the beginning I left messages in the street.’ Or, ‘Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.’ Then I write my own version of the sentence, focusing only on its rhythms: by which I mean, replacing a noun with a noun, a verb with a verb. What’s left is a ghostly echo of the original sentence with no relationship to its actual content. And I follow that new sentence wherever it takes me, down the road to an unfolding story.” Using Ohlin’s method, write a story of your own.

Taken from Rebecca Stead’s “When You Reach Me,”: (P.1): “So Mom got the postcard today.”

Well, we finally got the bill yesterday. It all happened one week a few months ago. I had just finished my last day of work, and it would be two weeks until I started my new job. I would also be starting school again, for the first time in years, that fall. Sean had finished his Bachelor’s degree, and he had given his two weeks notice with a month off before he started his new job. We didn’t have anything planned for that week, we just figured we would lay around – maybe take a couple of day trips. But, when his cousin offered to watch our dog, we figured we could go out of town. And with the extra money we had been saving, plus (I’m not proud to say) but the room we had on my credit card – we figured we could take an impromptu vacation.

We made a list of nearby places we could go for a couple days – spending a reasonable amount of money. Then that night, I lay awake all night. All I could think of was the amount of responsibilities we were about to encounter in our lives. We were both starting new, more time consuming jobs – really it was going to the be the beginning of his career. I would be busy practically for the next three years after I started school again. And at some point, we would probably eventually buy a house and start a family. When would we have a week to just be irresponsible and doing something crazy again?

So the next morning I threw some things together in our big suitcase. I grabbed everything from sweaters to swimsuits. There was no plan. I grabbed all of our toiletries and even our towels and sleeping bags – because I had no idea where we would be staying that night. I rolled everything up, and somehow managed to fit all of the necessities into our suitcase. I woke Sean up, telling him just to get dressed and that I had a surprise for him. While he was in the shower, I called the taxi. There was no use leaving our car parked in a garage for a week, and I wasn’t telling anybody we were leaving town – so a taxi was the best option. He got out of the shower, the taxi showed up, I grabbed our bag and out we went.

“To the airport,” I told the driver after Sean and I had both gotten in. As we rode, Sean said, “Did you get us tickets to somewhere while I was sleeping or something?”

“Not exactly.”

“You booked us a room somewhere and we are on standby for the tickets?”

“Wrong again.” My cheeks began to flush. I wasn’t sure if he would be thrilled about my crazy plan.

“Okay, so why don’t you tell me what’s going on?”

“We are going to the airport. I packed everything we could possibly need. I did the math, and have an idea in my head of about how much we can spend over the next five days. We are going to the flight attendant and going the first place they have two tickets to in the US.”

“Oh, okay. That’s all.” Sean laughed maniacally. “I thought maybe you had gone and done something crazy.”

“It’s not crazy. We have both always wanted to travel more around the United States. We have smart phones, we can book a room, or a hostel, or even a campground wherever we go. You and I both have friends and family around the country. We will be fine.”

“Okay,” Sean said sounding like he was trying not to lose it. “You take the lead on this one. It’s your plan, you make it work.”

The taxi pulled in front of the curb at the Mccarren airport. Sean grabbed our giant, heavy suitcase – I’m not even sure why he was being that gracious towards me. And we went in. I went up to the first airline I saw and got in line. Sean stood just behind me, probably hoping I would back out. My heart beat quickly, and I tried to swallow but my mouth was too dry. Where were we going to end up? Alaska? Hawaii? New York? Nebraska? What if we wound up in the middle of nowhere, with no place to stay? Just as I was about to back out, the woman at the airline desk called the next in line.

“Hello. Name please?” she asked.

“Well, here are our id’s. We actually don’t have a reservation yet.”

“Okay. I can make you a reservation, where are you trying to get to today?”

“Um… actually, we just want to fly to the first place you have two available tickets to,” I answered. My hands were shaking. I felt like a complete idiot.

“Okay,” the woman eyed me suspiciously. She probably thought we were two criminals running from the law or something.

“Let’s see. It looks like we have two available seats on the noon flight to three different places.” She paused as she focused in on the computer.

“Do we want to pick out of three places or just have her pick randomly?” I asked Sean.

He thought for a second. “Well, this is your crazy plan, so you can choose overall, but I would say that this has been crazy and spontaneous enough and that we should be able to at least pick between three places.”

Well, if I let her pick we might end up somewhere expensive or just lame. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to hear the three options and pick the best one.

“Alright, here we go. Are you ready for your choices?” she asked amused at our situations.

“Yeah, go for it.”

“Okay, we have a twelve o’clock flight to…,”she paused for effect, “Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Atlanta, Georgia.”

“Well, it looks like we are going to Atlanta, Georgia then,” I said.

“Okay. I will just need a credit or debit card for the payment.”

Keep On Keeping On… Whatever that means

So bloggees… it’s been awhile. After my last post, I decided to focus on a short story I was preparing for a writing contest. I felt good about the story, but was not one of the winners. Since then, I’ve ran a half marathon, gotten a dog, and continued to work on planning our wedding :-P.

I found the writing contest on the Poets & Writers website, and it seemed pretty competitive. The winners were all older than me, and I’m sure had more education as well. I’d like to enter a less competitive writing contest before the year is over or submit my work to a local publication, but I haven’t done much research on local publications yet. If anybody has suggestions for either.. I’m open to hearing them. I’ve done a little research looking for less competitive or local writing competitions, and didn’t have any luck.

I’ve been feeling a little discouraged about things lately – Sean & I are 4 months away from our wedding with lots still to do. It seems like the list is never-ending. No matter how much we work, or how tight we are on our budget – there’s still more to save and more to plan. I’m not really sure why I thought a year long engagement was a good idea, but I’m sort of ready to just get hitched and move onto the next part of our adventure. I’m excited to see our wedding plans come to life, and for all the fun stuff the next few months will include – but I’m just going to be very ready for my ‘event planning’ days to come to an end after that. Anybody else wish they had had a shorter or longer engagement? Why? A bigger or smaller wedding? What would you change if you could go back and do it over?

On a positive note, my fiance is one semester closer to getting his degree! It’s been stressful though trying to plan the wedding, have a full-time job, having Sean work full-time and be a full-time student. But through all the stress (and fights that come with the stress) – it’s been worth seeing Sean excel in school and begin to see his own potential. We are both probably going to end up being life-long learners – one of us will probably always be in school or at least for the next ten years, but it’s cool to see him begin to dream about what graduate school could look like. We both have big dreams for the future, I want to continue writing and would eventually like to go back to school for writing or to become a professor, and Sean (among wanting to do other things) would like to be a history professor. He works so hard (and gets way better grades than I did) and is dreaming about going to some of the best schools. I’m a little more jaded and cynical about thinking I’ll actually get into the right program for me one day or get my writing published – but I guess that’s why we go well together. I dream big, but don’t think I’ll ever make it. Sean dreams big for both of us, and then says – ok, now let’s go do it!

We’ve been working really hard. I know it’ll all pay off in the end – for the wedding, for school, for future jobs, for writing, for our future family… but sometimes I could just use a little payoff and encouragement now. I need like an advance pay-day in encouragement ;). So, that’s it for us. Sorry – no actual writing or writing example today, but hopefully soon. We are just chip-chipping away at life, and keep on keeping on. I go between wanting to savor where we are at, because I know I’ll be nostalgic for it in like 6 months already, and just wanting to get through it. Being grateful and savoring the moment is definitely I should be working on. I’ll take any advice or any comments today, I’m open to it all!

Forbidden Love Letter

Here’s a silly writing exercise I just did from Poets & Writers prompts: http://www.pw.org/writing-prompts-exercises

Creative Nonfiction Prompts

Writing exercises to help you generate well-crafted narratives.

Love Letter

posted 2.14.13

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To celebrate Valentine’s Day, write a love letter to an inanimate object that explores why you appreciate what you’re writing about, what its special qualities are. Title it as you would address the letter: Dear Subway, Dear Keychain, Dear Gloves…

Here’s my love letter:

Dear Sean’s Mac Laptop,

I just want to confess my secret love to you for Valentine’s Day. I know you belong to my fiancé, but I can’t help but want you all for myself. You are so easy to use, and you making writing a joy.

My old laptop and I have had some good times together, I’ll give you that, but it’s just time to move on. Honestly, I’ve outgrown this old Vaio. Five years together, and it thinks it can just be slow and lazy all the time. It doesn’t give me the new and exciting adventure you can offer.

I shouldn’t be saying all of this. I’m actually writing you this letter from my Vaio right now.

I guess I should cut it short, Mac, before Vaio realizes what’s going on – but I just wanted you to know how much I miss you. Only a day apart and I already can’t wait to get close to you again.

Yours,

Regan

Write one & send it to me! I’d love to see what you come up with   :)

Lisa’s Writing Exercise

My friend Lisa shared this writing exercise with me last week. This is the first time I’ve had a chance to do it. You take ten lines from a book, sort of randomly. I chose Flannery O’Connor’s: The Complete Stories. I turned to pages randomly and then found one sentence from each page that I liked:

1.) She allowed herself to be guided by his mother to the car and put in the back seat without seeming to know who the rescuer was.
2.) He reached into his pocket and withdrew his pipe and a sack of tobacco.
3.) She wanted to get up and go to him but she could not move.
4.)Parker, still barefooted, burst silently in on him at a little after three in the afternoon.
5.) She’d stood stiff up and said they lived where they could afford to live and made the best of it.
6.) The umbrella was one his landlady had stopped using fifteen years before (which was the only reason she had lent it to him) and as soon as the rain touched the top of it, it came down with a shriek and stabbed him in the back of the neck.
7.)His eyes were as blue and intense as the parrots in his shirt and he remained perfectly still.
8.) The old woman clamped her gums together.
9.) There’s about ten million billion more just like them and I know what Mrs. McIntyre said.
10.)She didn’t take anything to eat, forgetting that food is usually taken on a picnic.

Next I picked the best three:

1.) She wanted to get up and go to him but she could not move.
2.)His eyes were as blue and intense as the parrots in his shirt and he remained perfectly still.
3.) The old woman clamped her gums together.

Next, write a poem or story using those sentences. I used them as an introduction paragraph, but you can do whatever you want. Here’s the story I got:

Last Words

She wanted to get up and go to him but she could not move. His eyes were as blue and intense as the parrots in his shirt and he remained perfectly still. The old woman clamped her gums together.

She lay in a hospital bed, tied down with tubes. Even if she were free of these restrictions, she would not have had the strength to walk to her grandson. He had come to see her on her deathbed, in the last of her days. How many things she had wanted to tell him over the years. Now she lay in bed, not able to think of one of them. Marcos stood across the room unable to ward off his fears of sickness, hospitals, and death even as he stared those things in the face.

She wanted to go to him, to let him know that it was still her. Regardless of the circumstances, it was her – he didn’t have to be afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. They were silent: she constrained by weakness, he constrained by fear.

Suddenly, her nurse Edline walked in the room. “Hey, sweetie. How’re you doing?” she asked, walking to her bedside. She rythmically took her temperature, blood pressure, and checked her I.V. “Are you in any pain?”

“I’m okay,” the older woman grabbed the nurse’s hand. “My grandson Marcos here came to see me.”

“Hi there, Marcos. How’re you doing?” Edline asked.

“Doing good,” he said in a low reserved grumble.

“Well, baby, come on over her and give your grandma a kiss. You can’t hurt her any.”

Marcos hesitated, but walked closer to his grandmother’s bed.

“Now, do me a favor and sit down right here,” Edline motioned to the foot of the hospital bed. “Now take your grandma’s foot and give it a little rub over those sheets there.”

Sitting down, he placed his hand on her foot, but made no other movement.

“We have to keep her muscles as lose as we can. They get stiff laying in this bed all day.”

Edline moved around the older woman’s hospital tray and busied herself tidying up the room. She looked over and saw Marcos massaging his grandmother’s feet.

“Does that hurt?” he asked.

She grimaced, unable to hide the pain. “A little, but I know it’s good for me. You know when you were a little boy, I tried and tried and tried to get you to drink medicine. I explained to you over and over again that even though it was painful at the time, it was going to make you all better.”

“Yeah, I had ear infections all the time,” Marcos answered.

“I want you to remember that,” she paused until he looked at her face. She looked into his blue eyes and said, “Sometimes what is the easiest and feels the best at the moment is the worst thing for you. Sometimes the best thing for you, is the thing that is the hardest to push through and deal with. But, if you just keep taking the medicine – you’ll get better. It’ll get easier. you can’t let the sickness rule your life.”

Silence fell between them.

“Isn’t that what this is now?” he asked, his voice unsteady.

“No, this is just the natural end to a long life. I put in a lot of years fighting through sickness and pain, and pushing through anything that stood in my way to do what was best for me, your mom, and you guys.”

Marcos sighed. “I know, Grandma.”

“No, you don’t know,” she said sternly. He looked up at her abruptness. “You have to fight, you don’t have your whole life to let the demons that rule your life win. You have to fight everyday, one day at a time. And sometimes you’ll lose, but if you keep fighting – you’ll beat those demons.”

All Marcos could do was nod silently.

“I love you. I just want what’s best for you. I won’t be here forever to tell you these things, just promise me you’ll do the best you can.”

“I promise,” a tear slid down his cheek. “I love you, Grandma.”