Archive | Model Micro RSS feed for this section

Spring Blooms! Tulips, Irises, Penny Guisinger

13 Jun

When I need color most, Maine blooms. And reminds me of a local master of very short prose.

I continue to despair over our ongoing national catastrophe. At the end of April I hit the year mark on a difficult and painful family episode that will continue to unfold, no good news in sight. I’m gritting my teeth through a dry spell in writing life accomplishments—all writerly things I control are in a state of unruly, uncertain making, and those deeply important things I do NOT control aren’t breaking my way. In short: I’m in a funk. Which made me slip quietly away from this blog, social media, much of my usual routine.

As May opened up, I couldn’t see the end of my fog, so I did a lot of sighing and frowning (and, um, ill-advised eating) and kept my head down. Then one morning I looked out my bedroom window to see the first handful of tulip blooms—bright yellow and a shy blush of soft coral-pink. I thought, “Hello and thank you and aren’t you gorgeous.” Then: “Where’s that little book I bought at that workshop…??”

In March, when I and the tulips were still pushing through the final weeks of Maine’s winter, I took a workshop, offered through the Maine Writers and Publishers Association, on writing flash creative nonfiction. I had signed up for it on a whim. I’ve toyed with the idea of writing personal essay or memoir, but I’ve never known how to make a start. I didn’t expect marching orders from a 4-hour session, but if I could buy myself a bit of inspiration in a genre I know little about, that would be well worth the fee.

I’m a scalp-to-toes introvert, which means when I have a morning appointment, I tend to wake up grumpy and get mad while I get ready, and that day was no exception. I do my best to put on a good face and bring the good will when I get there. Fortunately, Penny Guisinger swept into the room in a spirit of cheerfulness and warmth, jokingly complaining about the lack of coffee and the frigid morning, all down-to-earth, approachable, big smile, we’re all just writers, here. I more than got my money’s worth. In fact I did leave with the genesis of marching orders. And something else: Her lovely chapbook of vignettes, Postcards from Here, published by Vine Leaves Press.

Over these last four or five weeks, I’ve rested my worries while pulling weeds around the early, middle, and late spring tulips, then tidying the beds of exploding bearded irises, then bringing the same attention to the delicate unfurling of Siberian irises and baptisia—thrilling me by blooming exactly together, as I’d hoped. And most days I followed up the calm earned in sweat with a few moments of the quiet wonder that comes of reading Guisinger’s tiny, beautiful things.

Blooms are short-lived, so you must feast on them. All day throughout spring and summer, whether outdoors or sitting by a window, my eyes are set on “gobble.” Guisinger’s prose, however, should be tasted. Savored in the small bites she’s plated on every page. Which is how her little book has kept me in such good company through these weeks of mental stillness.

IrisbaptisiaI’m welcoming myself back to the writing life today, a strangely hot Maine Tuesday, bad news still raging nation- and world-wide, family still finding its feet, the last two tiny plots of late tulips shedding their petals just yesterday. Thanks to mother nature’s insistence on pretty, frilly things, and a shining chapbook of word-presents, I’m on the path.

I’ll bring back the Daily Shorty words “Fiction Friday” next week when I review Guisinger’s book. Happy spring-almost-summer, Everyone.


Going Meta: A Model Micro

22 Dec

When reading for submissions morphs into panning for gold.

One of the joys of all the labor involved in submitting stories—okay, there are only two joys—is the inevitable discovery, while cruising magazine sites, of terrific work. Stories I immediately read to the husband even if he’s eating, watching hockey, walking away. Stories I wish I had written.

wigpegliveTypically I dislike stories about writers and writing. On the other hand, I groove on anything “meta” when it’s done well (and despise it when it’s not). Deb Olin Unferth’s meta micro “Draft,” at Wigleaf, first held me spellbound, then made me laugh, and in the end made me wistful for all my unrealized visions. Before I’d finished reading it to the husband, that wistfulness somehow shifted into excited hope for all the visions and the realizing to come. For a piece just over 150 words, that’s quite a feat.

And the second joy that comes of working on submissions? Oh! Realizing all those glorious visions sitting on my hard drive.

Working on submissions begets tinkering, and tinkering begets writing satisfaction. There’s nothing like figuring out, finally, why I’ve always given the side-eye to that last sentence of a shorty that’s very good, deserves a home, yet… something isn’t quite right…. AHA! Wrong verb, and it needs another beat. Ahh. Just look at it now.

A story about writing-dissatisfaction made me want to submit to Wigleaf. And that drive to find the right work for the submission made me tinker. Which ultimately led to writing-satisfaction. For a writer-geek like me, that’s irony gold that had to be shared. In writing.