There are a limited number of plots (some say seven, some say twelve, some say thirty). There is no limit to the number of stories. Everybody in the world has their story; every meeting of one person with another may begin a story. Somebody asked Willie Nelson where he got his songs, and he said, “The air’s full of melodies, you just reach out.” The world’s full of stories, you just reach out.
– Ursula K. Le Guin, Steering the Craft
Camp NaNoWriMo starts today!
For this camp, I’m going to do another flash fiction challenge like the one I did during Inktober. It was a good way for me to play with ideas on a small scale, identify recurrent structural issues I have, and practice a little flexible creativity.
If you want to participate alongside me, here are the details.
- Write a piece of flash fiction daily for the month of April — 30 first drafts for 30 days.
- Each flash fiction piece should be <=1000 words long and must contain an arc/plot/conflict (vignettes and slice-of-life stories don’t count).
- If you need help deciding what to write, here are a few sources:
- Try to go two to three layers down from where your brain first goes with the prompt.
- Share the piece: to your blog, to a kind friend, to an internet rando. Let someone know about the work you’re doing!
Getting my recap post up early this week since the weekend is going to be pretty busy.
I’m realizing that I need to figure out a more organized plan for the pieces I have revised, that need to go out to beta readers, and that need polishing. Plus a way to organize things when I start submitting.
Trying to figure out the markets is an intimidating prospect, but it’s also fun since a lot of my research is reading short stories to see if my work might fit in a potential market.
Did I do it backwards? Should I have done more market research first and then written towards a market? There’s so much conflicting advice…
In other news, Camp NaNo is about to start. I’m planning to do another flash fiction challenge month. Forthcoming post on that next week!
It is your job, usually through revision, to make the improbable credible and convincing. And from being credible and convincing, you must go on to make it inevitable.
– Stephen Koch, The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop
Finished a short story this week. Finished revisions on a couple more pieces of flash. I’m starting to get antsy about the fact that next up is putting stuff out into the world for other people to read. A necessary step, obviously, but one that is making me have feelings.
Also, there are a few things coming up in the next few weeks that I’m excited/nervous about. Next weekend, I’m doing Mary Robinette Kowal’s Short Story Intensive, and I’m pumped for that. Then, April is Camp NaNoWriMo, and my plan is to do another flash fiction month. Mid-April, there is a flash fiction submission deadline that I need to hit.
The reason we read stories is ultimately a selfish one. On the surface, we want to be entertained or enlightened, but deeper down, we’re looking for a mirror. We want to see our stories reflected back at us. Changed, maybe. Tweaked in some way, or reflected in reverse. Possibly we’re looking for a larger mirror–one to reflect not just our individual stories, but the story of who we are collectively, the story of where we are in place and time, a story to make sense of things.
– Chuck Wendig, Damn Fine Story
This is a little short and not as self-reflective because I have to get ready to drive Adam to the airport for GDC, but I wanted to get this post up before that.
The allergy shots are causing horrific looking bruises at the injection site, which I haven’t experienced before. So that’s interesting… It has nothing to do with writing, but still.
Started a new short story this past week which I’m feeling pretty good about. It needs a round of editing and then I’ll ask for some second opinions. Finished revising a couple of flash pieces. Caught up on Writing Excuses.
All in all, a pretty good week.
I’ve had a craving for Korean food ever since the March issue of Bon Appetit showed up on my doorstep.
So over the weekend, Adam and I rounded up the ingredients to make kimchi jjigae, a stew made with Korean red chili flakes (gochugaru) and red pepper paste (gochujang), and most importantly, kimchi. From what I understand, the make-up of this stew is flexible outside of the kimchi (it’s in the name after all).
I used the recipe by Sohui Kim from Bon Appetit as a base, and added a few more vegetables. The chili pepper flakes and paste aren’t overtly spicy, despite the glorious orange-red color of the stew. I also found that the kimchi I used was salty enough that I didn’t need any additional salt.
You can follow the link to get all the details. Here are the changes I made:
- Increased all the amounts so that I would have lots of tasty leftovers
- Added diced daikon and some baby bok choy
- Added baby bella mushrooms — next time, I would use shitake, which would hold its own a little more readily against the strong flavors in the stew, but I forgot to buy some
- Used bacon, but I would use a thicker cut of pork belly or some pork shoulder in the future
The result was a bowl of warming, funky deliciousness that was perfect for a rainy weekend. And a cloudy Monday. And a chilly Tuesday. And… well, you get it.
*Adam and I are finally watching the Good Place.
Last night, Adam and I went to go see Captain Marvel. About thirty minutes from the end of the movie, the screen went black, the lights came on, and the emergency alert sounded. The fire alarm lights flickered and a pre-recorded robotic announcement told us to exit the theater in an orderly fashion.
And because I live in the United States, where we refuse to do anything about rampant gun violence despite everything, I didn’t try to look for or smell smoke. I didn’t try to remind myself what to do in case of fire. No.
I immediately thought, Oh fuck. What if this is an active shooter situation?
I looked around at the nearly evacuated theater and then around at the people crowded with me at the front exits, and I thought about how easy it would be for someone to come in up top and kill us.
I’ve been in places before when the fire alarm goes off or some other alert sounds. Usually, the people in the crowd joke with each other or roll their eyes or are exasperated at the inconvenience. Usually, people look around and wonder if it’s a mistake or a drill. Last night, we all got up pretty quickly after the alarm went off. As we were all leaving the theater, everyone was hushed. There was a quiet urgency as we all tried to leave, nearly pushing but not quite.
Once we were all outside in the cold night air, the tension broke a little. There was nervous laughter scattered across the parking lot, pockets of anger here and there. And all I could think about was how very fucked up it is that “active shooter” is the first place my brain went. And how fucked up it is that that’s now a normalized response.
What the fuck.
Stories are where we find ourselves, where we find the others who are like us. Gather enough stories and soon you’re not alone; you are an army.
– Sam J. Miller, Blackfish City