Process is Progress . . . Right?

Three parts forward, two parts back. Ah, that’s the writing process. Believe it or not, I have been feverishly working on the fourth and final part of the “Valentines” story. It’s rather long, but I hope to have it posted in the next few days. If nothing else, it is an inward testament, showing me that if I resolve to “write long,” it (eventually) happens. And, failing that, I’ve heard from a wise bird that it can live forever as a “shitty [in this case, second or third] draft” you might have subjected yourself to.

On another note, the following flash fiction piece wrote itself after I read and was inspired by these two writer-friends’ Friday Fictioneers’ posts, each quite different. (There are others I haven’t read yet, brainburstingly great ones, to be sure, so check them out at Rochelle’s FF site.)

I thought you might also enjoy seeing the quickie editing process I applied to the typed versions (there was 1 written, with overlays, chicken scratches really, of edits). If you want to skip to the end, that’s the short version (“Mute-4″), at about 109 words. Here’s the little bit of research I did, paired with good, old (gold?) imagination. Cheers!


hollywood-crowd-photo by Rochelle Wisoff Fields
Photo copyright Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

 Mute-1

Feet are a maddening mode. Some shuffle or scuff. Run, roll, gallop, or canter. Others amble. Shadows, the lot of them! Callous, stilted catches of chiaroscuro self-enchantment, blotting out all that is light.

I’ve come to hate them all. Artificial. Real. Flat and triangular. Moist, gluey, or dry. Circling. Cloven. Unshod, unshorn. Fleshly silk and scratchy felt. Mired here in this place I don’t know. Is it Southern California, Asia, or a blip on Orion’s belt? I can’t be sure from this perspective, hidden in the metal ducts smothering human smells.

A tintinnabulation of toes, steady, drives me nearly circleward with its wordless taunt. Loosely translated: I move, therefore I am human.

What approximates for ears feels them all, footpads fettered to them. Forever. With tenebrous eyelash-like appendages, I scratch walled words over and over in this sub-city hell. I, voyager, was sentenced to exile, rooted in your time and place. Hear my mute mandibles’ message . . . (159 words)

 

Mute-2

Feet are a maddening mode. Some shuffle or scuff. Run, roll, gallop, or canter. Others amble. Shadows, the lot of them! Callous, stilted catches of chiaroscuro self-enchantment.

I’ve come to hate them all. Artificial. Real. Flat and triangular. Moist, gluey, or dry. Circling. Cloven. Unshod, unshorn. Fleshly silk and scratchy felt. Mired here in this place I don’t know. I can’t be sure from this perspective, hidden in the metal ducts smothering human smells.

A tintinnabulation of toes, steady, drives me nearly circleward with its taunt. Loosely translated: I move, therefore I am human.

All as I scratch out walled words with muted mandibles: I, voyager, will be sentenced to exile, rooted in your time and place . . . (120 words)

 

Mute-3

Feet are a maddening mode. Shuffle, scuff. Run, roll, gallop, or canter. Others amble. Callous, stilted catches of chiaroscuro self-enchantment.

I’ve grown to hate them all. Artificial. Real. Flat. Triangular. Moist, gluey, or dry. Circling. Cloven. Unshod, unshorn. Fleshly silk and scratchy felt. Mired here in this place I don’t know. I can’t be sure from this perspective, hidden in the metal ducts smothering human smells.

A tintinnabulation of toes, steady, drives me nearly circleward with its taunt. Loosely translated: I move, therefore I am human.

All as I scratch out walled words with muted mandibles: I, voyager, will be sentenced to exile, rooted in your time and place . . . (112)

 

Mute-4

Feet are a maddening mode. Shuffle, scuff. Run, roll, gallop, canter. Others amble. Callous, stilted catches of chiaroscuro self-enchantment.

I’ve grown to hate them all. Artificial. Real. Flat. Triangular. Moist, gluey, dry. Circling. Cloven. Unshod, unshorn. Fleshly silk and scratchy felt. Mired here in this nowhere, no-when place. I can’t be sure from this perspective, holed in the metal ducts smothering human smells.

A syncopation of ceaseless toes drives me nearly circleward, taunting. Loosely translated: I move, therefore I am human.

All as I scratch out walled words with muted mandibles: I, voyager, will be sentenced to exile, rooted in your time and place . . . (104)

Undelivered Valentines: Part 3

Part 1 of this story is here. Part 2 is here. And without further ado, here is Part 3 . . .

Elie-Wiesel-time-forget-killing

Undelivered Valentines: Part III

A Serial Story

by Leigh Ward-Smith

 

She found Emily sitting idle on the front-porch swing reading Watchers by Dean R. Koontz. Her back was sloped Thinker-style, elbow triangulating with her knee and propping up her chin.

An untouched peanut butter and strawberry jelly sandwich sat on the small table with a couple cans of soda, one already empty.

Jamie pictured a Lilliputian Snoopy piloting one of the insects that buzzed in an endless elliptical pattern around the sandwich and open-mouthed can.

“Super, you found the sandwich and the sodas.”

“Mmm-hmm.”

“Good book?”

“Mmm-hmm.”

“You know, we both should cut down on our soda consumption.”

“Mmm-hmm.”

By that point, Jamie knew the teen had tuned her out, so she decided to inject some fun into the conversation.

“I was thinking of getting a Mohawk in my hair and a skull tattoo as well. Would they look good on me?”

“Mmm-hmm.” Emily nodded slowly.

“That President Bush sure is a hot guy; I think I’ll steal him from Barbara. Will you help me?”

The clicking of nails on a wooden floor skittered to a stop just inside the front door entryway of the house. But only a trebled yelping jangled their attention, just as a dog-blur slapped the screen door open a moment later and bolted out. Continue reading

Undelivered Valentines: Part 2

A thrilling Thursday eventide to you! Here’s the second part of “Undelivered Valentines.” Part I can be reviewed, reread, rehashed, reanimated, or revived here. I had hoped this part would be a tad shorter, but it says what it needed to, I think. Conclusion will be posted, fingers crossed to ward off evil, tomorrow. Hope you enjoy this unfolding.


 

One in series of Lewis Hine's photographs of mill workers, mostly child laborers, in the 1900s-1910s.
One in series of Lewis Hine’s photographs of mill workers, mostly child laborers, in the 1900s-1910s. Here, a young woman like Gladys is at the spinning machine, circa 1908.

Undelivered Valentines: Part II

A Serial Story

by Leigh Ward-Smith

 

Sandy, our realtor, couldn’t provide any concrete information, but she pointed me to Mrs. Cole, who lived two streets over, “near where the Dawg’s Leg Tavern used to be,” she said, as if that would be helpful to a transplant like me.

I didn’t know how to begin, so I just took a gulp of air and knocked on the door. A fat red tabby one-eyed me from the sturdy rocker on the front porch but didn’t bolt as I creaked up the stairs.

I’d prepared my speech.

Hi, I’m Jamie Meadows, from two streets over. My daughter and I just moved earlier this summer and our realtor suggested we see you. We found an old—no, no, drop that word; it sounds negative and judgmental—letter in our house and wondered if you might help us find the rightful owner. It seems to be an undelivered Valentine or something like that.

I only hoped Em and I would be successful later today, when we tromped over to the town library and history museum.

The door opened and an elderly woman in a white and flower-patterned blouse and black pants stood before me, squinting. I wasn’t sure whether she got many visitors, but as I wondered, she began to smile.

“Hello, Miss. Can I help you?”

I folded my hands calmly in front of me and began my spiel.

“Oh, yes, I’d heard someone moved into the old Lincoln place. No relation to the former president, that I know of. Please do come in, hon. Sit a spell, and we can talk it over. I just made a peach cobbler that you’re welcome to share.” Continue reading

Undelivered Valentines: A Serial Story

As Halloween 2014 drags its bloated, or soon-to-be-bloated, body nearer, of course I thought it appropriate for a love story of a different kind. I’m splitting the skull of this story into three pieces, for your (I hope) ease of reading and enjoyment. Comments and referrals are always appreciated. :)


 

_Ghost_ photo
Image from Ghost Study.

Undelivered Valentines: Part I

by Leigh Ward-Smith

An icepick of a shriek rocked me free from my tendrily bedsheets. As I bolted out, almost tripping on their thin cotton arms, I was just able to clap eyes on the garish red numbers: 2:59.

“Em, what’s wrong?” floated out of me before I even felt my toes scuff the frayed, but dense, carpet in the hallway outside her room. It was an inky Indiana night, sticky as a state fair cotton-candy funnel cake.

The hallway light I’d brushed on my way past threw an elongated white triangle onto the dark floor that slunk up the side of the bed.

“Th-th-there,” she pointed toward the closet, her arm board-stiff.

Continue reading

Haiku Thursday: On a Theme of Release

October has become a candypalooza in many parts of the world. But for just a few minutes, why don’t we imagine something different. Perhaps even an Octo-beer. And in that vein, hope you enjoy these haiku drafted written for Haiku Horizons.


 

Frost, Fall, Leaves_20141022_1256

Growing

Do these trees release

willingly, in warm wisdom

learning to let go?

 

Laws of all

We learned from our souls’

terminal velocity

to embrace the Fall.

 

Manifesto

And I will free it

so I can soar, roar, risk it

all and fall, to rise.

 

Lush language

Writer, gulper of

overheard wisdom stolen

from wide-open taps.

 

Writer, brewer

What is writing, if

not distilling strong mood-shine.

Reader, want a jar?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six-Word Stories on Fun and Terror

Misc Kids & Such_20141016_1217
Pumpkin farm, by Leigh Ward-Smith

At the risk of being dubbed at sixes and sevens, today I will be having some fun with Halloween themes. If you’d like to participate in the contest by SMITH magazine (no relation), you can do their SixContest #38, wherein you comment on their Website and share your six-word Halloween-related stories—funny, silly, melancholy, petrifying, stupefying, or elsewise—by Monday the 27th of October.

Here are a few of mine.

MEDITATIONS ON FUN AND FEAR (AND LOATHING) AT HALLOWEEN

Misc Kids & Such_20141016_1221
Pumpkin ball, by Leigh Ward-Smith

Dragon-souled moon looked through me.

Four: tiny tiger. Forty: colossal mouse.

Fear: Realizing they don’t come back.

Green skin still won’t scrape off.

Sadly, Mrs. B always gave apples.

It’s scary to be somebody else.

Hell is oneself. In saecula saeculorum.

Humanity: Spectral particles forced to coalesce.

“Haunted” houses much better than mine.

Neighborhood haunted house: “spaghetti is guts.”

Ugh, Uncle ate entire candy bag.

Halloween: The world’s dentists thank you.

 

 

 

 

777 Challenge: An Excerpt Concerning Bones and Balloons

Wow, would you look at that! I have been invited to take part in the 777 Challenge by the ever-so-thoughtful Norma, who writes and artifies over at the Emovere blog. I’m chuffed to have been asked. Thank you, Norma.letter_writi_24714_md

The premise of this challenge is that you go to page 7, line 7, of your work in progress. From there, quote the next 7 lines in a blog post on your Web site like so . .  .

Be sure to check out Norma’s slice of 777 heaven, and you can also view her other nominees’ links there.

My novel-in-progress’ page seven is a bit of a dud. It’s mid-dialogue, and I’m afraid it might not be easy to follow what’s going on. Instead, I have selected an excerpt from a longer short story that I wrote a couple of years ago and would still love to develop. It has flown through several title incarnations and has currently landed at “Wallow,” but I’m apt to change that.

I’ve given you an extra line or so at the end.

Without further ado, here it is.


. . . One time, I’d found a miniscule skull next to the stone ledge just under the pipe, as if the animal had recently put its head down only to rest and had decided, instead, to die. The bony head was so white next to the muddy ledge, and I’d accidentally tipped its ribcage over the edge with my toe before I saw all of the body. You couldn’t even see them slip silently like white strings of confetti dragged below the churning water’s surface; it was as if they’d never even been there.

Soon enough, I reached the pipe. I didn’t know what to do; I just knew I needed to get as far away from home, from my parents and all the reminders of the sister-who-never-was, as I could. Maybe I could go up to the abandoned barn my faraway friends and I’d found in the woods last summer. It was our makeshift clubhouse for a time, owl droppings, eerie noises, and all.

As soon as my foot was out on the slick, black metal, I began to slip.  . . .


Part of the 777 challenge is also tagging several other writer friends who might be interested in sharing 7 lines from a current, forthcoming, or, methinks, previous work (as long as it doesn’t violate any copyright or contractual obligations of course). From what I understand, you may alter the lines and tinker with them, in the event you want to get them published as never-before-seen text in the future.

I would like to nominate the following writers, and there is absolutely NO OBLIGATION to participate. It’s for fun, y’all. :)

Stephen at Stephen Thom Writing (if he’s not too busy with touring!)

Sarah at Sarah Potter Writes (she’s a busy writer who’s at work on a science fantasy novel, so she might be unavailable)

Andreé at One Starving Activist & Scribe’s Cave (she has a soon-to-be released title called After that you’ll want to see more about)

Ali Abbas, who has published two books so far: a collection of short stories, called Image and Other Stories, and Hajj – My Pilgrimage, which is a nonfiction account of his journey with his family to the holy city of Mecca

Dr. Joe in enchanting Dublin (hey, Joe, have you got any longer stories or poems you’d like to share?)

Syd Dent, who enthralls with his steampunk stories, including The Finder’s Saga, and shares author influences and more on his blog

Andrea Stephenson, who holds many awards and publication credits for her phenomenal short stories and who blogs at Harvesting Hecate