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My Permanent Record

9 Jan

Gold StarI don’t think people threaten kids with what might appear on their Permanent Record anymore. But it was something I heard a lot growing up. Don’t even think of doing X or it’ll wind up on your Permanent Record! Strangely, this threat had teeth, at least for me. But I’ve always been a coward. Today’s shorty is another written in the form of a list of 7 things.

Working Title: On My Permanent Record
1st Sentence: 1. I was winning the gold star race.
Favorite Sentence: Pretty young thing, said my quickened breath, the faint moans of the fake nightmare, pretty frail thing with her long, tangled hair, her skin so pale it shows the blue-veined pulse in her wrist, in the hollow of her neck, can you see that, in the moonlight, can you see how fragile?
Word Length: 834

Photo by Flickr user Nina Matthews from Australia 11/2010.

More Fun with 7

22 Dec

ZombiesIt’s been a while since I’ve written a shorty for sheer amusement. Feels good!

Working Title: 7 Reasons To Go Zombie
1st Sentence: 1. You never have to run.
Favorite Sentence: 4. By nature the zombie is a social animal who bonds with his zombie fellows and travels in packs, so you will never again stare at your bright red Fiesta-ware dinner plate inherited from your mother, sawing at a slap of ham by candlelight, reviewing all the choices you made that brought you here, alone at this table, on Christmas night, with “Joy to the World” playing on a loop.
Word Length: 429

Photo by Jeremy Keith 10/2007.

Fond Farewell to the Mystery Box

29 Oct

And a fond farewell to Week 26! One of my all-time favorite treats is pistachio ice cream—enjoy it with me as I celebrate another completed week of the Daily Shorty challenge. The last inspiration I pulled from my mystery box was part of the top of a corroded aerosol can, which got me fixated on the thought of hairspray. I covered three pages with various ideas and story starts related to hairspray—I couldn’t shake the image of it—and finally landed on a story as list using that number again: 7. Many thanks, again, to Jen Hicks. I love saying this: I owe you one!

Working Title: 7 Items
1st Sentence: Ever wonder what’s in my basement?
Favorite Sentence: I love bananas just as they are, so I’m in no danger of buying the Nanna-Mousser.
Word Length: 285

Photo of pistachio nougat ice cream by Flickr user Jules 1/2007.

Grab Bag Day 6: Song

16 Sep

When I bought seven songs for my song-prompt week, I actually added an eighth “bonus track.” “Landslide,” by Fleetwood Mac, inspired the day’s shorty.

Working Title: Relationship 1 to 7
1st Sentence: Phase 1. Even your hair.
Favorite Sentence: But here’s what you don’t get: I’m not your mother.
Word Length: 272

Photo of Stevie Nicks at Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, CA, 2/1/2008 by Chris1345.

Back to 7!

20 Jul

I don’t know. Nothing was coming to me and the minutes were ticking away. I thought again about Michael Martone’s Four for a Quarter and how we should try arbitrary forms for stories and so again the number 7 comes flying at me and then… I’m off and running.

Working Title: 7 Confusions
1st Sentence: Confusion #1. The big one.
Favorite Sentence: We may never know if a Neanderthal could say, “I had pierced the mastodon with an arrow when I realized that I did not have my hacksaw.”
Word Length: 1,101

Photo by Ökologix, 2007.


8 Jul

Had a hard time finding something to stick, and once I did I struggled with a draft that pleased me. Wound up re-drafting this piece twice before finally getting something that has potential. Really hoping I’m going to feel more sparked soon. Lately despite some great brainstorming sessions the writing has felt more dutiful than joyful. Will I have to admit soon that I plain need a break from drafting a short story every day? I hope not because I have no intention of taking one.

Working Title: Things I Can Tell You Now That It’s Over
1st Sentence: What I was really thinking when we first met.
Favorite Sentence: “What a waste!” you’d say, “I could make a baby chicken out of that,”—always, always the thing about a baby chicken—and then you’d actually shove the bones into your mouth to suck and strip off the leftover bits.
Word Length: 556

7 Still on the Brain

7 Jul

I so love my vision for this one but the draft is a truly stunning failure. I’ll come back to it because dammit I have to be able to execute better than this. Frustrating.

Working Title: The 7 Wonders of Annabelle’s World
1st Sentence: Follow me, if you will, to Annabelle’s bookshelf, where we find the song book she made last Christmas.
Favorite Sentence: Note the detail on the center rocks, where Annabelle used red nail polish to paint hearts denoting her profound and abiding love for Milliker.
Word Length: 821

Image of the 7 wonders of the ancient world by Slof, August 2006.

Still Thinking 7

5 Jul

I would like to be more original and be inspired by a cranky number like 11 or 17 but it’s “lucky 7” that keeps coming to me ever since reading the Michael Martone piece (at Cynthia’s blog Catching Days) that I mentioned in my July 2 post (just below). Today my shorty is a 7-part personality quiz, the really infuriating kind marketed to women at the checkout counter on the cover of a bad magazine showing off the puffed-up cleavage of some anorexic actress. Fun to write.

Working Title: Know Thyself
1st Sentence: Ladies, do you wonder what people are thinking about you?
Favorite Sentence: Your mother worries about your self-confidence and suspects that allowing the doctor to induce labor deprived you of as much as two crucial weeks of prenatal development; you would be a doctor, yourself, she thinks, if you’d had those two weeks, maybe a state senator.
Word Length: 489

Photo of the 7 Lucky gods of Japan by Steve from Nagoya, Japan, August 2007.

Too Tired To Be Inspired

3 Jul

After a great brainstorming session and a fun shorty yesterday I just slumped through my commitment today, sadly. Now that I’m caught up with posts, I’m pushing hard to put something on my static pages so I can make this site public. For the record, if you’re thinking of starting a blog I highly recommend it for documenting your work and reveling in whatever delights the Inner Geek, but know that it’s going to take a lot more time than you think to set it up. (Damn you, Cynthia.) Anyway, a shorty today that doesn’t please me but I stuck with it and did my best by it in any case. Poor Bill. Enjoy your life on my hard drive, Bill. And know that as my clunkers go, you are a stand-up guy.

Working Title: What Bill Read Today
1st Sentence: His watch.
Favorite Sentence: Between the dusty box of chamomile crap Erin left behind and the chocolate-scented confectioner’s sugar in the packet, every time the sugar.
Word Length: 757

Photo by Timur Voronkov, February 2010.

Goodbye to Week 9!

2 Jul

A frosty virtual piña colada for me in celebration of completing Week 9! Today’s shorty was inspired by Michael Martone’s visit to my friend and colleague’s blog, Cynthia Newberry Martin’s Catching Days. I’m a huge fan of Michael (see the “How To Be a Writer” project he inspired at Hunger Mountain) and I pay close attention to everything he says. More on what he says in that post another time but today what I took from it was a reminder to play with structure. He’s just written Four for a Quarter, a book of pieces based on the number 4. This morning I got hooked on the number 7. So… why is thinking “yellow” a Big Idea that ruins a story and thinking “7” isn’t? I’m not sure, but my guess is that I’m using “7” to suggest form, and form is just a constraint we can choose to work within or not. Whereas with “yellow” I wasn’t thinking form at all but about the abstract concept of the color yellow and about even more abstract associations with it (cowardice, age) and how I might do these ideas justice. For me, trying to go from the abstract to the concrete means ruination.

Working Title: 7 Ways To Tempt Your Man
1st Sentence: What man?
Favorite Sentence: For God’s sake don’t wear that flimsy pink number with the silky sash, it makes you look like an expensive bedroom slipper.
Word Length: 574

Photo by Portorricensis, June 2008.