It’s crazy but the Hub and I polished off a jar of summer raspberry jam in less than a month. Last August, we had a prolific crop of raspberries on the canes and the Hub picked more than he could eat, filling our freezer with zip-locked bags. We had barely closed on the house with a smattering of furnishings and enough household items cobbled together to cook and clean after three years of homelessness. The Hub was finishing up a round of cognitive processing therapy to help with his condition before we were to at last fetch our stored belongings from Idaho. Then coronavirus shut down the world.
He finished CPT at home with phone sessions and I dug out the raspberries and made jam.
In solidarity with the world, we’ve been going stir-crazy at home. Oh, but what a lovely sound the word home makes! It rolls off the tongue from the heart. It fills the spaces between us and offers a foothold on the slippery slope the world has become. Home smells like flapjacks on the griddle and tastes like sunshine from red raspberries. I feel home beneath my feet as I pad from room to room, knowing the framework is solid storms although not impervious. I ponder yonder, gazing out the age-warped windows, wondering how many dreams those panes have witnessed in a hundred years.
It drives me crazy that I can’t share my home. If homelessness taught me anything, it was the value of community and the power of love. Not romantic love or familial bonds, but the kind of love that stretches like fog from a river of emotion, transcending expectations and conditions, seeping into all our bones with the hope of goodness for us all. I have seen despair. I have seen death. I have felt the plunge of betrayal’s blade, tripped over the bully’s foot, and faced deceit. Yet, it all pales to the goodness I’ve witnessed.
Yes, I want home, but I also want to be out in the world loving others. From afar, I can wave fondly. I know I’m not alone in my belief in the ability of goodness to make a difference. If you need a dose of love in these times, or any time, catch Some Good News:
In some good news from World Headquarters of Carrot Ranch on Roberts Street in the Keweenaw, the Unicorn Room is fully painted, appropriately pink. It’s a soft shell-pink. You might think I’m crazy, but this is the fulfillment of a specific dream born of the vague desire to just play and write for the rest of my life. Yeah, yeah, yeah — writing requires long, focused work and constant mastery of craft, and a writer needs to generate income and flex with industry trends, but who says I can’t have fun doing all that?
Let me introduce you to some crazy fun in my Unicorn Room.
First, let me explain the theme and its connection to Carrot Ranch. This place exists as a sandbox, a safe place to play with literary art in its many forms. When we got started back in 2014, I witnessed what “safe” meant when writers relaxed enough to let their creativity lead, understanding they weren’t going to be criticized for not staying within the coloring lines. Ever since then, I’ve encouraged, “Go where the prompt leads,” because that is where every writer will discover their voice. However, after a particular run of prompts leading to dark stories, I thought I’d lighten it up with a rainbows and unicorns sort of prompt.
And those were some of the best stories, where the contrast of something fantastical met dark shadows. The unicorn became an icon, and has found its way into numerous other prompts (did you notice the shield of last week’s knight in the prompt photo)?
The Unicorn Room proudly expresses the theme of “go where the prompt leads.” One wall is for story-weaving — two large corkboards for building plot lines, subplots, and character arcs, and a large whiteboard for exploring, coaching, or holding individual W-storyboards. A small, spare desk big enough for a laptop sits below the boards with a gilded chair (of course, a Unicorn Room needs a gold throne) next to the radiator and large window with a turquoise curtain.
A single row of book shelving runs along the next two walls draped beneath with turquoise tule and starry lights over the reading nook — a large lavender shag carpet with unicorn pillows. A colorful agatized tapestry inlaid with gold forms a backdrop in the reading nook and will serve as a recording space. This room is for creative play, reading, and daydreaming. I also have my yoga mat and meditation pillow set up in the nook where it’s fun to go sit on the floor.
A small white bookshelf beneath a beautiful unicorn hanging quilt (created by our talented Susan Sleggs) is along the final wall next to the closet door where I hope to store all my research and portfolios that are yet in storage. The bookshelf holds candles, rocks, sage, books, writing games, and inspirational cards. Since my genre is women’s fiction and my subgenre women of the West, most of the reading material is from my collections of nonfiction and fiction books relating to women and history.
I plan to use the Unicorn Room for one-on-one strategic coaching, day use for local writers, and my daily play space. It’s a crazy little dream come to fruition. Something to celebrate.
The MFA rolls along the crazy-train tracks. I’m feeling more like a weaver than a writer, taking threads of plot, subplots, and character arc, interlacing scenes that move the story or grow the character. The loom is my trio of storyboards so I can create a pattern that will be my novel. I admit I might be hooked on plotting, or story engineering as I’ve come to know it. Weaving sound more artistic to me. And I have some books to recommend from this term’s reading:
- Story Engineering by Larry Brooks
The Language of Fiction: A Writer’s Stylebookby Brian Shawver
Architecture of the Novel: A Writer’s Handbook by Jane Vandenburgh
Publishing: Principles and Practice by Richard Guthrie
Indeed, these are crazy times, but we can still play. Write it out. Don’t hide your crazy!
Submissions closed. Find our most current weekly Flash Fiction Challenge to enter.
April 16, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about something crazy. Laugh like crazy, show the setting of stir-crazy or go off the rails on a crazy train. Have fun with the word and the situation, but go where the prompt leads!
Respond by April 21, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. Rules & Guidelines.
Plucked by Charli Mills
Hazel plucked an avocado from the tree in Granny Clemmie’s yard and skipped on bare feet down the tarred road toward the canal. It stunk like ripe garbage, which was better than the constant snort of dust back in Oklahoma. California burst with crazy abundance. Model T’s rattled out of fields stacked with fruit crates. Only problem were them busybodies pestering mama about her kids being little malingerers. What was a child but a wild wanderer, laughed mama? Crazy thing, they ended her freedom that day, shipped her back like a burlap of walnuts to the Oklahoma Girls School.