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Postcards Last Day!

3 Dec

Hathorn HallToday’s inspirational postcard has a picture of Bates College’s Hathorn Hall (photo credit below). My husband works at Bates and we live within easy walking distance, so I’m on campus all the time. Hathorn is one of my favorite buildings. It just screams New England.

Working Title: My Girl
1st Sentence: The first time I saw her I was so sick with frustration and guilt that I didn’t notice her right away.
Favorite Sentence: This is what my girl in the stacks promises me, every time, with her pale eyes, her long hair I want to wind around my neck.
Word Length: 475

Photo of Hathorn Hall at dusk, from Bates College website.

Postcards Day 6

2 Dec

MooseMy inspiration postcard today pictures two young bull moose by the water, sparring. I couldn’t find a picture of two moose online that I like as well as the picture here (photo credit below) so a picture of one will have to do for this post. I have yet to see a moose in my 6+ years in Maine, mostly because I’m unlikely to see one from the couch. I would be delighted to see one of these goofy gus animals in person, but NOT, I sincerely hope, and thank you very much, in my headlights.

Working Title: Moose Wedding
1st Sentence: My sister was to be married at the Moose Lodge.
Favorite Sentence: We also both believed that my sister should not be marrying this guy, but the truth of that was so obvious, so poke-your-eye-with-a-stick unavoidable, that it didn’t count as agreement.
Word Length: 542

Photo by Walter Ezell 6/2010.

Postcards Day 5

1 Dec

O'Keeffe PaintingI really like the idea for this one but the execution… not so much. Hopefully I’ll work some magic in revision. As for my inspiration, I honestly have no clue how a postcard with the O’Keeffe painting pictured here (see photo credit below) led me to the story I wrote, which appears to have absolutely no connection to the painting. But after a meditation on the image and some note-taking, well, I wrote a story, and that’s that.

Working Title: Slow-Motion Sendoff
1st Sentence: She had been writing her own obituary for years, updating it on each birthday not with the things she’d done in the previous year but all the things she wanted to do in the next, or anyway before she died.
Favorite Sentence: If “Marge was a master seamstress” seemed a bit excessive, it was only because she hadn’t learned to sew yet.
Word Length: 467

Photo of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Jack-in-the-Pulpit No. IV, 1930, National Gallery of Art.

Postcards Day 4

30 Nov

Pissarro PaintingToday’s shorty was inspired by a postcard showing the Pissarro painting pictured here (photo credit below). It reminded me of Colonial Williamsburg, VA, on a blurry winter day, which in turn sparked the story.

Working Title: Tourons
1st Sentence: Tourons, they called them, because crossing the words “tourist” and “moron” is so clever, and college kids are nothing if not clever.
Favorite Sentence: It was a really funny story, crafted with care and including plenty of vulgar words applied to the SUV-ful of docile lambs from Michigan.
Word Length: 569

Photo of Camille Pissarro’s Boulevard des Italiens, Morning, Sunlight, 1897, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

Postcards Day 3

29 Nov

Isabella Gardner Scrapbook PgOnce again I find myself catching up on posts (I’m writing this on December 3). I’ve been working hard on polishing some of these shorties to submit to a chapbook contest—yeehaw! Wish me luck. In the meantime, my third postcard, which inspired my November 29 shortie, is one showing two pages from a scrapbook Isabella Gardner made to document a trip to Japan. Pictured here is one of the pages shown on the postcard (photo credit below). I’m slightly embarrassed to say that my plodding brain produced a story about… a scrapbooker. But what can you do. Next!

Working Title: Saving Memory
1st Sentence: In her hands she cradles the wrapper from the Snicker’s bar she just bolted.
Favorite Sentence: At night sometimes she lies in bed rigid with failure as frail mental-memory cycles through all the things she should have scrapbooked.
Word Length: 1,116

Photo of a page from Isabella Stewart Gardner’s scrapbook of her visit to Japan in 1883.

Postcards Day 2

28 Nov

I have a postcard with the image shown here (see photo credit below) of Barry Flanagan’s sculpture “Thinker on a Rock.” I meditated on this wonderful man-like hare for quite some time and then landed on a certain famous manlike bunny we all know well…. So the day’s shorty turned out to be my first fan fiction!

Working Title: Psycho Bunny
1st Sentence: Ilsa had worked her hand through the crisscrossed rope that bound her, retrieved her Swiss Army knife from her jeans pocket, and was sawing away, thinking bitter, bitter thoughts about that talking rabbit they had all believed was going to be such a godsend.
Favorite Sentence: No knock, no preamble, just a furry waltz across the floor and he threw himself into a chair, put his huge feet on her desk, looked at her narrow-eyed and asked his favorite question—wassup?
Word Length: 1,793

Photo of “Thinker on a Rock” by Barry Flanagan (1997), in the National Gallery of Art’s sculpture garden in Washington, DC.

A week of postcards!

27 Nov

I buy pretty postcards wherever I go just so they can sit on a shelf. Today I gathered a pile and went through them, selecting the most intriguing as I went. I kept whittling the pile until I had seven to use for story prompts this week. The first, chosen randomly from the seven, was imprinted with the photo you see here of an Edward Steichen painting (see photo credit below). Isn’t it stunning? It took most of the day for me to get a story out of this image because I was so enchanted with it all I could think of were more colors and shapes. Gorgeous.

Working Title: When I Get Up
1st Sentence: Van Gogh ate paint because he wanted to be yellow, he wanted to be red.
Favorite Sentence: When I get up from this chair I will say to this woman with the thick calves, the heavy shoulders, the stringy hair, that I should never have asked her, thirty-seven years ago, if she wanted to get a coffee.
Word Length: 323

Photo of Edward Steichen’s “Le Tournesol” (The Sunflower), c. 1920, tempera and oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Collectors Committee 1999.43.1.

Mystery Box Day 4!

26 Oct

Well, I don’t know how good this story is, but I’m really proud of how I pulled it out. I’ve been doing a lot of editing work lately and it’s draining the same part of my brain I need for my stories. And honestly today I just felt DONE. My inspiration was this postcard (Web photo copied from here, if you’d like your own). I couldn’t get anything from the graphic story so I just closed my eyes and riffed on the word “Goodbye.” Then I stared at my paragraph for a while, dozed, came back to life, stared. I added an introductory paragraph that created a scene for what I’d written. Stared some more. Transitioned to a series of short paragraphs to get myself to an ending. Is it great? No. Is it a story? Hell yes.

Working Title: Fade to Black
1st Sentence: They did a great job with her face.
Favorite Sentence: Like fresh grapes or berries—a spritz and the right lighting and you look fresh-picked.
Word Length: 402