Wednesday, July 6, 2022

The Insecure Writer's Support Group-July 2022

 




It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time for another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has assembled a great group of co-hosts for this month: J. Lenni Dorner, Janet Alcorn, PJ Colando, Jenni Enzor, and Diane Burton.

Be sure to check out the IWSG website for great writing advice!

On a quick personal note, I'd like to wish my husband a happy birthday. He turns 35 today. I haven't told many people about this, but he had a health scare over the last few weeks. He was recently diagnosed with a rare form of skin cancer this week. He had surgery last week to remove the cancerous tissue, and the good news is, the surgeon was able to successfully remove it all. Now he just needs to finish healing from the surgery itself. It may be a few weeks before he regains full range of motion of his arm, but we're past the worst of it.

Now on to the optional question for this month: If you could live in any book world, which one would you choose?

This is a difficult choice. I can think of so many! In the realm of fantasy, it would be amazing to spend some time in the Harry Potter universe. I'd also like to spend some time in the world of Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. In that book, the protagonist Richard discovers there's an entire society of people living below London. The culture and magic of this world is so fasinating that I would love to explore it.

In the realm of science fiction, I'd love to spend some time in the universe of The Expanse series by James SA Corey. Granted, there are a lot of dangers, political and otherwise, that I'd prefer to avoid, by the prospect of being able to access various solar systems through the system of ring gates would be irresistable to me. I'd love to snag my own little ship and do some traveling.

Which book world would you like to live in?



Wednesday, June 15, 2022

WEP June 2022: Please Read the Letter


It's already time for another WEP Challenge in our Year of Music. This month's musical inspiration is "Please Read the Letter" by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss. For more information or to join in on the fun, check out this post. If you need additional inspiration for this prompt, be sure to check out the Challenges 2022 page.

Here's my take on this month's prompt. I hope you enjoy.


The Letters Left Unread

Ingrid wrote a letter every day. It was a habit she started early in her childhood. Her first letters were written to Santa. She didn’t write just one like most kids her age. No. Her anticipation in the lead up to Christmas was so intense that she found herself writing to him daily. Her spelling was less than perfect, her childish scrawl filled with inverted letters, but she poured every bit of feeling she could into those letters. 


Dear Santa,


My name is Ingrid. I want a pony. Do your elfs like makking toys? Do you like flying around the wurld?


I love you.


Ingrid


She wanted him to read them. She wanted that so badly, but she never got a reply.

Then Ingrid got older, and she learned the truth of things. She also learned that her parents, who had promised to mail those Santa letters, had instead kept them in an old trunk of keepsakes in the attic. They were a treasure, something her mom and dad valued dearly.

So she kept writing. These letters weren’t meant for anyone to read. They were more of a diary of her feelings. A way to say truths she wouldn’t dare say to anyone’s face.


Dear Miss Potter,


I don’t like you. I liked Mrs. Brown better. She was nice, and you are mean. I wish I could go back to 4th grade so I don’t have to be in your class. No one else likes you, either.


Sincerely,

Ingrid Pearl Nelson


That was her first angry letter. It stuck out in her mind years later. That was how she learned she could release her anger and frustration on the page and feel better afterward. So of course, that became her favorite way to vent about problems and frustrations.

She wrote letters to her family members. Friends. She wrote them to her exes after a breakup. 


Dear Brad,


I trusted you. That was a mistake. You kept telling me I was paranoid. You flirted with so many girls, often right in front of me. The rumors I kept hearing. You kept changing plans last minute with minimal explanation. Every time I tried to talk to you about my concerns, you kept twisting my words and using them to make me feel crazy.

There’s no denying the truth now. I saw you and Debbie with my own eyes. We are over. I wish I could push you into traffic, but you’re not worth going to prison. You’re not worth another minute of my time. To hell with you.


Sincerely,

Ingrid


On and on, she grew and accumulated stacks of letters. She placed them in shoe boxes under her bed. When she moved out to go to college, she brought them all with her. She stacked them in the bottom of her cramped closet where her shoes could have gone.

The small frustrations often made it into her collection.


Dear Random Stranger,


You drive like a moron. How dare you cut me off in traffic then dare to flash a rude gesture at me as if I’d done something wrong? Yes, I stopped in time to avoid an accident, but maybe I shouldn’t have. Maybe I should have rammed into your rear end and damaged your precious Mustang. You’d have deserved the resulting damage.

Please take some driving lessons.


Sincerely,

Ingrid


Heartbreak made it into her letters, too. Two months after she wrote that last angry letter, she had reason to write another relating to a car. Unfortunately, an accident actually happened this time.


Dear Random Stranger,


Why did you have to do it? Why did you have to get in your car after a long night at the bar? Why did you have to drive down the same road my mom takes home after a long shift at work? Why did it have to be her?

Damn you. I wish I could tell you how much I hate you for taking her away from me, but I can’t because you died too. Maybe some would call your death a just punishment, but you don’t get to suffer for what you did. You got the easy way out as far as I’m concerned.


Bitterly yours,

Ingrid


That letter went in a box, never to be seen by anyone else. The next morning, after a restless night of tears and hardly any sleep, she sat down to pen another letter.

This one didn’t go into a box. Instead, she slipped this one into an envelope, and when the funeral took place two days later, it accompanied her in her purse.

After she watched her mother’s coffin being lowered into the ground, she lingered until the crowd had thinned out enough to give her some privacy. She gazed down at the shiny box that would soon be covered in dirt. There was so much she wanted to say, but her voice wouldn’t work. Instead, she pulled the envelope out of her pocket and tossed it in. She wanted her mother to read the letter, to tuck it away somewhere to be reread and treasured as she had with the Santa letters. The best Ingrid could do was leave it here with her.

Ingrid walked back to the car, her body numb as her mind relayed the words she’d written.


Dear Mom,


I’m sorry I didn’t tell you how much I love and appreciate you every single day. I wish I hadn’t fought with you over so many tiny, pointless things. None of them mattered. Not really. I can see that now.

I wish I could have one more day with you. I wish I could find a way to fix everything. It all feels so broken now.

I feel broken now.

I’ll always love you.


Love,

Ingrid


Word Count: 962

FCA

Tagline: A young woman writes letters to cope with the difficulties of life.




Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: June 2022

 


It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time to convene another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our host Alex J. Cavanaugh has assembled a great group of co-hosts this month: SE White, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguirre, Joylene Nowell Butler, and Jacqui Murray.

Be sure to check out the IWSG website for great writing resources!

The optional question for this month is:  When the going gets tough writing the story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end? If have not started the writing yet, why do you think that is and what do you think could help you find your groove and start?

I often find myself getting stuck at some point during my writing journey. I often take a step back from the story for a day or two before coming back to it. Returning and looking it over with fresh eyes can sometimes reveal opportunities that I hadn't previously considered before. I also like to take notes and map out possible scenarios. Writing out short drafts of later scenes in the story can help me decide if a possible narrative path will work well.

Truth is, I don't always find a way to keep writing to the end. Sometimes I can't work my way through the issues I encounter with the story. When this happens, I save everything in case I end up coming back to it later. You never know when inspiration will strike, after all. Maybe I'll pick up the story years down the road with fresh new ideas. Or maybe I'll be looking through my old story files and find inspiration in them for a new idea I'm working on.

Try not to get discouraged when you get stuck. It happens to all of us. It all comes down to how you handle those normal struggles.

How do you keep yourself writing to the end?


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: May 2022

 


It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time to convene another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our esteemed leader Alex J. Cavanaugh has assembled some great co-hosts for this month: Kim Elliott, Melissa Maygrove, Chemist Ken, Lee Lowery, and Nancy Gideon.

Be sure to check out the IWSG website for lots of writing resources!

First of all, I would like to make an announcement regarding WEP. The winner's post for the April Challenge is now live. You can find that here.

Now on to the business of the day.

The optional question for this month is: It's the best of times; it's the worst of times. What are your writer highs (the good times)? And what are your writer lows (the crappy times)?

I've sure had a mixture of both, as I'm sure we all have. Personally, my favorite highs come from finding out I'm having a story published. When I found out that I won the 2015 and 2018 IWSG Anthology Contests, I was elated. Seeing my words in print makes all the struggles that come along with the writing process worth it. I'm sure publication counts as a high point for most.

When thinking about lows, rejection obviously came to mind. It always hurts to have a story rejected, but I think an even worse low than that comes from writer's block. If I'm submitting stories, that means the words are at least coming to me. I'm being productive, even if publication doesn't follow. The inability to get words on the page is far more demoralizing for me.

What are your writing highs and lows?


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

WEP April 2022: A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall

 


It's already time for another WEP Challenge in our Year of Music. This month's musical inspiration is "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" by Bob Dylan. For more information or to join in on the fun, check out this post. If you need additional inspiration for this prompt, be sure to check out the Challenges 2022 page.

Here's my take on this month's prompt. I hope you enjoy.


Like a Waterfall

The sky looked identical to the wet concrete below. Water hemorrhaged from the sky, while the streetlights burned bright despite the mid-afternoon hour.

The weather report had warned a hard rain was going to fall, but no one in Rey’s little neighborhood had access to the most up-to-date reports anyway.

Rey pulled her frayed flannel shirt closer to her body as she huddled under an awning. It wouldn’t be so bad if it were a few degrees warmer, but the chill in the air sent the dampness radiating into her bones. Her teeth chattered, her limbs trembled. She closed her eyes and tried to envision bright skies and the gentle warmth of a summer breeze. The illusion was pleasant enough, but it couldn’t hold the cold at bay.

Ms. Dupree, hunched over her shopping cart with a tattered poncho pulled over her, trudged by. One of her tennis shoes had a hole so big her big toe poked through. Milo, who had to be nearly 80 years old, huddled across the alley, coughing into his white-knuckled fist. Up until recently, he’d still had his own home, but times got tough.

Nearly a dozen tents populated this little alleyway, shared amongst a current twenty-nine inhabitants. The number fluctuated from day to day. Some residents left one day never to return. Rey often wondered about them, especially little Ricky, who found his way to the alley at 15. His parents booted him from the house for being gay. She hoped that maybe his family had a change of heart, or maybe that he found a program willing to give him a leg up and out of this life. She hoped, but she knew the other dark possibilities that lurked on the edges of their daily lives.

The rumbling of her stomach interrupted her thoughts. She couldn’t recall the last time she’d been able to eat enough to feel full. At best, she could get her hands on enough food to take the edge off her hunger.

She dipped her hand into her damp jeans pocket and brushed her fingers against the change contained within. If she walked to the corner store, she might be able to buy herself a packet of peanut butter crackers. That had been one of her all-time favorite snacks as a child. Now those little crackers were tainted by the desperation of her situation.

The rain was falling too heavily to take the trip now. Hopefully it would abate soon.

Leaning back against the brick wall, she surrendered herself to thoughts that she generally tried to avoid. On days like this, it took too much energy to keep them buried.

The bright blue of Ethan’s eyes flashed before her eyes, and an aching pain flared in her chest. She’d only had him for a day in the hospital before the adoption papers were signed. Logic told her she couldn’t have been a good mother for him. She couldn’t even take care of herself most days. A pregnancy spent living on the streets had been risky enough. He deserved more than that. This knowledge didn’t stop the pain, though. He had to be two years old by now. Did he love peanut butter crackers? Was he allergic to anything? What made him smile?

These were answers she would never have.

She lingered awhile in the grief. It gnawed away at her insides, as persistent and potent as her hunger. She remembered the dreams she once had for herself. When she was young, she always imagined herself becoming a veterinarian. She could never stand to see an animal sick or suffering.

Now suffering was an integral part of her daily existence.

The rain persisted. Rey shoved herself away from the wall and began to walk. Why not? She was already half-soaked anyway, and she needed to eat something. Tears streaked her face, mixing in seamlessly with the pelting rain drops. It all ran like a waterfall down her cheeks. If she stayed in the driving rain long enough, perhaps it would wash her pain away.

Maybe the sun would eventually shine through and a rainbow would appear. Maybe, just maybe, there could be brighter days ahead.


Word Count: 702 words

FCA

Tagline: Rey attempts to find hope in a seemingly hopeless situation.

And there it is! Please read the other wonderful entries for the April Challenge!



Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The Insecure Writer's Support Group: April 2022

 


It's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time to convene another meeting of The Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our esteemed leader Alex J.  Cavanaugh has assembled a great group of co-hosts for this month: Joylene Nowell Butler, Jemima Pett, Patricia Josephine, Louise - Fundy Blue, and Kim Lajevardi.

Be sure to check out the IWSG website for great writing tools and advice!

Today is a big day in my house. My oldest son is 13 today. I can't believe how fast the time has gone. He's almost my height, and it'll probably be mere months before he surpasses me. He likes to say that once he does, he doesn't have to listen to me anymore. Ha ha! We both know that isn't true.

It's a pivotal time in my home in a lot of ways. In a few days, it'll be one year since we purchased the home we're living in now. Due to various reasons, it felt like we'd be renting forever. Finally being able to own our home gave us a sense of pride. We did it. Our house isn't perfect (it's 114 years old, so it's bound to have its imperfections), but it's solid and spacious enough for our family. I love it.

My other son is about to finish 5th grade. That means he's starting middle school next school year. I have a daughter starting Kindergarten in the fall. And my youngest daughter is starting preschool at the same time. My husband is successful in his career. I've lost 35 pounds and remain committed to my fitness journey.

So many great things. Yet, when it comes to my writing, my confidence is low. One issue is that I have a lot of demands on my time. I need to keep up with exercise and housework. I cook daily. Someone always needs help with their homework. These are all important things, and it's easy to use them as excuses.

One thing I've had to learn is that it's important to take care of myself. It's so easy to put myself on the back burner when so many others need me. My health started to suffer because of that. Now I'm trying to do better. But health isn't just about physical health. It's also about mental health. It's about doing the things for yourself that bring you joy. One of the things that brings me joy is writing, but I haven't devoted enough time to my writing lately. I've decided to carve out time to write and submit a couple of short stories in the next month or two. While I may not have a ton of free time, surely I can make enough time to accomplish this small goal.

Remember to take care of yourselves. What small things bring you joy?



Wednesday, February 16, 2022

WEP February 2022: All You Need is Love

 Hello everyone! Welcome to a new year of Write...Edit...Publish! Since our year of art was such a great success, we decided to seek inspiration from music in 2022. It was quite the challenge to come up with such a small list of musical inspirations, but after much good natured debate, we came up with this list.



First up is the famous All You Need is Love by the Beatles. It seemed like a good choice for February and Valentine's Day.



I decided to try something a little experimental with this piece. Using a song for inspiration made me think of poetry, and when I saw conversation hearts in the candy aisle, I felt inspired. I decided to write a poem in the form of a conversation between friends who have differing perspectives on love. Hopefully the formatting is clear for all of you. I looked at it from multiple devices to make sure this looked good on all of them, but I can't check everything.

I hope you enjoy!

      

Conversation Hearts


       I say                       to you      

    all you need             is love …

It lifts you up when things are dark

    and holds back the cold with

          its warmth and light.

                  Embrace it.

                     Seek it.

       

                               Love is              grand.

                             I won’t deny     that truth.

                         It is also messy and imperfect.

                          It can surely wound you and

                                leave you in pieces.

                                      Take caution.

                                         Take care.


           Love                       endures.

      It inspires              and nourishes.

Poets and artists draw from its beauty

       and power to fuel creation.

              It binds us together.

                  It cherishes and

                      protects.


                         Love              nourishes.

                  It must also        be nourished.

            Love may die if its flame isn't tended.

                 Please, do not test it too harshly.

                      Treat it with tenderness.

                              It won’t come

                                     easy.


          Love is         blind.

     Love is bold    and bright.

  It fulfills us with its splendor.

      It outlasts all adversity.

          It is pure and kind.

                It is eternal.

                   Blissful.


                            Love               sees.

                        It sees and      it accepts.

                 It is not without conditions, but

                      it can mend and grow with

                        care and communication.

                             Love changes over

                                       time.


          Love is                     timeless.

        It survives            beyond death

    and lives on in the hearts of those

       left behind, providing comfort.

             Memory connects us to

                  our loved ones

                          forever.


                      Love                  lives on,

               bringing both        joy and loss.

             Grief may overwhelm, making it

                    hard to bear, and memory

                        may fade if we don’t

                             appreciate its

                                  gravity.

   

            Love is              romance.

       Love is like        a deep breath.

It invigorates and makes us feel alive.

        It flows like water in a river,

              aweeps us away and

                  surrounds us in

                       perfection.


                      Love is               complex.

                  It has good       days and bad.

                  It's often patient and hopeful,

                   but not without fail, and not

                          without compromise.

                              Imperfect people

                                        can’t

                                                  love

                                                          perfectly…


Word Count: 280

FCA


Tagline: The nature of love is hard to define.


Thanks for reading! Be sure to read and leave a comment on all the entries!