Writers are a supportive bunch.

I’ve been told this; hell, I’ve even experienced it volunteering at Writespace. I’ve gone into workshops and had to share my writing, thinking Dear God, please don’t let them laugh me out of the room, and received nothing but supportive feedback and constructive criticism. That’s not to say there aren’t some people out there who take pleasure in knocking other writers down, there are. But on the whole, writers really are good at encouraging one another.

Last quarter I took on a research project exploring Flash Fiction—a genre I had very little background in. I’d recently attended panels on the subject at Writefest, and had just received notice that my first flash submission had been accepted for publication, so the subject was fresh on my mind.

I started scouring the internet: journal databases, library databases, and literary journal archives for research on my chosen topic. I signed up for a flash fiction workshop—even spoke to the instructor a little about my project at the end of the class. She gave me her card, offered to answer any questions I had, and said she would love to read the article when I finished. Wow, I thought, that was really awesome of her! (Unfortunately, I ran out of time and never got to ask her any questions for my paper, but I plan to let her read my finished project and if she’s willing, I’d still love to pick her brain about her experience with flash fiction.)

Another confession: I’m obsessive, I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and I have this annoying habit of trying to do everything by myself, so asking for help isn’t exactly easy for me.

I reached a point in my research where I was just STUCK. I had a general idea of where I wanted to go with the project, but couldn’t get it focused. I shocked myself when I reached out to a writer friend who I knew had experience with flash fiction. I just wanted her opinion on the project and her general thoughts on my thesis, but she went above and beyond. She gave me detailed feedback AND sent me specific links of journals and names of leading authors in the genre. I don’t know if she realizes how incredibly encouraging that was…

Then, halfway through the quarter I surprised myself again when I told my instructor that I thought I should interview some authors. She thought it was a great idea, so I looked at some of the flash stories I’d read recently and some that had been recommended to me by other writers. I read additional writing by the authors of these flash pieces and selected four authors that I thought would have informative, varied insights into the world of flash. I didn’t expect anyone to agree to an interview—people have busy lives and I wasn’t even sure if I would get responses, but all four writers accepted my interview request and all four were generous in their responses. One of the writers, Anne Goodwin, even asked me if I would like to write a post on flash fiction for her blog. She has a great blog and I was honored.

I don’t know if any experience to date has shown me the beauty of belonging to this world. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s competitive. Yes, you might think everyone is judging you all the time. But the truth is, all writers are experiencing (or have experienced) the stressful parts of being a writer. That’s why we have to support and lift each other up. I’m thankful for meeting beautiful writers who do just that!

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Confession: I never submit

My writing, that is…

Never may be a slight—very slight—exaggeration, but I didn’t make my first writing submissions until January 2016. My second set went out in March, and I’ve yet to make my third. Six short fiction pieces in all went to a total of eight markets, one of which was accepted.

Why so little? Between mom and wife duties, grad school, teaching dance, a little bit of volunteering, actually writing and reading, time for the submission process always seems to get pushed to the bottom of the “To Do” list. It’s a tedious, not so fun process and time is an issue, but if you dig to the psychological core of my aversion to submissions I’m sure you’ll find insecurity, ego, fear of rejection, fear of judgment, and ultimately fear of being vulnerable. Whatever the reason, I know it’s got to change.

A writer friend shared this Literary Hub article, “Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year” by Kim Liao, on Facebook the other day. It was an awesome read and I recommend it to any writer questioning whether or not to submit their pieces for publication. Liao writes, “Perhaps aiming for rejection, a far more attainable goal, would take some of the sting out of this ego-bruising exercise—which so often feels like an exercise in futility.” By failing to submit, not only am I not aiming for rejection, but I’m also not aiming for acceptance.

I’ve got six months to collect 93 more rejections, and hopefully a few acceptances along the way.

It’s time to make time for submitting!

Against the Order

A second Flash Writing prompt used for creativity practice…

vardezia_city_cave_georgia

Vardezia, Georgia. CC photo by Ben van der Ploeg.

Include a thunderstorm

Lightning sparks, highlighting the suffocating clay walls of my prison, wind tears at their tediously structured facades, and vibrations of thunder will soon shake the claimed mountainside.

Chaos. Everything the Order painstakingly fights against rolled into one raging storm, out of their control.  A satisfying reminder that no matter how they try to play God they will never be God.

Another flash shows a bedraggled man, eyes as mad as the air around us, clad in robes the color of midnight, a dagger in hand.  The Order’s Assassin.  They’ve decided to bypass the charade of trial, just as well.

More white light and he’s stalking my way, crimson tips his dagger and his hands are washed in it.  Blood?  I realize, he’s already killed, and it wasn’t me.

The next lightning strike.  He’s scaling the crudely carved window, tossing a gold piece my way, “For your silence.”  I throw it back and tie my long matted curls at the nape of my neck and spat, “I need no gold for my silence.”  My once feminine voice hoarse from lack of use.  He spares me one last knowing glance before producing a rope from his robes and repelling the steep cliff face.

Escape.  A plan develops and I strip my top skirt and wrap it around the rope, padding my hands, and follow without invitation.  No, I need not gold.  I need an ally, another to rise against the Order.

By His Own Two Hands

The last several weeks have been full of learning and experimenting.  I’m excited to say that so many of our exercises allowed me to expand and work on my book, but that left little time to work on other writing.  There were a couple of flash writing that I wanted to participate in…I simply didn’t have time between the end of summer break, a sick child, a husband back in coaching mode, and my writing class.  I had a couple of hours this week and was trying to stir the creativity pot, so to speak, and decided to use those flash writing prompts as a start.  They aren’t 150 words like the rules required, but I didn’t turn them in so I decided to heck with rules 🙂  What can I say, I’m a rebel at heart!  (They are between 200-300 words.)

Anyway, here is the first prompt from Flash!Friday and my writing.  I’ll post the other when I have a few more minutes free…

marooned-howard-pyle

Marooned, by Howard Pyle, 1909. Public Domain.

Include: Arrogance

“I’ve no need of a crew aboard me ship.  Can man a vessel with these two hands alone, I can,” the braggart bellowed above the whistling briny wind.  George eyed his companion warily.  A glare meant to silence, only encouraging Jack’s grandiose claims.

The man he belittled continued his work inspecting the boat, sparing him no glance when he commanded, “Below deck with ye.”

“Ah, come now.  Tell me ye don’t doubt the abilities of a man ‘needs so many men.  Surely a few less crew and a few more women’ll make a long voyage speed by, no?” Jack laughed.  He was the only one laughing.

“Below deck with ye,” George elbowed his fellow and nodded an apology to the crew.

“I tell ye, I could man the vessel with these two hands alone,” Jack continued, undeterred.  The braggart next found himself thrown into the base of a dingy, lowered to the ocean’s surface.  Cast out to man his vessel alone. 

“Eh, what’s the meaning?  George, I say, retrieve me.”

“ Can’t you bloody fool.  Twas no crew member you insulted you git.”

“Twas the captain,” the sailor growled over George’s shoulder before ordering his men back to work, inspecting their work on his way to the helm.

Into the Sea (More Flash Writing)

Flash! Friday Volume 2-33 (aka:Flash Writing experience #3 for this girl)

Picture prompt and assigned theme of “freedom” with 150 word limit (140-160 range)

Miranda — The Tempest. Painting by John William Waterhouse, 1916. Public domain photo.

Miranda — The Tempest. Painting by John William Waterhouse, 1916. Public domain photo.

Into the Sea

by: L.C. Lara

(160 words)

The tempest swells tease me.  I feel the salty sea seep through the warped wooden slats and hear the monstrous roar of the mother wave overhead.  She’s reminding me, she can end my life if she fancies.

John and the Sea have that in common.

“Help me up woman!” John bellows.  As if I conspire with the sea to send him a tumble.

“Don’t smart me witch!” he hisses.  As if my wince of pain were not caused my his claws alone.

“Fix your mess!” he orders.  As if I were directing this dance of a raging storm.

The throbbing in my knees as I thrust onto the filthy cabin floor, whether by John’s hand or the Sea’s I shall never know.  The briny water assaulting my eyes, whether from my own tears or the Sea’s I shall never ask.

I have mistaken the Sea’s fancy.

Tis not my watery grave she threatens.

Tis my baptism.  My freedom she promises.