It’s all Greek to me…
Odysseus and his men drive a burning stake into the eye of the giant Cyclops.
I’ve been doing an online course on the Ancient Greeks, my wheel house. I find when I start to learn ‘new things’, I don’t stray far from my field of interest. My degree is in History. Antiquities, think Romans and Greeks. An email popped up from Coursera asking if I would be interested in an Ancient Greek History course. Um, yeah-sure-you-bettcha I was interested. I was looking for something to side track a bit of my time as it was, I’m so recently immersed in my frantic world of writing.
You see, the kid is back to school. The triple digit (and 90 degree) weather has broken, and it has been lovely outdoor living. Windows open and a cool morning breeze rustling through the house…that sort of lovely. I have some big plans for my career within the next year. Just got a short story accepted for publication in a literary journal. (It’s slated to be published in February of 2020.) I’ve got a few tweaks coming to the old blog here and my ‘social network’. That one makes me uncomfortable and agitated, but we’ll deal with that later.
Needless to say, I’m back to spending uninterrupted hours a day in my head. Whether writing my new book, editing two old ones, submitting my work to the usual suspects, reading books on Italian literature and listening to Russell Brand’s podcast Under the Skin…my thoughts rush around, bouncing and snapping my synapses.
Here’s a weird bit of information. When you publish short stories on your own personal website, it often voids the chances of said story to be published in a literary magazine, most of them require pieces that have never been published before. That rule includes one’s own blog.
That is one of the reasons I tend not to put any short stories on my blog.
But I love this one. I wrote it for a short story / essay contest held here in my little corner of the world where the theme was Fuel. Well, when I think of fuel, the one thing that always comes to my mind is my love for coffee. It truly fuels me!
Coffee Shops by Nicole Sharp Continue reading
Two rejected grant applications have wandered their unwanted way into my mailbox. This past Friday found the arrival of the second rejection.
So, how have I been handling it? Not well. Rejection, whether it’s the first one or the thousandth, hurts.
And sucks and makes me feel bad and I spiraled and quit because what’s the point and and and…
And if you’ve been reading, you’ve noticed a difference in my determination this year. Well, I will admit that there has been a shift in my depression demeanor as well. Is that a thing?
I jumped on the podcast trendy train. No, I’m not putting a podcast out there, but I started listening to them. I didn’t know where to start with the plethora of podcasts that are out these days. Before getting into the podcast these past few months, I’ve only really listened to two from years past.
Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter did one called A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment. They did about 28 shows, the last one being in October of 2015. The other one I loved was The Dead Authors Podcast. “Legendary time-traveling writer H.G. Wells (Paul F. Tompkins) welcomes literary giants to The Upright Citizen Brigade Theater in LA for a lively discussion in front of a live audience. Unscripted, barely researched, all fun!”
I recently read the essay “One Hundred False Starts” by F. Scott Fitzgerald which was published in The Saturday Evening Post on March 4, 1933. It is an interesting insight to his process. The false starts are snippets he’d written down on pieces of paper that floated around him, on his desk, in his pockets. Bits of paper with bits of a story line written on them. Most of the ideas, he claims, he’ll never run down and make anything out of.
Of course, that had me thinking about my own process. There are big ideas, bull-ish ideas that won’t let go until they are satisfied their story has been properly writ. However, when I need a break from the books, I write short stories. Some ideas come to me quickly, but sometimes I skim through my archive of ideas to find inspiration. And my archive of work, it’s pretty large. I have a whole file on my computer dedicated to documents named “just an idea” “idea22” “Idea on a Sunday evening” “Idea 543”. The file folder is bulging with my random thoughts, my angst, and sometimes it seems just writing for the sake of putting words on paper. I also have note books called “works in progress”, the tactile version of my own one hundred false starts. Bits and pieces of paper with ideas jotted down. Ideas that seemed interesting at the time, that seemed like something worth following through with. Like something worth holding onto. Continue reading
I lived in Colorado for a few years, and while I was there I wrote. A lot. I was finding my voice and trying to figure out my process. I wasn’t doing these things consciously, I was just writing because I had to. Looking back now, of course I see all the lessons on writing I was learning.
During that time I also began submitting short stories. I feared submitting anything to an agent then, that seemed like such a pipe dream.
One of the publications, Mountain Gazette, had a contest every issue, they published a black and white picture and challenged their readers to write a 1000 word story about said photo. I didn’t always like the pictures, but one caught my attention. I wrote a short piece called “Ending Up.”
The Gazette did not publish my story. I pulled it out two years ago and gave it a polish. It has now won me second place in a literary contest and was just published in Flare, a literary magazine.
I just received my copy this past week and I always get a little thrill at these stepping stones in my career. So of course, I had to share this news with my three loyal followers.
Click here to open the short story.
Oh, and you might be wondering if I saved that photo?
Of course I did.
When the holiday’s come around, be it Christmas or Birthdays, I get a little put out. Not that it affects the whole day, well, sometimes it does, but sometimes it just turns my guts a bit. Why? Because I miss my family.
My hippie parents instilled such big wings on their children, myself, my brother and my sister that we took to flight and landed so far from where we were raised. One in Italy, one in Denver, and me in my Northwestern corner of the world.
And it’s good we did that. We had courage and strength enough to do that. And there is an added bonus of always having somewhere to go visit. Only, there are holidays and nephew’s baseball games and dance recitals and camping trips and birthdays I miss my damn family.
I read an article a few days ago that finally seemed to capture what it was I felt for the life I live between two places. It comes down to this idea: Idaho is where I live. California is home.
I was digging in the dirt yesterday. And when I dig in the dirt, I think of my great grandma Annabelle. I wasn’t born and raised in this little corner of the world. I traveled a bit before I got here. But my great-grandmother, she was born and raised in this corner of the world.
January 1940 Annabelle Smith
I didn’t know her very well; I was five when she passed away. But that isn’t the end of someone, is it? Passing away doesn’t erase them from the hearts of their loved ones. Stories continue to be told about her by family and friends. A dinner with family will produce a story of Annabelle’s mischievous ways and how she loved it when someone asked her to pass the butter. She would do so with a twist that sent the receiver’s thumb right into the butter as they tried to take the dish. She’d laugh and laugh at that one.
by Annabelle Smith
She was an instigator of great fun. She was caring and kind. She was hard-working and she loved her garden. So when I finally put down some roots here in Boise and began to show an aptitude for growing things; it was often commented that I had Annabelle’s green thumb.
So when I dig in the dirt, and when my heavy breathing becomes the rhythm in which I shovel, my mind clears and I think about my great grandma digging in this same dirt. Plotting her own garden. Getting excited at the first signs of spring. And there is a connection to the past there. I have a sort of “telephone line through time” (as the Indigo Girls put it so eloquently). Digging in the dirt, I’m lost in a mediation of connection with those that came before me. Continue reading
There are clashes and rumblings. The noise is deafening. The silence is threatening. I feel like I’m trapped on Willy Wonka’s boat, toward the end of the tour. Where violent images flash and scream. When everything the man is crumbles and become shadows of goodness that once might have been. The moment when everything is tilted.
And nothing will ever seem as it was once before.
The disruptive noise taunts; a shadow of arid despair sucks the watery blood from life.
The tornado of vocal destruction swirls and whirls inside my self. Each energy receptive nerve flushes the noise outward. Only to become trapped in a different area of this human’s body. And it builds up. Bubbles up. And I whisper the pondering wonder, are we going mad? Am I going mad?
And the noise grows.
Splashes of paint on canvas, a hurried sculpture or two, some spliced pictures pasted together. A poorly thought out poem. A rushed fictional hand job. The guts of artistic endeavors bleed out. Into the world. Into the void. In an effort to silence the mounting racket.
And I can’t figure out if I’m going mad or if it’s the rest of them or if it’s a little of both and if the madness is part of a symbiotic something and if it matters and if anyone can stop it.
Or should it be split open wide? Should it be ripped open wide? Should containment be wadded up into a ball and thrown in the trash?
We’re are all mad here…worked for the Hatter. A little.