Tinker Mountain – Day Two

Yesterday, on day one, I contemplated buying an umbrella since I’d left mine at home. None of the ones offered in Hollins’ book store were small enough to fit in my backpack, so I opted not to buy one.

Later in the afternoon the skies opened and dropped buckets of water. For a couple of hours. I hung around after a lecture in the hopes of scoring a ride back to my dorm, knowing if I hiked through the rain, I’d be sick in a day or so. It turns out I got a ride from another former FAA-er who is attending the Advanced Novel Workshop. He was a speechwriter for a former administrator, and after chatting we figured out our paths had crossed before. I arrived back at the dorm relatively dry, and he was quite the gentleman–walking me to the door and holding the umbrella over me.

Because, as I well know, knights in shining armor are rare, this morning, I went to the book store and purchased a magic, green, rain-warding-off umbrella, and it’s been sunny all day long.

Today’s craft lecture was “Things Writers Can Write Besides Just Stories, Novels, and

Pinckney Benedict at the craft lecture “Things Writers Can Write Besides Just Stories, Novels, and Poems.”

Poems,” conducted by my workshop instructor, Pinckney Benedict. And being Pinckney Benedict, we weren’t treated to a mere lecture. There were TV show trailers, movie excerpts, graphic novels about the king of the hillbillies, interactive computer games, and a musical adaptation of The Scarlet Letter, all creations of Pinckney’s. And they served to show us there is a world beyond the novel, story, or poem, and that it’s perfectly all right as writers to play.

Play is a big part of Benedict’s workshop, Stretching Your Fiction. Paracosm is a new word I learned, and it means “a prolonged fantasy world invented by children.” Benedict explained that writers, as children, were big into “Let’s pretend…” All our friends grew out of that stage, but we didn’t. Keeping play in our writing is embracing paracosm, and, as writers, that’s a good thing.

Today Pinckney reminded us what all our stories have to contain: The Agon, aka the central struggle in a drama or work of fiction, i.e., the conflict. A key component we often overlook. We may think it’s there, but when we examine the story closer, it’s weak or missing.

We did a practice reading, learned about eucatastrophe, and critiqued two participants’ stories, but the best part of the workshop are Pinckney’s riffs on craft. As far as I’m concerned we could sit for eight hours every day and just listen to him. The man is an MFA on two legs.

What is eucatastrophe? It’s when a story builds up that something horrific is going to happen, but a wonderful, beautiful thing happens instead. That’s eucatastrophe, much like my blog post early yesterday and the one today. I’d completely built myself up for something bad to happen, but, instead, it’s becoming something wonderful and beautiful.


Friday Fictioneers and More

When you see this week’s Friday Fictioneers’ inspiration photo, expect some creepy, “dark and stormy night” stories. It’s that kind of picture. I resisted the temptation, though, and opted for a little sci-fi. To read my story, click here. (If you don’t see the link on your computer, hover your cursor over the Friday Fictioneers tab above, and select “In Moonlight and Peace.”) To read other Friday Fictioneers’ stories, visit Madison Woods’ page and dig in. I know I’m looking forward to them all.

Enjoy my story, and, please, leave a comment. I love your comments. They heal an occasionally bruised writer’s ego. If you’re participating in Friday Fictioneers, leave the link to your story also, so I can read it. I definitely make the effort to read the stories of people who have read and commented on mine. Friday Fictioneers has become quite the writing community and with a global reach. In fact, go to Facebook and “Like” the Friday Fictioneers’ Facebook Page.

My story last week, Amontillado, has generated something completely unexpected: It has become the inspiration for a longer work, as yet untitled, about why that baby was inside the wall of an old house. I talked more about it in an earlier post this week, and I’m very excited about starting a new, novel-length work without NaNoWriMo being the impetus.

In other news, in about a month, I’m looking forward to the week-long Tinker Mountain Writers Workshop at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA. My workshop will be “Stretching Your Fiction,” and the instructor will be Pinckney Benedict, author of Miracle Boy and Other Stories. The description of this workshop was what led me to apply for it:

Writerly evolution most frequently takes place as a series of great evolutionary leaps: writers – often inspired by some profound challenge or undertaking – find themselves suddenly, swiftly, and significantly advanced in their art. This workshop, through challenging writing exercises, far-ranging discussion, and intense scrutiny of participants’ manuscripts, will endeavor to induce just such an evolutionary leap. Prepare to leave the class both exhausted and changed.

Scary, but I’m definitely looking forward to it. [Rubs hands together in anticipation]

Now, off to read some great Friday Fictioneers stories!

Friday Fictioneers Go to the Dogs!

I hope the title gets your attention. It’s all about the inspirational photo for today’s Friday Fictioneers–the weekly explosion of creativity restricted to 100 words. We’ll get to that in a bit.

I signed up for my first week-long writers’ workshop, the Tinker Mountain Writers’ Workshop in June at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA. It’s a pretty intense schedule, and I’ve signed up for a fiction workshop taught by Pinckney Benedict (Miracle Boy and Other Stories, published by Press 53). I went to his reading at AWP and was enthralled. If I get his workshop (you have to pick a primary and two alternates, in case your primary is full), I know I’ll learn a lot. I’m looking forward to it and can’t wait for June to get here.

When I saw today’s inspirational photo from Madison Woods, I felt very nostalgic for the dogs of my childhood. How could you not love this face?

But, of course, my love of dystopia took over. Here’s a 100-word story I call–

“The Last Dog on Earth.”

Yeah, I have an image to maintain, you know. And all this you see? It’s mine. I’ve peed on every tree, rock, and blade of grass, and no one would dare set paw here.

This is my gig—sitting here, surveying all that’s mine, looking cool. I trained myself not to chase squirrels or gulp my food. Not cool. I’m beyond puppy behavior anyway.

I get a herd now and then to show off my skills. They’re robots, though, and programmed, so it’s not quite the same. But what the hell? You gotta give the tourists what they expect.
For more snappy, 100-word fiction go to Madison Woods’ blog. Please read all the offerings, leave a comment (writers love it when you love our works), and consider joining us. I warn you, though. It’s addictive, but it’s a sweet addiction and costs you nothing.