#amwriting – It was Him? [part 2]

This is my fourth post of the month. Each month, this post will be allotted to the Twitter hashtag, #amwriting. In this post, I’m continuing my story, ‘It was Him?’. Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

Did you miss part 1 on this story?

[part 1]

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It was Him? [part 2]
Image provided by Josu Mendicute
https://www.flickr.com/photos/supermendikute/
Officer Tanner was a big burly man with clear blue eyes and coppery wavy hair. Sitting at a desk with its side next to the window, he gave the impression of being gargantuan. The steno chair seemed tiny in comparison to his large frame in dark blue. The pen in his paw-like hand looked like it could belong to a child.

Caitlin nervously walked up to his desk. “Officer Tanner?”

He averted his eyes from his work and gave her a grin. “Can I help you?” Before she could answer, he gestured for her to sit in the straight chair next to his desk.

“Sir, something kind of frightening happened to me this morning.” She squirmed in her seat folding and unfolding her hands several times.

He pulled a piece of paper from the side drawer. “Okay, your name, address, and telephone number. I’ll also need some identification.”

She gave him her stats and then, retold the story she had told the first cop. He let her say all of it before he prompted her for more information.

“You didn’t see anyone next to your car earlier or as you were walking out to it?”

“I looked outside when I got up this morning. All I saw was snow and my car along with a few other cars parked against the curb. No one was out there.”

“And when you walked out the door…?

“I wasn’t looking really. I was watching where I was stepping. The stairs were covered with snow and I didn’t know if ice was underneath; there was.” Her eyes rolled upward as if she was in disbelief. “But once I got past the stairs, I didn’t see anyone. I wasn’t very observant, though.” Her cheeks turned a soft pink as she continued to twiddle her fingers in her lap.

“Do you know if anyone is angry with you?”

She furrowed her eyebrows. “I don’t think so. At least, not angry like this. What did this person mean be ‘You’re next?’”

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out here. Did you take someone’s parking spot?” She shook her head so he went on. “Did you get something someone else wanted–for instance, at work?”

She shook her head again but stopped. “This is probably nothing but I did get moved to another line in the factory. The woman who worked across the belt from me at that first line gave me a dirty look. The thing is, I thought the look was directed the supervisor who was standing behind me.”

“I’ll check it out but your assumption was probably what it was. Is there anyone in your apartment building I should check on?”

“No, I think I get along with everyone in the building.”

Tanner indicated that he didn’t have any more questions for her and assured her he’d be driving by her apartment on a regular basis for a while.

Driving into work, she reviewed the questions Tanner had asked. Did she know someone who was enough off his or her rocker to threaten her like this? Did she do something unintentionally to set off a lunatic?

She was caught up in her own world of problems as she walked down the narrow hall to the women’s locker room at the leather factory. So much so, she almost ran into her boss head-on.

“Why are you late, Caitlin?” Her supervisor, Mr. Adams crinkled his eyebrows and gave her a black look.

“Oops! Sorry, Mr. Adams. I’m late because I was at the police station. Some idiot left a threatening message on my windshield this morning.” She looked straight into his eyes, sizing up the possibility of the culprit being him.

“And why didn’t you call?”

She diverted her eyes to her purse to find her locker key. “I should have called. I’m sorry. Are you firing me?”

“No, but you have to be more responsible. You aren’t a kid, you know.” He walked up the hall not giving her a chance to respond.

Once at her locker, she resumed her deliberations concerning Tanner’s questions. The threat didn’t come from her boss; that she was certain of. Did she know her neighbors in her building all that well?

This continues on next month…

Inspired Prompt:

S/he walked out to find a message scraped into the frost on the windshield. —Today’s Author

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Don’t be afraid to give me feedback on this story.

“All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.” —Steve Almond, WD

Short note: With another month just around the corner, I’ll be changing my header image and my colors again. Yes, I know it’s crazy but I’m bored out of my skull with what I have now.

Also, if you’d like to read my posts just once per month, sign up for my newsletter.

 

#weekendcoffeeshare: Writing during the Holiday Season

#weekendcoffeeshare: Quirks
Image provided by Dave White
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrdestructicity/

Diana at Part Time Monster used to host a weekly link-up, where you can submit a link to your post and browse everything else that’s been submitted, or you can use the #weekendcoffeeshare hashtag on Twitter or Facebook. However, her last #weekendcoffeeshare was last June. Still, I like this idea of a dialogue so I’m bringing this post category back, but as a monthly feature. 😀

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We’re having our coffee at Sisters’, a little knock-about diner on Main Street. Things have changed a bit since the last time we were here. The linoleum is gone and tile that resembles a light grained wood has replaced it. They’ve removed some of the tables and chairs along the front and side walls where the windows are, replacing them with booths. Still, the laid-back atmosphere hasn’t changed.

(Your dialogue is in brown. My dialogue is in green.)

After placing our order, the waitress circles back to us.

“We have flavored creamer. Do you want that instead of the half and half?”

“If it comes in the packets, sure.”

We catch up on the going-ons of our lives at first. After all, it’s been months since we’ve gone out for coffee. With the winter holidays in gear, we end up talking about the interruptions in our schedules.

“So how are you handling your time writing right now?”

“Writing?! What’s that?” You look around for our waitress. “I need coffee. Ah, there she is. I don’t have time for writing these days. I shouldn’t have volunteered for the events at the school. I know better than that. How’s your writing coming along?”

I dump some of the French Vanilla creamer into my coffee and stir, trying to give myself time to drum up courage.

“Well, I shelved the book I was working on.” You don’t say anything, but the stiff posture says it all for you. “The thought of the wrong person reading it was wearing down on me to the point where I had a terrible time even thinking about what word should come next. I have two other incomplete projects I can work on, plus an idea for a new one. Now I find my time has to be gauged minute by minute because of family obligations. I hate to put it that way, but that’s the way it feels.”

“Yes, I know what you mean. I love my family, but this holiday stuff is mind-wrenching. You said you had gotten to middle of the story. Couldn’t you just change a few things and keep on going?”

“Chances are I could, but I think I need some distance from the story, at least for a while. Besides, I think this season has me in a funk. Every time someone calls, I cringe, wanting to be left alone.”

“Kinda sounds like depression. One of the best things for melancholy is to write. You know, get your feelings out in a way that isn’t too aggressive.”

“I think they’re talking about free writing where you write about anything. Writing a story doesn’t cut it. Besides, I’m kind of afraid of what I’d write under those circumstances.”

You shrug your shoulders and gulp down the rest of your coffee. I do the same. On the way out we make intentive plans to do coffee again in about four weeks.

“Happy Holidays! See you next year.”

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” ― Linda Grayson

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What Should My Blog Be Doing?

What Should My Blog Be Doing?
Image provided by Cassiopee2010
https://www.flickr.com/photos/cmoi30/

Back Then

When I began this blog, my aim was to practice my writing and get a feel for what readers wanted. Both of these endeavors gave me more than amply room to explore. I figured I could “discover what my voice was”, dig into what genre I would be most comfortable with, try on different styles of writing, receive feedback from visitors, take advantage of constructive criticism, and get a good following going.

 

What Now?

That was a couple of years ago. I’ve become more focused, at least more often. My “needs” have changed. And the blogosphere has done some shifting as well. Most of the bloggers I follow aren’t posting every day as they once did. Other aspects of life have their attention.

 

Aims Forward

I’ve learned that “my voice” will discover itself. I can tell you that I enjoy writing in the more casual frame where verbs are often found hooked to nouns by apostrophes, and word usage filled with slang. Does this mean I’m a lazy or sloppy writer? Some of you may think so and you’re welcomed to include it in your comments. Just so you know though, I don’t think of myself that way.

Finding the genre I think I should write in has been a bewildering ramble. I know what fires me up to write, but finding the name of that genre has left me thwarted. What would you call a story that deals with inner conflict as the main theme? The story may, at some point, have a death in it, or it may not. It may not have a happy ending, or then again… The main character may be worse off than when s/he started, or may have come upon the solution. Would this be called a psychological suspense, maybe? Whatever it’s called, this is the genre I like to write in. I’ve done a few flash fictions, character sketches, and scene sketches in this blog, although it’s been a while. I’ve pondered on doing more, but I think I’d narrow them just to this genre now because then it would be a practice session for my WiP and hopeful others. As a visitor, would this interest you?

The past few months I’ve been mentioning my WiP often in my posts. Most the time, I’ve been questioning how I’m approaching the process of writing it. Although I’ve seriously considered the organized methods of authors with a few books under their belts, I always go back to setting my butt firmly in my swivel chair and letting my muse do most of the guiding through the story. All of it is trials and tribulations. Are readers, in particular, are you interested in that?

The life of a writer can be intriguing. That is, if the writer is doing something other than writing and is willing to share those times with the audience of his or her blog. I’ve been falling way short in this category. Most of it is due to the fact that I don’t have what I’d consider an exciting life anymore. This is an area I need to work on. I doubt that my life will get fascinating anytime soon, but there must be some things I can tell you so you know me at least. I’m hoping you, as my visitors, will give me some critical feedback on whatever I write in this persuasion.

I’m told that as a writer, my blog should be promoting me and my work. The problem is that there isn’t all that much to me or my work right now. I want to write essays for magazines once in a while, but I haven’t a clue as to which magazines I should submit to other than what my essays would be about. Even at that, until I write the essay, I don’t know what the topic is. What magazines are more likely to accept a writer who’s been unpublished for over twenty years? If you know of any, please click on the Contact link at the top of this page. [By writing essays, maybe I’ll find more content for this blog.]

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During these last two months of 2016, I’ll be working on a newsletter for this blog that will be published once per month starting in January. This is in the effort of raising the number of followers I have. In December, I’ll tell you more about this project.

“Sometimes you need to sit lonely on the floor in a quiet room in order to hear your own voice and not let it drown in the noise of others.” ― Charlotte Eriksson

 

#weekendcoffeeshare: Where Do the Stories Come From?

#weekendcoffeeshare: Quirks
Image provided by Dave White
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrdestructicity/

Diana at Part Time Monster hosts a weekly link-up, where you can submit a link to your post and browse everything else that’s been submitted, or you can use the #weekendcoffeeshare hashtag on Twitter or Facebook.

If we were to have coffee, I’d want it to be at a quaint coffee shop. It would be one of those places off the main drag that probably only has about ten to fifteen tables scattered around within its four walls.

(Your dialogue is in purple. My dialogue is in green.)

I’ve ordered our coffee and have been sitting here for a while. The shop isn’t crowded today, which is surprising seeing it’s a holiday weekend. Of course, I’m not expecting many to sit at the tables. I just had it in my head there’d be more here requesting coffee to go. Chances are the reservoir seven miles outside of town is already filling up with campers, day trippers, fishermen, and the such.

I spot you walking through the door. Your face is flushed and it looks like your Capris are sticking to your legs.

Do you want anything else?

The man is polite but I wouldn’t categorize him friendly. The mugs are full but there isn’t a basket of goodies.

The waitresses must have the day off. Owners like him should never serve customers.

You hunch over the table slightly as if you’ve been working in the coal mines or something. I nod at your comment as I add some Hazelnut creamer to my coffee.

Is it that hot out there already? When I came in here, the breeze was cool.

No, it’s still okay out there. My inner thermostat isn’t working for some strange reason.

Hot flashes! I thought you were done.

So did I. Subject change–how’s your writing coming along?

Something’s bugging you but, obviously, you aren’t going to let it out.

I wish I knew why I get bored with a project so easily. And it isn’t because it gets a little difficult. Sometimes those are my most creative moments. Maybe I don’t reach far enough for the story idea.

You take a  tentative sip of your coffee. The grimace look appears on your face and you grab three sugar packets from the small rack next to the napkin holder.

We need to find another coffee shop for holiday weekends. This sucks. Okay, how do you reach for a story?

I take several sips while I formula how to explain.

I usually find my story ideas in real life. Often the idea is about someone I know well–a relative or a good friend.

Your eyes double in size. Your mug is slightly tipped towards your mouth but you suspend it there in midair.

You’re writing stories about me?

#weekendcoffeeshare - Where Do the Stories Come From?
Image provided by Andrea Carina
https://www.flickr.com/photos/andrea-carina/

Not yet. I always switch out names, a couple of the physical and personality traits, and the situation doesn’t end the way it did or would (possibly) in real life. If I was to use you as a character, the chances of you knowing it are slim to none.

Aren’t you afraid of lawsuits?

There isn’t any proof of using anything of a real person, so no–no fear.

We sit in silence for a few minutes. I can see the giant question mark presence coming into your eyes as your mouth pulls down at the sides while looking into your mug.

What is it?

This coffee is disgusting. Do you even do stories about yourself?

You seize still two more sugar packs, open them, and dump the content into your mug. My coffee is getting cold and the flavor is, as you said, disgusting. I fold my arms on the table.

Sure, I use myself. In fact, I have an unfinished story on a virtual shelf in my online cloud. The main character is basically me but with starts with circumstances I’d much rather be in than what I have in real life. It’s been sitting a while now. Now that I write more like I want, I should probably pull it down and work on it again. The thing is I don’t want to spread myself out too thin taking on too many writing projects. I’m afraid I won’t finish any of them.

Another silent moment separates our thoughts. I’m disappointed in the number of longings I’ve had that haven’t reach to accomplishment in my life. I can’t call many of them failures because they can still be realized. They’re unaccomplished dreams. Got to get off this subject.

What’s going on in your life these days?

My bike is finally fixed. On Monday I’m in that race that starts at the park. It isn’t a sponsored one, just one to begin the season I guess. And get this! I’m painting.

Expectation of reaction spills over your face.

I assume it’s the kind of painting that goes on canvas. I didn’t know you were into art.

I’ve wanted to try it for a while now, but until the kids were more on their own, the time just wasn’t there. I paid twenty dollars for a course at the recreation center. It goes through the basics of color, perception, and creativity. I didn’t know there were so many colors in a cloud before.

I try not to grin. I took some art classes in school. I remember being surprised by brown being in clouds.

How much are your supplies costing you?

They offered those dinky little tubs of color, a set costing twenty-seven dollars. I went for it. Was that a good price?

You probably could have gotten it for cheaper but you’d have to know where to shop. For this first time, you probably did the right thing.

I bought two brushes too. The teacher said I’d need more eventually but I could wait until I sign up for the second course.

Are you thinking about that already?

You gulp your coffee down making a glowering expression.

Yeh, I am. I like the way my clouds look. It’s just a hobby but you never know.

I need to get. Need to freshen up for the class. I’ll pay on the way out.

I almost take a sip of coffee but catch myself in time and place the mug on the table. I watch you at the cashier stand. My guess is you’re complaining about the yucky coffee. Good, that means I don’t have to say anything.

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Rules for #weekendcoffeeshare

  1. Posts should be framed as a chat over coffee or some other beverage.
  2. Posts should be current (written within the week).
  3. Links go on the link-up, not in the comments section.
  4. Comment and share each others’ posts using #weekendcoffeeshare on Facebook and Twitter.

“You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.” ― Roman Payne

 

 

Systems, Order, and Clarity

Systems, Order, and Clarity
Image provided by
Seth Sawyer @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/sidewalk_flying/

I subscribe to a bi-weekly newsletter written and distributed by Jill Jepson. In her last news publication, she wrote about the perceptions concerning the writing process.

Like Jill, I’ve been questioning the belief that writing should be done in a certain way. Not quite two months ago I wrote a post somewhat on the same lines as what I’m discussing here. Since then, my ponders have taken me to the atypical suggestions of what writing could be to an individual, more precisely, to me.

Although writing enters into all facets of life in today’s world, in its intrinsic nature, it is a form of art. As such, what kind of boundaries can it realistically have? Whose to judge how I should approach the process of writing?

Systems

All the formulas for the process that I’ve come across thus far are requiring a specific start point and usually follow a certain path. Why? Because having that outset and course allegedly works flawlessly for someone–most assuredly the person who advocates that particular formula at least.

I propose that a formula is not necessarily the right strategy, depending on the person, of course. When I took vision art classes, I was told to do a sketch before doing anything else. I never imagined that the advice was written in stone. Sometimes an artist must begin in the middle to achieve was s/he want to express. A writer shouldn’t be any different.

Systems or strategies are good, but only if they’re needed and serve the right purpose. Otherwise, I find them useless.

Order

I’m an orderly person by nature. So much so that I wake up automatically by 6:15 no matter which day it is. I run my life by schedules. I don’t think I could ever really be spontaneous with my time. I know where the scissors are in the kitchen–if husband hasn’t used them recently. I know exactly where my pharmaceutical receipts are. Before I sit at the computer to do serious writing for the first session of a day, my bed is made.

Yes, I do begin my writing projects with the beginning of the story.

Yet, this doesn’t mean this is the one and only way writing should be done. Some authors start at the end. I see nothing wrong with this. Some writers don’t do preliminary work like development sheets, arcs, or general outlines until they’re done with the first draft. It sound reasonable to me. There are those who haven’t got a need for any of those sheets. More power to them.

I do my preliminary sheets as I write my first draft. The entirety of each character doesn’t start to emerge for me until I start putting him/her into situations. Scenes may start one way, but there’s a possibility that the environment changes because of what I see happening next.

I may be a true creator of habit and schedules, but when it come to writing, I need as much freedom as I can muster up.

Clarity

Although what I write should be clearly understood, should how I arrived at the written work be all that apparent? Being a glutton for established rules, order, and schedules, I thought preciseness and directness were requirements in all things I do. Yet, the writing process is far from being an exact science so I finally discovered that how I get to the clear understanding doesn’t have to go along the straight the narrow.

“Sometimes it’s necessary to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly.” ( Edward Franklin Albee III)

The first time I heard this quote was in the movie Grumpy Old Men. Luckily, I didn’t have to go far to find the author of it. Reading it, I think of how a story is much more interesting if it shows what’s going on instead of telling. Telling can be a more lucid way to get the point across, but the enthusiasm and passion aren’t there. What a shame.

So how am I approaching the process of writing?

As some of you know, I lost the draft I was working on. I can’t bring myself to start that story all over again, at least not yet. So I created a new writing project. I’m still using yWriter, but I’m not bothering with chapters. I’m using scenes only during this rough draft. I’ve come to find out there are authors who have one scene per chapter anyway. With my story though, there will be a few chapters with two or three scenes. Still, until I get to the second time around with the draft, I’m sticking to this approach.

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What is your approach to the writing process? Do you view writing in the same way an athletic prepares for the chosen sport? Are you spontaneous?

What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers. ~Logan Pearsall Smith, “All Trivia,” Afterthoughts, 1931