A Little Fiction: All Fall Down

Shelly and Hank had planned this camping trip as an attempt at getting back together. It wasn’t working. He was late picking her up, the drive took five hours instead of their usual three, and when they finally found a space to camp, they argued over where to set up the tent.

She dropped the side of the tent she was holding and walked away. “All right, fine. You deal with it.” She headed for the river bluff. She thought Hank would come after her, but he didn’t.

riverview
the Mississippi / Gerry Wilson

The bluff dropped steeply away to the river, maybe thirty, forty feet. Willows clung to the banks and leaned out into the sky like filmy, green parachutes. Shelly walked as near the edge as she dared and considered climbing down. She had always wanted to do it; why not now?

She looked for a place that wasn’t a sheer drop, where there was brush, or outcroppings of stone. She eased over the edge and grabbed a sapling, then another, her breath coming hard, thought I can do this, until a branch bent and snapped, rocks skittered and fell, and she slipped, clutching at mud and stone and brush. She slid all the way down, landed on the narrow bank, rolled towards the rushing water, clawed at the mud to drag herself back. She lay still and assessed what hurt: her head, her right shoulder, her right ankle.

She sat up. The knees of her jeans were torn and stained with blood, her hands scraped and bloody, too, and caked with mud. She unlaced her hiking shoe and took off her sock. The throbbing ankle was already swelling and turning blue. Jesus. She pulled the sock back on and forced her foot back into the shoe. Pain jolted from her ankle to her thigh.

“Hello?” she yelled. “Hank? Anybody?”

Nearly five o’clock. The bluff cast deep shadows on her and on the river. Maybe  twenty yards away, a sandbar extended out into the water. She’d be more visible from there. She tried to stand, but she couldn’t bear weight on the ankle. She crawled far enough out onto the sandbar to see the top of the bluff. She called out again, “Hello? Hello! Down here! Help me!” But the day picnickers and hikers would have gone home by now. The overnight campers, like Hank, would be settling in. On the river, no vessels—an old-fashioned word her father, a retired Navy man, would have used—this time of day, no kayaks or canoes, no pleasure boats.

The sky was a clear, deepening blue. The wind out on the sandbar went suddenly chilly. The rising moon had a corona of light. That was supposed to mean something: a sign of rain? Bad luck?

Shelly washed her stinging hands and splashed her face with the cold river water. She struggled to her feet and tried her weight again on the throbbing ankle. She had to get off the sandbar. She hobbled the length of it before she dropped to her knees and crawled back to the shelter of the bluff.

No way she could climb. She’d be fine right there, a little banged up and wet. Hank would come looking for her. All she had to do was wait.

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This piece of flash fiction is headed over to Yeah Write, where writing events abound. Writer friends, be sure to check them out!

Blogging 101: Starting New

And why, you may ask–when this blog will celebrate its fifth anniversary in the spring of 2016–would I tackle WordPress’s “Blogging 101” course to start the new year?

The answer? It’s an opportunity to re-visit this blog, to learn some new tricks, and to make these pages stronger and more appealing.

So I thought, Why not?

Because Poor Blog: I have to confess she’s been neglected lately, even after the publication of my short story collection, Crosscurrents and Other Stories. Maintaining the blog is more important than ever, but there are all those other things you have to do when you publish a book, especially  when you publish with a small press, even a really good one like Press 53. You don’t have a publicist, and nobody is handling your marketing or setting up events. (For more on this, see “Great Expectations: Ten Things to Expect When You Launch Your Book.” ) It’s all exciting and fun, but it’s a lot of work.

createstone
Create / Gerry Wilson

And to tell you the truth, the blog was feeling stale. It had become a chore. This blog began in response to a challenge, so I thought maybe a new challenge is what it needs–what I need–to re-engage and find new and refreshing ways to engage you, the reader.

The first assignment for “Blogging 101” is to write this post and think about why I’m here. “Blogging 101” suggests that if I’ve been blogging for a while, now is a good time to re-examine my motives. Here are the suggested questions to address:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

Here goes:

I’m blogging publicly because 1) I don’t enjoy talking (writing) to myself so much;  2) I have something to say; and 3) I want to create a platform for my book and whatever comes after it.

Scraps / Gerry Wilson
Scraps / Gerry Wilson

What will I write about? Certainly some of the same things I’ve written about before: personal experiences,  memories, writing about writing. I will seldom wax political here, not because I don’t have strong opinions, but that’s not the focus of the blog. That won’t change. And maybe there’s something new, something I haven’t explored yet.

I want to connect with anyone who shares my love of books and writing and, well, life.

What do I hope to accomplish? On a practical level, a blog calendar I can stick with and manage without feeling overwhelmed. I’d love a revamped theme/style. I want connection. I want growth.

So here it is: #1 post for “Blogging 101.” The old hand, trying something new. We’ll see how long I last. Hoping for good things!

The Writing Process Blog Tour Stops Here

Welcome to the Writing Process Blog Tour! My Wordsmith Studio writer-friend J. Lynn Sheridan invited me to participate. J.Lynn is a poet (one with a sense of humor, I might add).

Blog Tour
Blog Tour

The blog tour moves forward, but if you haven’t already, you should check out J. Lynn’s Blog Tour Stop and another recent post, “Who Needs Poetry? Maybe Not You,” at her Writing on the Sun blog.

Now, on to the topic for this blog tour: Writing Process. The challenge is to answer three questions about my work:

What am I working on?

Several things at once.

I just returned from a week in Denver at The Lighthouse Writers Workshop, a terrific community of writers that sponsors a summer Lit Fest—two weeks jam-packed with craft seminars, workshops, and readings. (Look for a separate post about my Lighthouse experience soon.) This week, I’ve been revising the story I submitted to Antonya Nelson’s fiction workshop. Besides that revision, the novel start I’ve struggled with for the last year  keeps rearing its unruly head and demanding my attention. I think I may be on to something there, at last, in part because of some insights I had in Denver.

There are a couple of new story ideas floating around, too. I’m keeping a notebook beside the bed these nights in case some inspiration strikes (as it did, briefly, last night). I’m also looking for dreams that might be significant.

So see? The writing and the learning are like dominoes: one idea begets another.

Why do I write what I do?

Ah, that’s an interesting question.

I started out writing poems. Mostly bad poems, I’m afraid. The turn to fiction came in a writing teachers’ workshop at Bard College some years ago where I was required to write a short story. That little story came so easily (I wish they all did!), and I fell in love with the form. So mostly, I’m a short story writer. My husband is responsible for the turn to novels. He kept telling me I could write a novel, and I kept protesting that I couldn’t. Finally, I think the challenge got to me, and I took it on. “A novel is just a long story,” he kept reminding me. That’s true, but there’s a lot more to novel writing than that. I find novel-writing challenging and hair-pulling hard, but I’m hooked, and I’ll keep at it.

As for subject matter: stories can come from anywhere. Many of mine stem from autobiographical material, but they also arise out of observation: a person in a restaurant or on the street, another person’s trauma or desire or fear can provide the spark.

How does my writing process work?

Process / G. Wilson
Process / G. Wilson

I wish I could tell you that I have this immaculate way of doing things, that I rise at five every morning and write for two hours before I have my oatmeal. Or I write eight hours a day. I’m retired, after all; I should be able to do that, right?

I’m afraid that’s not the case. I’m as likely to sit with my laptop in front of the TV (with the TV on; yes, I know that’s terrible, but I do it sometimes) as I am to go off by myself. I like to write with music in the background, especially if I find music that fits the tone of what I’m working on. I write notes by hand when I’m just playing around, toying with ideas, and then I tend to write long, messy first drafts and revise, revise, revise.

I’m indebted to a few good and faithful readers who keep me honest (and often humble).

I read–mostly fiction but also poetry, memoir, and other nonfiction.

I research. A lot. It seems most stories require some special knowledge or background to flesh out their worlds with specific details. I like that about the process; I’m always, always learning.

I do wish I were more disciplined. That’s a worthwhile goal.

The tour moves on!

I’ve asked the following writers to come aboard the tour. Do hop over and see what they’re working on and what wisdom they have to share:

Marsha Blevins
Marsha Blevins

Marsha Blevins lives in WV with her boyfriend and four fur-children. After long hours of reports and complaints at her “day job,” she unwinds in front of the keyboard writing short stories, novels, or just random rants. After being published in her college literary magazine in the late 1990′s, she took a nearly 15 year break from the pressures that type of fame brought into her life. Better able to cope with being in the spotlight now, she is back . . . and better than ever! Marsha’s blog: Marble’s Words.

Jane Ann McLachlan
Jane Ann McLachlan

Jane Ann McLachlan taught writing and professional ethics at Conestoga College in Kitchener, Ontario, before she took an early leave to write full-time. She has published two college textbooks on professional ethics through Pearson Education, a short story collection titled Connections, and a science fiction novel titled Walls of Wind. She has written two
other books which are on offer with her agent, Carrie Pestritto of Prospect Agency in New York, is currently editing her science fiction YA novel, The Malemese Diamond, and researching for her next historical fiction novel. Visit her at http://www.jamclachlan.net or at http://www.janeannmclachlan.com.

 

June Bourgo
June Bourgo

Born and raised in Montreal, June Bourgo lives in the beautiful BC interior surrounded by ranch lands. Her debut novel Winter’s Captive has been picked up by Fountain Blue Publishing for re-release with a new cover, to be followed by Chasing Georgia, Book 2 of The Georgia Series. Information about publishing dates and book availability is forthcoming. June is currently working on A Missing Thread, Book 3 of The Georgia Series. To learn more about June and her work, visit her blog, Losing Cinderella.