Last fall my friend Stephanie Friedman joined me for a Daily Shorty week. Finally I’m able to catch up here at Daily Shorty, and I’ve just put up a page celebrating her accomplishment. (Gwen was feeling so lonely.) I’ll share here Stephanie’s answer to my question about what themes showed up in her week of story: As for themes, I must say that I often think that what Bernard Malamud said about his work also applies to mine: “I say the same thing in different worlds.” By which he meant that the same basic preoccupations underlie all of his (and my) writing. For me, those preoccupations lead to stories about an outsider trying to find some accommodation in a world that he or she doesn’t quite understand or fit into. The setting can be anywhere from 18th century Poland to 21st century Chicago, but the quest is ultimately the same. And I use that term “quest” deliberately: Diane Lefer pointed out to me that my stories were all quest stories in some way, and I think she’s right about that. Or, to put it in terms of Gardner’s dichotomy that says there are only two types of stories, a man goes on a quest or a stranger comes to town, I would say my stories are about the one who is always a questing stranger, whether at home or away.
It’s going to take me a while to process this experience and catch up on all the pages I owe—a ravenous, demanding beast, this site. For now, some preliminary Daily Shorty stats.
1: Number of times my body has forgotten that I’ve completed the challenge. Wow, only once! I expected that to happen more. Apparently relief sugars the brain better than habit.
2: Daily Shorties accepted for publication. A few are out but it’s been a while since I’ve submitted, so, note to self….
5: Days passed before I wanted to work on this site.
8: Writer-Athletes who have taken on the Daily Shorty challenge for one week. (Thank you for that term, Suzanne!)
1: Number of weeks before I woke up with the urge to write. This morning I began my post-Daily Shorty almost-daily writing practice.
1.75: Number of days I enjoyed a full sense of satisfaction and contentment after having written my final story. At around 1:00 pm on Thursday, May 2, my inner voice said, “Shouldn’t you be doing something productive? You call yourself a writer and yet here you sit, doing nothing. You embarrass me.” And, so, proof that the inner voice will never be satisfied. 365 stories in a row but the inner voice wants more. Let the record show that this happened a full 1.25 days later than I expected. Victory!
I did it. I actually did it. I was hoping to end the year with a really good story but it was even more important to me to finish before it was too late in the day, so that I could enjoy the accomplishment this evening and go to bed knowing that all is well. So once something took hold this morning, I worked it and worked it, then came back to it after lunch and worked it some more until I’ve got the best story I could make of the premise. It’s not so great. The ending feels wrong. But after a couple of hours of final tinkering, I called it DONE. To celebrate I got a peanut butter supreme from the Dairy Joy in Lewiston, which happens to be within easy walking distance of my apartment, something to both cheer and boo, but mostly to cheer. A peanut butter supreme is a cup of peanut butter soft serve with hot fudge. Sadly I didn’t think to photograph it before I ate it, but it looked a lot like the picture here (but mentally add hot fudge). YUM. Tomorrow I’m having dinner at my favorite Maine restaurant, Fore Street in Portland, as a more complete celebration. And… well, that’s it. I’ll be playing on this site some more, adding nerd romps I didn’t have time for while producing my stories, including Story Facts pages for the 8 months I haven’t analyzed, and a page for each of the writer friends who joined me for a week during the challenge. Otherwise my only immediate plans are to sleep and read, read and sleep, sleep and read.
Working Title: Wide Ride
1st Sentence: Torment.
Favorite Sentence: The more creative, smart and inventive like Alexander, referred to her as “Wading Pool” or Mattress Pants” or “Rear Admiral Caboose.”
Word Length: 497
Photo by Deva Hoffman here.
And this completes week 52. GULP. Enjoy these rice pudding fritters with orange-honey sauce to celebrate! I have never heard of such but they look and sound DELICIOUS. As for the day’s work, I went meta again. I like the approach, the shape, the kind of ending I chose. But the story doesn’t have depth and that’s mostly the fault of an ending that doesn’t suit. It’s the right kind of ending but composed of the wrong words. Maybe I can make it better in revision. Anyway, it’s done, and I can’t believe I’m typing this, but I have only ONE MORE to write! Until tomorrow….
Working Title: Smokey
1st Sentence: When Smokey the Bear came to our third-grade classroom to teach us about fire safety, Jenny Hite leapt from her chair, shrieked “Ohmygod Ohmygod Ohmygod,” and then burst into tears while flailing her balled fists and running in place.
Favorite Sentence: Oh, the full, satisfying mouthfeel of drama and despair.
Word Length: 563
Photo by Recipetaster 5/2011.
How did I get to the count-down of my last 3 shorties? What the hell happened?? As tough as April has been, it’s also disappearing at a record pace. I’m equal parts relieved and unmoored at the thought of finishing my year. Best to put those thoughts aside for now. As for the day’s shorty, my friend Patty is in Houston right now, petting alligators. She sent me an e-mail describing an encounter with a baby alligator who calmed to her warm touch. I know a good prompt when I see it.
Working Title: Baby Alligator
1st Sentence: No, said my mother, no, Grace isn’t the best name for her.
Favorite Sentence: Like naming an alligator “cupcake,” muttered my husband, or a T-Rex “Prissy.”
Word Length: 336
Photo by Ianaré Sévi.
When the muse has taken a dislike to you and refuses to come even when you have asked her in your best Virginia honey-dipped voice, pretty, pretty please with peaches on top, then you just say, fine, I’ll make a story out of dinner. We had Indian takeout.
Working Title: David 2.0
1st Sentence: Don’t forget the samosas!
Favorite Sentence: She’d understood that at the time, and before closing the door she’d given him her heavy-lidded, sly-smiling sexy look as an apology.
Word Length: 344
Photo of samosas by Adrião 1/2008.
I really do feel as though I’m out of good ideas, good words. I so badly need a break. I just keep telling myself to push, push, push. The only mountain I ever climbed was Old Rag Mountain in Virginia, a very small mountain that poses no challenge at all for anyone in reasonable health until you get to a tumble of rocks near the summit. These rocks aren’t much of a challenge, either, but you do have to be strong enough to haul yourself up and over a handful of them before you can get the reward of the lovely view at the summit. This last push to the end of my year of stories is really tough but I remind myself that I’m in the rocks, now, I’m in the pretty rocks, and I just have to use a little muscle, and then I’ll be at the top. I had to push long and hard for the day’s shorty, which conformed to the standard April Daily Shorty experience and resisted me for all it was worth. I do see some promise in it for revision but that’s the best I can say for it. On to the next rock.
Working Title: Just Asking
1st Sentence: It was the way he said, “Of course, Sweetie”—heavy on “course,” long on “ie”—that made her wonder.
Favorite Sentence: A faint scar, the length of an eyelash, curled up from the right corner of his upper lip, a capital C for… cute? clever? charismatic?
Word Length: 256
Photo of rocks near the summit of Old Rag Mountain in Virginia, by Madison60 11/2009.
In June I used the Daily Shorty challenge to play into a running joke that my husband and I have enjoyed for many years. He’ll comment that there just aren’t enough people writing pirate stories or he’ll look at me when I’m writing and say, “I hope you’re writing a pirate story.” He began to indulge in these comments in a big way once I started writing a story every day. “Have you written a pirate story yet? When are you going to write a pirate story? If you would just write pirate stories, this would all be so easy.” So in June I wrote him a pirate story. And it occurred to me as I was struggling to come up with an idea for the day’s shorty, that I should write him one more as the year comes to an end.
Working Title: Origin Story
1st Sentence: They met at a Halloween party over a punch bowl filled with hard cider and apples.
Favorite Sentence: He had been so proud of the hat, of the perfectly rakish angle, the piratical dip and fold of it.
Word Length: 499
I lost count of how many times I started the day’s shorty. I just couldn’t find my way into anything until I remembered a character I created last month, I think—a sock puppet named Lemonade. So this is what you do at the tail end of a year-long commitment that has mostly eaten your brain: You write stories about sock puppets. Because it’s the only thing that makes you laugh. Lemonade, I thank you.
Working Title: Puppet Court
1st Sentence: What is the first rule of puppetry?
Favorite Sentence: While his person sang Little Rabbit Foo-Foo for the kindergarteners, Lemonade hung from his hand like a wet dishrag, too hung-over even to bob his sock-puppet head to the rhythm of such a simple melody.
Word Length: 589
Photo by Elke Wetzig 4/2006.
It’s quite a treat at this point when I have fun with a story. As I’ve already moaned about too much, April has been a pretty sad-sack month, all about gritting my teeth and keeping my head down. The day’s shorty took many tries and then once something stuck I had to work well into the night (morning) to complete it, but, dammit, it was fun to write! I see that it needs more meat on its bones but that just means more fun when I come back to it. Onward!
Working Title: Lent
1st Sentence: Always before she’d given up chocolate for Lent.
Favorite Sentence: But her high school boyfriend was a crisply seamed, closely cropped Episcopalian, and in solidarity she had traveled the brutal road of Lenten sacrifice with him.
Word Length: 901
Photo by Jules 8/2009.
Yep, I have now completed my penultimate week. Almost impossible to comprehend. I’m writing this a couple of days later and I’m still finding it really hard to accept that I have fewer than 10 days left in my challenge. How the hell did that happen? Anyway… it happened! Enjoy this lovely coconut cake with me to celebrate. It’s my birthday cake from a couple of weeks ago and it was DELICIOUS. As for the day’s shorty, it has promise and I enjoyed writing it. So both a big victory and a small victory for the day.
Working Title: Phone Call
1st Sentence: The voice was thin, quavery.
Favorite Sentence: Let’s see, yes, she had been dreaming one of her classic anxiety numbers, the one where she’s in the back seat of a tiny car with her family, her father at the wheel, the car climbing a fragile bridge constructed of a narrow, braided metal track that is headed straight up, for miles, with no structural supports on either side, every inch of progress adding to the terror of being so far up, so vulnerable, so obviously about to slip off the side and tumble down through the clouds and into the ocean below.
Word Length: 404
Photo of a coconut cake from Grant’s Bakery in Lewiston. Happy birthday to me!
After a number of frustrated tries at story that didn’t take, I started chatting with my all-purpose main character, the one I pull like taffy into whatever personality suits the day’s shorty, and it turns out she’s as tired as I am (today she’s a she). More so, maybe. She asks that she be allowed to live on the margins for a while, pop up only once or twice in a piece, to deliver a crucial piece of information or highlight a flaw in someone else for a change. That is, of course, impossible, but I avoided saying so and let her vent.
Working Title: Dear Writer
1st Sentence: She was fine as long as the writer needed only minor character support from her.
Favorite Sentence: So if she wasn’t slamming a door or flopping onto a couch, she was trying to deliver word play as though it was realistic, she was tossing out metaphors that no human being would ever say, and it was exhausting.
Word Length: 520
Photo by Tasylda Putri, 6/2009.
Again, this is not a month of winners. I hope I will find plenty of good ideas to build on when I come back to my April shorties but unlike all other months of my challenge, I doubt if I’ve produced even one story yet that I could submit in its current form. And I’ve produced only a few drafts that excited me while I was writing them. In all other months I’m fairly certain I produced a couple of those a week, at least, often more. But I choose to be happy right now with small victories. The day’s shorty is not among the few April pieces that excite me but it is tidy, a good exercise in compression, and I don’t hate it. Victory!
Working Title: This Much
1st Sentence: She smiled, leaned into me, and asked, as she always does when I tell her I love her, “How much?”
Favorite Sentence: Lately I’ve been saying, “As much as the moon,” but that’s already old.
Word Length: 350
Photo by Mary Hollinger, NODC biologist, NOAA, 5/1999.
April has been my most lackluster month so far and I’ve just had to accept that I am (A) running out of whatever steam is necessary to write something brand new and finish it every day, and (B) falling prey to the increasing anxiety I’ve been feeling as the end date approaches—will I make it, is it possible, will I actually do this? Those questions are literally keeping me up at night and it’s not like I’m not already tired enough. Sadly, I’ve had to devote energy to just staying on the path and that’s energy I need for inspiration and focused critical attention to every sentence I write. So these days I am less demanding and I take what I can get. But even with that low standard… well. I wrote a story about a candy apple. Not how I was poisoned by a candy apple or how some old guy made a fortune in candy apples or how a bite of a candy apple brought a Proustian memory to some middle-aged woman but a simple meditation—and that is too elevated a word—on the humble candy apple itself. Why did I do that? Because the universe would give me NOTHING ELSE and I was, when I hammered it out in the wee hours of the morning after a frustrating day of sad nothings, well beyond caring if I ever wrote another intelligent word. What can you do. Perhaps it will entertain the other shorties destined to live out their lives on my hard drive.
Working Title: Candy Apple
1st Sentence: As they wandered the grounds of the fair, she found herself searching for one thing: a candy apple like the ones she’d eaten as a child.
Favorite Sentence: Mostly she wanted that sensation of cracking the shell with her teeth, then scooping out the crisp-white flesh and chewing the soft apple against the crackling, sticky piece of candy.
Word Length: 314
Photo by Constantin Barbu 9/2009.
In a recent post I mentioned that sometimes I look at my husband Pat and ask him what my story should be about and he tosses out some silly word or phrase that I sometimes use as my launching pad (or as a short writing exercise I then delete, mind warmed up, and head for story). I was at the office my friend Patty and I rent when I started the day’s shorty using the same trick. Patty, give me a word. She happened to be writing at the time and said she had just typed the word “overburdened.” Okay, then. Thanks Patty!
Working Title: Overburdened
1st Sentence: Overburdened.
Favorite Sentence: ”Enthusiastic” could be read as too Bambi and chipper, but then again, a little stupidity and relentless good cheer is exactly what the world wants from women.
Word Length: 600
Photo by Frank Kovalcheck 6/2008.
Love the idea for this story, which I woke up with and then thought about all day. I’ll describe it as a guardian angel tale gone awry. But the execution is sloppy and rushed, with some gaps I’ll need to fill when I come back. Still, I’m happy to see something fresh from my fevered mind. I had completely forgotten it, of course (I’m writing this story post 5 days later). Well, it’s good to leave something I’ll need to chew hard for later.
Working Title: Wings
1st Sentence: I have not been to mass for, oh, almost ten years.
Favorite Sentence: Jesus, just because a woman happens to have wings.
Word Length: 753
Photo of Victorian funerary art in a church cemetery in the U.K. by Alan Murray-Rust 3/2009.
This shorty is about my reaction to the Boston Marathon bombings. I tried to capture a bit of what I was feeling. It took me two writing sessions and a handful of starts. One day it might be a strong prose poem.
Working Title: Sanctuary
1st Sentence: Very quiet.
Favorite Sentence: Not just sound but everything is muted by the swaddling of this lovely safety—so plush, so warm—color, too, fades into degrees of shadow because when she’s totally safe her eyelids drop to slit her sight.
Word Length: 201
Photo by John D. from Pasadena, 5/2004. I have no idea why this photo of a day lily is labeled “sanctuary” but it’s lovely, so it works.
I’m writing this story post on Monday, April 22. When I wrote the shorty for April 15, I started it at an afternoon writing session with my friend Patty. I tried three different ideas that afternoon. When I got home I discovered the news of the Boston Marathon bombing and couldn’t focus on work again until very late. When I did, I kept trying new starts until something finally took hold. I think it was 3:00-ish AM by the time I cut out the light, still sad from the day’s news. I suppose because my mind was on other things and the story was so hard to get out of myself, it’s a surprise to me now, reading it. Who wrote that? Anyway, it’s not terrible. With revision, maybe it can be good one day.
Working Title: Cleanse
1st Sentence: What spiraled up with the pungent smoke?
Favorite Sentence: Lord, what did I breathe into my nostrils, and then deep into my lungs, to settle there, to take root, to flower into the space I need for air?
Word Length: 223
Photo by ampersandyslexia 1/2009.
So… wow. When I wrote my April 15 shorty, I completed the 50th week of my Daily Shorty challenge. I couldn’t really appreciate the accomplishment because that was the day of the Boston Marathon bombings (I’m posting this on April 22). For the same reason, I can’t muster the usual enthusiasm I have for finding a fun photo of a treat to post as my reward. Instead I’ve chosen this Van Gogh to mark the occasion, one I haven’t seen before. It always makes me happy to look at a Van Gogh.
I find myself more than a week behind on story posts again (I’m writing this on April 22). This time I blame the delay on both my own fatigue and the news on April 15, which was the day of the Boston Marathon bombing. Boston feels very close to Maine and I know lots of people who once lived in Boston or the area, who have worked there, who have family there. Most of my friends take frequent day and weekend trips to Boston. And I was just there, in the same part of town where the bombing occurred, a few weeks ago, for the AWP conference. So the news reports felt intimate and I couldn’t turn away from the information and images, nor could I shake a sense of sadness the whole week. I know I’m not alone in that. In any case, I did keep up with my shorties, and I remember that the one I wrote on April 14 came to me without much trouble. The ”Oh, who knows” refers to where I got the idea for this story, something I usually note in the Word file but not this time. I don’t know that it will ever be good enough to submit but I did mostly capture my (very small) vision.
Working Title: Just Checking
1st Sentence: Her nightly routine: Snap off the bedside lamp, snuggle into the flannel sheets, let out a long, controlled breath… then jab her husband in the back.
Favorite Sentence: ”Indecent” is not a word she had ever held up to the light when talking about herself.
Word Length: 469
I’m often stunned by the serendipity of Wikimedia Commons, where I’ll do a simple search on some word or term connected with the day’s shorty and voila, the perfect (free) photo pops up. It’s happened countless times. I had nothing really catchy to search on for this one but I typed in “going to bed” anyway and what do you know, up comes this adorable picture of a little penguin heading to his burrow. It has nothing to do with the shorty, which is about people going to bed, but I LOVE penguins. Photo by Peter Gaylard, Australia, 3/2010.
When I wrote a shorty about Anastasia Romanov in March, I remembered that I’d written one about Anne Boleyn in June, and I wondered if I have a subconscious fascination with famous women who died famous and violent deaths. Of course names of women who fit that bill then came to mind, and ghoulish writer that I am—well, and there’s my need for a new story idea every single day—I tucked the names away. That thought adventure led to the April 12th piece on Mata Hari, and now to one about a very different sort of spy, who, from what I understand, very likely wasn’t a spy at all. (Maybe Mata Hari wasn’t either?)
Working Title: Five
1st Sentence: When she was fourteen Marsha announced that her favorite woman in history was Ethel Rosenberg.
Favorite Sentence: And wonders why, guilty or not guilty, Old Ike and Friends felt the need to fry her, this plain dumpling of a woman who had once dreamed, like most teenage girls, of stardom on the stage, but who organized a union instead.
Word Length: 363
Photo of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg (at the courthouse after having been found guilty by a jury) by Roger Higgins, 1951. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection.
I’m weathering another small crush of fatigue and I keep wondering just why this project is so tiring. On the one hand it seems like common sense that it would be—when I tell other writers I have written a story every day for these many months, they are stunned. Right, of course, because we know how hard it is to craft a complete piece. But on the other hand… why is it not just as hard to simply write for several hours every day? The pressure to create a new piece each day, plus the pressure to complete it, add up (after many weeks) to a very, very tired brain, but I have no idea if a pyschologist or neurologist could explain why those pressures should be so fatiguing. Anyway, I’m very pleased to say that for the first time in several weeks, I had a lot of fun writing the day’s shorty, which I approached in a really playful way, and that, this late in the game, feels like an enormous victory.
Working Title: Mata Hari’s Head
1st Sentence: Mata Hari’s head’s gone missing.
Favorite Sentence: In the first week of the timeframe in question, at least fourteen museum visitors carried a bag or backpack in which a plexiglass box containing a head might be concealed.
Word Length: 1,288
Photo is a scan from a magazine, 1910. Author unknown.
Sometimes before a writing session I turn to my husband Pat and say, “Okay, tell me what today’s story is going to be about.” He says something silly like “Monkeys on the moon!” and I laugh and then find inspiration another way. Occasionally whatever he spits out does actually inspire the story I write, as in this case. He said, “The mighty fork!”
Working Title: Table Manners
1st Sentence: She ate less and less and the weight was dropping off.
Favorite Sentence: You barely have to be conscious to ingest a milkshake.
Word Length: 589
Photo by Arnold Reinhold 8/2005.
On April 7 (see my story post further down the page) I used my friend Natalia Sarkissian’s story prompt, a photo of a red door, for inspiration. When I e-mailed Natalia to ask if I could use the image for the blog, she said yes and mentioned that she had used this same prompt before as well. I want to highlight her piece here both because I enjoyed it and because you can see from what I posted of my story that she and I took radically different approaches. That’s one of the joys of a prompt, that it can inspire such different stories. So rather than using her photo in my story post, I’m showing it here, and here is Natalia’s piece. Again, thanks so much my friend!
Kitty pictures. References to Jane Austen. Yes, I know I’m a cliché. I remember affectionately a shorty I wrote in July that featured members of a Jane Austen club. It has no resemblance whatsoever to the day’s shorty, which is a meditation on the complaint I hear sometimes that Jane painted too pretty a picture of romantic engagement. I’ll just say here that for every happily married heroine waltzing off into the misty bliss, Jane gives us at least one painful marriage portrait, in fact definitely more than one, and a handful of jilted lovers besides.
Working Title: Jane’s Sin
1st Sentence: Oh, Jane.
Favorite Sentence: Darcy and his stiff upper lip, his focus on breeding, his need to be right—this is not the stuff of smolder.
Word Length: 288
Image is a retouched and cropped photo of a portrait of Jane Austen done by her sister Cassandra (1773 – 1845).
After a week of prompts I’m going without a net again. I’ve been thinking anxiously about how I’ll frame my writing time after this year—what will I use to inspire discipline when I’m not driven by my goal? I’m also currently looking for a house and preparing to adopt two sister kittens to fill the hole my sweet Maria left behind. I suppose all of this led me to write a shorty about a woman entering another phase in her life. The piece has promise.
Working Title: Phase II
1st Sentence: We did the show in front of a live studio audience the entire eleven-year run, from when I was five years old to sixteen.
Favorite Sentence: Sure, as long as I was Cassidy Dunlovey people put up with my thin lips and chubby cheeks, said my mother.
Word Length: 490
Photo of a Siberian kitten by Johanna Fager 1/2007. I’m adopting Siberians because they’re supposed to be very good for people with allergies.
And another week of shorties is behind me! Enjoy these gorgeous lemon squares with me as I celebrate seeing the back of Week 49. As for the day’s shorty: I cheered my friend Lynn through a Daily Shorty week in March. She wasn’t able to send me a prompt by the end of my “friendly prompts” week, so before my writing session I thought about her, re-read our e-mail exchanges over the course of that week, and then closed my eyes and started a story. It’s the oddest of the week, I think, which is saying a lot. Can’t tell if it has promise or not, so I’ll wait for clearer eyes to judge that. I’m sorry I didn’t get to use a specific prompt passed along by Lynn herself, but many thanks to her for being a part of my year-long challenge and serving as my unwitting inspiration for the day’s shorty!
Working Title: That Foot
1st Sentence: Janet was always in motion, but she never went anywhere.
Favorite Sentence: The buzz of constant movement came from her right foot, which tapped or kicked or shook or wagged—all day that foot performed the choreography of her mood.
Word Length: 425
Photo by Flickr user fugzu 6/2009.
My friend Natalia Sarkissian did a Daily Shorty week in early March. She loves writing prompts and sent me a handful. I chose a photo of a red door (similar to the one pictured here) that I couldn’t get out of my head. In fact that red door took up so much of my brain space that it took me many, many tries to get anything on the page that would hold. Finally I was able to get something out before falling asleep in the wee hours. It’s got some promise but I had to force an ending that doesn’t work. Maybe it will grow into something better one day. If the staying-power of that photo is any indication, it will. Many thanks to Natalia!
Working Title: Red
1st Sentence: The audience wants her to choose the red door.
Favorite Sentence: He lets his eyebrows climb his forehead, throws his arms up in a dramatic display of don’t ask me, mugs at the audience and the camera.
Word Length: 308
Photo by Si Griffiths 3/2005.
My friend Cheryl Wilder, whose first writing love is poetry, did a Daily Shorty week with me in February. She provided me with a poem by the Arabic poet Adonis as well as one of her own, which she wrote in response. I read both many times before I wrote the shorty, which is a brief, moody piece that doesn’t quite capture what I’d hoped but might when I come back for revision. Many thanks to Cheryl!
Working Title: From Afar
1st Sentence: Somehow the distance, the filter of the closed window, the scattered light—it all makes for disproportion.
Favorite Sentence: His hands from here like palm fronds, brushing each other and her, shivering in the silent undercurrents of a mom-less kitchen.
Word Length: 270
Photo of Adonis book cover from Amazon.com.
My friend Suzanne Farrell Smith did a Daily Shorty week with me in January. The prompt she gave me for this week is a writing exercise, asking me to create a scene focused on an animal of some kind but not a pet or a zoo attraction. I wasn’t allowed to put any human beings in the scene but I could add other animals. My main goal was to follow these directions and somehow write a complete piece rather than just a scene that would be part of a larger whole. I’m not sure how complete the shorty feels but it meets my basic requirements and it was fun to write. Many thanks to Suzanne!
Working Title: Winter Games
1st Sentence: A crow flies from a nearby tree branch toward a steep slope covered in dense, frozen snowpack.
Favorite Sentence: Then it takes a wing-fluttering hop forward, lands about a foot down the slope, and holding its wings at half-span for balance, it wobble-slides down the glistening white on its feet, like a skier who added a little too much peppermint schnapps to his cocoa.
Word Length: 279
Photo by Jack Wolf of Albany, CA, 12/2008.
My friend Stephanie Friedman did a Daily Shorty week with me last fall. She suggested that I choose a piece of art by Chicago artist Jason Brammer as my prompt for the day, and sent me to his site to browse. I chose his piece “Cherry Blossom,” which reminded me of the Maine sky in August, although I’m not sure why. Maybe because the soft beauty of the piece reminds me of how I feel when I’m looking at a Maine August sky. In any case, thoughts of August reminded me of the balloon festival we have here in Lewiston-Auburn the first weekend or so of August, and I was off and running. Many thanks to Stephanie! And of course I’m grateful for Jason Brammer’s stunning work.
Working Title: Balloon Chase
1st Sentence: We spent a couple of hours chasing the hot-air balloons with our cameras.
Favorite Sentence: One landed on the highway, its bubble of rainbow silk deflating, then ribboning out to border the road.
Word Length: 301
Photo by me or the husband, 8/2012.