Seeking Microfiction

Writing has been hard these days. I find that at any given time I either have nothing to say or too many things to say. It’s probably a stress thing. I should meditate more, and drink less coffee. Or more coffee.

Yes. It’s becoming clear to me that I’m not drinking nearly enough coffee. I should rectify that.

Then again, maybe I should drink less coffee after all…

I’m feeling indecisive. Can you tell?

I’ve been thinking that I want to start writing microfiction again. I was very into that style for a while, and it just dropped off suddenly for reasons I could not identify.

Flash fiction is something that has probably been around longer than we think, but has gained traction in the past few years. It does not seem to have a fixed definition. Some people will say under 1000 words, others will say under 1500 or 2000. Some people say anything that’s no more than a few pages is flash fiction.

Microfiction is sort of a subcategory of that, also without a firm word limit, but in my experience it defines works up to the 500-700 word mark. It can be as short as a sentence or two, or as long as a few paragraphs. In theory, the short piece contains an entire story, or enough of a story that the reader can fill in the missing details. Personally, I think there’s a danger of reading that criterion in a limited way. Yes, the intention is to try to fully communicate the piece in that rather small word count, but I don’t think that means packing a plot into that space. Many of my microfiction pieces are more along the lines of snapshots, moments in time, rather than trying to have a narrative. I think the form lends itself to that use and so I took full advantage of it.

I don’t know why I stopped writing them. I suppose I just stopped experiencing things that inspired me in that way. Or I got distracted by adult life and became separated from my imagination. Or both. So I tried to remember how I started writing them, and I remembered–of course, I started by reading.

One book I can go back to is Lydia Davis, Varieties of Disturbance. I would also like to find some microfiction I have not already read. Do you have any suggestions?

 

Five Things Friday: October 18, 2013

After this week, I don’t want to make my brain work right now. So, a short list.

 

Five things in my house that should be self-replenishing.

1) Half and half. Because when I run out, and don’t have anything to put in my coffee in the morning, it makes my life sad.

2) Aluminum foil. It doesn’t run out that often, but when it does, it takes too long for it to be replaced. And how am I supposed to package leftovers and sandwiches without it?

3) Trader Joe’s Chai. I get one container and probably get 6-8 cups out of it. Since I can’t get to TJ’s too often, when I run out I usually don’t have any for weeks or even months after. What I should do is buy three or four containers at once. That would last a while.

4) Water in the filtered pitcher. It’s not hard to refill, but it’s also not very big, so I have to stick it under the faucet at least twice a day.

5) The good soap. You know how once in a while you find some really nice hand soap on sale, and you buy it, and it smells really good and it’s probably fully organic/vegan/natural/hippie and it makes washing your hands so pleasant, but then you run out and you’re stuck with the slimier, extra-lemony softsoap? I really hate that.

 

Good night.

The Day I Wish I’d Had Today

I woke up around 8 o’clock, feeling pretty well-rested. I smiled as I slowly pushed my comforter over to one side, thinking of coffee.

I took my time to brew the coffee just right, put together an omelet with roasted red peppers, sliced up some mango, and took it all over to my computer. Breakfast is never complete without the internet.

An hour an a half later, I finally finished my coffee. It is the perfect amount of time two drink two mugs full. Coffee and leisure go so much better together than coffee and obligation: this makes everyday life somewhat unfortunate, as people grab a coffee to go sit down at a job that they find often boring at best, and rarely exciting or desirable.

A nice hot shower completes my long wake-up ritual. I know I’m taking a little too long to decide what to wear. By now it’s about 10:30, but that’s ok. There’s still plenty of time left in the day.

Unfortunately, I need groceries. Better to take care of that now, or I’ll end up putting it off even longer. But I only really need a few things, so it won’t take too long. I grab the essentials; stuff for breakfast, fresh fruit and vegetables, and some kind of dinner protein. I will admit that I really like returning from the grocery store, when at last I have lots of fresh food on hand.

If I leave quickly, I can make it to a mid-day yoga class. I grab the essentials and head out the door. It’s still kind of rainy, so I jump on the bus to get there, which means I’m earlier than I expected. I stretch for a bit and settle down on my mat to wait. Yoga is calming and allows my concerns about what happened yesterday or the day before to go to the corner and think about what they’ve done, until I have time to deal with them. I feel nice and centered at the end, hoping it would last at least a little while after I got home.

Lunch was the priority after I reached my kitchen, of course, so I made myself a salad with my fresh groceries, tossed with a bit of olive oil and lemon, and consumed it enthusiastically with a lot of water to drink.

When I was done I felt like lying down, but I wasn’t in the mood to nap. I worked a little on organizing the piles of stuff that I haven’t had a chance to address for too long.

Apparently I’m having a REALLY good day, because now all I can think about is writing. I decide to take my computer to the cafe down the street so that I won’t be tempted by the distraction of the internet. A cup of chai to keep me company, I start typing away. I don’t really know if any of it’s good. I’ll have to read it later and decide. But I’m writing, and that makes me happy. I make words. Being creative feeds me so much more than the things we always do to waste time, because our brains get so exhausted just trying to get through this world that we have no energy left to create anything. Letting myself be entertained is the easy way. It’s just lazy to do that instead of create. And to some extent I do need that break for my brain, but I think, like most people these days, I take it too far. How amazing it feels to be able to just sit and write.

Several hours have passed. Time for a late dinner, a short workout, and then maybe I’ll do some more organizing and read a bit.

*None of these things happened today. Today is not a good day. I have been so frustrated lately, and I feel like I don’t have the time to do the things I really want, and when I do, I don’t have the energy. I want to be able to stop time. I don’t care about the extra aging. People live too  long anyway. I’d rather have enough time in a day to feel like I can actually get things done.

A Good Blog: Another Pot of Chai

I recently started following this blog. I was drawn to it for the title, because, although I love coffee, chai is my FAVORITE beverage. I really liked this post, and it’s a great example of this blogger’s voice. It’s probably my favorite blog that I’ve found so far. I have been bad about finding blogs to follow so far, I need more, but I’m sure this one will remain high up on the list!

Think Many Thoughts

Because I haven’t been writing (as usual), but I feel bad about neglecting the blog (bad blogger! No treat for you!), I want to post some of the thoughts that have been running through my head lately. I will not complain about my commute or the MBTA. Just know that I would like to…

The morning needs an extra hour in it. 25-hour days. I need both sleep and time to do stuff, but actually having both is impossible for me. It makes me feel so very put-upon by life. Are there worse things? Sure. But if I had time to just do one productive thing in the morning, I think my days might go better.

My coffee maker is totally inadequate. I want a really good one, maybe Groupon will offer a deal soon.

Speaking of coffee: it would be really cool to be a freelancer and spend so many of my days sitting with my laptop in a coffee shop, sipping a latte or a chai, having finished my allotted food purchase of the day way too early and resisting the urge to buy another… while being productive of course. However, I don’t think this would even be possible, because any time I go into a coffee shop, there is no place to fucking sit. (If my swearing offends you, I am sorry, but it really feels necessary here.) I mean, have you ever actually tried to find a seat at a starbucks? It’s nearly impossible, and there’s always at least one person taking up two or three seats with their stuff or their don’t-come-anywhere-near-me attitude. It’s just selfish. Of course, I’d probably be kind of like that too.

In one of my rooms at Bennington, the desk was just a big plank of wood laid across two bookshelves. Although the lack of drawers was a little annoying, I had so much surface space and all the shelves I needed. I think I’d like to have another desk like that. Or one of those huge ones that turns a corner.

But for now, I could be satisfied with another, wider bookshelf and a shoerack.

I should be writing. I definitely should be writing. Tonight I’m going to write just a few pages. Won’t be too hard.

How do people manage to concentrate at work? I know it’s possible, but it can be so hard, with the very blue sky out the window, random food and drink cravings, and the thoughts that continuously pop into your head, often having nothing to do with the task at hand.

Money is one of the most frustrating aspects of life. I think we should all measure Gross National Happiness, like Bhutan.

And the thought that is almost always floating around in my head, either hovering over everything I’m doing, hanging out in a shadowy corner, or pushing its way to the front:  It’s certainly possible, in fact it’s likely, that I’m making a fool of myself. I have no idea how it will turn out, and I seem to have no say in it, either. It might come to nothing, leaving me all alone, a little bit emotionally wrecked. But I just can’t help it. The other choice is not an option – maybe I’m just too stubborn to give up, or maybe I’m stupidly hopeful on the basis of nothing at all. Whatever the reason, I am here, and I’m not going anywhere.

A Langston Hughes Poem

You know the one – it starts “Hold fast to dreams…”

It’s terrible, what we do. We have these dreams, and we let them fall to the wayside as life gets in the way. It doesn’t matter what we really want, because the culmination of our dreams feels so far away that pursuing them just seems pointless – or, at the least, like something that we can just get around to eventually. …Oh, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t say “we,” I should just speak for myself. This is what happens to my dreams.

Dreams are like that cup of coffee you accidentally left on top of the car before driving on the highway. You’re going to have to get another cup, because you’re never getting that one back.

Outside my window, a tree full of green leaves stands out against brick buildings and a uniformly gray sky. I want to be walking the peaceful streets of Cork, back when I was 21 and newly heartbroken and still having an amazing time in Ireland, the one place I had always wanted to go. What would happen if I picked up and moved to Ireland? I mean, aside from having no job and no money and ending up living in a field with a whole lot of sheep – what would my life be if I made that decision? Sometimes I wonder if there could be some way, of which I know nothing, that would make it possible. And as lonely and pained as I would be to once again be somewhere I have no friends or family, I bet I would do it. Ireland calls to me, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get back.