Call for Submissions: Brilliant Flash Fiction

A shoutout to fellow wordpresser, Brilliant Flash Fiction, who is accepting submissions of (you guessed it!) flash fiction!  Their submission guidelines are below. Check them out!

 

Tell me a story in 1,000 words or less.

Email it to brilliantflashfiction@gmail.com.
If I like it, I’ll publish it in the next available edition of Brilliant Flash Fiction.

Please send original, unpublished work. If you do not receive an acceptance or rejection email within three months, I’m afraid you must assume the worst.

I accept all genres: sci-fi, memoir, historic fiction, etc.  No graphic violence or porn, please.

Be sure to paste your story into the body of your email and also attach it as a .doc file.

Please do not submit more than two stories quarterly (during a 3-month period).

At present, no payment is available. Authors will enjoy sharing their work with an appreciative audience and the possibility of having their work published in a to-be-announced anthology.

 

 

Sharing: The Widow’s Pension from Postcards from Thursday

I was completely enthralled with this poem by Alison over at Postcards from Thursday and just needed to share it.  Enjoy!

 

Grandma's hands

The Widow’s Pension

A dead finch in each hand,
bile and memory heaving out,
years, decades of speaking loudly
and weeping into book binding,
though she once ached to be left
with scratches along her ears,
to be the vandal, to touch
the bottom of the river.

She’s lived her life one miracle short,
but, for herself, she will say at least this—
she has seen beauty in a quilt of torn blouses,
found that it’s the slow pour that spills over.

She trampled bees on the night when she woke
and left that bed. No leaf of Eve, no more blessed thing.
Radiant is all her grayness.

 

Alison, who writes Postcards from Thursday, also includes original photography on her blog.  The above photo is one of her creations as well.  Check out her moving photography and poetry.  It’s well worth a look!

Bursting out of You or Showing Up?: How to Romance the Muse

 

the writing life cover copy

 

There’s so much to Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life that I feel like I should be reading it more slowly. Today I read 30% of it in one sitting and I could barely contain all the thoughts that it brought up in me.  I sat in the airport and both laughed and cried in the short time that I read.  Other passengers stared.   The ideal way to read it would be to read just one page or one section a day, and ruminate on and write about that one bit.  It’s so dense with wisdom, with feeling.  It’s the kind of book needs to be chewed, tossed on the tongue and savored.  It needs to be digested and felt.

The part I found most encouraging in the sections that I read was Annie’s descriptions of her own writing processes.  I see quotes like Bukowski’s “If it doesn’t come bursting out of you, don’t do it,” and sometimes feel that I am on the wrong track.  There are days when I sit in front of the computer screen and need to walk around the room, have a coffee, make myself a sandwich, have another coffee, and still it’s like pulling teeth to get anything out.  Some days I know that all that I wrote that day will be useless in the final draft.  In terms of word count for the work I’m wrestling with, I’ve done nothing all day.  I think about Bukowski’s quote and think about how it’s not bursting out of me, it’s not even coming out when I’m trying.  Maybe the muse isn’t smiling on me. Maybe I’m not chosen.  Maybe I’m just a fraud thinking I can write when really I can’t.

But Dillard experiences the same frustration.  The same feeling that it’s coming too slowly – or not at all.  She also makes her two cups of coffee and “fools around all day” when she’s trying to write.  The honesty and authenticity with which Dillard writes about her writing process and her struggle brings tears to my eyes, inspires me, and soothes my soul.

She writes, “Even when passages seemed to come easily, as though I were copying from a folio held open by smiling angels, the manuscript revealed the usual signs of struggle-bloodstains, teethmarks, gashes, and burns.”

Writing isn’t easy.  It’s a process, a life.  For most of my writing life, I followed Bukowski’s advice.  I only wrote when I felt like I was going to explode if I didn’t.  I waited, passively, for Calliope to smile upon me, to fill my chest and my mind until my hands couldn’t write fast enough.  In the last ten years, all this waiting got me maybe fifty pages of writing that I was proud of.  Sure, when I was bursting, my writing was good.  But I made a promise to myself that I would no longer wait for my genius to show up, but I would work at it.  And I’ve written the same amount of work that I’m happy with in the past six months as I had in the ten years prior.

Yeah, sometimes it’s wrestling.  And sometimes nothing comes out.  Sometimes what comes out is terrible.  But showing up means that Calliope visits more often.  It means that I have time set aside in my day to work, to think about writing. It’s not as easy as passively waiting for the muse, but the more often I show up, the more often it comes bursting out of me.

 

 

Is Writing Selfish?: What I learned from two years of blogging

Two years ago, I started a blog.  I was scared.  I had spent the better part of my adult life running away from writing.  In an attempt to cover up this fear, I had told myself that writing was just selfish.  Why did I think that what I had to say needed to be heard by other people?  What did I have to share that the world needed to hear?  I’m no expert in anything.  And really, isn’t writing really just narcissistic and self-centered?

But there was always this little voice inside me, this little part of me that felt unfulfilled when I wasn’t writing.  I travelled the world, teaching and volunteering in developing countries, devoted myself to helping people learn and grow.  I had the most amazing adventures and there was still something that was missing.

“If money were no object and you didn’t care about what people thought, what would you do?” my friend Ram asked me.  I didn’t stop to think about it.  “Write.”

But it was still too scary, too intimidating.  Everyone knows that being a writer is a tough job.  There’s no job security.  What if the muse doesn’t come anymore and you can’t buy groceries? What are you going to do about a retirement plan?  Worse than the practical issues were the emotional repercussions.  What if I bared my soul and no one wanted to read it?  What if I sent my writing to thousands of publishers and got thousands of rejections?  Am I strong enough to keep even through all of that?

So I did what seemed least risky at the time.  I started a blog.

I posted my first blog post steeling myself for negative comments or zero views.  Maybe only my mom would read it.  Perhaps that was all I could hope for, but hey, at least I would be writing.

That’s not what happened.

What did happen is that I learned the most important lesson that I’ve ever learned about writing.  I got positive comments, empathy from other WordPress writers and readers. People from all over the world read and followed my blog. I grew a writing community.

Can writing be selfish?  Sure, but it doesn’t have to be.

This is the thing about writing: writing has an enormous possibility for connecting with others.  Sharing your writing means sharing bits of yourself, putting yourself out into the world and trusting that other people will connect with you.  Every “like,” every comment is a connection.  Every description of scenery is a connection to that place.  Every word about an emotion is a connection with that feeling.

To me, connection, however fleeting, is what life is all about.  Each smile, each moment in the present, each shared experience with another person: these are the things that last once we’re gone.  These are the things that people will remember about us, and the things that we will remember on our deathbeds.  Writing is an extension of that.  Writing allows us to have these moments of connection with more people than we would be able to otherwise: people who are far away, people we haven’t met yet, people who were right there with us for the experiences we write about, and the people who couldn’t be.

So, thank you, writing community, for teaching me something that I really needed to learn.  I have no excuses anymore and nothing to be scared of.  Each time I write, I am fulfilling my highest potential – I am connecting, with myself and with  you.

A big thank you to Matti Vinni from flickr for the creative commons photo of  Essi Korva‘s sculpture, Connection.

switching on your own electricity (from Make Believe Boutique)

As I write this, I am sitting by the rooftop pool overlooking downtown Bangkok.  It strikes me in this moment that even the dense, urban hive of this city feels calm and tranquil on a Sunday morning.  It’s the kind of peaceful that still feels alive with possibility, the kind of gentle breeze that holds secrets of inspiration, the kind of quiet that pulls gratitude from somewhere deep in your chest.  There’s something quite special about Sunday mornings.

This kind of tranquil, introspective mood makes me want to share. And today, I’d like to share something from someone to whom I am quite grateful.  In Blue, from http://makebelieveboutique.com/, who is a fellow manatee-lover (!), nominated me for the Sunshine Award last week.

I feel quite honored, seeing as her blog is incredibly soulful and introspective.  Each one of her posts is a tiny morsel of food for thought, that leaves your tongue rolling over the thoughts again and again so that you can grok the fullness of her words.

 

Here is one I particularly like, pasted from http://makebelieveboutique.com/2012/02/12/1162/.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

switching on your own electricity

to fly or not to fly

Attempts to unravel the labyrinthian dynamics of art’s propulsion according to the categories of the reasoning mind will never replace the mystery with an explanation. The phenomenon simply exists. According to Jung, ‘the bird is flown’ when we attempt to explain the mystery….Shaun McNiff

Art Making & the Shadows of Your Work….

the strange shadows over treetops sometime between dark & dawn (always a miracle)

little baby feet curled around themselves

that peculiar letting go just before sleep (knowing it’s already gone)

the distance felt in a room full of beloved friends, like a dream

looking in night windows; glow & mist & warmth

walking with hands in pockets, filled with treasures; pinecones, stones, feathers

opening a book to the perfect poem

a song flies you back to a time of converse sneakers & blue nail polish

cold hands find a warm teacup & the world is perfect

suddenly aware that you’re being & not doing (oh, that’s so rare & good)

In our night-time, there’s always the electricity switched on, we watch ourselves, we get it all in the head, really. You’ve got to lapse out before you can know what sensual reality is, lapse into unknowingness, & give up your volition. You’ve got to learn not-to-be before you can come into being…..D.H. Lawrence

there can be no doubt when you tiptoe through your own life gently…

Paper Angels, by Olive Twist

In my years living in Bangkok, I have found it difficult to meet others who also write in English (my Thai is not nearly good enough for Poetry) and are looking for a community in which they can work on writing. One of the things I love already about blogging is the immediate sense of community and camaraderie I feel with others who are also on here sharing their words with the world. It amazes me that this seems to happen so organically and easily on WordPress. In only a month or so of blogging, I have already met some inspiring, beautiful people who have encouraged me to write more and more.

One of these people is Sister Olive, at http://olivetwist.wordpress.com/. Her ‘twist’ on spirituality and delicate words bring beauty and emotion to heavy situations. Olive nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award, which really warms my heart. I feel so appreciative, especially since I am new to this whole realm.

 

 Not being a rule follower myself, I am not going to bombard you with facts about me or with a giant list of other blogs I like. Instead, I am going to take this opportunity to slowly share some of the amazing writing I’ve found floating out here in cyberspace. Check back on Sundays for writers who are making me smile.

This Sunday is dedicated to Olive. Thank you, Olive, for really making me feel welcome in the WordPress community and also for encouraging me.

 

Here is one of my favorite gems from Olive’s blog.

Enjoy!

 

 

Paper Angels

http://olivetwist.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/paper-angels/

by Olive Twist at http://olivetwist.wordpress.com/

(The Iris Diaries)

The wind began sending messengers to Iris when she was very young.  Wandering artisans always surrounded her, giving her poems and art and stories. One day as she sat in a café filled with smoke and laughter, a man with faded denim pants and a worn plaid shirt approached her.  He had a familiar mystical flame about his brow, and his reddish hair was curly and matted.

Iris had been inking a picture of a snake climbing up a tree in her sketchbook when he approached her, pointed at her drawing, and said, “Get rid of that snake.”  Then he handed her a piece of dirty folded up paper and went out into the street, as the wind blew open the door.  She unfolded the paper and found these words written in blue ballpoint pen:

So long on this road back to the wall,

I’d pray I’d die before I’d fall;

Death wish in a land of hell,

Don’t want to cry, search for the well

That gives to me the truth of truth;

In it’s sweet light (don’t need no proof).

Walking middle ground

I found my song in a silent sound

Where eyes don’t hide behind

Masks that make you laugh when you should have cried,

That let you live when you should have died.

So long on this road but I hear the call,

I see the truth and with it walk tall.

It aint the stand I’m afraid to make,

It’s the illusion the world wants me to take

That sees the light and clouds the truth

With its lack of faith and search for proof.[1]

She could feel soft flowing air and a rustle of wings.  There was something comforting and kind about the man.

A mysterious long-haired lady with wintery eyes handed her a poem scribbled on aged brown parchment:

The one who weaves the wind

Stood grey before me.

The woods were dawn-grey

Dripping, soft, and so quiet.

The wind-weaver

Was catching shadows and mist

For her loom…[2]

A young man wearing a purple tie-dyed shirt gave her a little poem as he passed her one day, and she sensed that protective spirit again:

Love is the vine

Given mankind

To help him find

His home divine.[3]

One breezy morning while she sat upon a squeaky porch in the ghetto, a man with soft green eyes and glasses approached her and offered her a poem:

The flowers open

At thy feet

Beads of

Dew

Wonderful and new

O

Angel of light

How many dawns

Have I drunk from your cup?[4]

The affection that the Iris evoked from strangers was disconcerting. Why did poets pop up like flowers wherever she went?  Why did they all speak of spiritual things?  She felt that someone was calling for her and wanted to be her friend.

A young man handed her this poem on a small piece of white paper with only his name “Sunrise” on the bottom:

The princess in purple

Carrying her guitar…

She shares her music

With all who’ll listen

Her gentle ways could be an inspiration to all

If only they would take time.

Even her ring is purple.

I’ve seen her on the streets

I’ve seen her in the parks

Always ready to share her music

And her heart…[5]

Iris knew that people were drawn to her, but she wondered why all of the writings were spiritual in some way.  Did people see something that she could not see at the time?

Now she can see how the wind loved her long before she knew him. He had been loyal to her in a sorrowful land, and had filled her life with meaning.

One morning she talked to a man in the donut shop where she worked.  He wore glasses and had curly blonde hair and a beard. She told him of her dream of meeting Christ in an elevator.  A few days later he visited and as she was cleaning the counter, she found a story written which he tucked under his napkin:

Immediately and noisily the doors opened, a mild shock far exceeded by the presence of a man, dressed in a loose white robe, staring directly at her out of the elevator—so directly as to imply he knew in advance where she would be standing…And so it was, and the surrounding city with it, corners dissolving into a blizzardy whiteness, glowing brilliant for a moment and then fading, edgeless as the voice of this prophet, into gray, into black, into liquid- no light, no sound, no scent, no feel, no taste- only absence, vacancy, and peace:  only the consciousness of a smile, the smile of God.[6]


[1] “Back to the Wall” by Jude

[2] “The Weaver of the Wind” by Margaret

[3] By Kelly

[4] From Michael

[5] By Sunrise

[6] By Al

OLIVE TWIST ©2012

***********************