February’s Prompt

complete the story

Today is February (you probably know that by now). What that means is it is time for a new writing prompt. Again, I am taking my prompt from a book that one of my lovely sisters bought me titled Complete the Story. 

This month’s prompt is:

Perhaps it was a dream, she thought. Perhaps if she pinched herself, she would wake up. But she didn’t want to wake up. She wanted to stay in this dream world where….

I am looking forward to this month because the prompt is very vague, which leaves a lot of room to create. Looking back at January’s prompt, I felt like it was too narrow. The prompt made me feel stuck in one story. I actually had a hard time finding a direction to take it other than the one provided in the prompt.

And although I am looking forward to this month and trying to write, as always, personal struggles are already effecting my writing. In particular this month, I have decided to give up soda. I went cold turkey and cut it out of my diet. I feel sluggish today, but I am surviving.

I am not trying to lose weight. I just need to stop drinking it. I drink A LOT of soda. I have a feeling this might effect my writing. Right now I just feel like I am missing my usual “get up and go.”

However, we will survive (even without soda). Happy reading and writing this month! And good luck with your personal goals and struggles!

Advertisements

We Found Oil

At first, we thought the black liquid was oil, that we’d struck it rich and that we’d be able to retire and live in leisure. We actually started writing down all the ways we’d spend the money. Our first choice was a private island. Actually, that was my first choice, my husband and daughter wanted other things.

MY LIST

private island

sports car – probably a lamborgihni

MY HUSBAND’S LIST

pay off debt

big house

retire and do nothing

OUR DAUGHTER’S LIST

lots of cats

She is eight and loves cats. My husband and I really just wanted a way to be out of debt. We were still paying off the fee that allowed us to have a child. The government closely regulated how many people could be born every year. Over population had almost destroyed our planet once, they weren’t going to let it happen again. At least, not without making money off of poor people like us first.

This discovery could change everything for us. The trouble was we weren’t sure how to let someone know without losing our rights to the liquid. If it was oil, we wouldn’t just be rich, we’d be set for life. Only 150 years ago, fossil fuels had run out. That’s right. Gone. We were warned it would happen, but most people didn’t do anything to prepare for the loss of oil as a fuel source. Since then however, people had scurried to set up alternative energies. Most people preferred solar.

Without oil, our world didn’t come to an end, but there were many years of hard times for the average person. It happened before I was born, but my grandparents talked about those times like they were only yesterday. The stories from that era were troubling. People got desperate, and when people got desperate, they did things they wouldn’t normally do.

We would have to alert someone about our findings in a way that wouldn’t allow them to just come in and take it from us. We deserved compensation. After all, this was our land. We made our living selling “clean” water from a spring we’d inherited from my kin.

But oil… oil was not water. Water paid our bills, but oil could shape our lives.

My husband worked from sun up to sun down monitoring the bottling process. He had good people working for us but water was still a commodity worth stealing. With him tied up all day, he was leaving it to me to decide how to proceed.

I debated calling my best friend, Amy, but if she told someone, word would spread and I would lose my chance to get my news out my way.

I didn’t call Amy, but I did call my momma. After all, she still owned shares in the family business. We would cut her in on whatever this discovery brought us.

I told her about the discovery. She didn’t believe me. I told her to come over in the morning to see for herself.

She said she’d see me then. I hung up and went about my nightly routine.

The next morning my momma showed up bright and early. We went out to the dig site and after looking at the black liquid, my mother stood very still and said nothing for a long time. I didn’t say anything. My momma was a hard working woman who ran the water business after my daddy left us. She didn’t speak a lot, but when she did, she meant every word of what she said.

“This is oil,” she said.

“I know,” I answered her.

“This is gonna change things,” she said.

I admit that at this point I expected a bit more. My momma didn’t usually state the obvious. I didn’t say anything again.

My mother interrupted, “Who’s that?” She was pointing behind me towards the road leading up to our land.

I turned around and saw several large trucks of various kinds coming towards my property. I didn’t know the purpose of all of them. I saw some vehicles that I recognized. What mostly caught my eye was that the trucks were being led to my land by a quintessential navy sedan. navy sedan

“God damnit,” I said. “Momma, did you tell someone about this.” I was so angry that she would have blabbed.

“Calm down. I didn’t tell no one,” she said as she looked offended I would accuse her of such betrayal.

“Well, I didn’t tell anyone but you.” My mind was racing. How had our secret been discovered? There is no way that my husband had told anyone. He didn’t particularly warm to any government representative. They had a tendency to take what they wanted and leave nothing for the rest of us.

I ran back towards the house with my momma hot on my trail. I grabbed the radio as soon as I could reach it in the kitchen.

I yelled, “Honey, get up here now. The feds are here. We are about to have company.”

All my husband said was, “Yep.”

I went and stood on the front porch and watched all the vehicles line up outside my house. As they drew nearer, I noticed that several of them had men with weapons. As they parked, the armed men jumped off their vehicles and surrounded my front porch.

The person in charge got out of the front passenger side of the navy sedan. He buttoned his jacket as he walked towards me.

Before he could reach the porch, I said, “Something I can help you with?” I gave him my if I only had laser beams shooting out of my eyes glare.

“Ma’am. Please go back into your house.” As he said this, several of the armed personnel moved without saying anything and pointed rifles at me and my momma.

My momma grabbed my arm. “Let’s go, dear. Do as they say. It’s not worth it,” she said barely above a whisper.

We went back into the kitchen and sat down. Within seconds, I heard foot falls on the porch and then black paint started to appear on all the windows. “What the..” I said as I stood and headed for the door.

“Don’t bother,” my momma said. “It’s too late. We have lost control of this situation.” She seemed reserved and small; this was nothing like the strong woman who raised me. She would never have given up so easily. I’d never seen her go up against the government before and there was clearly fear as well as history there.

“Fine,” I said. I sat down at the kitchen table and folded my arms across my chest in an outright display of stubbornness. She sat across from me.

We had only been sitting for five minutes or so when the door opened again and my husband and daughter were thrust into the room. The door was promptly slammed shut.

My husband sat down at the table too. I looked at him expecting him to say something, anything really. He didn’t. We all just sat there looking at each other.

My daughter came over to me and gave me a hug. I told her to go play in her room while we figured out what was going on.

After about an hour, a large heavily armed group of men came in through the kitchen door and dropped off bottles of water. They didn’t say anything but left again.

Then the man in the suit who I saw get out of the sedan came in. I opened my mouth to yell at him and demand answers. He raised his hand to silence me.

“No.”

I hadn’t even said anything.

“Just listen.” He paused and when none of us had anything forth coming to say, he continued, “You will remain in your house until you are told otherwise.” And then he turned and left.

Either from shock or just complete disbelief, we didn’t do anything. Not a single one of us thought to ask a single question. We just stood there.

After he left, we could here the people talking on the porch, but their voices were too muffled to be understandable.

At this point, we discussed if there was anything we could do. The consensus was that this was a no-win situation for us. We would just do as we were told for now.

Early the next morning we began to hear sounds like large equipment working on our land. I tried to look through the windows, but they had painted all of them black. We had no idea what they were doing, but it didn’t take a genius to figure it out. They were stealing our oil.

oil well

This continued for the better part of three weeks. The noises from outside were continuous. They would bring in water and food through the kitchen door and leave again without saying anything.

One morning when I awoke, I didn’t hear any noises. I went down to kitchen and walked out the back door. They were gone. That day my husband went back down to the bottling plant and starting bottling water again.

Frozen in Writing

It is time for my mid-process check in. As part of my plan to write 12 short stories this year, I am also going to write posts about my road blocks while writing.

Ironically the main character / narrator of my story this month is facing a similar problem to one I am going through in real life. Before I get into that, here is a reminder what this month’s prompt is:

At first, we thought the black liquid was oil, that we’d struck it rich and that we’d be able to retire and live in leisure. We actually started writing down all the ways we’d spend the money. Our first choice was …​

I have been working on my story. I have some characters, I have a basic plot, and I even have an idea where I would like the story to go. However, my main character seems paralyzed. I cannot figure out how to get the story going again. I am not sure if this is that I am too determined to make the story happen a certain way and am not letting the story take on a life of its own, or because I feel that way right now in my own life.

My husband and I are waiting to find out if he is going to lose his job this year. It would be a HUGE life changing event for us. It’s all I can think about. We know roughly when we will find out and knowing that date has made it even harder for me. I feel like I am frozen in place waiting for someone to say “unfreeze.” I don’t want to do anything right now. I just want to know one way or another. 

freeze_tag_king_by_nickseluk-d5ihir7

I feel like my character is stuck too. She can’t act because she is too afraid to. Any choice she makes could lead to things going horribly wrong. Maybe I should just let it go wrong for her and see where that takes me. Or maybe her fear prevents her from acting and the story is just what’s going on in her head.

Can nothing happening be a story?

I am curious what others think about that. What type of story do you prefer to write? Should event A lead to event B which in turn leads to events C-Z? Or do you like stories where there is more insight into the thoughts of the narrator(s)? Do you want your narrator to be thinking for you or do you want to watch everything play out and think about it for yourself?

And how do you handle the emotions of your characters? Do you tell the reader what the character is feeling, i.e. Bartleby is sad. Or do you prefer to show them through the events of the story and let them form the emotions for themselves?

Or do you just prefer to write and not overthink it? (Which is the other problem I am having in real life and while writing right now).

However you go about writing, keep it up!

Happy writing and reading this month! 

Welcome to January 2018!

It’s been awhile since I’ve been on here. Since July 2015 apparently. So then, why am I back? To be honest, I miss writing. In the last couple of years I made a career change to a completely unrelated field, and I haven’t been writing. I still read — a lot, but I haven’t made writing of any kind a priority. I want to change that. I miss it.

One of my goals for 2018 is to write 12 short stories, one a month, and post them on this blog. I will probably write more than that, but that is going to be my goal to start. I am going to get back in the habit of trying to write a little everyday too.

write1

For my monthly prompts, I am using a book called Complete the Story. I will share the prompt for each month on the first and then sometime between the 20th and end of the month, my story for that prompt will be posted. I am making choosing the prompts simple; I am just going to use the book in order. I am really looking forward to this challenge. If you want to join me, let me know what stories you write too. I am intrigued by the different routes people take when given an idea and told to run with it.

2018 is going to be a great year! How do I know? Because I said so that’s why.

Happy writing and reading everyone! And make your year a great one.

And before I go start my amazing / productive year of writing, here is the prompt for January:

At first, we thought the black liquid was oil, that we’d struck it rich and that we’d be able to retire and live in leisure. We actually started writing down all the ways we’d spend the money. Our first choice was …

Achievement Unlocked!

Current word count: 28,690

I did it! I met my weekend challenge. I should be honest to about it. I did all of that yesterday, which tells me I should not have a problem getting back on track this week.

My goal for this week: be at 34,000 words by Thursday August 29th at midnight.

And considering that yesterday I found the time to write over 5,000 words, I don’t see this as a problem.Snoopy

As I was writing yesterday, I just made myself sit there and it was surprising to me that the words seemed to come easily. I would be writing along and an idea would come to mind. As I was typing, I would think, “Okay. What is going to happen next?” And my mind came up with an answer every time.

It almost felt like the story was writing itself. I didn’t think too much about it; it just fit together nicely.

Not only did I manage to get the word count that I wanted, but as I was winding down for the night, I also wrote a mini-outline of the next couple of moments I want to happen in my story.

Mostly though, I’m trying not to think about it too much. I feel like by not overthinking it, the story is coming together much better. I plan on working on it a little every night this week so I won’t be behind for my next week’s goal.

The Absent Muse

museMy story is making slow progress lately, mostly because I’m guilty. So guilty! I keep telling myself that I will sit down and write when I feel like it or when the mood strikes me. Well, guess what!? There is no waiting muse and no mood that miraculously leads to being more creative, productive, or a better writer.

I want to finish this novel by December 31, 2013, and it is going to take making myself work on it when I don’t really feel like it and when I don’t feel particularly inspired.Greek_Gods__Muses_by_marcoso86

I keep talking about setting myself a weekly goal of some sort and I have yet to do so, so I think my goal needs to start small and then I can change it every week as needed.

Today being Thursday, my goal for this week, to be accomplished no later than midnight on Wednesday, is to add 3000 words to my novel. (Like I said, I am starting small.)

My current word count is 16,978

All right, that being said, I have made some progress this last week.

I even changed another name. I seem to be doing that a lot for this story. I love a couple of the names I’ve chosen but don’t feel that way about all of them. I am not letting it distract me though, and when I come across a name I like better, I change it to see if it sticks. My main characters have been the same for a while now, so I feel pretty solid about those, but we’ll see…

Humor-for-Writers-The-Muted-Muse

I might be part hobbit

I’ve been on vacation for a month. I just arrived home a few days ago, and the jet lag is finally wearing off.

I realized when I’d been home for only a few moments, that I missed my own bed, my mugs that I make Earl Grey in every morning, my office (where I feel the most relaxed and creative), and of course, my husband. (His being mentioned last does not indicate his rank in the list of things I missed. In fact, I missed him the most! No one tolerates me as well as he does).

bilbos hobbit hole
So, I am glad to be home with all my comfort, and I don’t plan on going adventuring anytime soon.

jmbarclay
And now that my vacation is over, I need to get back to writing on a regular basis. I took my draft and notes with me, but I confess, I made ZERO progress while I was away. I was visiting some of my favorite people in the whole world, so I don’t feel bad for not finding time to novel. However, this means that I have even more work to do because it is July now and the goal is still to finish by the end of the year.my office

All the time away from home made me realize I really, really like having my own space to be creative in. I like to sit at MY desk and use MY computer. I realize this may seem selfish or greedy, or both, but I like my office. It is my room. I can be messy, crazy, and odd in here and no one cares but me. It’s a space where there isn’t anyone to judge, and if someone comes in with that attitude, I can kick them out!

Plus, when I find myself staring at the computer screen wondering what to write next, there are loads of Legos around to entertain me.