The writing work ethic and KAPOW

Today is past the usual day for Monday’s Kick-Ass Prompt of the Week (KAPOW), but I’m combining posts for a while.  I’ve been feeling overwhelmed.  I was going to say a little overwhelmed, but that would be an oxymoron.

My troubles generally stem from my ability to say no to others, yes, but mostly to myself.  I have trouble differentiating between what I can do and what I should do.  I’m not going to get into specifics; this is a writing blog, not a personal flog – I mean blog.  Heh.

Part of the problem has been because I’m not thinking of writing as work.  I have tried to talk myself into it aloud for some time.  My husband has demonstrated a better grasp than I have.  He just now came up to me with a question about a 5-gallon bucket of green beans he had just picked from the garden.  When he saw my computer display with the blog post on one side overlapping my WIP he said, “Oh, you’re working.  Never mind.  I’ll take care of it.”  What a guy.

I had the good fortune to be able to work from home for a number of years for an answering service.  When I answered phones in the office, I worked five eight-hour days.  From home, I was able to work four ten-hour days.  That meant I had three days per week off.  The remaining four days I sat my rear in my office chair in front of the computer, donned my headset and logged in.  During that ten hours I had three fifteen-minute breaks.  It was not a hardship, other than having to eat fast, a habit I’m still trying to break.

It was easier because I wore a headset and responded to calls as they came in.  I had no control over the frequency or the type of call – some were retail sales, some were customer service, some were after-hour calls for professionals and more.  The work desktop and the calls coming in were the driving force.

Now that I’m retired from the workplace, when I sit here to write, it’s on me.  I’m the driving force.  I am also easily distracted.  When I was taking calls for work, everybody knew I was working.  I didn’t answer the home phone, I didn’t take visitors, I was working.  Enforcing that work ethic while I’m writing is more problematic.  Some of my family and friends still think of my writing as a hobby.  I’m afraid I don’t enforce the do-not-disturb aspect as I should.  It’s a balancing act.  I’m still working on it.

In that vein, this week’s KAPOW challenge is to write, in 300 words or fewer, a description of something in your workspace.  It can be where you work now, have worked or want to work.  Narrow the focus to one inanimate object, no matter how large or small – no dialog and no character interaction.

Hmmmm.  Looking around my workspace . . .

Ah.

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THE FAILED VIOLET PLANTER

by C J Gorden

Its destiny, its purpose, had been to compliment the leaves and blooms and encompass the soil and roots of a prized dollar-ninety-five Wal-Mart violet purchased at the same time.  The two-piece container was designed to be a self-waterer, to draw water from the lower bowl through the unglazed portion of the upper receptacle nested within it in a way that made violet care . . . carefree.  It was not to be.  The water did not seep upward slowly over time, it flooded the coveted violet’s roots within the month and killed it dead.  No one noticed the sodden soil until it was too late to save the violet and the disenfranchised planter was relegated to a small, dilapidated box in a dark closet of shame.  After some time had passed the horror had abated and the planter was noticed again.

Fate has provided a new purpose for the former violet planter with the blue crackle glaze.  The high-shouldered, gracefully tapered base was judged stable enough to keep rulers, scissors and letter openers upright and the smaller container nested inside it keeps the contents from sprawling.  It holds not only an assortment of pens, pencils and highlighters, but a revolving medley of items from the entire household.  Among other miscellany there is a crochet hook, a Barbie’s golf club appropriated after a 2-year-old’s attempt to use it to clean a kitten’s ear, an impromptu caliper made from parts of two sewing rulers and across its lip rests a straightened paper clip once used to manually eject a CD from a misbehaving drive.  You never know when you might need one of those. No longer a failure, the planter has become a  reflection of its environment and is now known as The Pencil Cup.

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Monday’s Kick-Ass Prompt of the Week (KAPOW)

I’m late again.  Had another bout with some kind of bug.  Feeling a lot better today and determined to catch up.  In lieu of my own writing prompt, I’m going to pass along a prompt from another blogger.  She shares her words at Fay Moore: I Want To Be a Writer.

Fay offers up music prompts, something totally out of the realm of my experience.  I have been a little chicken to try one but have decided since she responded to my last KAPOW prompt, it is time to put on my big girl panties and do it.

The prompt song is “Lightening Crashes” by Live.  It is not the kind of music I usually listen to so it was a stretch in every way.  It is an intense, ethereal song with a universal premise.  I considered writing poetry, but since the lyrics are poetic, it felt like I’d be butting heads with the lyricists over their own song.  So I went with poetic prose.  It was an eye opening experience and unlike anything I’ve written to date.  Thank you, Fay!

If you decide to write a piece for the prompt and post it to your blog, please let me know about it in a comment, or post the piece itself in a comment.  I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with.  Comments are appreciated.  Kind critique is also appreciated.

 

REBIRTH

by C J Gorden

Tympanic rolls of thunder rumble low over the dying day as dark, roiling clouds connect with bursts of blinding light to the waiting Earth.  A lone angel weeps.  Her tears renew the life below and her wails grieve the losses of the day and the dying of the light.

With a pervasive howl a cleansing wind sweeps over and around, above and below, drying the angel’s tears while down below, cradled in the Earth’s embrace, an old woman breathes her last as a new baby takes a wailing first breath, echoing the dying of the day and the rebirth of a new dawn.

Monday’s (late) Kick-Ass Prompt of the Week (KAPOW)

The Monday prompt has been moved to Tuesday this week while I recover from a bug of some sort that has taken up residence in my throat and neck.  Ugh.

The last post was about the rewards of carrying on, writing when it’s difficult, writing in spite of distractions.  In that vein, the prompt is to write about accomplishment despite adversity.  That can be a tall order for 300 words or fewer.  It doesn’t have to be epic or involve galactic peace, although I wouldn’t rule it out.  Write it in whatever form works for you.  I rarely write poetry, but for the last KAPOW challenge I just couldn’t get it on paper any other way.

If you decide to write a piece for the prompt and post it to your blog, please let me know about it in a comment, or post the piece itself in a comment.  I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with.  Comments are appreciated.  Kind critique is also appreciated.

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Quest

by C J Gorden

The spider runs around and around on the speckled enamel of the cup.  Unable to see as far as the green leaves overhead or the blue dappling of a clear mid-day sky, his world has shrunk to the inside of the smooth cup.  Several legs exploring the vertical side of the cup, around and around he goes, occasionally changing direction.  He stops to listen, to feel vibrations in the cup, aware he is a predator who could become prey.  His goal does not change and he resumes his path around the cup.

He freezes as tremors travel through the cup and the light overhead darkens.  Warm moist air from a large nose huffs around in the cup and he shrinks himself as small as possible.  The sky lightens momentarily, but the nose is replaced by a paw and the cup is pulled over on its side.

The spider stays crouched inside his former prison which now feels safer than the unknown outside it.  He hears the yip of a fox kit just outside the cup.  The kit crouches and looks inside the cup, curious, but his mother wants him to follow her.  He’s big enough they’ve left the den looking for food and she’s impatient.  She barks at him and trots away, sure he’ll follow.  After one more look inside the cup, he does.

Tentative legs explore the lip of the cup and the rocks of a cold campfire under it.  The spider raises himself to running height and makes his way swiftly out of the cup, down the rocks and into the surrounding grass.  The prison of the cup forgotten, his new goals are a home and food.

Monday’s Kick-Ass Prompt of the Week (KAPOW)

My head is so full of plans.  The first is to drive back to Minnesota from Florida.  In keeping with that plan I’m writing this blog post two, count them, two days early so they will post on time while I’m on the road.  One small victory over procrastination and my internal chaos.  Plan two is to formalize a writing schedule as soon as I get home and can install my new calendar on my desk.

Today’s prompt is to write 300 words or fewer about chaos versus order.

If you decide to write a piece for the prompt and post it to your blog, please let me know  about it in a comment, or post the piece itself in a comment.   I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with.  Comments are appreciated.  Kind critique is also appreciated.

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CHAOS FACT

by C J Gorden

 

Some say chaos is a theory.

They fail to see my mind,

Where order is anathema

And whirling thoughts sublime.

 

The world values order

Because most could not accept

The flight of all the random thoughts

Except maybe while they slept.

 

What all those people miss, my friend

Is what I can explain

‘Cause where I live, those random thoughts

Are always in my brain.

 

People who are not myself

Converse inside my head.

Their lives unroll no matter what,

Whether in or out of bed.

 

I feared becoming crazy

And though some would say I am,

I’ve come to realize

Sanity’s a sacrificial lamb.

 

Don’t worry about me, really,

I can lay your fears to rest.

The chaos in my mind, my friend,

Is why writing’s what I do best.

Monday’s Kick-Ass Prompt of the Week (KAPOW)

The last post was about separating personal biases from those of your characters in your writing.  Today, in 300 words or fewer, write a piece that shows a character’s bias clearly.  It can be fiction or creative non-fiction and it doesn’t have to be negative, in fact let’s strive for the positive.

I’m simplifying the prompt posts by following the prompt with my answer to it.  Soon I will change the past posts to incorporate the pieces written for the post into the post itself instead of on a separate page.  Much simpler for you and for me.  When I update past posts, hopefully you won’t be inundated with notifications.  I’ll try and not let that happen.

If you decide to write a piece for the prompt and post it to your blog, please let me know  about it in a comment, or post the piece itself in a comment.   I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with.  Comments are appreciated.  Kind critique is also appreciated.

PERSPECTIVE

by C J Gorden

“We weigh the same,” said my daughter, Mandy, as she and her best friend, Naomi, came out of her room to look in the full-length hallway mirror.  “How come my jeans fall right off your hips?  It’s not fair.”  Looking over their shoulders comparing derrieres.  Naomi’s eyebrows were raised as if the reason for the mystery escaped her.  Mandy’s scowl said she just wanted her recently acquired hips to disappear.  Hmmm.

They’d come home on the bus together after school to get some girl time.  Later, after we’d taken Naomi home for supper, I broached the subject.

“So, did you guys have fun this afternoon?  What was going on when you were swapping jeans?”  Her scowl was instantly back.

“I’m getting fat.  Look at me.  All of a sudden my hips are huge!”

“Huge?  Why do you think they’re huge?”

“She’d have to wear a belt to keep my jeans up.  She’s not getting fat.  She has these little skinny hips, like I used to have.”

“I’ll let you in on a secret kiddo.  She’ll probably grow a woman’s hips too, if she’s lucky.  She’s just a late bloomer.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

I explained (again) how babies come into the world.  This time I included the mother’s bone structure in the hip area and how that relates.  She mulled that over silently and I left her to it.

Several days later, Mandy and Naomi were again trying on each other’s clothes.  Naomi pulled up Mandy’s jeans and let go, which promptly dropped past her posterior.  I heard Mandy’s laughter coming from just out of sight.  Her hand appeared, finger pointing at her friend.  “You are going to be in labor forever!”

Monday’s Kick-Ass Prompt of the Week (KAPOW)

The last post had to do with making time for writing, whether it be fiction, non-fiction or blogging and scheduling, complete with goals.

This week’s prompt is to write about time, be it not enough time, too much time, overtime at the job, overtime (extra innings) in a Twins game . . .  You get what I mean.  Be creative and keep your piece to a hundred words or fewer.  Regarding time, I have no choice but to be creative.  I have yet to apply some control over it and apply it to my reality.  I am working on it though.  I am.

Send submissions to caroljgorden@gmail.com.  Put “KAPOW Submission” in the subject line.  They will be posted to the new KAPOW page as soon as I can get to them.  Make sure I know what name I should use for attribution.  I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with.  Comments are appreciated.  Kind critique is also appreciated.  My submission is posted on the KAPOW Submissions page.  When the new week’s prompt submission is posted, the past week’s submissions will be moved to that month’s KAPOW sub-page.

 

IT’S RELATIVE

by C J Gorden

I’m hungry!  Why you sit on hard white thing?  Get me out of bouncer!  I want soft mommy, soft breast and food!  NOWWWWWW!  I’m hunnnnnggggrrrrryyyyy!

“Oh, don’t cry sweetums.  Mommy has to go to the bathroom.  I’ll be done in no time and feed you.  Aw.  Take a breath or you’ll get the hiccups.  Oooh, I hear Daddy.”

Waaaant <hic> food nowwwwww. <hic>

“I’m home!  You in the bathroom?”

“Come get Junior, he needs to be distracted.”

“I have to call my boss right away.  Junior will get what he needs – all in good time.”

Monday’s Kick-Ass Prompt of the Week (KAPOW)

Last Thursday’s blog post was about responsibility in writing and being our own boss in a responsible manner.

This week’s prompt is to write something bossy in 300 words or fewer.  It can be from the POV (point of view) of the bossor or the bossee.

For last week’s prompt I had to rewrite several times then go over it ad nauseum to rid it of 60 words.  Then after one of the rewrites the word count became moot.  Sometimes it’s like that.  This time word count wasn’t an issue.  And sometimes it’s like that.

Send submissions to caroljgorden@gmail.com.  Put “KAPOW Submission” in the subject line.  They will be posted to the new KAPOW page as soon as I can get to them.  Make sure I know what name I should use for attribution.  I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with.  Comments are appreciated.  Kind critique is also appreciated.  My submission is posted on the KAPOW Submissions page.  When the new week’s prompt submission is posted the past week’s submissions will be moved to that month’s KAPOW sub-page.

 

THE ULTIMATUM

by C J Gorden

Tipping her head back as far as it would go, she screamed her frustration to the rafters.  When she was out of breath, she brought her attention back to the miscreant before her.

“Don’t you give me that look,” she said through gritted teeth.  “You did that on purpose.  And don’t even try giving me those goo-goo eyes.  You knew what you were doing.  How many times do we have to go through this?  I’ve had it.  I’m done.  And what are you going to do if I quit playing this game with you, huh?  You’ll suffer, that’s what.”

She studied her charge to see what, if any, effect her words were having.  What she saw was not encouraging.  Throwing up her hands, she said, “I’m going to give you one more chance.  Try that again with me and you’re out of here.  You’re not indispensable you know.”  She considered that and softened a bit.  Then she straightened her back and issued her ultimatum.

“I’m going to the house to wash this bucket.  Again.  When I get back here, you better stand there until I’m done and not put your freaking foot in the bucket again.  The neighbor has another nice dairy goat she’s more than willing to sell me and I’m really considering it.  Got it?”  On that, she stomped out of the barn and back up to the house.

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