The air couldn’t be better had I a magic wand. It wavers in temperature between warm and cool, reminiscent of a perfect spring day when long sleeves are no longer needed to bask outside. The air holds the tune of a trio of late summer sounds in a town poised to trade tourists for students.
Down the hill toward Finlandia’s football field, whistles shrill sharply and coaches bark directions. I can hear the multitude of football players shout before a play. Soon, practice will give way to games, and the roar of a crowd will join the chorus. Pleasantly warm as it is, this sound reminds me to buy a Finlandia University blanket so I can bundle up and watch the fall games.
Up the hill toward the Houghton County Fairgrounds, I can make out the distant bellow of a microphone. The words flow like batter and none form meaning. Although I can’t understand what the announcer broadcasts to the fair-goers, I pick up the magical vibe of fair time. It reminds me of rodeos and that we will soon host the 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo.
My neighborhood is small with spacious lots for yards and woods. Mining companies built most of the homes, but just a few blocks away, old homesteads remain evident among more modern homes built for the college trade of housing students and faculty. Half a block away is the fire station. I can’t see it because two mining homes and a copse of maples block its view.
But I hear the magic.
Pipers practice the bagpipes once a week. Most afternoons, I’ve missed them. But on this most exceptional day with its pitch-perfect air currents, I hear the pipers piping and the rapping of snare drums in accompaniment. I’ve hauled my work outside to the deck table to better drink in the trio of sounds as if a single summer day was attempting to bottle the essence.
As I work, I think about magic and writing. I ponder a recent Master Class I took on Calm with Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat, Pray, Love.” Calm is an app I downloaded several years ago to practice daily meditation. You have to purchase the subscription to access the Master Classes, but they are worth it. Here’s a snippet from Elizabeth Gilbert’s class:
The hour-long class shifted my thinking which is why I sit out here among a bouquet of sounds, thinking. Gilbert says writers have three days. I’ve digested her course and summarize it as it fits my experience.
Day One is inspiration. Today is a Day One kind of day. The musical sounds float between my ears and spray sparks across synapses. One bubble of magic becomes a memory I don’t have but can envision — bagpipes playing for the Kincaid Clan in the Highlands. Another emerges as a future hope — sitting with new Finlandia friends to watch the Lions play, finally learning the nuances of American football. The third pops quickly like a burst of excitement displayed as fireworks. This feels like inspiration and even the mundane task of writing course material zips along.
Day Two is the apocalypse. That’s the kind of day when after the third draft the realization hits that it sucks worse than the first. Day Two is finding out your lovely characters are loathsome because you can’t get what you feel inside on the page, so readers understand. The story implodes. The beautifully constructed sentence collapses like a commuter bridge at rush hour. Day Two is when fear speaks up.
Day Three is our chance to accept our creativity or collapse under the scrutiny of fear. It’s when we claim our right to be here. Our right to create. If you believe in a writer’s perseverance or tenacity, Day Three is the day to overcome. Yet Gilbert makes a good point about what we can choose to do “when a magical idea comes knocking”:
“You can clear out whatever obstacles are preventing you from living your most creative life, with the simple understanding that whatever is bad for you is probably also bad for your work.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
I read this article after I took her Master Class, and I ordered her book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. On the air this perfect day as I pondered Gilbert’s words, I realize I had forgotten to live a creative life. That was the goal. Not to produce. Not to have successes. Not to have failures. But to have a creative life.
Leaving Idaho had been so painful for me that I couldn’t even go back and look at my own blog from Elmira Pond Spotter. That was me living the creative life. I wasn’t fearless then, I’m not fearless now. I’ve been brave. The difference is that instead of joyfully creating, I now suffer to create.
I remember feeling awe at crafting drafts. Now I feel inadequate. I want my awe back. And here at the Ranch is where the spark resides. Carrot Ranch is Day One. Every week, it’s Day One. No matter what kind of Day Two I might be having, creativity knows no bounds. You all teach me that week after week.
One prompt, and no story is the same. Even when two or more get a similar idea, each writes it out differently. Inspiration comes, and writers grab the ideas like magic. And that’s the kind of magic, Gilbert is talking about. Ideas are living, breathing things. Think of them as bubbles floating all around us, bobbing off my shoulders to yours, seeking a writer to co-create with to manifest the idea.
As the bagpipes fade to silence and the fair noises drift away, I hear one last sharp whistle from the football field, and I vow to reclaim my magic. I want to regain the space for creating in joy.
“…I am a human being made not only of matter but of consciousness who has urges and impulses and desires and asthetics that allow me to want to participate in creation as is my human right as a child of creation. That’s who I am.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert
You are all invited to join the 2018 Flash Fiction Rodeo in October which is multi-event contest. Rodeos aren’t just for cowboys and cowgirls — they are a chance for writers to exhibit skills and compete for top prize. There will be five contests in October (a new one launches every Wednesday, and you have one week to compete). Each contest will name three winners, and first prize is $25.
There’s a sixth contest, and it takes qualifying for — only five contestants will be selected to compete in October. To qualify, you must enter one of five TUFF Free-Writes. It’s a contest that must include the revealed prompt, and you only have 24 hours to respond. So it’s writing by the seat-of-your-pants. Go to the link above for the 2018 Rodeo for more details.
That’ll give us all a big shot of creativity. And remember — if fear strikes, choose to be brave. Choose to be joyful. Choose to be creative. You have the right to be here! Let’s write some magic…
August 23, 2018, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes magic. It can be a supernatural force, a moment or idea, or use it as a verb. Go where the prompt leads.
Respond by August 28, 2018. Use the comment section below to share, read and be social. You may leave a link, pingback or story in the comments. Rules & Guidelines.
Up to His Tricks (from Rock Creek) by Charli MIlls
“Wanna see a magic trick?” Hickok splayed a deck of cards to Monroe.
“Pa doesn’t like hands playing cards.” The boy glanced at the barn door expecting Cobb to materialize.
“We’re not gaming. Just magic. Pick a card, any—”
“Monroe, your Ma is asking for you. Said to bring her the hen eggs.” Sarah stood in the door, arms crossed.
Monroe shuffled and then ran out the door. Sarah had to address the new hand before he got on Cobb’s wrong side.
Ready for her scolding, Hickok winked and smiled a boyish grin. “Wanna see a magic trick?”