September 7: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

September 8, 2017

Collected beach rocks spray across the dining room table. The most promising specimens I submerge in a bowl of water to illuminate agate banding or pink pools of prehnite.  My rock-hounding days are numbered because Lady Lake Superior grows cold. Instead of an evening of exercise beneath a lingering summer sunset, I take a mad dash mid-day to the beach when I can. My last trip I hitched a ride and combed the beach rocks until my daughter and her husband fetched me.

I don’t really have time to hunt agates; I’m far too busy.

Busy is an affliction. I’d say it’s modern, yet I suspect it’s as old as any form of distraction. When we think of a busy person we think of the executive or young parent. We could say both have important duties. One chases after meetings and deals; the other after toddlers and laundry. We could also say one is a workaholic. Perhaps both. What is the difference? When business becomes a form of mindlessness, it’s a distraction.

“Look busy,” is a phrase I’ve heard often from childhood on up. It’s hard for a day-dreamer to engage in mind wandering when you’re supposed to look busy. I struggle with tasks I call busy-work. When I didn’t look busy at home as a child, often I was given a broom and told if I had nothing better to do I could go sweep. I learned to daydream while doing chores. To this day, if I have a problem to solve in my mind, I clean. When I was in college, I discovered if I rewrote my notes after class and then dusted, mopped or did dishes, I wouldn’t have to cram for tests.

I had the cleanest house ever when I graduated college.

Some people believe the image, though; they believe they are supposed to “look busy.” They don’t problem solve or engage in mind-work at all. Instead they become human flurries of activity. These people, I’ve noticed, are praised for “keeping busy.” It’s an ingrained message and I’m not saying I missed it –it’s just that I developed a way to think while busy. My busy tends to come from the mind rather than activity.

The other day my SIL caught me staring out the porch window. He smiled, catching me un-busy, staring beyond the glass pane. He even glanced to see what I was looking at and upon seeing nothing of interest to warrant such staring he found my behavior amusing. I spared him a moment’s glance and explained, “I’m writing.” He laughed and walked off. Seriously, I was writing. I’ve had a huge breakthrough in my WIP, Miracle of Ducks, and the story was flowing so fast I had to watch it unfold, like an observer.

Stephen King is another writer who stares out windows. In an essay, he writes:

“Sitting down at the typewriter or picking up a pencil is a physical act; the spiritual analogue is looking out of an almost forgotten window, a window which offers a common view from an entirely different angle . . . an angle which renders the common extraordinary. The writer’s job is to gaze through that window and report on what he sees.”

Writers gaze out different windows. Sometimes the view is a different perspective as Stephen writes, and sometimes it’s to see with the inner eye. Of course, being the master of fantasy and thriller, Stephen’s mind wanders to the curious idea of the window breaking. In other words, he posed the question, “…what happens to the wide-eyed observer when the window between reality and unreality breaks and the glass begins to fly?” If you want to know his answer, read his novella, Four Past Midnight.

Stephen understands the busy writer — reality might be typing, staring or scrubbing dinner plates, but unreality is a rich inner world of exploration and discovery. It’s endless with archives of stories, some greater gems than others. When a writer gets busy that mental space thunders like Superior waves, scraping story over story until the writer spots the agates tumbled in the mind. Is it a danger or a joy to become so busy?

I think that’s a valid question for any of us. Does the busyness serve a purpose? Does it provide joy or distraction?

Traveling to VA appointments recently, we stopped at Keweenaw Bay, a small roadside resort on Lake Superior. No matter where we travel in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we are surrounded by this grand shoreline. Keweenaw Bay is on the northeast side of the Great Lake, and directly south of Copper Harbor. The VA hospital in Iron Mountain is considered one of the most rural VAs in the nation and yet we live two more hours north in even more remote terrain. If wilderness seems a pattern in my life, I won’t deny it.

So here we are near the ends of our nation and a cartoon at the roadside cafe shows a waitress refusing to take a table’s order until they all turn off their cell phones. The line drawing shows no one looking at the menu and everyone instead staring at their screens. It occurred to me that cell phones fulfill a need to be distracted by busyness. How does that differ from escaping into a good book? It seems a book engages the mind, creates meaningful busyness, whereas screen time does not require the mind to actively think.

A hallmark of anxiety is that too many choices make us unhappy. Thus most people will choose to be mindlessly busy because it doesn’t require making choices, or thinking about choices. It makes me wonder if writers are some bizarre creatures who thrive on possibility. Or maybe some writers simply like making the choices for their characters’ lives. I can say my mind winds up and whirs before it settles into the resolution. For me, I think I see what can be and get excited when I find a path that appears to go there. That’s true for me in life and fiction. It’s the a-ha moment.

When I say I’m busy, I don’t mean I have lots of tasks, though actually I do. The busyness right now is the solar flare of my brain excited for the scenes I’m writing, the launch of our first Flash Fiction Rodeo at Carrot Ranch, the open call for new Rough Writers and the upcoming release of the current Rough Writer’s first anthology. Without the worry of homelessness thanks to our daughter and her husband, and with the Hub in a better VA system I’ve let go of much worry and stress.

So pardon my distraction, but I have rocks scattered across my brain and I’m sifting through them all. I feel more than relieved; I feel released. I’ll corner this energy and direct it better, but it feels good to have it back. It feels good to be making breakthroughs and seeing that paths are aligning. It’s a good busy.

If you missed last week’s announcement, I have an open call for The Congress of Rough Writers. This is a literary community for all writers. Everyone is welcome to come and go, to get what they want or need from participation. That participation includes writing, reading and joining discussions. If you want to go a step further and take part in events or anthologies, that’s the work of Rough Writers. It doesn’t mean you get roped in. Even as a Rough Writer, how you participate is up to you. It’s about willingness. If you are willing, shoot me an email:

And stay tuned for upcoming announcements about the Flash Fiction Rodeo. It’s more than a contest — it’s eight different contests! The weekly flash fiction challenges will go on break during October. Between Oct. 5-31, a new contest launches every Tuesday and Thursday. Each one has a $25 purse and there are no entry fees. Winners will be announced consecutively during the pre-sale and launch of The Congress of Rough Writers Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 every Tuesday in November and December. That gives our event leaders and their co-judges time to decide and collect the Best in Show for each category. And it invites the greater community to participate.

September 7, 2017 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about a busy character. It could be a busy beaver, gnawing birch trees endlessly or an executive on the go. Go where the prompt leads.

Respond by September 12, 2017 to be included in the compilation (published September 13). Rules are here. All writers are welcome!


Monastery Jam by Charli Mills

Thimbleberries scattered across the floor. “Brother Mark! How careless..!”

Mark shuffled to fetch … a broom? Dust bin or bowl? A rag? He stood like the garden statue of St. Francis. His mind calculated each solution rapidly.

“…just standing there. Look at this mess. And leaves me to clean it. Never busy, that Brother Mark. Idle hands, you know…”

Mark blushed to hear the complaints. Father Jorge’s large brown hand rested on Mark’s shoulder. “Let’s walk the beach.”

Waves calmed Mark’s thinking. “I didn’t know if it was salvageable.”

“Brother Mark, your mind needn’t make jam of every situation.”


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    • Liz Husebye Hartmann

      “Her head down bum up attitude”
      That says it all!

      • Michael

        Some people are like that Liz. Have a good weekend.

  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Nice flash “fiction”, Brother Charli. I wonder where you got the idea of the walk among the waves… Good on Father Jorge. I try to pause in the classroom and remember that busyness and and productivity do look different for different learners.
    How nice to read that you are feeling less jammed up. This is good.
    If I wasn’t so busy I’d google “thimble berries”. (I want to trust you, but haven’t forgotten the buffalo berry farce)

    I am going to try to keep that prompt out of my head and limit myself to this one.

    PS, did you know that beavers are pretty mellow and relaxed in the summer, even going on walkabouts; explorations and vacations? So says Enos Mills, author of In Beaver World.

    Gone East

    “Shorty, is it true?”
    “Yep. Gonna be quieter ‘round here. The Kid headed back East after all.”
    “What? The Kid seemed happy here.”
    “The Kid was happy here. Believe you me, the Kid didn’t wanna go. Even mentioned not wantin’ to leave you.”
    “Aw, shucks. So why’n tarnation? Saddle sore? Too much wranglin’?”
    “Naw, the Kid was willin’ ta ride the range all day, you know that.”
    “Was it the food, Shorty?”
    “Heck no. The Kid thrives on what’s dished out here. Did say somethin’ ‘bout bein’ busy, havin’ ta bring home the bacon.”
    “Oh. That takes time.”

    • Charli Mills

      My flash snuck up on me. I went to ponder a miner and a monk showed up. Ah, yes, I cheated on buffalo berries. Thimble berries are real and local to the UP. Squat like a thick bottle cap, otherwise they resemble raspberries. Tarter. Thetr you go, heading east, and yet giving me nuggets — beavers on a walkabout! Make it good bacon, meaningful. Productivity is better than busyness. I’m thinking there are students back east who are lucky to learn the difference.

    • Norah

      Oh no, the Kid’s goin’ for real this time? Can’t be. We’ve got the rodeo to ride. Last time was a false alarm. I hope this one is too. I don’t want the Kid to be too busy to pop into the Ranch for a visit. D’ya think it really real this time?

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Dang Busy

        “Huh? Oh, hey. Wasn’t expecting to see you. What with the Kid gone.”
        “That’s nuthin’ ta me. I jist narrate.”
        “Yeah, right.”
        “So, whatcha up to, Shorty? Looks like you ain’t doin’ nothin’. ”
        “Correct. I am not doing nothing, I’m doing something.”
        “Oh. Watcha doin’? ‘Cause it looks like daydreamin’.”
        “Shorty, ain’t that nothin’?”
        “Nope. I’m writin’. And I’m plannin’ for the rodeo that’s comin’ through the ranch.”
        “A rodeo? At Carrot Ranch?”
        “Yep. Eight events. Eight prizes.”
        “Yeehaw, Shorty! For real?!”
        “Yep. You can’t make this stuff up.”
        “Well you sure dreamed it up.”

      • Norah

        Can I say I love these stories. What a dream. I’m so pleased you’re never too busy to get them down and share them out.: )

      • susanzutautas

        Love this!

    • Deborah Lee

      Oh, no! The Kid can’t leave!

    • Charli Mills

      The Kid’ll be back with a herd a dangerous bulls!

    • elliotttlyngreen

      I don’t know why but this makes me think of the Kenosha Kid

    • Charli Mills

      Great twist to your industrious flash, Reena!

      • Reena Saxena

        Thank you!

    • cam8510

      Busy as a kitten. There’s a new one. Fun story.

  2. ladyleemanila

    Reblogged this on ladyleemanila and commented:
    Charli’s challenge 🙂

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for taking the time to share!

    • cam8510

      I’m seeing a pattern in the stories. Housework seems to be the focus. Is it an obsession or an anxiety? Our stories were very similar in focus and outcome.

      • pensitivity101

        I’m not exactly houseproud (ie don’t mind a few wrinkled cushions or dust) but we hoover every day, a must with a dog, shedding or not, and neither of us can abide dirty kitchens or bathrooms. I am lucky in that Hubby isn’t afraid to push the hoover, or dig out the cleaning materials from the cupboard.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s a great phrase and flash! Living with our daughter and her husband, we do lots of sweeping with massive huskies sharing space. My SIL buzzes through with a shop vac! I’m kitchenproud and keep that all under control.

  3. Norah

    Oh I’m so pleased you haven’t got rocks in your head and have had a breakthrough in your planning for Miracle of Ducks. It’s great to hear that things are progressing positively for you and that life with the young ones is working out. We have jokes with friends about being busy. One is constantly busy, doing something, can’t sit still. The other can laze all day. Me, yeah, I’m always busy too, unless I’m not. But if I’m not doing anything that involves my brain, I fall asleep. I never believed in busy work though, only productive work. Which gives me a clue for my response to your challenge. I certainly never had a clean house. I’d rather be writing than cleaning. And like Brother Mark in your story, I’d rather think about it long enough for someone else to do it instead. Sadly, it doesn’t ever happen.

    • Norah

      Hi Charli, I’m back with my contribution, reminding myself that I should never be too busy to have fun.

    • Charli Mills

      My head is a busy place. And yes, I agree, if my brain is not engaged, I’m sleeping! I like feeling productive, and cleaning is only required when thinking requires movement. I’ve often been in Brother Mark’s position. It’s not task avoidance but rather figuring out what the proper response is. I’ve known people who are quick reactors and they get mad at others for “standing around” not realizing that their behavior is further intimidating. Ah, but not here with the kids. We finally get to pause and sort things out. I finally get to unleash everything I have planned at the Ranch. It’s good to have supportive space.

      • Norah

        Your final four sentences make me feel joyous! That’s the type of busyness I like. And it doesn’t feel busy – just fun, fun in the doing and accomplishing. Enjoy!

      • Charli Mills

        It is, Norah! If we were still out there somewhere, Mars or the forest or New Mexico, I’d be too stressed to do the things that bring me joy. Thank you for being a supportive and kind friend through this past year. <3

    • Deborah Lee

      Isn’t that just how it goes, too?

      • cam8510

        Life happens while we’re making other plans.

    • Charli Mills

      That’s exactly how it goes! Love that opening line and how seamlessly you took us to it’s end.

    • cam8510

      “Aunt Charlotte…” Everybody has one, right? We know better than to try to please them, but we do it anyway.

      • Kalpana Solsi

        And Aunt Charlotte and her ilk keep people busy and alert. Thanks.

      • Chris Mills

        I did not write this post.

    • Charli Mills

      What a let-down, literally!

      • cam8510

        Well, this is embarrassing. I DID write that post. 🙂 I did not look familiar at first, but I reread kalpana solsi’s post and remembered. Oh well, old age, I guess.

    • Pete

      Loved it

    • cam8510

      I’ve never had one of “those” jobs. Yes, it is a real job, and quite often a thankless one. I admire anyone who can do it well, with boiling grease on their arm, a smile on their face and a boss in their face.

    • susanzutautas

      My would die if he said that to me 🙂 Loved it!

    • Charli Mills

      That’s such a great phrase to poke a stick at (and maybe a prompt). What is a real job if not work? Ha! Good “job” on the flash!

  4. Pete


    Liam’s father sat hunched over the desk. “Why ain’t you giving out homework?”

    “Well, eight hours is a long day for a seven-year-old. In fact, studies—”

    “Studies. Here we go.” His arms flailed. He brimmed with aggression. Mrs. Tan pressed on, a little less sure now. No wonder Liam was lashing out.

    “Well, concerning Liam’s classroom behavior.”

    The chair squeaked. “What? I’ll set whoop his ass if he’s acting up.”

    Mrs. Tan managed to cover her gasp. She pulled close Liam’s folder, smoothing the edges of if only to keep her hands busy.

    “No, he’s really working hard.”

    • Pete

      I guess that would be *Whup instead of Whoop. Or Whipped. I’m no expert on these matters!

      • Charli Mills

        I’m delighted you are not an expert! I’ve heard, whipped, whip, and whup and there is such a thing as to open a can of whoop ass.

    • cam8510

      Looks like Liam’s dad needs the whupin’, or whippen’, or whoopin’.

    • Norah

      Oh dear, poor Liam. Poor Mrs Tan. And poor Dad, what he himself must have endured. And so the cycle continues. That’s a different type of busyness described in those hands. I understand the nervousness.

    • Deborah Lee

      Oh, that poor teacher. I imagine parents can often be more work than the kids are!

    • Charli Mills

      An unexpected encounter for the teacher and yet she responded with compassion. Great use of busy as a behavioral trait to display her decision.

  5. denmaniacs4

    Buckeye Blane, Beaver Bureaucrat

    “So, kid, open wide, flash me them orange sharpies.”


    “Kid, they’re beauties. Credit to beaverdom…”


    “Just about done. Hole punch bought the farm. Okay. Crunch! Great. Once more…We’re done. Take a break.”


    “Know the feeling. Know it well. Anyways. You got the job. Land Manager Apprentice.”


    “I can see you’re thrilled. Okay, your basic job will be to clear deadwood.”


    “Specialized beaver work, kid. We leave the healthy trees…take out only the dry rot.”


    “Goes against beaver lore, I know. Compromise. Humans give a little: we give a little.”


    “That’s the spirit.”

    • cam8510

      That’s why we call it creative writing. Yahhhhh, I liked it.

    • Charli Mills

      Nothing against beavers, but now when I see one I’m going to think bureaucrat! Great energy in the exchange, too.

    • Charli Mills

      Oh my mind just went down divergent paths!

  6. susanzutautas

    I’m so excited about everything going on at our ranch!
    I used to re-write all my notes when I was in school too 🙂 Staring out the window ….. that’s me too. My husband thinks I’m nuts sometimes because he doesn’t know what the heck I’m staring at.
    Here’s my Flash for this week

    • Charli Mills

      I’m so excited, too Susan, although I feel like I’m running around chasing beavers! Ha! A fellow window writer. We see what others do not. 🙂 I’m so happy to see Beaver and Mr Moose here!

  7. robbiesinspiration

    A lovely post, Charli. I did enjoy reading your reflections on business. I try to structure my day so that I can fit everything I want to do in but it often doesn’t work out because others make demands on my time. I like this idea for a prompt.

    • Charli Mills

      I know that feeling, well. If only others interacted according to the schedule! But truly, I’m always thinking I can do more in less time and there’s simply so much yet to experience. Thank you!

  8. Liz Husebye Hartmann

    Yesterday’s yard work leads to today’s flash. 🙂

    A Team of Busy Bees

    She bends over unkempt juniper shrubs and a beetle-laced Japanese plum, scissoring with vigor. with long-bladed hand shears. Down the boulevard, a few trees show tawdry highlights of orange and gold.

    “I’d best get busy,” she grumbles, “While the leaves are still up, and not all over my lawn.” She snips here, shapes a curve there, and gradually uncovers dahlias, planted in the gap between shrub and front stoop. They straighten and smile, proud of their cache of hidden pollen.

    Later, she rests, sipping iced tea, as grateful bumblebees, buzz and fill their leg sacks with summer’s final bounty.

    • Charli Mills

      Finding inspiration in chores! Good for you, Liz. As writers, I thinks there’s always a hidden cache pollen to be found. Great sensory writing!

    • Charli Mills

      I enjoyed the interplay of inspiration! I also like how you crafted the dialog — I could almost hear Gregorian chant in the backgroun.

    • Charli Mills

      That last line felt like a lifetime to unravel. Beautifully written.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you, Ruchira. I’m glad the prompt so inspired you!

  9. julespaige

    Charli and Community –
    I like that ending. We often make mountains out of molehills… And not everything is salvageable.

    I added to Janice and Richard this week – it is where the prompt lead (title is the post link):
    Cerebral Buzz
    (Janice vs Richard 19)

    Richard looked as if he were sitting still. In truth, his mind
    was busy calculating what to do next while his body recovered.
    After visiting Janice’s home – and eating the berries from her
    garden – He must have also ingested something else. While
    he was blind consuming berries he must have not looked
    carefully enough at the weeds that bore similar fruit that was
    really just for the birds.

    Richard doubted that Janice had planted those weeds just
    to poison him. And he had gotten ill, leaving a mess in her
    home – the home he had wanted to make his…


    • Charli Mills

      Hi Jules! I’m liking Richard’s cerebral buzz as it makes him introspective.

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Joe! Welcome back from Alaska! By the indicators in your flash, it seems like a fun cruise. You might have to pen some more Alaskan flash!

  10. Etol Bagam

    Hi there. After about 6 months of no writing, here’s my ‘rusted’ attempt.
    I call it fiction, but it is actually a description of my day last Thursday.
    Need to get back more into writing to spark my really fictional veins…. ;o)

    • Kerry E.B. Black

      oh, that sounds like quite a day. I’m glad the migraine’s gone now.

    • Deborah Lee

      I hope the migraine is better. It’s tough when we’re too busy to take time for ourselves. 🙁

      • Etol Bagam

        Yes. But I feel better now. It was gone by Friday night. Thanks! 😉

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Etol! Good to see you back at the Ranch! You’ll shake off the rust in no time. And hopefully, the migraine.

      • Etol Bagam

        Thanks Charli. Good to be back too! 😉

  11. Uttley

    Well, here we are in the middle of it all, the whole symphony of sweeping, spinning spheres.
    And we have no telescope powerful enough to see him down there at the bottom of it all.
    What’s he doing down there? Why, he’s juggling of course – juggling all the planets and stars.
    He’s not God – or a god – I rush to say, though you might think him so to see him doing what he does.
    He’s just a guy, you know. A very, very, very busy guy.
    He’s the unsung juggler at the bottom of the universe.


    • Norah

      Cute! I like it.

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to the Ranch, Uttley! Forgive my busyness around here. It’s momentary rearranging of cattle positions, building barns and such. What a delightful flash.

  12. Kerry E.B. Black

    Wouldn’t it be nice to make jam of every situation?

    In any case, he’re the start of an unlooked-for quest. I hope she’s busy enough for the prompt.

    “What’re you talking about?” The woman’s cheeks darkened and her voice raised. “The white buffalo. What have you done with her?”
    Maurya wiped the spray from her cheek and ignored the taunts from the towns folk. She walked into the mushroom cave. A circle of fungi had formed, but hoof prints smashed the closest mushrooms into the compost. Maurya moved her hands in a warding symbol.
    “I think I know where she’s gone.”
    The town elder tottered to loom over Maurya. “Since it’s your place that lost her and your mind that knows where she’d be, you’d better find her.”

    • Charli Mills

      We’d have lots, I’m sure! I enjoyed the unfolding of the quest and the tension already between two characters.

  13. Annecdotist

    A lot of wisdom in this post, Charli, about how busyness isn’t always what it seems. I must be getting into gear for the contests (although I did wonder about the ranch’s finances doling out $200 in a month) as I’ve written two this time!
    I wrote the first before reading your whole post
    Two novels featuring supernatural rescues
    but suspecting it wouldn’t really fit (I was determined to write about snake, never mind the prompt), I resolved to write another to fit with a post I had already in draft about managing my own busyness:
    Winding down and cranking up for September
    In retrospect, perhaps the first is a better fit with the sentiment, but feel free to use whichever you prefer.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for both, Anne, and I’m sorry you experienced the WP glitchiness that sometimes occur. I’ve become practiced at checking regularly, never trusting everything comes through properly. It pauses over links. Such a stunning photo in your Winding down post that I could easily wind down in that scenery. It reminds me of the colors coming on in the Keweenaw, although dissimilar in hue.

      The Ranch has a patron for the contest,and its much appreciated to be able to create excitement for the community, give our fellows a chance to grow more comfortable with contests as our more seasoned writers, such as yourself are. It allows the Ranch to offer the contests entry-free, thus reaching more writers. In the US we need more access to literary art, and I have great respect for how vibrant it yet is in the UK.

  14. Annecdotist

    Aargh, my contribution got flagged “your comment is awaiting moderation”, I suspect because it includes two links. As we’re close to the deadline, I thought it would be as well to split it into two. apologies if that results in duplication.
    A lot of wisdom in this post, Charli, about how busyness isn’t always what it seems. I must be getting into gear for the contests (although I did wonder about the ranch’s finances doling out $200 in a month) as I’ve written two this time!
    I wrote the first before reading your whole post
    Two novels featuring supernatural rescues

    • Annecdotist

      … but suspecting it wouldn’t really fit (I was determined to write about snake, never mind the prompt), I resolved to write another to fit with a post I had already in draft about managing my own busyness:
      Winding down and cranking up for September
      In retrospect, perhaps the first is a better fit with the sentiment, but feel free to use whichever you prefer.

      • Charli Mills

        I enjoyed how your snake flash created the pause long enough to examine it’s a luxury one should take in life. And, of course I appreciated the dilemma in Super Secretary. Real work is a concept we wield, but what is it truly about? Why can’t endeavor and one’s enjoyment of it be real? Perhaps it the capitalistic values handed down to us that only profit is real. And there it brings us to Carrot Ranch. Not profitable, but certainly the work that feels most real to me in its meaningful purpose and it’s structure to give platform to its writers who all struggle to feel their work as writers is real. Much to think about!

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! I wonder if cell phones finally reached those who always wondered what the heck we were looking at with noses in books? There’s a world beyond the screen/page!

    • Charli Mills

      Sometimes our writing is led that way. I once read a powerful quote about how we write out the dark to let the light in. I find it can be cathartic and I’m glad you felt comfortable to follow where your writing mind went.

    • Charli Mills

      Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule — snicker, snicker! That almost sounds like an archaic cliche (if that’s not an oxymoron). We’re all busy! Oh, but the water calls, the rocks, call, the leaves are turning and the colors call…!

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Robert! I’m all kinds of late here with construction going on behind the scenes. It will be worth it for new features and more flash fiction fun. Sometimes the prompt can be that way.

      • Robert Kirkendall

        Looking forward, Charli!

  15. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Busyness is something we can all relate to. I certainly grew up in a family where you had to be doing something all the time. That has never left me. I wonder though whether it is a modern affliction or rather that when young you could cope with the demands you put on yourself and also the ones that others did. As you age you still attempt to do the same amount of things but you have slowed down and you have probably acquired more demands on your time simply because you have lived longer.
    I love the way your flash points out that we are quick to judge those that are seemingly standing still. I think this often happens for writers that people don’t realise you are actually doing something. In my flash you are welcome to be quick to judge.
    I am so excited to be part of the rodeo. I think October will be a flash month with a difference and to have that leading up to the launch of the anthology is a great platform to dive off.

    • Charli Mills

      I think of that difference, too, Irene. How we were never to be idle and yet I felt I had time to explore outside and read. After I left my job I felt so strange being on the outside looking back at the busyness of my co-workers. It took me three years to unwind myself from that and I am convinced that modern busyness is an affliction and it’s different from our earlier teachings of staying busy.

      Your flash makes me think how some seem to get away with not being busy and others are like a workhorse never stopping.

      We are going to have fun with the rodeo and the platform dive! 😉

      • Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

        Perhaps I am only now starting to unwind. I wonder if some people put themselves in that busy position because they don’t know how to fit in otherwise.
        Looking forward to it.

  16. jeanne229

    Thomas Merton spoke of busyness –the rush and pressure of modern life–as a “pervasive form of contemporary violence” that “destroys our own inner capacity for peace” and “kills the root of inner wisdom that makes work fruitful.” And, of note, the Chinese pictograph for “busy” is composed of two characters: “heart” and “killing.” Picked up these nuggets in a book my sister gave me long ago entitled Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives. Sadly, I never finished the book. I was too “busy” 🙁 Certainly we have many pressures to be busy (whenever my siblings and I heard Dad’s car drive up, we jumped up and made sure to look busy) and we internalize that way of being from a young age. Then, of course, paid employment beats that rhythm ever more deeply into us. So how to hack the busyness back and relish the true joy of good work? The kind of work that requires mind wandering and spells of physical idleness… that derives quality from a view from a window or a pause to listen to bird song or a mindful appreciatiation of the feel of a favorite cup in your hand…. Thanks for a thought-provoking post here Charli and a lovely flash. Sorry I didn’t drop in earlier. Missed my chance for a good post and flash. Still…I’m walking with Brother Mark on the beach right now….

    • Charli Mills

      That’s a powerful statement of Merton’s, and I feel he’s correct. Having left a career job in upper management, I couldn’t believe how different life felt on the other side. But it took at least three years before I could unwind from it all. One thing I enjoyed and welcomed among RVers was the lack of busyness. And yet people stayed active and engaged. They just didn’t have the busy cloud over them. Many worked, too. But they knew how to talk over a cup of coffee, and look up to the sky and watch a wheeling buteo. Thank you for your insightful comments! I like that Brother Mark showed up.

  17. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

    Well, here’s funny…I managed to miss getting my flash in because I’ve been so flipping busy the last several days! Seriously. I was hoping to finish up tonight, but I’m fighting what may be an ear infection and I don’t think the writing is going to happen. I’m definitely in next week, though. I miss these!

    • susanzutautas

      Hope you’re feeling better soon.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha! I figured was in good company feeling the busy vibe! I hope your ear feels better. That’s miserable.

  18. elliotttlyngreen

    I have been known to respond “I am always writing” or “Oh I can do that anytime” when people are implying they never ‘see’ me writing or wondering how I find the time and energy. I have answered, “It is a very true mystery indeed, but this stuff just happens to me when I see words or think them.” I have known the incredible shrinking pen when I cannot find one.. Of course that was before I had the phone always available. But very true observation, if you will…. Sorry I missed a flash this week. Will be trying to read everyone’s in between the buzzing of my own bees. Which reminds of a short story I just read. umm by Kurt Vonnegut about drones and stuff. I cant recall the title…

    • Charli Mills

      I like the response of always writing! I think processing is a huge part of writing and some can do it mechanically, using techniques and others let the brain gears spin and see where it takes them. Seems to be a busy bee season, even for me! I’ll have to look up Kurt’s story. I’ve seen his books on the shelves here.Take care until next time, which I’m catching up to!

      • elliotttlyngreen

        Oh its called ‘The Drone King’.. a recently discovered short story i guess.. like a flash fiction. It was quite coincidental

      • elliotttlyngreen

        And the drone king is actually The Queen… its fun. Anyways i hit send too soon. Take care

  19. Charli Mills

    Hi Michael! You expressed that other side of busyness, if how it can push away others.

  20. cam8510

    A “Head down bum up attitude” says it all about this person. nicely done.


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