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Raw Literature: Publishing A Literary First

Essay by Elliot Lyngreen, guest author & flash writer at Carrot Ranch.

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I have been given the honor and opportunity by the inspirational Charli Mills of Thee Ranch (Carrot Ranch Communications, where flash is the fiction) to talk about my story of my first published piece of literature Inextricable Knot in some Raw Literature here. Sweet. Let’s rock.

Well, the idea still comes to me every morning. With highs from the radio like Finch (Bury Me) inside a vehicle, the morning commute crowds. There are many ways it could turn. Our destinations feel the presence and the world anymore, the highway multitude, speeding that could end up on the stage of AGT and reinforcing all the hearts with our performance. Or…

Yes, is there anything better than a road trip? Gripped to the wheel, is there anything better than driving a vehicle with one of your favorites reeling ears? And such emotions truly and equivocally warming, skin surfacings and porcupine dreams all instantly percolate alive? Make you feel ready to be thee great wave? That is how it begins anyway. And it began so long ago, dreaming to turn off any one of the exits fleeting for another destination than where we always end up; turn to where the world reads me as some tremendous book in the blast of an anthem. I truly wanted to capture that current, and that flow, and that sensation of traveling the road; and for…ever wanted it to open my book. But the way it begins to be imagined, turns in yet at a totally different destination.

By serendipity once along a road trip many moons ago when I was like 20 and with a few buds coming home from Syracuse, we were flying in this pouring rain in the middle of a fleet of semis all going 91 miles an hour and I thought THIS! THIS. This is it! I got chills and such heavy inspiration thinking, this is thee exact place the world goes now. So much metaphor and connection. This is where we exist, traveling enormous. This is such thee force. Such a fine scene for…the loads of material out there. I wanted so bad to spill out raw in the prose that was coursing ma soul right there and then in our sojourn placement flying along the turnpike, highway, the ineffable…but I don’t write like that.

But like anything and everything it turns away and divides, separates, the pack of semis drifts apart to other lanes, a variety of autos coast in and out, the radio changes to New Order (Ceremony) and the power in my hands breaks apart, and the true world arrives and there’s demand for more from the insides. But mine ache and distract and deter me from that long story which could arise, right? So, here is what I got so far.

It begins there, too; cuz I was reborn on a street, a 4-laned avenue when I was 12 and “I awoke” (what I told my photo caption should read on the website it was published on, if ya take a look; it’s ok but hey that must be publishing I guess, anyways…) in the summer of 91. That’s when it hit me; an automobile going well close to 50 maybe; in a residential zone, a street-lighted dreams distance, the busy road between my friends and our homes, our placements in the separation of our neighborhoods. And me, the guilty child, and yea, wanted to get up and just ride on along home. But drop back or resurface then unto that road this child we once were. Awake. Give him a chance to hear Ceremony. Read Pynchon. Oh my. Oh me. Oh Drop, yes oh graceful angels of destiny lower, place him breathing up ‘heavenknowsit’sgotobethistime’ into the rage -gasp! (and the world becomes wavy) as he opens the flashes and the world ripples outward; and I…yeah me, I want to ride along on my own shrinking moment, memory. I want to redo. But, I can see the whole thing over and over fearlessly still. ‘forev..erer’ — That is my perspective anyway.

Yet peel back them tears a little further and glimpse a force, and drive around as they cut my favorite T-shirt from my young lifeless body coming back alive; from these frail searches like for breaks and fractures, bruises, around my sides and my waist, looking for impressions, pain, checking the head maybe, whiplash; that. But with pulses and breathes around; scatterbrain consume the exulted—“did you black out son?”—form the crowd, paramedics, folks together harmony and rhythm it all again slipped but inside the horn renaissance you now swim in; ahhhh with me, and there see the low profile vehicle coming… and then on the other side there was pretty much nothing wrong. So, yea let me ride along on home. But…well, that is not in the literature, in the cards anyway; court date you know what I’m saying? But it was me, my fault anyway; but provides some good background, my un-layering, my memories, in the grimy enormous confusion; but the presence.

Kind of the idea…Just like that. A great collision this piece was turned out to be. Meant to be.?. Also, my wish for another way through life. A different story let me tell you in such a small thickly arched pocket, and form a manic congested little loop, down down down to swallow a scene where quick-as-the-energy sparked from an empty grave –am I ghost? that! but quaked!? Then disintegrate. Oh ho, bent loose in them physical  — just conquered — momentums of the earth, that all became the summer afterward, the…91 releases if you know what I mean (and I hope you do). All makes me wonder so much of that which is connected, but mostly, makes me grateful to still be alive; but mostly, like something the sacred hour that got tighter and tighter at every turn to twilight there that I came back into; sets me up to believe I will never be allowed out; until I go through THIS, write the nonsense, buzz ALL heartstruck about how I entered the darkness, but then marveled the light flooding back on down and throughout; but ewww more than anything else, but how I must tell it, now…so wrenched inside. How I am unable to be normal, yet I must be. And I just cannot. How it was there before all this.

(Until I explain it. Right? Right. Let me try here.)

Ok. Like take your Grateful Dead any day, I will take my Jefferson Airplane live instead. Or sometimes you need Mazzy Star (Had a Thought) in the ears on a rainy afternoon setting off coyly the momentum of these epic anthem stealings, this creativity of stealing Keyser Soze-esque fragments of them snippets of songs ‘inyoursmiletherearemanyofwaystocure_ThePain_uh-huh’ and literature and movies and reusing such for the moments when it comes time to define what it’s like coursing through these terrors to be alive right now with this wrinkle in my guts. But to reach, touch God say, in the Sistine! In the overwhelmed distractions and the overwhelming media around, and just to try and be…understood. And in control. Oh let me play the piano once for everyone. But, I can’t. No. To avoid the collision, Wait…Because I am really not telling it just…right. And that is why I write and write and rewrite; and wrote this piece and rewrote it ten thousand times and ten thousand ways. To make sure to take a stand; in myself; and against everything already out there. It is my stand against the psychology already established. And my stand in the reality of a disability. Not in fiction. It is my stand against that which is fuming down the highways ready to tell me that I am wrong; by showing exactly where it is I stand (or sit, for that matter). No, it is not another protest. Hang on a sec…

And so many times I wrote it; streaking the ineffable, taking note of the minor details of things on vehicles — the foaming on the road, a little piece whipped around a tailpipe of a pickup and shredded as it unravels, flutters galore…so maybe it would be; and in so many different ways; so right…I sorted through visions and very many different songs for the soundtrack within, to exactly grasp that feeling of what is I am trying to say; and where it could reach so many, and how celeritous it was going; and where; and why; and all that…’representation.’ Cuz it seems it must. And, well also, I mean, why else am I still here? Just for this piece? I hope not. So, let’s make it true, right. And make it rock. Great!

It was going to be such magnificence.

But you see, I have this problem. (I sometimes think I am talking to the stars..).. No seriously though, they call it IBS and I cannot disagree more. Call it something else. Please. You see, it is so much more than what it is and the way it is perceived. And that is where the whole Inextricable Knot thing turns. Turns out I have this problem (you know, with how they treat me and how they diagnosis it. Like it is something I do NOT have. Or, just have? A problem). Like it is a somatic disorder and merely inside my head or my psychology; because all tests cannot explain the pains I feel. Was it the accident? Does it matter? It was there before I am pretty sure. And I can’t take it too much anymore (and that was 30 Years ago! I was writing that…). And with how much it costs me trying to get help, how it makes me not even want to ask anymore. Write. Write it down yo…Cuz I really cannot afford to! But I got to. And I got to go go go but I got these lumps/growths forming all over me now. Oh what the hell are these?? So much…… yet it is; and yet it is completely not. So I wrote…

That is another thing I was trying to get to in this work. Reality. With fiction, kind of…Or, that I intended with the book, that which it was supposed to be; that originally was; then, this…Piece…And still is — as I left a novel in pieces on the cutting room floor, a great many pages and words and various images that were going to magnificently follow this fantastic opening scene into the chapters after…and rapturous speakers and so forth. So, somewhere it turned. Crash. Maybe it just simply crashed. I did. How it is completely out of my control; trying to fuel, feed and so forth; change roads so much, that I cannot disagree more, as I said. And, moreover, I have this problem because I cannot finish that novel; and just have this little story now. That! explains it all ever so perfect; but, furthermore, that I will not settle for a lack of explanation. I have the full argument in my head every single day driving to work; the full book; getting ready; turning awake; oh groans…but, cramps (Am I woman?)… furthermore, in my stance; bowels, mmm bowls over? and even still — at the toilet. I know — disgusting. Right? That is what this piece does. Where it goes. Zoom! Spoiler alert!! In my guts. Sunk. Oh how precisely that describes — whoosh! where it unsettles? Maybe. And here it comes down the heavy road. With a full force of passion, the music of the world through the 90s, and yet…

It is revealing these issues I deal with; that was going to be the book. That is the hook, the short of it; this piece; an overly described just awful mess of symptoms, condensed into which did not just magically come to me; or, desire to be turned to some shortened little path, a tiny portion of frustrated fiction. Cuz it is embarrassing and ridiculous and such a shame. Especially for men. Am I even a man? It is so much more. And I don’t think so in the world of them (men) — I tell you what. It is so hard enough to talk about awful poop anywhere, and even harder to be understood how different it is for folks like me; while not laughing out loud. And there is the secret to it, the taboo and the jokes and just between you and me, it simply, truly is really frickin gross; more gross than just having some potty issues coursing this circulation and such; but that is how it is viewed. A joke. So Cameron, I took a stand, too. Sat down and poured into notebooks so much ink; then typed it all up over the years. (I really would rather pen it all down down down I know that now). And, I got a great sense of humor (and threshold of pain) I like to think. Good outlook on things. But, I changed and changed this corrosion of the insides that it is constant, chronic, into words that maybe will convince them (whoever they are, right?) just a little better than Fluffy. HA! He’s great. To — ok- laugh a little — ok. But to make ya feel this way; all upside down and inside out, with finer details I must hide at these moments; but do not want to get too far into…cuz yea eww…Well, to show that it is my life. And that! is the other thing that I was trying to begin with this piece. Turn the literature from something out of imagination into the reality of living inside one of them fears of some dystopiated fictional character they made up. Yes, I just invented a word. Mmmayb…

It is unbearable at best. There has always been a sense that I can write what so many others have merely imagined. Yet, it did not turn out like that. And yet, maybe another one (piece) will. Hopefully it introduces that concept. Grounds all the fiction. And rises them up. Oh it makes me tire to think how much more I must create. Cuz this piece feels incomplete. To turn it into the story I see…

Well, let me tell at least (tell) Why it is called – Inextricable Knot. Cool? Cool. Ok great! The title comes from a line in the Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne: “This feeble and most sensitive of spirits could do neither, yet continually did one thing or another, which intertwined, in the same inextricable knot, the agony of heaven — defying guilt and vain repentance.” Now, while that has a deeper and different meaning as it refers to the minister Dimmesdale’s doom of being unforgiven, I thought, well that is very similar. Especially that mention of a knot. But, moreover, the purgatory of it all. And whether I talk about my symptoms or hold them secret due to the severity (it seems) of the awful things that happen, that no one wants to or needs to talk about or read anyway, or probably will if I unveiled the journal of these feelings inside, that character I am continually dealing with — cancer maybe, an inextricable lump, or knot, what’s that?!… — well it would not matter. It is my doom.

I really wanted to draw the line between. And still deeper, deeper, down…divide the mind and the body. Or, should I say eliminate the idea that this is in my mind, because…where was I? … oh that’s right…so, instead of a character in fiction and a terrific imagination of a story, instead of a short fiction, I attempt(ed) to place the feeling of living within some grotesque or diseased story; all at one instant but truthfully, maybe as being left lingering in a kind of stuck existence, an in-between place. But it is not imagination entirely. The body sends pain signals to the brain to tell it that something is wrong. I just wanted to say that just now. And with this work and the book I want/ed to redefine this irritable issue (along come a multitude of disabling issues out of one’s control, I know) and rearrange (all of you stars too;) the pieces — until these are some things that we can study and dissect, rather than use a cash cow. Cuz I am flippin broke in the ‘Black Market Mercurio’ (which is another story I got for ya’ll).

Anyways, it is meant to be an exciting little piece that is ripped away from the spectacle coming and was very hard for me to read, narrate, or audio that is…So, if you want to check it out, it is at an “online journal of deaf and disabled literature & art” — called Deaf Poets Society.

Now, you may be asking how is this a disability? And that folks is such a novel thing…That! Is why I think I needed to explain, write this piece again if it takes…; and that is why I am always writing things too personal; but, why and how this piece came to be…It feels incomplete and I am getting a little weak, tired, distracted by more things and songs to tell about…than I ever will be able to, you know…? but hey there’s nothing wrong with me. Cynical Right?

I hope it unveils a little more of yours truly and this…..whatever it is. So, yes, but please check out my my very first published material, my beginning to this whole literature thing. I Hope.

Find it here: Inextricable Knot

I cannot express my appreciation and gratitude if you do. And to Charli Mills at thee Ranch, and to the Deaf Poets Society for the opportunity to share my piece in their Issue 5 release.

As always, thanks for ragin’ and God bless.

***

Elliott Lyngreen was born, raised, and schooled Catholic. He’s a middle child of a very large mixed family. Stepsiblings and half sisters; a whole brother, and cousins upon cousins; not all blood, but all family. He’s a 38-year-old electrical systems designer for a local engineering firm. Marvel music, sports, photography, films, etc. and has been writing since 15. He proses on mostly short pieces. Afflicted by an indescribable sickness, he tries and aims to eliminate the idea of its definition as a frequent urgency manageable with dietary changes. Because it is so much more.

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Raw Literature is an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99 word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.

Raw Literature: Haiku, Tanka and a Debut Novel

Essay and flash fiction by Marjorie Mallon, guest writer to Carrot Ranch.

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Thank you so much to Charli Mills for her kind invitation for me to guest post on her Raw Literature series on Carrot Ranch.

I’m delighted to introduce you to my first novel: The Curse of Time–Book 1–Bloodstone.

On Amelina Scott’s thirteenth birthday, her father disappears under mysterious circumstances. Saddened by this traumatic event, she pieces together details of a curse that has stricken the heart and soul of her family.

Amelina longs for someone to confide in. Her once carefree mother has become angry and despondent. One day a strange black cat and a young girl, named Esme appear. Immediately, Esme becomes the sister Amelina never had. The only catch is that Esme must remain a prisoner, living within the mirrors of Amelina’s house.

Dreams and a puzzling invitation convince Amelina the answer to her family’s troubles lies within the walls of the illusive Crystal Cottage. Undaunted by her mother’s warnings, Amelina searches for the cottage on an isolated Cambridgeshire pathway where she encounters a charismatic young man, named Ryder. At the right moment, he steps out of the shadows, rescuing her from the unwanted attention of two male troublemakers.

With the help of an enchanted paint set, Amelina meets the eccentric owner of the cottage, Leanne, who instructs her in the art of crystal magic. In time, she earns the right to use three wizard stones. The first awakens her spirit to discover a time of legends, and later, leads her to the Bloodstone, the supreme cleansing crystal which has the power to restore the balance of time. Will Amelina find the power to set her family free?

A YA/middle grade fantasy set in Cambridge, England exploring various themes/aspects: Light, darkness, time, shadows, a curse, magic, deception, crystals, art, poetry, friendships, teen relationships, eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety, depression, family, puzzles, mystery, a black cat, music, a mix of sadness, counterbalanced by a touch of humour.

It is my great pleasure to share with you some of my poetry inspired by themes in The Curse of Time.

I’ve always loved poetry but never considered myself to be a poet! If I hadn’t started blogging I doubt I would ever have written a poem. How sad that would have been! A blogging event on WordPress: Ronovan Writes Haiku Challenge kick started my confidence! So, I have much to thank Ronovan for. I now write loads and loads of short form poetry and have written the odd limerick or longer piece of poetry too.

More recently, I’ve been participating in Colleen Chesebro’s weekly poetry challenge.

I love writing haiku and Tanka.

Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry.

The four great Haiku Masters of Japanese poetry are:
Matsuo Basho (1644 – 1694)
Yosa Buson (1716 – 1784)
Kobayashi Issa (I763 – 1827)
Masaoka Shiki. (1867 – 1902)

古池や蛙飛びこむ水の音

furu ike ya / kawazu tobikomu / mizu no oto

An ancient pond

A frog jumps in

The splash of water [1686] – Matsuo Basho

 

隅々に残る寒さや梅の花

Sumizumi ni nokoru samusa ya ume no hana

In nooks and corners

Cold remains:

Flowers of the plum

(translated by RH Blyth) – Yosa Buson

 

芙蓉咲いて古池の鴛やもめ也
fuyo saite furuike no oshi yamome nari

cotton roses flowering —
the mandarin duck in the old pond
is a widower – Masaoka Shiki

 

露の世は露の世ながらさりながら

Tsuyu no yo wa tsuyu no yo nagara sari nagara

This dewdrop world —

Is a dewdrop world,

And yet, and yet . . . – Kobayashi Issa

Kobayashi Issa wrote the above poignant haiku after experiencing two terrible tragedies. His first-born baby died, and his daughter died less than two-and-a-half years later (translated by Lewis Mackenzie) as you can see a tiny poem conveys so much sadness and torment in so few words.

These original haiku from the masters are translated from Japanese. Our English haiku attempt to approximate the work of these great poets.

Our English haiku tend to have seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five. In, the Japanese form it often evokes images of the natural world. Haiku traditionally avoid the use of metaphors or similes. The last line suggests the opposite to your initial thoughts conveyed in the first line.

Tanka is a longer form of haiku with a rhythmic variation with the two final lines being longer: 5,7,5,7,7. The first three lines (5,7,5,) create a visual image and the last two lines (7,7) express the poet’s thoughts about the first three lines.

It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t too hard and it’s fun to experiment with the syllables and have a go.

Haiku and Tanka may be short but they deliver a tremendous punch with the capability of expressing a wide range of emotions from humour to deepest sorrow. These wonderful forms of poetry are intriguing to a potential reader and hopefully motivate book enthusiasts to discover more! With encouragement from my writing friend, author Colleen Chesebro I added further micro poetry to my novel. Each chapter, or puzzle piece as I call it begins with a Tanka.

Here are some of the Tanka’s I’ve written in response to Colleen’s challenge. These are extra material not included in the book. Several are inspired by the main protagonist Ryder and these are the ones I’d like to share with you today, as Ryder is without a doubt one of my favourite characters, and he is handsome with a dark side!

***

Marjorie Mallon a debut author who has been blogging for three years at M J Mallon Author. Her interests include writing, photography, poetry, and alternative therapies. She writes Fantasy YA, middle grade fiction and micro poetry – haiku and tanka. She loves to read and has written over 100 reviews.

Her alter ego is MJ – Mary Jane from Spiderman. She love superheros! MJ was born on the 17th of November in Lion City: Singapore (a passionate Scorpio, with the Chinese Zodiac sign a lucky rabbit), second child and only daughter to her  proud parents Paula and Ronald. She grew up in a mountainous court in the Peak District in Hong Kong with her elder brother Donald. Her parents dragged her away from her exotic childhood and much loved dog, Topsy, to the frozen wastelands of Scotland. In bonnie Edinburgh MJ mastered Scottish country dancing, and a whole new Och Aye lingo.

As a teenager MJ travelled to many far-flung destinations to visit her abacus wielding wayfarer dad. It’s rumoured that she now lives in the Venice of Cambridge, with her six foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and her two enchanted daughters. After such an upbringing her author’s mind has taken total leave of its senses! When she’s not writing, MJ eats exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surfs to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out, she practise Tai Chi. If the mood takes her, she snorkels with mermaids, or signs up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.

Amazon UK Author Page

Amazon US Author Page

Amazon Canada Author Page

See M J Mallon Author for information about new releases, photos of main characters/character interviews, book reviews and inspiration.

MJ’s New Facebook Group #ABRSC: Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook

Instagram

Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and @curseof_time

Facebook: Facebook: m j mallon author

Tumblr: Tumblr: mjmallonauthor

MJ has devoted the past few years to writing over 100 reviews on Goodreads and her blog to help support traditional and indie writers.

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Raw Literature is an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99 word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.

 

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Raw Literature: Death Calls Doctor Whitaker

Essay and flash fiction by Sharon R. Hill, guest writer to Carrot Ranch.

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Death Calls Dr. Whitaker was inspired by the title of a nineteenth-century death notice about an ancestor of mine. The title struck me as unique and I knew that it would make a great title for a short story. I initially did nothing with my idea nor did I know where to begin in framing the story.

History is important to me and is a dominant theme in my literary short fiction. It is a blessing to have such a rich variety of characters in family lore to draw from. For instance, my grandfather, a man I never knew, was a con-artist whose actions were countered by my salt-of-the-earth grandmother who kept the family out of poverty and made certain her children received an outstanding education. This backdrop was the basis for my story Life in Silhouette which was a difficult story to write but also cathartic. I found a means to understand and forgive by writing fiction-based-on-fact about emotional pain and physical hardship.

I have recognized that I am great at historical research but poor with organization. In recognizing this, I am transitioning to an informal outline and character sketches because I desire to become a better and more productive writer. My bellwether moment about changing my writing process came when I was trying fix a short story that I’d been working on for some time. My writing mentor explained to me that I hadn’t connected with my protagonist nor revealed his motivation. My third draft of the story also had the same foundational problem so I decided to move on and circle back to it later. Death Calls Dr. Whitaker came to mind and I decided that I would create my first flash fiction. As I began to write, the story evolved as a first-person narrative with the deathbed scene as the catalyst for the experience. Also in the back of my mind was a desire to channel Virginia Woolf because I had recently read her essay The Death of the Moth and I wondered whether I could replicate the essence of this work.

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Death Calls Doctor Whitaker

Death lingers in the bedroom where old Doctor Whitaker sleeps. It infuses the air with dread in a way that only the presence of death can. I think about opening the only window in the room that faces west with a view of the sunset. Like a child, I imagine that this will expel the threat.

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock sounds the generations-old grandfather clock, the metered sound is reminiscent of tiny heartbeats. The chimes repeat six times to announce the hour, reminding the living of a bygone day.

Doctor Whitaker is held hostage in a difficult slumber and his eyelids quiver in some erratic timpani, yet they remain shut. I sit by his bed in a stubby, wing-back chair of pale-blue velvet fabric with faded wood armrests. The stiffness of the chair aids me in my duty to stay alert, as I watch for the moment that will complete the outline of a life.

With his wife long dead and the marriage childless, the responsibility of this days’ vigil has fallen to me though I barely know Dr. Whitaker. I accepted this burden because of my fondness for his housekeeper Sally who is expected at her family home today for her parent’s anniversary celebration.

In the silence of all but the ticking clock, verses from a poem lift in my memory to my consciousness “Can you say tonight in parting with the day that’s slipping fast, that you helped a single person of the many that you passed?”

I notice a worn-out leather medical bag tucked in the open square of a simple, dark-oak nightstand. A wall calendar from a Memphis mercantile with a worldwide timetable hangs above to announce the month of May in 1935. In a daydream, I envision Dr. Whitaker as a younger man jogging along an old roadway of dust in his shay offering comfort to the sick. Yet he spends what may be his final hours with a mere acquaintance, even a stranger. I wonder at the absence of visitors, including the children he helped birth and who will now be middle-aged with their own families.

I feel anxious when a pair of whippoorwills’ land on the garden fence as instinct compels their predictive chant.

A trembling left-hand begins an echo in each limb and Dr. Whitaker’s mouth begins to twitch. The thin blanket that covers him from below his neck and is tucked over his feet has shaken loose.

Dr. Whitaker’s face has an anguished expression as though he is in the throes of a struggle with an unseen foe. I understand that the foe he struggles with is time, as his strength of spirit continues the fight for life.

***

Sharon R. Hill moved from Tampa, Florida to Nashville, Tennessee ten years ago. She is a writer of literary fiction and has been published in The Wilderness House Literary Review, Indiana Voice Journal, TWJ Magazine, and The Bangalore Review. Her story Brown Tobe won TWJ Magazine Best of 2016 for fiction. Sharon enjoys using an historical backdrop to explore moral themes and the complexities of the family dynamic.

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Raw Literature is an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99 word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.

Raw Literature: I Hate Writing

According to her Goodreads bio, Dorothy Parker was: …an American writer and poet best known for her caustic wit, wisecracks, and sharp eye for 20th century urban foibles.” Among her better known quotes is one I often think about because it alludes to writers not really liking the act of writing. She caustically says of her own career, “I hate writing, I love having written.”

I do not hate writing.

You will not find me among the harvesters, breathing a sigh of relief that the work is done, the fields are empty and the yields are in. Dorothy likely said what she did as a jab because some authors like the ego-boost of a book without appreciation for the pen-work. And yet, I know how muddy writing can be.

You can be a writer and still hate elements of the job. For 11 years I had a job I loved more than any other, yet some days I loathed the stresses that came with it — competing deadlines, miscommunications, budget constraints, office politics. Do you ever feel stressed by writing?

At times I can go too deep; dive into a pool without a bottom or stay under longer than I have breath. Or I bring up scenes to the surface of the page certain they are brilliant agates only to realize as they dry they are ordinary stones in need of polish. Sometimes I write with cascading emotions in mind and it reads back flat. Mostly my writing stresses emerge with revision coupled with the fact that no matter how much book knowledge one might have about writing a novel, the experience of taking on a long-term project is all hands on keys.

I love writing. I write every day. I stare at raptors circling overhead, listen to waves crackle pebbles on shore or plunge my hands into warm dishwater and think of writing. I pre-write in my head the way a gambler might count cards. It’s ongoing, quick, automatic. Writing one WIP leads to breakthroughs on another. Forcing a 99-word paragraph to summarize an essay helps me break free of a plodding structure. I often wonder if friends cringe when I comment on Facebook because I want to write something meaningful. I’m terrible at small-talk, prefering to discuss deep perspective and share observations. I want to hear from your soul, not your shallow memes of the day.

Maybe my epitaph will read, “She has finally written.” Written is past tense, done, over. I am writing, and will do so until the day I have finally written my last breath.

The reason I’m pondering my writing is due to the introspective work of preparing literary reflections for a Michigan literary artist grant; a Zion National Park Artist in Residency; a new page at Carrot Ranch called, “Support Literary Arts;” and a near-completed Patreon. The latter I’ve been developing since February, and one of the Rough Writers has taken to nagging encouraging me to finish it. This is not easy work and could fall under the “I hate writing” category. But it’s not writing artist statements or impact essays that I don’t like; it’s my own battles with insecurity. Am I enough? No matter what the black dog might want to answer, I have to stand on affirmative ground — I am a writer. I am writing. I am enough.

Could my writing be better? You bet! We never stop improving craft. Don’t think for a moment there will come a day when rainbows fly out your fingertips and happy muses sing choruses with each page-flip of your book. Writing is grand, but writing is hard. I love to dive deep. I don’t want to have written, yet. I want to keep writing, and writing as many things as I have creative spark to craft. Completion of projects and strategy for sharing them is part of the process, but the writing, ah, the sweet writing will not stop.

A confession and a first look. Confession first — I write many projects at once and I believe it would drive other writers daffy to know my process. I began to feel self-conscious about my process, thinking maybe I was doing it “wrong.” Then I reflected on my work history and college experience. My processing pattern has been with me a long time and when I have time and space for it, I achieve spectacular results. After starting college at age 28 and taking “How to Succeed at Studies” and “Math for Dummies” classes, I graduate magna cum laude with a published honors thesis, two novels WIPS as independent studies and as co-editor of the college lit magazine. I don’t write this to boast, but to remind myself that at one point my process looked crazy because I had so many different plates spinning.

My greatest joy is that I’m writing on my own terms. If I were to focus or apply different terms, I might hate writing. And I don’t want to hate what I love.

Now for a first look at the essay that will be a part of the Support Literary Art page at Carrot Ranch. It serves a secondary purpose of providing easily grabbed content for opportunities like the Michigan grant. It’s followed by a flash fiction I wrote about the essay to show you how I often use flash in my every day writing process.

Write raw. Write on. Polish hard. Love what you do, and do what you love.

Value of Literary Art

Often we believe artistic expression flourishes in paint and piano keys. If we broaden the idea to include words as art we think of poetry.  If we consider literature, the greats come to mind: Chaucer, Hemmingway, Cather. And right now, you might be debating my opinion on “the greats.”

What is literature, and can we ever define who is in and who is out? Basically, literature is written works recognized as having important or permanent value. A writer who crafts with words and attempts repeatedly to achieve that designation of value is a literary artist. Therefore literary art is the pursuit of studying and writing literature. Raw literature results from the drafts and processes of this pursuit.

Art is subjective, and we diminish its awe with containment. We also contain artists who create to please. Why do we want to please? Most likely to be successful with our art and hopefully make a living or at least a satisfying hobby. Who wants to be the family member who “scribbles atrocious poetry” or the “weird neighbor who writes until 3 a.m.”? Therefore we contain our attempts and hide away until one magical day we think our skills finally equal our imaginations.

Artists, especially writers, can feel isolated and shut-down by containment. When we express, we feel liberated. We desire to connect to others through these literary expressions. So how do we pursue our work as literary artists and not feel contained in the process? How do we grow our rawest forms of literature, take time to develop what it is we’re creating and avoid critique too early? Literary artists need safe space to practice craft, read stories by peers and discuss progression beyond skill mastery and deconstructionism.

In the beginning, Carrot Ranch was one writer’s platform. Out of a need to connect with other literary artists, the site evolved into a dynamic literary community with participants engaging at will in weekly flash fiction challenges. Carrot Ranch is a giant virtual sandbox for writers of different genres, experiences, backgrounds, interests and countries of origin. Literary artists can jam like musicians do. It’s liberating, and the safe exploration leads to breakthroughs in personal projects, new ideas and improvement in craft technique. This is a shared literary platform.

Carrot Ranch is not an exclusive writers club, such as those focused on shared goals. Exclusivity perpetuates the isolation many literary artists experience. And large social media writers groups that include more writers to connect and share links are often too large for creatively play with words and craft. The community at Carrot Ranch serves this gap, and focuses on literary art as common ground between diverse artists.

Literary artists need safe space to play with words, craft story ideas, explore characters, describe settings, investigate research, and discover what the art has to reveal. Art only reveals itself in doing and interacting. With these raw literature attempts, 99-word nuggets of creative expression opens doors that remain closed to literary artists in isolation. It allows the literary-curious to dabble in the art for fun, or gives seasoned authors a break from intense long-term literary projects.

What does literary art look like at Carrot Ranch? It’s short-form micro-fiction, for certain. It’s playful, encouraging and provocative dialog about the art created or its process of creation. The literature at Carrot Ranch includes weekly collections of flash fiction thoughtfully arranged to express and explore a topic. It also includes the works of individuals: novels of multiple genres, short stories, essays, poetry, articles, book reviews, substantial blog posts, and creative works for educators.

The greatest value in literary art is that it opens minds to unfamiliar experiences. In a divisive world full of information, it’s the word-crafters who remind us of the humanity in it all. Literary artists inspire, agitate, reveal, imagine and reflect the good and bad within us. Literary artists give meaning to life. Consider the words John Lennon wrote:

“When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”

You might say literary art is the pursuit of happiness.

 Literature at Carrot Ranch (99-word Version)

Words seep from behind paint and piano keys to declare art of their own. Hemmingway achieved mastery in six words. We take stabs at the canvas 99 bits at a time. We (literary artists in chorus) defeat isolation in a sandbox, jamming like John Lennon’s friends, pursuing happiness.

Carrot Ranch, a collaboration of word wrangling to craft, explore, reveal. Safe space to write without dinosaurs deconstructing early efforts or long-hidden chapters. A place where words wriggle free to crawl among brain folds, loosening shadows to dawn’s first light. Where teachers learn from 5-year olds what universal truth could be.

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Raw Literature is an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99 word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.

 

Raw Literature: Variations Within Memoir

Essay by Irene Waters, a member of the Congress of Rough Writers.

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This writing is raw. Most of my writing that you may have seen to date is raw. By that I mean it is uncooked, the first draft without changes and alterations. The grammar may be imperfect, it may have spelling mistakes, it may be lacking in description and there may be the odd inconsistency. It is done quickly, allowing creativity to flow unimpeded. Blogging raw I find helpful in the creative process. I don’t spend a lot of time on the posts but it kickstarts the flow of ideas, allowing work that I plan on editing and re-editing – cooking  it and processing it – to be written to the page.

For a memoir writer there are a couple of other types of raw writing. The first is a type I rarely do and for some, including one of my thesis examiners, my writing is not raw enough. Some think that memoir should be an open cut, exposing bleeding wounds and laying open the scars for all to pick at. Certainly some types of memoir call for this. The misery memoir is a good example. A few memoirs in this group are Mary Karr’s and Frank McCourt’s three books. Although I am now tackling a memoir that will have this type of raw writing, my previous two memoirs have been written purely for the story where true life adventures are related.

In memoir there should also be a distinction between what is private and what is public knowledge. Whilst maintaining honesty the memoir writer should sift through the raw material and decide what belongs purely in a diary and what can be shared with the world. Elizabeth Gilbert said of her memoir Eat Pray Love that it was so finely tuned (no longer raw) that the reader doesn’t get a sense of her. She is unrecognisable. She said that if you wanted to know her, read her fiction work as there, believing that she was anonymous, she did not censor her writing and to her surprise found that more of her showed through in it than in her memoir.

Another type of raw that the memoir writer needs to be aware of and avoid is writing when the emotions are still raw. The passage of time is essential to enable the episode to be viewed dispassionately. The others in the memoir must be treated ethically – for when you write a memoir you also write someone else’s biography. If you write with raw emotion (useful as a therapeutic tool but not for publication) the purpose for writing is often slanted, and may be judgemental, a desire to hurt someone, to pay them back and this may not reflect well on the writer. Rather than sit in judgement, time allows the memoirist to write in a sensitive manner that will show the reader, through the actions of the characters, what manner of person they are.

For me, memoir is the making of identity. Without memoir, such as when a person is suffering from dementia, the person’s identity fades with the worsening of the condition and eventually is lost to them and kept alive only by others who can tell their stories. Depending on what you tell will depend on the identity you give yourself. But I digress from raw literature.

To conclude I will give an example of raw literature from the first draft of my manuscript Nightmare in Paradise.

My fear as to what I might find on arrival at the volcano overrode the abject terror I normally experienced every time I travelled the road over the mountain to the other side.  It is also the only time I had been over that stretch of road at speeds far exceeding that which would guarantee a safe arrival at the other end.  My head was spinning. Had I brought sufficient equipment with me to deal with anything I might find? What might I find? It just couldn’t be true.

After editing this passage is no longer raw although I feel as though it has more rawness. It gives, I hope, the reader an idea of what travelling to the volcano was like the night one of our tourists, along with a local guide, was killed by a lump of lava from the volcano.

The troop carrier sliced through the dark heat of the night as it sped, at speeds none would attempt in daylight, towards the volcano. I knew I was with other people but apart from Jim, the owner of Tanna Beach Resort I had no idea who was riding in the back with me. No-one spoke, everybody lost in their own thoughts. Mine were a nightmare. A nightmare that allowed the terror I normally felt when negotiating the sharp hairpin bends over the steep mountainside to remain hidden. The visions in my mind were vivid, in full red colour, whilst the reality of where I sat was grey, as though a mist had descended obscuring the others who sat with me.

***

Irene Waters blogs at Reflections and Nightmares where she focuses on photography and writing challenges. She has written a memoir Nightmare in Paradise which she hopes to publish in 2017. As a memoirist she found that there was little scholarly scrutiny on the sequel memoir. She carried out research on this subject gaining her Master of Arts in 2017. This also saw the completion of her second manuscript. She is now working on a novel way of writing raw memoir.

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Raw Literature is an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99 word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.

 

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Raw Literature: The Power of Words

Essay by C. Jai Ferry, a member of the Congress of Rough Writers.

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The process of writing is unique to each writer, but the longer I write, the more I realize that many readers have no understanding of the writing process in general—which for the most part, I am perfectly fine with. I’ll be honest, I kind of like being perceived as a magician who strings together words that pack an emotional punch. Something that feels so natural to me (although far from easy) awes and (hopefully) inspires many of my readers, and that is an incredibly euphoric realization.

But like I said, not all readers understand that creating a story is a process. I was reminded of this recently when a friend accused me of stealing her family’s stories for my own personal gain.

After the initial shock and anger wore off, I was somewhat amused by the accusation. Anyone who knows my writing style and the areas I tend to explore in my writing would probably agree that being the subject of my stories is not a good thing—certainly something you would never admit to! Many of the people important to me won’t even read my work. My writing partner is incredibly supportive of all of my writing efforts, but she has clearly defined rules for what she will and will not read from me. More often than not, a story falls in the latter category. My brother also supports my writing in ways that truly humble me, but he has made it crystal clear to me and his quickly-becoming-adult daughters that they will not read my stories. Ever. Friends on social media block my writing-related posts and even unfollow me altogether.

As much as such reactions hurt and frustrate me, I totally understand these actions. I write about things happening in our world that most people don’t want to—or can’t—think about. I tend to put a sympathetic face on evil—not because I promote evil, but because there’s some dangerous stuff happening in our own backyards (and sometimes in our own living rooms), but many people choose not to see these things, pretending they happen somewhere else, affect someone else, are carried out by someone else. This is a mentality that I genuinely abhor, so when I write, I often am reacting to my own disgust and frustration: How can you let this happen? Yes, you. You let it happen day in and day out by refusing to even consider that it could be happening right in front of you!

So when a friend says I stole her family’s story, I take the accusation seriously as a writer and as a human being. The story in question tackled a less scary issue, but the main character was dealing with more than a few issues, which were subtly woven in through the storyline: spousal abuse, PTSD, debilitating fear causing him to act out in dangerous ways. I tried to reassure my friend that the story was not taken from a few episodes that she shared about her family (episodes that had none of those issues from the story, by the way) and in fact had been written several days before we even got together and discussed these issues. I hoped that if she could understand my writing process, she would see that the story triggered such a strong reaction in her because of what her family was dealing with, not because of the words I had strung together on the page.

Unfortunately, that part of the situation does not have a happy ending. She and I are no longer friends, and I doubt we ever will be able to be in the same room together much less talk to one another. But I did learn something valuable from this entire experience:

I’m a damn good writer.

I wrote a 99-word story in response to a one-word prompt that evoked an incredibly strong reaction in a reader. No, it was not the reaction I wanted, but as writers, we don’t have the luxury of telling readers how they must react. We hope they will react a certain way, we envision them having the same reaction to our words that we might have had while writing them, but ultimately their reaction is theirs alone to have. And that reminds me of a maxim often bantered around the writing groups:

Writing is a lonely profession.

I have most often heard this said in reference to the writing process (e.g., locked away at our writing desks for months at a time), but the more I write, the more I believe that some writers become ostracized by friends and family because of what they write. Readers often think erotica authors are having sex all the time, so writers who focus on darkness and horror must be demented in some way, right? (Just to clarify, that’s sarcasm.) What about authors who demonstrate their power by making unsavory characters sympathetic in some way? Did Nabokov feel isolated and alone, ostracized even, after writing Lolita? He certainly struggled with his decision to seek publication, fearing he might lose his friends and even his job if his name was attached to it, but he ultimately did submit it for publication—and continued to do so when publisher after publisher rejected it.

We’re writers, magicians with words, and although the spells we cast may not always produce the expected effect, that shouldn’t stop us from writing and sharing the result. Indeed, it can’t stop us.

***

C. Jai Ferry grew up in a small rural town in one of those middle states between New York and Los Angeles. She put together her first book of poetry, complete with a lime green cover, for a class assignment in fifth grade. Today, she focuses on short stories with narrators who are often described as brutally honest and who likely need some form of professional help.

Her most recent collection of microfiction, “Unraveled,” earned a 5-star review from Readers’ Favorites, and her award-winning short story “Skeleton Dance” was made into a short noir film that was chosen by the Prairie Lights Film Festival for its Nebraska Noir anthology project. To learn more about her publications, get a free collection of short stories by signing up for her newsletter, and read her (more or less) weekly musings and stories, visit www.cjaiferry.com.

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Raw Literature is an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99 word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.

Raw Literature: Seasonal Summary #4

No matter where you are in the world, seasons hold a certain cadence. It might reflect work patterns or lifestyle; weather or crops; and even a season of writing. Whether or not you are at the beach with a good book, eating strawberries freshly plucked, or tapping the keys in a windowless nook, take time time to catch up on the Raw Literature guest essays at Carrot Ranch.

In this round up of essays, you will enjoy some visual creativity, discover newly published works, experience the weather and possibly develop a craving for cake and milk. Our essayists range from Poland to South Africa to England to Canada to the US. Raw literature knows no boundaries.

Raw from California Past: Charli Mills Imagines the Weather’s Impact. This is from my own pen, in response to the interesting memoir prompt hosted by Irene Waters in Times Past. Writing raw, I dug into memories of California weather to recreate the lives of historic figures in a trio of 99-word stories.

Raw from Poland: Art and Literature in the Raw by Urzula Humienik. While many writers visualize their characters, this novelist creates visual art as her characters. Urzula explains why she pursued a degree in art to expand her passion for literature. She writes, “There seems to be an interwoven connection in my mind between art and literature, and it’s possible I’m not the only one.” Her original artwork from current characters are included.

Raw from the East Coast: Sarah Brentyn is a Writer Unplugged. A master of brevity, Sarah writes from the raw center that marks her style. With a new book out, Hinting at Shadows, Sarah explores her process and awe for “raw.” She writes, “This tiny three-letter word is like a super hero. I’m a word nerd and I love that this petite power house can describe so many items, objects, and states.”

Raw from England: Anne Goodwin Goes Underneath. Crafting fiction from raw concept to publication ready is becoming second nature to Anne. In fact, she’s recently launched her second novel, Underneath, how one man decides to make use of his cellar. In her essay, Anne considers her obsession with stairs as a reoccurring theme in her writing. She writes, “In my novels, stairs symbolise the transition from one state to another, and possibly back again.”

Raw from Canada: Casia Shreyer Gives an Interview. With a new anthology published by Shreyer Ink Publishing, Casia answers questions about her creative process and working with other writers to develop collaborative works from raw literature. The theme is that of tolerance. “Everywhere we look people are grappling with the idea of tolerance and acceptance, weighing it against theology and tradition and their other personal values.”

Raw from Northeastern US: Lit Like Raw Milk by D. Avery. Long in the saddle and new on the scene at Carrot Ranch, D. Avery is making cream at the top of raw literature. The author of two books of poetry, Chicken Shift and For the Girls, D. reflects on memories of milk as a child. She writes about her recent experience writing with the literary community at the ranch, “The writing that is gathered there is rich and flavorful, like raw milk. It is filled with associations and connections, showing evidence of its origins and of its journeys.”

Raw from South Africa: Baking, Writing and Children by Robbie Cheadle. An interest in baking leads to one of writing and it’s a family journey with mother and son, Robbie and Michael. Both have expansive imaginations and now they are published. Robbie writes, “This original idea of Michael slowly developed into the Sir Chocolate series of books that exists today. We have written ten books, three of which are currently published.”

Cheers to whatever season may find you. May you live and write raw from the heart, from your deepest parts to your highest aspirations.

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Raw Literature is an ongoing conversation about those first works we create as writers, as literary artists. Guest Authors share personal insights on their craft, its process, the experience of creating raw literature and what they do with it. Carrot Ranch is a dynamic literary community that creates raw literature weekly in the form of flash fiction (99 word stories). If you have an essay idea, pitch to Charli Mills, Lead Buckaroo, at wordsforpeople@gmail.com.

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