In this episode, I read Part Two of my three-part prompt challenge. I offer another prompt, “…a character … answers the door to nothing but an intricate envelope on the ground; an invitation.” I recommend the podcast The Slowdown. Please feel free to join my two groups, Short Story Club and/or Creative Connections online. Find me on Twitter @erinhadelunde and on Instagram @everythingerinlunde. I’m writing on Substack as well. motherhood minutes. is at erinlunde.substack.com.
Last year at this time I had our whole summer planned and on the various Google calendars. Last year at this time the novelty of a pandemic summer was a curiosity and an adventure, a challenge of creativity. Last year at this time I was sick of being inside, but I wasn’t burnt by it all quite yet.
Today, I have a two-year-old, unvaccinated and climbing the literal walls of this house. Today, we’ve endured an entire new year of school, of quarantining from school, and from distance learning while in quarantine and a hybrid of all of the above. Today, we are operating under the assumption that maybe, just maybe, we’ll have a chance to have the toddler vaccinated some time in April.
Mask mandates are being lifted and the reporters don’t even mention the fact that there are kids out there who remain vulnerable and innocent. This pandemic is a different animal for those of us with little kids.
Last year at this time I was excited about the idea that life might change. Today, I can’t bring myself to register the kids for any summer classes or camps without the explicit instruction from their friends’ parents (hey, did Sam sign up for this yet?). I just can’t see that far. I return to the tornado that hit my parents’ home in the middle of Iowa in the middle of December. What else could happen?
And yet. We shuffle onward. We go to school and we come home. We wear our masks. We emerge when the temperature is above 10. We learn to read. We learn to practice new instruments. We try harder on our handwriting when there is a threat of extra handwriting practice at home. We chase each other around the house. We sleep and wake and do it again.
It’s fine, really. We’ve adjusted so hard that I don’t know that they’ll ever go indoors without a mask, and I don’t think they mind. It’s just fascinating to me how little interest I have in planning very far in advance. The calendar of our whole life will flip once the baby can get a shot. That’s when the new year begins.
Flash fiction is, to me, a heart beating in your hands. I’m not talking about holding your hand over your chest and feeling its rhythm. I’m talking about the experience you’ll never have. Cupping your hands, cradling a beating heart. When I think of micro fiction, short short fiction or flash fiction, I think you’re approaching as a writer the heart of whatever it is you’re trying to convey and stealing it from its home, nestled all warm and comfortable, for a few brief moments out in the air to be examined. I’m in Minnesota, so maybe a better metaphor is a fish being caught and released. But this doesn’t resonate with me. I’ve only ever fished while on a field trip in eighth grade, and it didn’t do anything for me.
A heart is essential to life, and it needs to be protected. But it also needs a body to provide for.
I have a number of other projects (I recognize how pretentious I sound). I write on Substack, I have a newsletter out every other week, I write here once a week-ish, and I run a couple of groups for fun as well. I even have other stuff I’m attempting. It’s all experimental (like the cheesy light hearted stuff that I’m trying to use to keep me from being swallowed by this endless pit of winter), and it’s all serving a real purpose for me.
All of these things are my ribs. They provide structure, support, shielding. Space for the organs within.
And the more you write, the better you write. The more you read, the better you write. I hope.
I decided to stop waiting on myself some time in the last year. Jerry is a constant companion now. Every writing project serves as a rib, a protective element. The heart of all of this is the fiction I’m writing.
I was listening to an episode of the podcast The Shit No One Tells You About Writing in which the author Mark Greaney tells about how it took 15 years for him to write his first novel. He explained that over the course of those years, he spent a lot of time away from the manuscript, even writing three separate novellas in the time. From the show notes: “…putting your manuscript aside to work on something different so you can come back to it with fresh eyes; using every project as a learning experience…” In my case, I’m finding all these different ways to write as practice and process.
These ribs move and change and maybe they’ll grow, just like the beating mass inside them.
And everybody knows I love bones.
New episode out today. Episode 14. He Finds a Tower / Short Story Club
In this episode, I read what I wrote off of Prompt 1 from this three-part challenge and offer another prompt: Your main character finds a small tower buried beneath the ground. In Short Story Club this month, we’re reading “The Appropriation of Cultures,” “The Gilded Six-Bits” and “The Strange Story of the World.” I recommend you check out Minneapolis Storytelling Workshop. Find me @everythingerinlunde on Instagram and Facebook, as well as @erinhadelunde on Twitter. I’m also writing on Substack. 🙂
Listen and let me know if you use the prompt(s).
Our stories for February 2022 are…
“The Appropriation of Cultures,” by Percival Everett (2004)
“The Gilded Six-Bits,” by Zora Neale Hurston (1933)
“The Strange Story of the World,” by Chigozie Obioma (2019)
We will gather online in February 2022 to discuss.