The Wee Folk Return to Friday Fictioneers!

I’m not sure where the beautiful photo for this week’s prompt was taken, but its stark beauty really struck a chord with me. An idea of what to write came to me as soon as I saw it. Regardless of where the photo was taken, it said Ireland to me.

There have been many waves of immigration from Ireland to America, but the one we’re most familiar with was the one created by the mid-nineteenth century potato famine. Most farmers then in Ireland rented plots of land from usually absentee landlords. When the potato crop failed, they couldn’t pay rent. The landlords would then raise the rent in an attempt to ensure their income, and eventually so many people wanted a place to live, the landlord’s men would come and evict a family then move another in immediately. They couldn’t grow anything either, and they would be evicted, and the cycle went on and on.

America was the land of opportunity for those Irish immigrants, but they arrived and saw the “No Irish Need Apply” signs when they searched for work. Regardless of which migration, it was usually spurred by poverty, and too many times they migrated to another form of poverty.

That was true of my grandmother, though her migration wasn’t until the first third of the twentieth century. She was convinced, however, that the wee folk had migrated to “A-mer-i-cay” at some point because she left milk and bread out for them every night.

This week’s story is “Diaspora,” and it features two leprechauns–Seamus and Declan–I’ve written about before. Though this is a little more serious topic than the other stories, Declan still thinks only of himself, and Seamus sees the big picture.

If you don’t see the link on the title, click on the Friday Fictioneers tab at the top of the page and select “Diaspora” from the drop-down list. To read other stories (or to post one of your own) from Friday Fictioneers, click on the frog-like icon at the bottom of the story.

By the way, the word “diaspora” is of Greek origin and from the nineteenth century as well, and it meant “a dispersion.” The meaning I’m using in the story is “any group migration or flight from a country or region” or “dispersed outside its traditional homeland.”

Spy Flash – Week 20

Yet again, last week was Week 20 of the Rory’s Story Cube Challenge, and yesterday the prompt for Week 21 got posted. In aviation parlance, it’s called being “behind the power curve”–you’re at a high angle of attack with full power but going no where. That’s what it has to be because I won’t accept the other possibility: that I’m running out of ideas, steam, or inclination.

No, I blame it on the pyramid.

The pyramid showed up again, for the fourth time. I’ve used the pyramids of Giza (twice) and “a pyramid of earth,” as in a pile of dirt as someone dug a hole. I wasn’t sure I could come up with a fourth, original use of the word. Jennie Coughlin, who posts the weekly prompts for the challenge, reminded me that it could be a prism, but since I didn’t come up with that, I thought it might be cheating.

The solution was a New World pyramid but with a bit of a twist. Here’s last week’s role of the cubes: 

And here’s what I saw: l. to r. – lock/padlock; turtle/tortoise/slowness; pyramid; carrying/burden; flashlight/light/illumination; pushing/up against a wall; turn/right turn; dismay/sadness; actors/drama.

The story for this prompt is “The Tortoise and the Hare.” If you don’t see the link on the title, click on the Spy Flash tab at the top of the page and select it from the drop-down list. If you want to give the Story Cubes Challenge a try, write a story of any length based on the objects and actions above, then post a link to that story on Jennie Coughlin’s blog.

Reboot

Yesterday was Labor Day, so in solidarity and in gratitude for weekends, minimum wage, health benefits, and many other positive things organized labor has fought and some died for, I took the day off from writing.

Truth be told, since I returned from Tinker Mountain Writers Workshop two months ago, all I’ve been doing is revising, editing, and revising some more. Every time I faced doing something new–including blog posts–I had a lot more trouble getting started than I usually do. The editing and revising I was doing focused on “fixing” the common mistakes I learned about at Tinker Mountain and the other workshops/conferences I’ve attended this year.

I figured it was just me, having a bit of writer’s block. Then, one of my Tinker Mountain classmates e-mailed our group list and asked, “It is just me, or is anyone having trouble writing since the workshop?”

After a little happy dance that I wasn’t alone in this, several other writer friends from the workshop chimed in with the same lament. Then, our ever-wise instructor, Pinckney Benedict, silenced us all. “That’s the purpose of TMWW,” he said. “We push you and challenge you and wring you out so you have to go home and reboot.”

Oh. [Pushes reset button here.]

And, well, that makes perfect sense because what’s the purpose of a workshop if not to alter you in some positive way, especially something as intensive as Tinker Mountain? I think if we hadn’t come away needing to reboot, it would have been a waste of time and money.

I know some writers will find that scary. You’re satisfied with where your writing is, with your skill level; you don’t see how you could be a better writer. I’d counter that with, as with anything that requires skill, you’re in continual learning mode. I’ve had the same concern about pursuing an MFA: What will that do to the voice I’ve developed as a writer?

Yes, I was pretty happy (read complacent) with my writing before Tinker Mountain, but that reboot was exactly what my writing needed. I look at my work with less subjectivity now, and the revising/rewriting post-reboot is producing much better work.

A reboot can feel a lot like a boot in the ass, but, as with a good, swift kick, sometimes you need just that.