Creativity, Life, Poetry

Winter and her metaphors, part 1

 

Greetings from Alaska. Winter endlessly fascinates me…she is my muse. I am excited to announce that my first collection of poetry, The Latent Talent of Conception, will be published later this year, so keep visiting this blog for updates. Enjoy.

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The Selfish Act of Winter

No matter how it falls,
Snow can never fall hard,
And that is the posture
I now adopt,

The occasional pine
Dusted with snow.
Hester’s wedding dress,
Exposing all her secrets.

I beg in three seasons now.
Spring finds me pleased with color.
Summer wilts me with my own heat.
Autumn begs to differ until

Blessed winter comes again.
I can quit roving the grass—
The hair of the earth
As Whitman said.

I make of you dirt,
Baked fields of warm sod,
While you assert
That you are ash,

Charred remnants of holiness.
How can I argue with that?
Our paradigms
As different as fall and spring,

Opposing poles
Pointing in some
Unknown direction.
And which is worse?

That you always sound
So composed,
Or that I’m still
Writing you,

This stalled facet
Of my inner life,
A brave faction
Holding out

In the face of all
Physical evidence.
The probability
As unlikely as the spring.

© 2016-2017 Mindy Goorchenko All Rights Reserved
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Creativity, Fiction, Poetry, Writing

Writing fiction that doesn’t suck

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That title may be unceremonious but, in general, I continue to be largely bored by my fiction-writing attempts, and I’ve gained a few insights along the way.

  1. Back story is not the same as a good story. As I write on a daily basis for at least an hour each morning, I’m realizing that most of what makes it to the page is back story about the characters, not the actions in which they are engaged. Thus, my sense of boredom is very real…because they are not doing anything.  I am getting to know them better and that is entertaining, but as far as compiling a story with these people, not much has actually happened yet.
  2. A literary style is probably more my thing. One of my pieces from earlier this month is largely a string of consciousness with key events mentioned along the way, giving it structure. Poetry’s my girl. Can I just write poems in story form?
  3. A process has emerged that works for me. I think. Mostly, my first drafts are proving to be boring beyond boring. Going over them a second and then a third time, rewriting paragraphs and making the language more interesting, accurate, and descriptive along the way seems to be working for me. However, this only addresses the writing style, not the actual plotting of events. Any tips on plotting would be appreciated. I keep waiting for the characters to come alive in my mind and start doing things. I will give myself over to you and let you write yourselves into life, but for the love of all things, don’t make me do it for you.
  4. I need to read more. My life has revolved around textbooks for years. It’s no wonder my imagination is shit right now. A synthesis of interests and artistry will be good to have, eventually. Reading Toni Morrison these days is watering my brain in all the right ways.

So, one month in, there has been improvement, insight, and all that exciting personal growth stuff. (yikes!)

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Creativity, Editing, Fiction, Poetry, Self-Medicating, WIPpets, Writing

Update on the writing life: Month #1

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It has been one month today since undertaking the goal to complete 52 short stories in 52 weeks. I am nowhere near meeting it but I do feel encouraged by what has happened in the past 29 days.

  • 3 & 1/2 rough drafts of stories on their way to completion
  • 2 drafts of poetry
  • 1 submission of poetry to HOOT literary magazine
  • 1 sketch (a portrait)
  • 1 plan to self-publish my first manuscript of poetry, The Latent Talent of Conception
  • Participation for the first time in a “write-in,” six of us scrawling/typing a total of 8,114 words in each other’s company
  • Only one half of one book read: Sula by Toni Morrison
  • Subscription to Duotrope for manuscript submissions and tracking
  • Subscriptions to Glimmer Train and Alaska Quarterly Review
  • So many cups of coffee and Americanos. Black.

I continue to find fiction more challenging than enjoyable to write. However, a process is unfolding and it’s getting easier and even fun!

Last night, during four separate sprints in which we wrote continuously in chunks of 20 minutes, I hashed out about 400 words at a time and then returned to add layer upon layer of detail and interest until I could read it without dying of boredom.

As evidenced by my list above, I have a problem finishing stories. On a side note, I write boring plots and characters; I have little imagination.

However…it does seem to be getting a teeny bit easier and the writing has improved.

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Fiction, WIPpets

WIPpet Wednesday: A bit “off”

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Today’s work-in-progress (WIP) comes to you from my third short story attempt.

I am sure my late grandmother will grace many pages in the days to come. She was a very complicated person.

This snippet happens in the midst of the main character’s existential crisis. She has started to lose her mind but this goes largely unnoticed by her family who has always seen her as a bit “off.”

WIP = “work in progress.” This group of bloggers publishes a snippet of work each week that somehow relates to the date. Today is 11/16/2016, and 1+1+1+6 = 9. Here are 9 lines of the current WIP.

Today began the same as any other day. She looked around her fine home and wondered at the meaning of it all. An existential crisis had taken root in her mind, and she couldn’t shake the thought that there was something more she was supposed to be doing with her life.

Books had piled up on the table by her couch. The brain was her latest interest, and the Theory of Everything. Quantum physicists prized this idea the most of all. What is the underlying theory that accounted for everything in the entire known universe and its laws?

Jane was not a scientist and she had never gone to college, but she had begun to fancy herself as sort of the expert on these matters.

See you next week.

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Editing, Feedback, Fiction, Self-Medicating, WIPpets

“It won’t feel good, but it’ll make you grow.”

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My good friend ReGi McClain graciously took the time to read my first story, a take on “Frog Prince,” and responded with the following email, complete with a “shredded” draft that I have almost gotten drunk enough to read (LOL, kidding…). Still. YIKES! Here’s what she wrote:

Hi!

So what I did was what my beta buddies and I refer to as shredding. It won’t feel good, but it’ll make you grow.

This story has tons of potential and the chance to convey an empowering message in a fun way, and therein lies the greatest strength.

What’s not working so well is the amount of information you’re trying to put into the space you have. In a short story, tangents are not allowed. Every sentence has to move the action forward or explain why it’s moving the direction it is. About a quarter of this draft is background we don’t need, but we’re missing pieces we do.

So here’s what you do. Read my feedback, give yourself a week or so to hate my guts, get over it, then come back, read it again, and see what you can do about incorporating the advice you think is worthwhile and ignore the rest. Way the by, you could make it twice as long, if you wanted to.

Whatever you do, don’t give up or let yourself be discouraged for more than a day or two. Every time you write, you’ll get a little better. 😊

Love you! For reals! Even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. 😉
~ReGi

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Creativity, Fiction, Writing

52 short stories in 52 weeks

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Fiction has never come naturally for me; I think I’m afraid of it.

Baring my interior bones and guts has always seemed easier as an essay or poem, clearly or not so clearly structured, with details which start in a specific place and end not too far off in the distance.

My imagination is underdeveloped and underutilized. My thinking seldom wanders and tends toward black and white. It assesses, plans, implements.

Thus, when I see this quote by Ray Bradbury, I immediately view it as a challenge.

A friend recently suggested that Mr. Bradbury did not intend this statement as a challenge, and that’s true.

But the possibilities of this type of active, ongoing practice of writing can’t help but excite and motivate me.

What if one were to commit to this type of writing, a story each week, this frequent and consistent practice of the craft of short fiction?

Regardless of the outcome, I can’t help but appreciate the inevitable growth as a writer and person that might/must result. I hope my writing will improve. I hope my imagination will flourish more than it has. I hope all 52 stories aren’t crap. Mr. Bradbury reassures me there will be at least one good one.

Let’s find it.

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