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December 22: Flash Fiction Challenge

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december-22Hidden Canyon Trail winds up the sandstone cliffs of Zion National Park, it’s narrow and chiseled path following chain bored into the rock. The chain is not a fence; it’s a hand-hold for those afraid of heights. Some don’t realize their own fear until dizzied by the vertical crags of Zion Canyon and its famous trails to places like Angels Landing, where the rim-rock trail narrows at the top where only angels could land. Yet, you can hike to this zone and walk where angels tread.

My challenge is not heights. I stick to the easy trails and practice moderate endurance. Yet it is December in Zion, and ice challenges any hiker. Unseasonable rain broke the warm weather and water hydrated the sandy soils flashing floods of red clay through any sort of natural drainage. In a land void of rainfall, what water does appear carves the geology into a natural wonder. I come seeking a gift to share, a sight to give, something unusual. First I sought icicles, now I seek running water in a dry land.

Already the Virgin River is less red as I drive to Springdale, the tourist town at the mouth of Zion Canyon. I’m hoping the water is yet flowing. When waterfalls are transient, you need to follow the rain. The height of the storm frenzied in the dark of night, when wind and rain lashed my RV so hard I thought I was at sea. Lightning ripped the heavy clouds with bolts of energy, and water roared in what is usually a placid creek behind our trailer. I couldn’t wait for the morning to to head to Zion and see the waterfalls.

Mud greets me at Cafe Soleil. It’s a small sign of ooze from behind a solid rock wall. Even the tiniest of cracks can’t contain the power of flash floods. What larger signs will I see? I order my peppermint mocha and the barista tells me last night’s storm was of summer monsoon proportions. Not typical of occasional winter rains.

“You should have seen the waterfalls yesterday afternoon,” she says.

“Will they still be running,” I ask.

“No. Some only last minutes.”

Minutes. Ephemeral. Fleeting. Short-lived. I’m the explorer come too late.

Like a rare orchid bloom, I’ve come to the jungle only to stop off and have coffee first. Will I get to see any remains? I prepare for mud and encounter washes of it across the canyon road. During tourist season, you have to take a shuttle up this road. Cars are not allowed when the ranks of tourists are in the thousands daily. Now it’s the regional tourists among a few Australians. I wonder if this is a vacation time for those in the Land Down Under? Many, like me, are surprised at the cold of a winter desert. We shift about in muddied trails, and I shake my head at the incredible crests of water evidenced by debris and red sand streaks. Last night, when none of us could see, this canyon was flooded. This morning, the flood orchid is gone.

One sign gives me hope — a small icicle dripping from an overhang.

Changing plans, I’m once again seeking icicles. I drive to Hidden Canyon Trailhead, crossing a small creek that was a river just last night. I stand at a fork in the trail; both rise steeply. If there is ice, taking the famously steep and narrow trail of solid sandstone doesn’t seem wise. It’s paved and mild at this point, but beyond is likely dangerous. Instead, I choose left to go to the Weeping Rock. I’m not certain if it’s high enough in elevation to form icicles.

The path rises through a tunnel of tree limbs and wild grapevine. Weeping Rock is known for its hanging gardens of golden columbine and crimson monkeyflower where rare Zion snails slither. But not this time of year. Again, I’m that explorer out of sync. I stand at the tunnel and can see the continued rise of the trail. Last week I was disappointed to discover the Emerald Pools were not gem-green in winter. Obviously there will be no flowers ahead, but I step through the twisting tunnel of living sticks and see something.

A waterfall the width of my hand still cascades after the flood receded.

That’s enough encouragement to keep me going. I’ll get to see an ephemeral waterfall after all. It’s not exactly thundering or impressive, but it’s an unusual sight. Along the way I see maiden’s fern green as fresh salad in spring-fed crevices. The springs in this hidden canyon are what makes the Weeping Rock weep. Park naturalists explain that the water storage is from rain collected over the past 1,200 years. Thousand year-old rain mingled with the flush of yesterday. And I’m starting to see the weeps.

I turn the wide corner that enters a natural grotto hidden from view and can’t believe what I’m seeing. That ephemeral waterfall is spraying so much mist that everything below, including Weeping Rock, is slick wet. And the elevation and colder temperatures after the storm have trapped the landscape in ice. Not only have I found icicles, I’ve discovered a rarely seen winter wonderland in the middle of a desert canyon. It’s so unlikely I expect Frosty the Snowman to greet me. And it’s so icy, I’m not sure I should step any further.

Had I died on that trail the saddest part would be no one would understand why. Why be so foolish to climb up ice to an icy grotto, to get wet and frozen by spray? Because that spray is ephemeral. Because I would not see the likes of this ice again. And because, like in the Gift of the Magi, I haven’t enough money to give you all a Christmas gift, but I love my ranchers dearly enough to cut off my long hair. My photos are my gift to all of you who gather here. Risking the ice was my sacrifice. I’m cheered to say I lived to tell you this. I’m overjoyed to gift you shots hardly seen in this wondrous part of the world.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Serendipity is the ultimate gift of seekers. I hope each one of you continues to seek and find the unexpected on your writing journeys. The paths often fork and always seem steep. You just have to keep stepping out, risk being vulnerable, learn as you go from both masters and your own observations, and explore what could be. Share what you find. Write.

If I had not stepped beyond that tunnel, I would have missed the Zion Winter Wonderland. So this week, we are going to explore what it is to step beyond a hidden point.

December 22, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that steps beyond. It can be a door, a tunnel, a worm hole in space. You can create an explicit for what “beyond” is or you can simply use the word. Follow the prompt where it takes you, beyond what you think you know is there.

And Merry Christmas, Peace on Earth, and Goodwill to All Living Creatures!

Respond by December 27, 2016 to be included in the compilation (published December 28). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

***

My flash will be up soon! Believe it or not, it has started to pour rain and it’s a few hours before dark and I’m going to see if I can spot any flash floods (from a safe and secure distance).

UPDATE: Back with my flash and a fabulous sighting to share! First, I wanted to explain that I don’t write my flash until after I confirm the prompt. The prompt begins with a photo from my collection. Sometimes I have a general idea, and other times the photo gives me one. My prompt post is my own challenge to connect ideas that I have to what is going on in the bigger world or my smaller corner to the picture and the original idea I had for a prompt. Much can change in the writing, so I write my flash after I finish my post.

I’m working on two WIPs. It’s not a situation I intended, but I hadn’t been able to sell my Miracle of Ducks manuscript. I had already committed to finishing my Rock Creek revision when I lost my home and office. It gave me the push to make revisions to MOD which I thought could improve it and reset the story in a western state. In other words, I took my own life upheaval as permission to disrupt my novel writing process. I don’t recommend it. But what I learn in revising one manuscript, I can apply to the other. And I clearly understand the truth that we evolve as writers from one novel to the next. Messing with the sequence is messy.

Writing my WIPs as flash fiction has been helpful. For instance, in MOD, I have to rewrite scenes that were set in one place for the new location. It’s not as easy as replacing town names or Lake Superior for the Rocky Mountains. The flash I’m sharing tonight is one of the key setting chapters that I’ve not been sure how to approach. When I pulled a scene out and distilled it to 99 words and to fit the prompt, I found a way into how to make more changes. Who would have thought flash fiction could be that kind of a revisionist tool? I didn’t and I’m the one hosting the challenge! The more I write my WIPs as flash, the more insights I gain. Plus, it gives me a chance to gauge feedback. And I’m not committing lengthy rewrites, just short ones to help me find the direction I’m seeking.

And back to seeking. I took off in a flash to catch flash flooding. Zion Canyon was shrouded in misting rain, the canyon walls dark and red with wetness, but no flooding. We ventured near enough to Weeping Rock to see that the intermittent waterfall that had iced everything was now gone. It truly was a brief sight. Even the ice was gone, although I didn’t go all the way up to the grotto. At the entrance to the Narrows, I walked along the Virgin River. That’s when an angel dropped down from heaven and flapped silently past me. I burst into tears at the sight!

If you ever read my blog Elmira Pond Spotter, you might recognize my feathered obsession with Blue Heron: he was part of my Paradise, my Private Dancer, and always entertaining me with Burlesque on hot days. I romanticized him as a poet, a knight, an angel. With the holidays coming, my heart has been heavy as lead. I miss my home. I miss the pond. I miss the way my life used to be. It’s part of what drives me to nature, an act of healing, of finding new inspiration. And as I stood there, Blue Heron flew past like he’d decided to join me on my displaced journey. So yes. I cried. Right there on the river. Then I wiped the tears, smiled and chased that bird a quarter of a mile up the river! Seeing Blue Heron on Red Rock is my Christmas miracle. At the very least it’s the serendipity of seeking. And finding.

blue-heron-in-zion

Beyond Rock Creek (from Rock Creek) by Charli Mills

Denver. Many who rode the stages were headed to Denver or back from the mining camps. Denver illuminated Sarah’s hope, a growing city by western standards. Respectable but not exclusive to those who were different. A woman could be an accountant there, run her own business. Nancy Jane always thought so. Sarah dreamed it could be so. Cobb had mocked her. Now she had the money he had owed her and none of the ties. Beyond Rock Creek was Denver.

If she’d known life awaited her with bitter disappointment Sarah would have stayed on the prairie and died young.

###

Getting Beyond the Past (from Miracle of Ducks) by Charli Mills

“Ever study the old missionary graves?” asked Michael.

“No. I respect your elders who closed the burial ground,” said Danni.

“Why do you like cemeteries anyhow?” Michael stood by the gate, talking to Danni as she noted names on headstones.

“It’s a way to read history. I’ll show you. Come in.”

“Hmm, no thanks.”

“We’re not far from Tom’s. Want a drink for old time’s sake?”

“Old time’s sake? Like back when we hated each other?”

“I never hated you, Michael.”

“Oh.”

“You hated me?”

“We both love Ike. That’s what matters.”

“Time to get beyond the past, then.”

###

 


56 Comments

  1. […] December 22, 2016 prompt can be found at the Carrot Ranch: “In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that steps beyond. It can be a door, a […]

    Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      I just hope you haven’t traveled that far from oohm to almost home! I enjoyed that play on words, by the way.

      Liked by 3 people

      • floridaborne says:

        Very perceptive. 🙂

        I listened to meditation cassette tapes in the 1990’s. There was one in particular that took me to a place of one consciousness. No bells, whistles, lights, music. Peace, the knowledge that nothing could ever truly hurt me, and access to anything I wanted to know (most of which the human brain can’t process, so we forget)…it was, for lack of a better word, “home.”

        I only managed to get there twice, but that kind of memory is hard to forget. When people try to tell me where I’m going to go when I die, I tell them where I’ve been…and I’m going back home when my body dies. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        To have a spiritual experience like that can be grounding, knowing there is a greater peace, a home beyond. Thank you for sharing!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Michael says:

    Hi Charli, a Merry Christmas to you and best wishes for 2017.
    My 99 words: https://summerstommy.com/2016/12/23/december-22-flash-fiction-challenge-trying/

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Merry Christmas from me, too!

    Disrupted Dreams

    A story written in 99 words by Kerry E.B. Black

    The phone rang at 3:45AM as it did every night since Lawrence’s death. I knew the pointlessness of answering. My sleepy inquiries met silence, eerie, unresolved silence.

    Together we dreamed of beginning a life together. After exploring the world, we’d build a house in suburbia and start a family. Lawrence’s inventions would garner acclaim, while my photography would wow.
    I’d done nothing artistic since his death. No travel. No house or family, my only connection with such dreams interrupted by mysterious calls in the wee hours, perhaps a plea from beyond to recapture zeal buried within Lawrence’s coffin.

    https://kerrylizblack.wordpress.com/2016/12/23/disrupted-dreams/

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Sherri says:

    Oh Charli, such a beautiful post and so much I want to say, yet all I can say is thank you so much for this most generous gift; the gift of your stunning photographs, of the sharing of your heart when your Angel/Knight from heaven flew by you to cheer your heart and say ‘I’m still here, I’m with you and I haven’t forgotten you…’ And oh, the gift of knowing you are safe and sound and didn’t slip on that ice! But what an incredible vision, those icicles in an icy hanging garden, an ephemeral waterfall. Such an incredible and unique sight to behold, as if it waited for you before weeping, not for sad reasons, but to share with you a priceless gift. And your Rock Creek flash brings Sarah’s pain and longing close to home, and I love the development of Danni’s and Michael’s relationship. I won’t be able to return with a flash until after the new year, but I wish you Charli and all here at the Ranch a very Merry Christmas from jolly olde England, and a Happy New Year. Keep safe all…and Charli, I know your heart is heavy at this time, with all you are missing, and I wish I could do more to lift that, but I know I’m not the only one who assures you we will keep riding by your side, through desert, and prairie, by lake and by sea…and yes, through ice and flash floods. Even on Mars! ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Thank you, Sherri and for all your beautiful and kind words. It’s gotten muddy and icy at times on the journey, but oh, the sights — the places you will go, the things you will see! I think Dr. Seuss said it similar! These sparks to explore the natural world are the same that drive me to write. You understand! I love the connection to jolly olde England and appreciate all the gift sharing we do at Carrot Ranch. We’ll see what turns up on Mars next. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! I’ll see you next year when you come riding in with your flash! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

      • Sherri says:

        Hi Charli! Ahh…Dr Seuss knew just the right words! I think I liked my own comment above by accident, ha! Just popping in to catch up since I signed off on the 23rd, seems ages ago now! Since then, we’ve had Christmas and here we are, it’s 2017! Time to catch our breath and get ready for the next part of the journey…and I will be riding in as soon as I can…just need to update my riding gear 😉 Happy New Year to you too, and to all the Rough Writers and friends! See you soon! ❤

        Like

  5. Lovely photo slideshow Charli.
    Wishing you a lovely Christmas and happy New Year. Here is my entry this week.
    https://pensitivity101.wordpress.com/2016/12/23/december-22-flash-fiction-challenge/

    Liked by 3 people

  6. […] week’s prompt, courtesy of Carrot Ranch: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that steps beyond. It can be a door, a tunnel, a […]

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely pictures and lovely writing, Charli. Merry Christmas!
    Here’s my contribution this week. 🙂
    https://allisonmaruska.com/2016/12/23/flash-fiction-the-summit/

    Liked by 3 people

  8. denmaniacs4 says:

    The best of the season to you and yours and ranchers galore, Charli. As is my custom, the title is extra to the 99 word requirement. I love titles; can’t do without them.

    Holy Moly

    It’s there, waiting to be open. There is no light squeaking through from the other side. If there is, I am blind to it. Such a simple gesture, the turning of the handle, the will to take the next step, to pull the door towards me and step on through.

    “Are you going to take all day, Sweetie?”

    She is all sweetness and light, this one.

    Bags are packed. Car is at the ready. Ferry reservations confirmed.

    “Get a move on, big fella,” she insists, and offers a gentle shove.

    Save me, I think.

    Christmas with her relatives!

    Ouch!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Although I’ve never specified, I see the titles as bonus because they can say what you didn’t in the story. Writing titles is an art of its own. Your title here is a clever extension of what your narrator is thinking. I also like the use of sweetness and light to reinforce this is the path, no turning back from the pain! Made me laugh — I could picture the narrator as a spouse, child or family pet! Merry Christmas, Bill!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Beautiful! I’ve seen at least part of this trail in summer, years ago. You’ve made me want to return in the off-season!

    Happiest of Holidays to you, Charli!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      Off-season is a wonderful time because most of the businesses in Springdale stay open, and the trails are not crowded. Weather can be countered with the right clothes and gear. Thank you! Happy Holidays to you, Liz!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. My offering. Another character exploration:

    Within the Waterfall

    He looked away from the waterfall, and rubbed his hands over his face. “I’m not ready. I don’t understand.”

    The water tumbled and flashed, as if laughing at him.

    Glancing from the corner of his eye, he spied fiddles and fairies behind the splash. Was his missing heritage just beyond this veil?

    Reaching a hand into the flow, he felt it wrap around his fingers, gently pull. His heartbeat shifted, matching the scratch of gypsy fiddle, the steady pound bodhran beat.

    Yet the music was not quite right.

    “Not this place, nor this time,” he drew back and away.

    https://huldermn.wordpress.com/2016/12/25/within-the-waterfall/

    Liked by 3 people

  11. […] December 22: Flash Fiction Challenge December 22, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that steps beyond. It can be a door, a tunnel, a worm hole in space. You can create an explicit for what “beyond” is or you can simply use the word. Follow the prompt where it takes you, beyond what you think you know is there. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  12. julespaige says:

    Charli,

    As a dreamer sometimes I think it is best to not know all the answers. As with any relationship…if we only knew…would we even make ‘eye’ contact.

    Anyway…here’s my BoTS that happened several years ago. Your prompt is a good place to give it another life.

    Bridging the Gap?

    Bridging the Gap?

    Perhaps at one time the covered bridge was a tunnel
    to somewhere important. Now it existed as a back road
    way to get from the mall to the apartments on either
    side of busy highway. Now if you didn’t know it was
    there You’d flat out miss it.

    I’m not sure if the tourists stumbled upon the bridge.
    I don’t think they took their car through it. I know they
    weren’t locals. I offered through pointing and smiles
    to take their photo by the old Amish Bridge. And
    they accepted.

    They stepped back through time hearing horse
    hoofs echo…

    ©JP/dh

    Happy Season of Lights and Peace to all.
    May the New Year bring us the opportunities we seek.
    Cheers, Jules

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Norah says:

    Not chasing rainbows – chasing icicles and waterfalls. Both of these, I think, contribute their own rainbows. Your angel, your blue heron is the pot of gold at the end. I felt the magic of the sighting with you. I too am grateful that you lived to share your photos (but not just for the photos!). They are beautiful. I love the lacework of the icicles on the chain handholds, and the waterfall mist. Your description places me right there beside you, feeling the chill. Deserts can be cold in winter, and even on summer nights. I’m pleased your RV withstood the fury of the storm. I’m sorry that your heart has been heavy, but it’s understandable too. To have been ripped apart from the place where your heart resides, with much still unresolved. Perhaps Blue Heron brings news of better things to come. I certainly hope so. You deserve it.
    Poor Sarah. I feel so sad that her hopes lead only to disappointment. Perhaps it might be better to die young and happy than old and bitter. Perhaps we don’t choose the hour, but we choose the attitude. I’m not saying that’s easy though.
    I’m pleased to see that Danni and Michael are making amends and allowing their love for Ike to help them move beyond their differences.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Charli Mills says:

      When it’s cold enough (usually up north), the air can freeze particles and cast rainbows in the cloudless sky called sun dogs. I’ve seen rainbows in ice like cut crystal, but this ice was white and without color, almost glowing with the darker sandstone as contrast. It was a fleeting sight and something to behold. Worth the possibility of slipping, though I stepped carefully through the ice. Ah, I hope Blue Heron is a harbinger of good news, though you are right about the importance of attitude.

      Which makes me think of Sarah. It must have been frustrating to rely on others to experience some of one’s own dream. Without her father, Sarah was ostracized in North Carolina and no longer allowed to work in his business. Without Cobb in Rock Creek, she was paid for her accounting and on her own. In Denver she married, leading me to think she needed a husband to find respectable work. In one of my census records on Sarah Shull, her husband is listed as an accountant by occupation, yet by all other known documents the man was a musician and piano teacher. Did Sarah have to list her husband as the accountant to get the work she then accomplished and let him take credit for? I’ve always wondered about that.

      Danni and Michael make a truce and at the center of their relationship is Ike. I took that idea on early in writing MOD because it seems like stories about spouses cheating on their soldiers while away are loudly broadcasted, at least in the US. Yet, I know so many alternative stories of loyalty, and I really wanted to show spouses left behind during deployment in that light, they sacrifice, too. I also wanted to show the “brother” relationship these soldiers develop with each other.

      Thanks for your comments, Norah!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Norah says:

        I hadn’t before heard of sun dogs. They sound beautiful. I expected there to be rainbows as I’ve previously seen. The ice is incredibly beautiful in its whiteness.
        That’s a really interesting question you raise about Sarah and her accounting practice. What injustice she must have felt if your suggestion was correct. She sounds like a strong woman, as you paint her.
        I like that you are showing the loyalty and sacrifice of those left behind when deployment occurs. It is a great story of Danni and Michael, and the bond forged by their mutual love.
        I’m looking forward to reading the complete record of their journey, and miracle.
        Here is my response to your prompt: Beyond surface features http://wp.me/p3O5Jj-Qs Thanks for the challenge. Happy New Year!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        It has to get horrifically cold to see a sun dog! I hope you never see one Down Under! Now you see where I’m tapping into fiction regarding Sarah Shull — I have no way of knowing if she felt that way and I may be applying my own era to her circumstances. But I think it’s plausible, and it certainly shows the struggles pioneer women had. I love the perspective you take in your post regarding teachers taking students to what lies beyond, and your flash for showing how teachers can see beyond a messy surface to the potential beneath.

        Like

  14. Awesome. I take to thee adventure without leaving my couch. And your pictures are huge. What i wouldn’t give to explore; every day there is a part in me that has to be held in place; to not just take off; to stop at the work sites instead exploring the dreamed-upon other worlds or planets; yet places like this -makes me realize it is enough right here; that it is right out there, waiting. . . . Oh temptation to burn this place for a reason to have nothing holding me back.

    But turning my pieces to 99 word paragraphs now. The condensing and restriction truly appreciates the focus; a quite effective writing tool.

    Working Beyond the Grounds by Elliott Lyngreen

    My shoes ruined -thee instant I stepped into March mush; but distortions alternating static, ears still ripped in frisson rifts; warmed scents worming nostrils; flowing purls, finite crevices creating themselves as they vanished.

    Approached the work area. Salamanders poured, kerosene lingered from the remaining garage portions.

    Tilted, trying to dig beyond lasting frozen ground, the excavator clunk. Steel, motor jaggedly hurtled rears.

    Yelled, “should have saved the jack-hammer for this ground too!!” so loud Garry only knows I said something; unplugs one ear and shifts echoes relieved. “Heh?!” -“said, we should have saved the jack-hammer.”–“Right?!”

    Liked by 3 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      I think we humans waver between seeking adventure and a sense of home; two things that are at odds. We each have our own sense of what it is to find both in a balance that is tolerable. One creates excitement; the other security. Perhaps this tug and pull is the essence of living. Writers, artists, musicians can explore both through their mediums. And I’m pleased you explore through the constraint of creating flash fiction. Your flash, though focused on a construction site, also reminds me of spring thaw anywhere anyone works outdoors. It’s a transition time between mush and frozen ground. An interesting beyond to explore. In Montana, it’s called “breakup” and is the season between winter and spring when even cowboys and logger want jackhammers!

      Liked by 2 people

      • It is my favorite time of year and is just beyond the corner now. The thaw always invites such inspiration and energy. Im sure i am not the only one. Ahhh the seasons shall soon be colliding and yes breaking up this one.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Charli Mills says:

        It’s a season with strong energy, that’s for sure! And sometimes, I’ve come through winters that feel they need a jackhammer to conclude and get on with life again.

        Like

  15. Annecdotist says:

    Enjoyed reading about your adventures, Charli, although pretty scary following ice! Love your frosty pictures, too. And then the heron, what a lovely Christmas present indeed.

    It would be good to have a longer dialogue about working on two novels at the same time. It’s not the kind of thing you’d get into intentionally, but it’s what I ended up doing for my first two novels (not actually working on them simultaneously but a few months of work and then back to the other) and – early days yet – that might be what I’ll do with the next two. Certainly it’s been illuminating going back to Closure after writing the first draft of a different novel over the previous three months. And I’m always impressed by how you manage to produce a relevant flash for each one of them every week.

    I’m not sure what mine is this week, other than a play around with iambic pentameters, so not my usual. I had to give it an extra long title to get it up to the word count! And I’ve got a few photos from my Christmas walk that you might find interesting from a historical point of view.

    http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/1/post/2016/12/beyond-the-sum-of-their-parts.html

    Liked by 2 people

    • Charli Mills says:

      I’m not sure there will ever be a clear path to Here’s How to Write a Novel. We might start down the paths of others, veer off-course, and ultimately find our way. I agree, I don’t think most ever start out working on two novels intentionally. It does call for more dialog, this process. In college, I was trained to be more of a plotter. Outline the novel, write a bit, plot more, write more, plot. It’s plodding to me and a clunky effort on my part because I’m a natural pantser. I have so much more to say about all this because I later learned it’s easier (for me) to plot after I’ve pantsed. But then revision got murky. That’s the real work and writing these weekly flash fictions breaks my focus in a good way by giving me a different problem to solve (the prompt and constraint). I don’t know that this process can ever be accurately taught because its not like changing the oil in a car engine. Too many personal variations to the process and art (creativity) is not readily defined between artists. Yet the expectation is to arrive at a finished product. I’d be interested to hear your reflection upon what insights you’ve gained so far through your process!

      And I loved your walk across the moors, and your photos. It must be one of those landscapes that quickens the heart when you see it. The history underfoot is amazing to me. Here in the US, anything older than 500 years is indigenous. I feel like my personal ancient history is closer to your feet than mine!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Annecdotist says:

        I think it’s really helpful even for pantsers to know HOW to plot, but the emphasis on plotting in the creative writing industry does annoy me – that gets taught because it can be taught, but so many writers have to find their own route through, and there’s not always the kind of support that holds us while we do that.
        I’ve enjoyed working on two novels at different stages, because when one gets tough it’s easy to find joy in the process of the other. I’m not sure I’d managed to add similar stage. One difficulty I’ve encountered is finding a choice word that would be noticed if it was used to often and having to check whether it cropped up previously in THIS novel or the other one.
        There’s a lot of history in our moorland landscapes, which unfortunately I don’t take in as much as I ought to, but I’m learning bit by bit.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charli Mills says:

        Exactly! Plotting, truly all mechanics of craft, are taught because they can be. It’s those nebulous areas of craft that are harder to teach and support. Thank you for sharing what it’s been like to work on two WIPs at once. Ah! The moors seem to me to have so much history that it would seep up through one’s boots!

        Like

  16. […] for The Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Challenge. Requirements: December 22, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that steps […]

    Liked by 1 person

  17. rogershipp says:

    “It Is Time, Yossef”

    She haltingly reached to grasp my hand. Her hand was cold. Her grasp was gentle. But the look in her eyes was bold and unwavering.

    “It is time.”

    “Time?” I mimicked back. I knew what she meant.

    Grandmama was a fighter. She had held on. Unbelievably, in the last three months, she had witnessed her youngest granddaughter graduate university, had been blessed with one more Christmas, and had attended her favorite grandson’s wedding.

    I smiled at the thought… I was her only grandson.

    “Yossef, you promised.” Grandmama’s eyes did not leave mine.

    “I promise,” I replied. It was time.

    https://rogershipp.wordpress.com/2016/12/26/it-is-time-yossef/

    Liked by 4 people

  18. […] This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills has challenged writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that steps beyond. […]

    Liked by 2 people

  19. A. E. Robson says:

    Beyond
    by Ann Edall-Robson

    Beyond. Where the grey matter travels. A setting. A situation. Nowhere. Reluctant to share. Hiding what’s explosive and mind boggling. The journey traverses the escarpment of the imaginary. Sliding nonchalantly through a dimension of jumbled thoughts looking for facts. Solidify. Scrutinize. Throwing away the mindless crap simmering below the surface. Teetering on the edge of lies and truth. Lacking the gumption to make it happen. Pushed to the precipice. Daring to jump with reckless abandonment. First a single line forms. Soon joined by others. A flourish of impulsive thoughts. A plethora of words. Ink. Paper. A story is born.

    http://www.annedallrobson.com/99-words/beyond

    Liked by 2 people

  20. […] also going to have a twice-a-month writing challenge, with some concepts I am stealing from Carrot Ranch,  where they host a 99 word writing challenge and then post everybody’s contributions in one […]

    Like

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