I have this dream every so often, where he and I get locked in a room together, and in order to get out, we have to talk to each other and work out why we broke up. It’s not like there’s a voice over an intercom explaining our predicament. We just know.
Sometimes in the dream, we yell at each other for so long that the oxygen runs out, and we both suffocate. Sometimes, we are civil and discuss things in the same way that groups of us used to discuss group projects, sharing the responsibility, splitting the tasks evenly between us: “You examine the decline in our communication, and I’ll look into our physical relationship.” Sometimes, I end up literally tearing him to pieces, but there is never any blood. He is made of paper.
And sometimes, we don’t speak at all. Sometimes, we turn our backs and retire to opposite corners where we turn to statuary. Sometimes, we fall into each other’s arms, forgetting that we had ever even parted. Sometimes, without a word, I climb onto his shoulders and unscrew the cover on a vent in the ceiling, and we escape through the air ducts.
(Illustrated by Sharkeye Jones)
Bad books on writing tell you to ‘WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW’, a solemn and totally false adage that is the reason there exist so many mediocre novels about English professors contemplating adultery.
Joe Haldeman (via maxkirin)
This explains sooo much of my creative writing curriculum in college.
I spoke to fifth and sixth graders about this. I told them to write what they know, but I made sure to tell them too that “write what you know” doesn’t mean they have to write about upper middle-class kids in suburban elementary school. They know about feeling scared and alone, about being brave, about loyalty and betrayal.
For me, “write what you know” is the key to writing real stories in unreal settings. Do not trash “write what you know.”
I expected my heart to skip or stop altogether. I expected to flush, for my fingertips to tingle. I expected the moment to feel momentous, to feel like stepping off of a ledge into the open air.
But there was just a blink of hesitation, my brain asking one last time if this was really what I wanted, and then, all I felt was resignation. I didn’t know if the choice was right or wrong - I suspected it would prove to be the wrong choice - but it was the choice I wanted, and I had surrendered to whatever came along with it.
Brandon Bosko broke up with Lucy about three months after her fifteenth birthday, just about three months after raising a plastic party cup to make a toast.
"To fifteen years of Lucy," he had said. "And to the next fifteen." The rest of her friends had raised their plastic party cups in agreement. Then, they all drank to her, Sprite and Coke and Mountain Dew. Lucy had blushed and smiled and blown out the birthday candles for which she had told her mother she was too old, but before she blew them out, Lucy made a birthday wish. Of course, she never told her wish to anyone.
Her birthday wish was this: that Brandon Bosko would be there fifteen years later to make a similar toast.
Fifteen years later, to the day, Brandon Bosko was in a hotel ballroom in Chicago. Rising from his chair amid applause and polite laughter, he rang a dessert spoon against his refilled champagne flute for effect, but his guests chimed in until he was forced to hold off on his intended toast to lean down to kiss his bride.
"I thought this day would never come," he said once the room had grown quiet again. "And to be honest, there were times I prayed that it wouldn’t." He smiled down at her playful frown. "But, darling, my life would be empty without you in it. When I imagine the future, you’re all I see." He raised his crystal champagne flute. "To tomorrow and the day after and the day after that, et cetera. To you, Lindsey."
And they all drank to her.
That night she would dream the structure of a sweater, how to build the body down from a ribbed collar and to grow the sleeves from holes left open on the sides. She would dream of cable stitches and Fair Isle color-work. She would dream of knitting rings around him, from collarbone to belt-loops, spangling his front with argyle diamonds, fitting his shoulders and arms nice and snug.
In her bed, she would pull the covers close around her and curl on her side, a warm pink shrimp, smiling in her sleep. On the floor, the results of her hours in the shop would wait in their bag, skeins and hanks of the various colors and weights she would choose between: greys and blues and greens, alpaca and cotton and angora, sport and worsted and roving. The ladies in the shop had loved her indecision.
In a week’s time, she would have three or four collars knitted, and she would stare at them for a while, imagining them circling his throat, picturing the colors in contrast with his near-black hair and with his skin the color of albacore. The extras would eventually be worked into hats for nephews and coworkers, and the leftover yarn would be stashed away to be remembered later and turned into scarves and vests and mittens.
Buy Inkslinging 365 by Sarah Simpson (Paperback) online at Lulu. Visit the Lulu Marketplace for product details, ratings, and reviews.
It appears lulu.com is offering free shipping today (Dec.3) with coupon code FREESHIP.
That means you can get my book in paperback without paying for shipping (You can always get the ebook with free shipping (because that’s how ebooks work)).
Why does my face look like that, you ask? Because I have incredibly conflicted feelings about my book. It’s a collection of flash fiction (one piece for every day of the year) that I wrote four years ago. I’m happy with a lot of the pieces, but another lot of them makes me cringe because as a writer, I’ve grown and changed in the past four years.
BUT! It’s really cool (albeit embarrassing) to have people read my work, and the book is illustrated (by the incomparable SharkeyeJones and myself).
*EDIT* Also, my dad published the book as a graduation gift, and he wrote all the extra stuff (blurb on the back, the forward, etc.), and that’s embarrassing, too, because he does some serious doting. I’m like, “Daaaad.”
I dreamt one time, a while back, that I was driving you to the airport.
"Pull over," you said from the passenger seat.
"What? You’ll be late!"
"I am," you said. "We should have left hours ago, but I was working up the nerve to kiss you, and now, I have. Pull over."
It made no sense, but I put on my hazard lights and checked my mirrors and slid over to the shoulder, and you kissed me.
INT. COFFEE SHOP - NIGHT
It’s late, and there are only a couple of customers in the shop, both with laptops or tablets, with head-phones on or ear-buds in.
MIRANDA and KELLY hang out behind the counter, not even trying to look busy.
KELLY: Actually, we ended up at his place
KELLY: No, at dinner, he mentioned Amanda Palmer’s
TED Talk, and I hadn’t seen it, so we went to his place to
watch it, and you know, one thing leads to another….
MIRANDA: One thing leads to another?
KELLY: And before you know it, we were watching “Doctor
MIRANDA: Makes sense.
KELLY: He’s playing it cool, but I get the feeling he’s a
major fan boy.
MIRANDA: Were you into it?
KELLY: I mean, yeah, I’d never tried it before, but it was
nice. I liked it.
MIRANDA: Just wait. You’ll be on Tumblr in no time.
KELLY: But how is The Professor?
MIRANDA: Sounds like “The Doctor.”
KELLY: Maybe your professor is a time lord, and you can
be his companion.
MIRANDA: If he is, why hasn’t a big blue phone-booth
materialized on my doorstep?
KELLY: Not a phone-booth - a police box.
MIRANDA: Be sure to send me your Tumblr URL, so I can
(Better to keep it short and simple. And the more personal, the better.)
(I’ll just be posting directly from my ask-box. There won’t be any editing, and I won’t be using the stories any further than posting them to tumblr.)
How should you tell a story when it’s not completely yours to tell?