What Does Your Music Reveal about You?

animated gif of phenakistoscope image of a couple waltzing

Eadweard Muybridge’s Phenakistoscope: A Couple Waltzing. Animated gif version created by Trialsanderrors. Used under Creative Commons license.

Do you have an iPod or similar audio player? Try this: put your device on shuffle/random, and write down the first 10 tracks that play. Post them in the comments if you’re willing!

What does this collection say about you?

Think about one of your characters. What tracks would play on this person’s device (if they had one)? You can post that list too, if you like.

I hope you find some insight into yourself or your characters. See the comments to read my list and add your own!

My New Writing Coach

hand receiving business card

I’m going to be my own writing coach. I will read my first draft of the story I’m working on, and I’ll say to myself, “Hey, Keiko, this is really good! Keep working on it!”

I will reply, “Really?”

“Yes!” I’ll say. I’ll be so enthusiastic I will convince myself. I will say, “Write a second draft. I want to see it.”

“Okay,” I’ll say. And I’ll send myself the next draft.

When I get it, I’ll call myself up right away. “Okay,” I’ll tell myself, “This is really starting to turn into something.”

“Thank you,” I’ll say. “But I don’t know where to go next. Do you think you could…?”

“Sure.” I’ll sound very encouraging. I will help myself learn to figure things out for myself. “What do you think is missing?” I’ll ask.

“Well,” I’ll say, “I think I need to know more about what the houses were like in San Francisco at the turn of the century. And how much they’re still like that today.” I’ll think for a minute. I won’t interrupt myself. “You know,” I’ll say, “I’d really like to have it set in a real house, one that’s actually there. I love it when people do that.”

“I’ve noticed that in your work, too,” I’ll say.

I will be impressed and flattered at first, but then I’ll sigh. “I never seem to manage to do the research.”

I know what it’s like to feel defeated like that. But I will have the solution. “You know,” I’ll tell myself, “research is just an excuse to read things you’re interested in.”

“I guess so.”

“Go to the library. Find some books.”

“Well…” I will hesitate. I won’t believe I deserve it.

“Go ahead. I want to see the third draft, the one with the details set.”

“All right,” I’ll say. And I’ll go to the library. I’ll write the third draft. I’ll send it to myself.

“I think you should send this to beta,” I’ll tell myself.

“I want to fix a few things still…” I’ll say.

“No, remember what Gayle said: Do beta on things that aren’t quite ready. Hey, I’m sure Ruth will love this one. And she’ll probably be able to help you even out the facts, like she did with ‘Willie Blake.’ And Anthony might know specifics of that neighborhood even, or the time period.”

“Well—”I’ll say.

“And Liza is a historian, and Betsy—”

“All right.”

“Are you typing the email?”

“Yes.”

I’ll stay on the phone with myself until I’ve sent it.

#

When I get the beta comments back, I’ll go over to my house and sit with myself to go over them. Or better yet, I’ll meet myself for coffee. I’ll help myself understand what the comments mean for my story. I’ll draw out of myself what the story wants to be. I’ll help myself excavate the fossil. I’ll buy myself another latte and make sure I leave with a plan for the next draft.

When I send myself the next draft, I’ll reply, “Submit this.” When I balk, I’ll tell myself to send it to the Flash Fiction Forum ladies. “That will be less scary,” I’ll say. I’ll agree. I’ll call myself up and stay on the phone with myself while I submit it.

#

I’ll go to the Forum. I’ll introduce myself to my writing friends. When it’s time for me to read, I’ll sit in the audience with my friends. When I get down off the stage, I’ll tell myself I did a great job. I’ll make sure I write down any comments the audience gives me so that I can see if they need to be incorporated, but I’ll tell myself to wait and not think about it yet. “Just enjoy the rest of the Forum,” I’ll say.

The next day, I will get together with myself and help myself do the final draft. We’ll choose the first place where I’ll submit it. I’ll stay with myself until I’ve mailed it off, and then I’ll take myself out for lunch.

The Willow Wren

I decided to try a writing challenge from the Terrible Minds blog. This one was to rewrite a fairytale in a different genre as flash fiction piece (1,000 words, maximum). The story I picked is The Willow Wren. I wrote it as young adult contemporary. Let me know what you think.

Willow Warbler also called Willow Wren, from Aviceda wiki commons
Willow Warbler also called Willow Wren, from Aviceda wiki commons

The Willow Wren

By Betsy Miller

I used to hear everything, and everything I heard had meaning. The sound of a jackhammer outside, its machine gun staccato said, “Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah, no puddles, no potholes, ah-ah-ah-ah, you lumps and bumps, I will tear you to pieces.” The tamper said, “Ooh, ooh, ooh, I will press you smooth, press you smooth.” And the quiet stride of the worker holding the stop sign said, “All I have to do is hold this sign, hold this sign. No heavy work for me, overtime or double-time, it’s all good.”
Back then, the birds spoke too, saying things like, “Get out of here, you stupid cat.” But all of that is gone now and their language has no meaning. Back when the birds still spoke, they didn’t mind if I was around. I never chased them or threw stones, so they’d forget I was there and talk about bird-things. Like on this one day, they decided that they needed a leader.
Plover hated the idea. Plovers don’t like structure, you see. They can’t stand constraints. “What’s the point? Can’t we just do what we’ve been doing?” she said. But the rest of the birds shouted her down. Plover’s face disappeared into her green hoodie and she shoved her hands into the pocket. “Where the hell am I supposed to go now?” she asked, but no one was listening—no one but me. I shrugged and watched her flip her skateboard down and head to the rail yards where the damp settles in deep. “Sorry, goodbye, sorry, goodbye,” the wheels told the concrete.
The next time I saw the birds, it was May Day, contest day, and everyone was by the fountain at the empty office park where we skate—everyone except Plover. I hardly saw her anymore, but the rest of the birds didn’t seem to miss her. Eagle stood tall and proud, confident as always next to a little bird I didn’t know. The finches hopped from one foot to the other next to the goth-crows all in black. The owl said, “Who, who, who?” and beautiful Lark sang in the day. “It’s May, it’s May,” sang Lark. Mother hen was blown away by the size of the thing, saying, “What? What? What? No one tells me anything!” So her cocky boyfriend said “calm down,” and filled her in.
The birds decided that whoever could fly the highest would rule the roost. Tree frog said, “No, no, no.”
But a crow told him, “Back off, it’s good because there’s no fighting this way.”
So they had me count one, two, three, and the whole flock lifted off, flying crazy high, whirling and turning. The finches didn’t have a chance, they couldn’t get enough air. Before long, Eagle was sure of the win and said, “It’s me, it’s me!”
“Ea-gle, Ea-gle,” chanted the birds, but the little bird was drafting right behind Eagle. He grabbed Eagle’s shoulder and pushed off, sailing over Eagle’s head and touching the sky. “I’m king! I’m king!” screamed the little bird.
“No fair!” shouted Eagle, and the crowd of birds said, “Cheater, doesn’t count, no fair, no fair!” So they decided to have another contest—whoever could go the lowest would win.
I didn’t want to count again, but Eagle stared at me, and then I did it. “One, two, three,” I said, but quieter this time.
The birds took off, sliding under pipes, a lightning fast game of limbo, going lower and lower. The finches did better this time, being small. Duck took a fall and limped away crying. In the end, the little bird went down a manhole and shouted from down below, “I’m king, I’m king!”
“King of the manhole,” shouted Eagle with a lethal look in his eye. “You, owl,” he said. “Keep an eye on him. If he comes out, we’ll get him.” Owl settled himself down with an energy drink and watched while everyone else left to get some sleep.
I kept watch on Owl, but he didn’t see me because he kept looking at the hole. The little bird peeked out, saw Owl, and went back inside. Cold crept around us, and Owl put on his parka. After a time, he must have fallen asleep because the little bird slipped out without a sound and disappeared into the shadows. I could have stopped him I guess, but I didn’t.
Owl stays away from Eagle. He hates manholes and spray paints skulls on the covers when no one is looking. The little bird never did shut up, but he stays away from the rest of the birds. When they aren’t around he calls himself king, but the other birds call him King of the Manhole. I call him Willow Wren because he’s bright and quick and hangs out at Willow Park.
The birds never did choose a leader, and Lark was the happiest of all. She flies in the sunny blue sky and cries, “Ah, how beautiful that is, beautiful that is, beautiful, beautiful, ah how beautiful that is.” And all I hear is music without words.

A Writing Group Poem

Hi everyone,
Here’s a little poem I wrote during Tuesday night’s writing group:

There’s a writing group I’ve come to know,
That meets on Tuesday night.
They get together and form a group,
They sit down and they write.

Fables, fiction, memories,
And stories all are told.
Such a range of story characters,
Tall, short, young, and old.

They say that writing is good for you,
It releases an inner thought.
It unleashes the imagination,
And allows dreams to be sought.

Transferring what’s in your mind,
To put it down in words.
Bringing thoughts to life,
It’s not far-fetched or absurd.
So, if it’s Tuesday night,
And you need something to do.
Just come on down to Mission City cafe,
We’ll save a seat for you.

-Janina

What Are Your Top 5 Favorite Noises?

a cat walkingBesides being fun, making this list could help your writing wake up to sound.

Don’t take too long on it. I’d say post your list within 24 hours. And don’t worry about trying to get your absolute top 5 favorite sounds ever. When you’ve collected 5 sounds you love, just post the list. We know this is just for fun, and we won’t hold you to any of your stated favorites. (And if you think of 5 more, you can post those, too!)

-Keiko

Keiko Called Time

So there I was at the Write to the End group scribbling away in my notebook. Just before this round of writing, Anthony had announced his Doorways to Time Anthology call for entries. I was working on story idea I got from that. The way it was turning out, this story wouldn’t work for the anthology, but I’d write another one for him later. Even the sound of the words Antony’s Anthology made it seem like they belonged together.

“Two minutes left,” said Keiko. “Finish up, or look for a good place to stop.”

There wasn’t a good place, but that was okay. Enough was on paper that I would be able to figure out what I meant later if I wanted to go back to this story.

Keiko called time, and just that one night, Time decided to stop by, you know, to chat and see what she needed. It was Pacific Time specifically who came over to our table. She had long, flowing tropical hair and looked very relaxed as if she had all the time in the world, which I suppose was not far from the truth.

I was sitting near Keiko, so I heard Pacific Time introduce herself in a low voice, but I think most people in the group figured she was one of the many people who stop in once in awhile, and then don’t come back for a long time.

“I don’t get out to Silicon Valley that often,” said Pacific Time. “For the most part, Internet Time resides here, and he zips all over the place so we don’t connect that well. I was coasting on a weather front when you called, and thought, hey, why not?”

“Oooh,” said Keiko with a smile. “I’m so glad you came. Pull up a chair and sit down. We’ve just finished one of our 20 minute writing sessions and we’re going to read. Did you bring anything?”

Pacific Time shook her head.

“That’s okay, said Keiko. “You can listen in for this round, and then we can talk during the break.”

Nothing fazes Keiko.