Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: short stories

Inspired to Tell Stories

The following attempt at short story writing was inspired by The Plottery and their fun July writing prompts that they posted on their Instagram account, @the.plottery! A big ol’ THANK YOU to them for putting the jumper cables on the old imagination engine.

I actually do enjoy writing my own stories. I haven’t had much practice, and I’m not all that confident about it, but I still LOVE writing them. But sharing them? That’s so scary, so I do it even less often than I write them!

Today I feel brave. Not really, but I feel good about this little story. I made me smile and laugh writing it. I hope you enjoy it!


Michael had always wanted to celebrate the 4th of July. It’s Independence Day and that’s what he wanted, independence. From what? Family, of course. Who doesn’t complain about restrictions put on them by well-meaning family members, the keepers of tradition and order?

He respected them, but he was different. He wanted to try new things, experience new places and meet new people. He wasn’t interested in the same old family games and annual gatherings.

Summer is complicated for a vampire. The nights are so short, you know. It makes the evening hunt feel rushed and mechanical. Before the sun hits the horizon, the whole family starts to anxiously stir in their secluded coffins. Even with the new air conditioning pumped up into their belfry, the summer’s heat is only partially abated. Those satin lined coffins are stifling, and everyone is chomping at the bit to get out and stretch their limbs in the cooler night air.

How they know the sun has completely set and those burning rays can’t reach them, has always been beyond him. The best he can do is say that he “feels” it in his dry bones, and when he does, he can’t help by start to yawn and stretch to wake himself and push against his coffin lid in the hopes that he’s the first to emerge.

Why the first? Because being alone in such a small space with such a big family is a luxury. Sometimes he lives dangerously and peeks out at the room before the sun has dropped its upper edge below the horizon. He can see it streaming through the room and hitting the ceiling at high angle, but if he’s careful, he can sneak out underneath it and gaze upon the land from out the window before anyone else. Sometimes his sister beats him to it, and he finds her draped in a large hood and cape, her eyes shaded by dark glasses, every inch of her pale body covered, sitting on the windowsill staring.

She never acknowledges his presence when he joins her. She just sits there, staring straight ahead. Maybe she longs for independence, too? He’ll never know because she never speaks. He doesn’t take it personally. She speaks to no one. Never has. He’s sure it has something to do with how she came to this family, who brought her in and that she’s no longer with us. But that’s her story to tell, and she won’t.

As soon as darkness covers the land below, without a word she makes a scooting move with her butt and drops into the space below them. To anyone below, she would look like a larger bat dropping from the roofline. She won’t be back until morning. She never joins in family meals or games.

Michael enjoys watching the night spread out over the land. It hits the valley first, spreading out to the foothills and then climbs steadily up to the mountain tops and finally the land succumbs to darkness, stillness, and quiet.

He hears his family stirring in their coffins, the creak and hard thump of lids being pushed open and dropped to the side, the rustle of black capes and the murmur of hungry voices. Their excited chatter annoys him. In moments, they are off into the night to hunt without a word to him, kindly or otherwise.

Do they even notice the world around them? Do they ever pause to think about their existence? Or is it all animal instinct? And why is he so different?

He sighs into the night as he watches them float on the evening breezes in a wide swath of bat like wings. Death on the move.

He’s hungry too, and he realizes his time is shorter in the summer months, but there is more to life that feeding. Isn’t there?

One of those fine evenings, where the angst was sweetest, a piece of paper floated on the breeze beneath his tower. At first, he believed it was a small white bird returning late to its evening roost. Poor thing. He dropped off the ledge and dove toward it. Once he had it in his hands though, he realized he was mistaken.

He turned the paper over in his hand. “Don’t miss the 4th of July Fireworks, after sunset in the park!” it read. Ever since then he’d wanted to see these “fireworks.” He brought the idea up to his family as they each returned just before dawn. They came in the window in groups of three and four, chattering on about the evening’s hunt. He hated hearing their callous remarks about the lives they’d taken that night.

When he tried to show them the flyer, they scoffed. Human celebrations were not for them, especially when the short summer nights compelled them to hunt so swiftly. That’s when his father came in with, “Wait a minute. I think Michael is on to something.”

It didn’t take them long to forge a plan to turn a pyrotechnic spectacle watching event into a bloodbath. He was so disappointed. He tried to explain to them why he wanted to go, that watching those fireworks in the park, set to music, with the people singing and dancing below, the smell of BBQ and popcorn wafting up to them would be so beautiful.

“And just think! We could fly above and around them, a view from a new angle with every burst!”

They barely heard him. Plans were being laid.

All throughout June, Michael thought about his family ruining his Independence Day celebration, and then one night something came to him. He brought it up the next evening, before they headed out into the night.

“Has anyone thought that maybe swooping down into crowd of revelers might be a bad idea? There would be no mistake about what had attacked them. There would be survivors, and they’d be angry. It wouldn’t take them long to find their lair and destroy them all, especially with such long summer days.”

That got them thinking in a different direction. A feast would be a spectacular thing, but the results would be a bummer. They went to considering their options. Maybe pick off a few as they wandered into the less crowded areas of the park. A lost child. A pair of lovers. And old lady that had fallen behind.

Ugg…why aren’t they interested in the fireworks?

A Little Writing Anarchy: “Bought & Paid For”

Today, I’ll be promoting a little writing anarchy. Just a little, nothing too crazy.

Do you have to use writing prompts to create fiction? I don’t think so! I don’t think there’s anything I HAVE to do when I’m writing. I’m reminded of a scene from a movie: “You’ll do it and then he’ll do it and soon enough, EVERYONE is doing it! It’s total anarchy!” Probably not a scene from any movie that was actually made, just one that I believe exists only in my head.

“Bought and Paid For” is the prompt given to me today by Writer’s Write. I’ve heard it used before, in old movies and books, but I’m not totally sure of the meaning, so I looked it up.

Urban Dictionary’s entry was no help at all. Wiktionary was only slightly more helpful. I mean, at least I know how to use the phrase in a sentence now. But where did it come from?

The History Channel’s article “10 Common Saying with Historical Origins” sounded promising but the phrase I wanted wasn’t listed. How does that show up in a search?

Thinking about the meaning, I saw Santa’s workshop and all the elves working away at all those toys (for good little boys and girls). A small boy, maybe 8 or 9 years old, starting to lose faith in the existence of such magic, stumbles across the workshop while exploring old warehouses in the dark heart of a big city.

Magic can be found anywhere these days, if you look for it. No need to sequester it in far off places. Most people would walk right on by this place, maybe even work right along side it, and never see what’s shimmering beneath “reality.”

The boy explores down an alley and catches a whiff of something pleasant, warm cinnamon and cool pine. He follows his nose. Then a tinkling of small bells catches his ear, almost a laugh. A twist. A turn. And then a glow under a large sliding warehouse door.

He pulls but it’s too heavy for him. He lays down on the ground to see if he can catch a glimpse of what’s inside. Laying down, he presses face against the cold damp asphalt, and sees…no…that’s very strange…small green and red felted shoes walking busily back and forth.

The pace of the feet quickens, the singing swells louder, and then it all stops. He hears the clomp of a heavy boot moving towards where he lays, then sees the culprit. Black shiny boots pass in front and stop at his head, facing away from him.

His breath catches at first and he forces his next breath to draw in slow and quiet. Is he afraid of scaring the dream away, waking himself up?

The chattering he heard previously has hushed and all the felted feet turn toward the black boots. The black boots rock forward onto the toes and back again to the heels, while a long heavy breath is drawn in.

Suddenly a clatter is heard, possibly a dropped tool or project supplies, he can’t be sure. The rustle of quiet heads turns in awe. And then… The black boots shiver in front his eyes with a chuckle as it deepens into a belly laugh. A sigh comes from the amassed felted feet and the giggles, singing, and tinkling of bells returns.

But the boots continue to stand there. He imagines the body above the boots surveying the work being done in front of him. When will he move on? The boy is starting to grow cold, though so curious about what’s happening beyond the door. The damp is starting to creep up into his clothes and chill him. Besides…he really has to use the bathroom.

He decides he can wait no longer and slowly, quietly as he can, begins to move his hands under him in an effort to stand up and sneak away, when the boots rock and turn toward him in a flash. The boy freezes in place only to see the crack beneath the door grow dim with the approaching feet.

His breath freezes inside him as the huge sliding door creaks with pressure and then groans slowly open, flooding him and the alley with warm yellow light. He knows he’s been seen but he still can’t will himself to move.


I went for a walk to think of an ending to this story but only came up with, “Does a story ever really end?” Also, I’m out of time today. I never did get to a place to use “bought and paid for,” but I will or maybe I won’t. Writing anarchy!

I am very excited about where the story was going. Aren’t you? I think, for both our sakes, I’ll spend some time on Part Two tomorrow morning. I may not find an ending to the story, just a decent place to stop for a moment, but at least we can find out what happens to our little friend and what might be “bought and paid for.”

Go back to the first post of my November writing prompt challenge, “NaNoWriMo: But It’s NOT a Novel, It’s…” for more of these non-book related posts!

Try? Maybe I Just Don’t Want To

Today’s thirty minute fiction write for your entertainment: “Try” I’m posting these daily, with just a little editing, for fun and practice. They are not fully thought out pieces, most likely ramble and go nowhere, but I’m having fun and want to share them with you as I go!

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“These birds are far more promising.”

Here we go. Thirty minutes of words on try.

Try. Try, again.

Try?! That’s your advice? Try?

One does not try to jump off a cliff or get hit by a car. One does not try to perform open-heart surgery. And one does try to…

Try to what? I don’t know.

Try not. Do or do not. That Yoda guy. But we all try things? Right? I always thought that was a silly saying. I try new foods…sometimes. I try my hand at new skills. I try to be nice. I try to understand and fail miserably.

Try. Ok…let’s see.

I paste a smile on my face as I walk into the room but instantly think better of it. A neutral look would be better. Don’t bring attention to yourself. Act natural. This is what people do. They walk into bars, sit down, and order a drink. But this is no bar, it’s a coffee shop. Hmm…

A quick scan of the room shows me there aren’t too many people, plenty of places to sit and watch…I mean, relax while I have a cup of coffee. How does this work? Oh, yes, approach the counter.

“Hello! What can I get for you?” Cheerful. Noted. Sounds positive, non-threatening.

I stumble with the use of the voice. “Umm…” Cough. Heavy breath in. Ok, got it. “Yeah. Um…I’ll have a large black coffee.”

The barista gives a strange looking smirk, I think it’s called. Does it know? I mean, does she know? I think I’m not sure. They all look alike really. “Ok. Room for cream?”

I stumble again. Their language is complicated by emotion and vagueness. On top of that, they don’t seem to listen well. Their communication system really needs updating.

I pause to think, wonder if I have used the wrong words, then realize it’s one of their comprehension gaps, “No, thank you.”

Turning to take a step away, I hear behind me, “That will be three dollars and fifteen cents, please.”

“What?”

“Three fifteen.”

My brain struggles to decipher the words and behavior. Shit. I knew it was too soon to try this. I should have kept a shade and watched from a high corner, or at least remained invisible to move through the motions one more time before attempting to be seen.

“Cash or card?”

Oh! Yes! I got it! “Oh, of course. I’m sorry, my mind wandered.” To another time and place where I didn’t have to try so hard to communicate. Yikes. Waving my hand gently before me, connecting my mind with hers, I create the memory of my payment, and she responds, “Thank you!” She hands me the cup.

I know. It’s cheating. If I want the real experience, I really should have been better prepared. But rather than abort the whole effort, I try to keep going by fudging where I need to.

Taking the cup from her hand, I smile. “You have the most beautiful earlobes.” In my studies, I’ve read they love this kind of compliment, but it seems to fall flat, or I’m misinterpreting the facial expressions. Geez! Why is this so hard?!

Laughing, “I’m sorry. I mean earrings! My English. I mix the words.”

I’m not waiting for a response. I quickly turn away and move toward an empty table near the windows.

As I sit with my back toward the bar, so that I can’t be distracted by the human chatter, I try once again to observe in peace. My gaze lands on the dense foliage outside the floor to ceiling windows and the tiny, winged creatures hopping on two feet beneath them.

Now this is interesting. I hear nor feel anything from these simple creatures. They hop contentedly among each other, pecking the ground and pushing each other aside. Now and then, one spreads its brown wings and flies away, only to be replaced by another. The new arrival begins the same pecking action, at what I cannot see. The particles are two small for my eyes. They do seem so much less hostile than the humans behind me, from which I still hear the discussion of my mistake in nouns a moment ago.

I take a sip of the coffee I procured and settle in to watch the “birds” again.

There’s a hand on my shoulder, not physically, the sense of being brought to task descends on me. “How many times must you read about this, make the attempt, and fail like this? It’s like you’re not even trying.”

Maybe I just don’t want to succeed. I think these birds are far more promising.

Read yesterday’s post prompted from the word “ruins,” “NaNoWriMo: But It’s NOT a Novel, It’s…”

Short Stories: What makes a good story?

The following are my reactions to each of the twenty short stories in “The Best American Short Stories – 2014,” in order of appearance.

Loved. Meh. Anticlimactic. Painful. Eek. Oh, my heart. Interesting. O.K.… Did I miss something? Wow. Felt like that went nowhere. Nice. Made me feel something but why? Beautiful. Eek. Ouch. Nope. Oh man. A dog’s point of view. Again…I have no idea why you told me this story.

short stories

I think that what makes a good story is subjective. We might be able to put our finger on what really makes a bad story, but a good one? I think it’s an impossible task. These weren’t bad stories, but most of them just didn’t speak to me. I felt lost as to why they were telling me these things. Then again, I’m not much of a deep reader. I like things spelled out for me, the same way I like reality to be spelled out. Don’t beat around the bush! What are you trying to say? I don’t have time to decipher what you’re thinking.

Someone else may have loved every single one. What is a good story? Depends on how you view the world, what you want, and how you think.

I did enjoy the book though. It was not a waste of nearly twelve hours of my life. There were some amazing scenes. Some were heart breaking and some lifted my spirits. I also learned something; I could write things like this. It’s not my style, my talent, or my subject matter holding me back. It’s my fear of rejection.

I’ve pulled out a few of my favorite quotes for you. Enjoy!

“Wildflowers bloom without worry.” Long Tom Lookout by Nicole Cullen

“He kept this dangerous knowledge inside him where it tightened and squeezed, but where it couldn’t menace the greater world.” At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners by Lauren Groff

“The eyes of other people distracted her; the way those eyes begged for an instant intimacy wasn’t just an imposition, it was an affront. An assault, even.” This is Not a Love Song by Brendan Mathews

“What makes you so sure that what I ‘just know’ is any less reliable than what you ‘just know’?” Next to Nothing by Stephen O’Connor

“…’herd dreaming,’ which refers to a mass of people begin possessed by the same delusion: fainting epidemics, or nationalism, or the craze for teeth whitening.” Next to Nothing by Stephen O’Connor

“Do you have any secrets?” Antarctica by Laura Van Den Berg

I have another one of these collections of short stories and I’ll be reading it soon but reading this one has inspired me to submit some of my stories to magazines. I think I’ll make that a year end goal, make myself a post it and give myself a nice reward if I reach it.

Go back to my first post “The Best American Short Stores 2014: A New Read” to see where I started.

The Best American Short Stories – 2014

Like all books in my collection, The Best American Short Stories – 2014 has an origin story. All books have their own origin story, of course. The question here is, “How did this book find its way to me?” I’ll tell you: from a used bookstore in Lake Elsinore that I had been jonesing to check out for over a year.

the best American short stories

Last year, on one of my epic “visiting friends” adventures, I saw a billboard on the side of the freeway that advertised a HUGE used bookstore inside the outlet mall at Lake Elsinore. I’d never been to this so-called outlet mall. I didn’t even know it existed. The only outlet mall I regularly peruse (because it’s close and has some great stores and food…glorious food) is the Cabazon one on the I10 freeway. If you’re ever out this way, stop. It’s an experience if you have time to really walk the whole thing, and I’m not talking about shopping.

What kind of an outlet mall has a used bookstore?! That’s what I was thinking as I passed the sign by. It stuck with me though. I must check this out, I thought to myself, but I didn’t until a year later. I was in the area visiting a friend and we were looking for something to do. It was hot…as the area typically is over the summer…oppressively hot. Where could we go to walk around?

“That mall has a used bookstore.” I suggested.

“Have you ever been there?”

Neither of us had, so we decided to go see what we could find.

Let’s just say it was…anti-climactic, much like this blog post. The mall itself is old, like it’s stuck in 1991, and it is outdoors with very little shade at all, not exactly what I had hoped for at these temperatures. I really don’t understand the lack of shade trees in Southern California. BUT there’s a used bookstore!

A quick look around, past the kettle corn tent and directions to the Covid testing site, and there it was. My heart sunk when I approached the corner building. A few shabby old shelves were dwarfed by the large expanse of glass windows they were displayed in. It looked more like a half-empty thrift store. This was not what I was expecting at all. Where was the romance? Where was the dark corner with an easy chair, the smell of old paper and cardboard, the fat cat lounging between shelves bulging with hidden treasures, the sexy bookworm boy I might find stocking shelves? There wasn’t even coffee.

Maybe I read too much. Well…we were already here. We might as well go inside and see what we can find.

One positive – it was easy to find things. The shelves were labeled well. One could easily thumb through all the titles, nothing double stacked or hidden. Not much adventure in that, but you never know, there could be a gem or two hidden away. Another positive: they were cheap! $1 or $2 a piece. I could buy whatever I want. Even if I decided not to read it later, I wouldn’t have wasted much money.

I walked away with ten books that day. Yep. Ten. I paid $16 and was very happy. I found a few interesting memoirs, three anthologies like The Best American Short Stories, and two historical fiction books that looked promising.

Another bonus, there was Dairy Queen across the way from the bookstore where I promptly ordered a Banana Split Blizzard, only to find they don’t have them anymore. “Do you still sell banana splits?” I asked. She nodded. “Can’t you just put one in the Blizzard machine?” She just stared at me. I got a Thin Mint Blizzard instead.

When I went to my TBR shelf last night (can’t pick a new book right when I wake up), my eye was drawn to this book. I need something a little lighter, maybe a tad more fun than what I’ve been reading lately. I think this will fit the bill nicely.

I started the morning by reading the Forward and Introduction from the editors, curious to know a little about the process of collecting twenty short stories and calling them “best.” I woke up late this morning and had planned on only reading through one cup of coffee, but once I started reading the first story I couldn’t just walk away. It ended up taking two cups of coffee and a few minutes of reflection. That’s the glory of short stories. You know the resolution will come soon, no need to pause and finish later. It’s a quickie.

Do you like short stories? Where do you find yours? Online, blogs? Magazines? I’ve written a few of my own and you can find them on Short Stories: My Attempt at Emulating my Heroes.

Making Space for Ourselves to Better Control Our Emotions

Identifying what we’re feeling is the first step to taking better control of our emotions. If we know what we’re dealing with, it’s easier to find a solution. But what do we do when there are loved ones around us that want to help?

Book quote on desert rocks background.

“There is no worse experience than to have someone shout at you to look out for something you don’t see.”

The Admiral on the Wheel by James Thurber

I’m standing on the stage, coiling cable, minding my own business, when I hear a shout from behind me. “Look out!” I jump up and look around to find what it is I’m supposed to look out for.

I’m walking a hiking trail in the mountains, watching birds, thinking the deeper thoughts that the quiet walk allows to the surface when I hear from behind me, “Look out!” For what? I turn to look and am confronted with a mountain biker.

It happens everywhere, every day. You’re warned by another human to “look out” for something you don’t see. It’s not helpful. All it does is startle you into a “fight or flight” mode, at which point you must quickly look around you to assess the threat, and then decide an action. It takes too long. By the time you’ve turned around to see, the threat is on you and you have no time to react well.

What’s a better thing to shout in an emergency when you need someone to quickly act? A precise direction. “Duck!” “I’m on your left!” Or “Don’t move!” That requires the person giving the warning to be aware of the need and communicative enough to express it quickly and well.

The same principle works well when you are trying to better control your emotions.

When you are angry, jealous, or tired, it is better a better thing for the humans around you to hear what you need them to do, instead of “Look out!”

And that requires that you know what you want or need and be willing to speak it and the work through it. That’s rarely the case for me when I’m having those feelings. It’s something I’m working on, something I get frustrated about too. I’m 48 years old and only just starting to get a handle on dealing with my feelings in a more positive way. Why is that? Why am I so slow? Everyone moves at their own pace, I suppose.

But I have discovered a new trick lately, a way to let those in my inner circle know that I’m dealing with something I’m not sure how to explain and that I don’t yet know what I need them to do to help. I say, “I’m trying to remember that there is no spoon.”

Remember “The Matrix”? There’s a scene with the little boy bending spoons. He says the trick is to remember there is no spoon and then you can do whatever you want with it. In the movie, the reality they are experiencing is only in their heads. They are all in a simulation and the physical world isn’t what they are experiencing in their minds. What they see is just computer code fed to their minds. Once you can understand that you can change the code as you wish. It’s not easy, and few can do it well.

I’m not certain our physical reality is a simulation. I know there is talk of that on the interwebs, but that’s not what I came here to sing about. I’m here to talk about the draft.

No, sorry, an Arlo Guthrie song got into my head there.

I’m a firm believer in the human ability to use their minds in amazing ways. Like being in the matrix and manipulating the code, it isn’t easy. Emotional states are reactions to the code your mind has built through experience, culture, and the world around us.

They are real, yes. I am disappointed that I didn’t get to do the thing. I’m jealous of the attention you are giving someone else. I’m worried that this might happen. But because we created them, we can change them. We can think, “There is no spoon.” And reimagine.

When I tell people, “I’m trying to remember there is no spoon,” I’m saying that I’m feeling something I’m not sure is healthy or useful and I’m attempting to reassess. I’m in need of patience while I try to make adjustments to my thinking. Is this feeling useful to me? Does it get me where I want to go? Can I change how I look at things and adjust? How can those that love me help me get where I want to go, emotionally?

They give me a little extra love, a pet (because my most prominent love-language is touch) and let me figure it out. Then we go for a walk and talk it out. It’s working so far. Mostly. It is still a new skill and I know it will take time to master. I’ve made little reminders to help me not yell, “Look out!”

There will be many days in the future when I will think to myself, “But I like the spoon. It’s so much easier just to accept what I see and not attempt to change the code underneath.” But then I remember those emotions don’t get me where I want to be, and I put my shoulder to the harder work again. This time though, I have the support of those that love me because I’m able to warn them in useful ways that I’m doing the work.

This book was filled was some wonderful short stories and memoir pieces that sparked my creativity and inspired my thinking. Want to read more? Go back to my first post about it, “The Thurber Carnival” by James Thurber.

If you want to read more about him and his work, check out his website James Thurber.org.

“The Thurber Carnival” by James Thurber

New Read: The Thurber Carnival by James Thurber

There are loads of things that I love about this James Thurber book. First off is that it is a book I found in my friend’s library. You can read more about that adventure in my post called What Did my Book Blog Accomplish in 2020?

I found my first Thurber book while perusing a used book store in the mountains a couple of years ago and fell in love with him. When I saw this one laying sideways in an old banana box surrounded by World War II novels, I snatched it up with glee.

Second is that it is an old book, previously owned and written in. I especially love that. Who was this person? When did he buy this book? Why did he underline that? What happened to him? How did this book get to me?

It makes me want to leave notes in all my books in the event they leave my home and end up in someone else’s hands. It would read something like, “I got this book here and left notes in it not just underlined things, so that you would know what I think. I have a blog (if those still exist). Look me up!” And maybe, some day way out in the future, someone would read it. Like time travel.

I love Thurber because he writes goofy short stories that make me smile. Sometimes those stories are just a different way to look at something mundane. And sometimes they are so deeply touching they make me cry. All of them feel like they are reaching out across time to say, “Nothing changes. Life doesn’t suck. Have a good laugh!”

Want to know more about James Thurber or his work? Check out these websites: James Thurber and The Thurber House

If you decide to read any of his work, don’t forget to come back and tell me. I’d to love hear your thoughts!

I wrote a few posts about quotes I loved in this book. Check them out!
Want Social Progress? Be a Better Human
Making Space for Ourselves to Better Control Our Emotions
Relationship Problems: You Need the Right Tools to Repair Them


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A New Passion Has Emerged

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https://writerswrite.co.za/mos

At the beginning of the month, I found a graphic of one or two-word writing prompts for each day in the month of October and thought, maybe this would help me warm up a bit. I’ve been having a hell of a time thinking of things to write when I try to write every single day. Maybe this would jar things loose?

Seventeen days into October…it’s totally working. Some days I have things I’d like to write about. There are things that I read in books that prompt my thinking and things I hear people talking about or post on social media that I feel compelled to comment on. Podcasts and quiet time to think also spark my commentary. But these prompts, they are something different. I look at the word first thing in the morning and most times nothing comes to mind right away, but then, sometime around the dishes or watering the yard, it hits me. It comes in like a scene from a movie in my head. Sometimes it sparks a memory that comes out on the written page as an embellished memoir. Other times it hits me right at the center of my imagination and the new scene just comes pouring out.

All month I’ve been wondering where it came from. What new skill have I just discovered I can tap into? But yesterday, as I was driving to meet a friend for coffee, it dawned on me. It’s not new at all. I’ve always been accused of making something bigger than it really was, of attributing words to children that never said them and romanticizing the truth. And my worries, my anxiety? Guess where they from? My imagination. I don’t worry about little things, or what might happen in a vague way. I create vivid scenes in my head from a horrific accident to the details of the funeral and having to deal with people feeling bad about my loss. I don’t think, “Oh I hope my son doesn’t get into trouble.” And wring my hands over it. I see the whole scene played out before me down to the last detail. I don’t wonder what my husband is thinking when he’s quiet. I build up whole storylines about what could be going on in his head and end up sobbing in bed over the fiction I created.

When I was younger, I used to act on the feelings I created in myself with those imaginary scenes. I’d change my plans to go on a road trip because I imagined that I had a premonition about a horrible car accident. I wouldn’t let my kids play at the park the afternoon I imagined what life would be like if they were kidnapped and murdered. I went into a two-day depression spiral because I imagined that the reason my husband was late home from work was that he’d met up with new friends that coerced him into a going to party and got too stoned and drunk to get home to me.

It wasn’t until I was late into my thirties before I had some control over letting my imagination run wild. Why it took so long, I may never understand, but I finally figured out how to separate my imagination from reality on a permanent basis…mostly. I still embellish the truth a bit from time to time. Stories are much better told with a flourish of language in my opinion.

And now, because I just happened across a writing prompt graphic on social media, I’ve discovered a new passion and expanded on it. When I write fiction, it’s me in those scenes. It can get a little stressful because I feel it and sense it all. I want to sit in my imagination and find ways to describe everything I see, feel, and smell. I want to think the horrible thoughts, taste the food, and touch the things I see. When I write the story, it isn’t what really happened, it’s what I imagine would if I were there. I feel like I’ve finally found a healthy way to explore those thoughts which used to terrify me. I’ve found a way to express those imagined feelings without losing my grip on reality. It’s incredibly exciting and I hope you like reading them.

I’m thoroughly enjoying diving into that well of imagination and using it for good instead of evil. Who knows where it will go? I’m still writing non-fiction. I feel like I have a lot to say, a lot to process and share. But now, I feel like I have a new outlet, a new direction for my passion for words.

And don’t worry. I’ll clearly mark my “stories” fiction at the top. I’d hate for someone to read a non-fiction post from me one day and be inspired only to find a fiction one the next and wonder what kind of insanity has been occurring at this house!

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