Episode 14 of Read Write Review Out Now

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).

Noise Canceling

We are back to distance learning. Three kids, two of whom don’t read, one of whom doesn’t talk. All of whom need. I am not adjusting with any semblance of grace, but I thought I’d try to write something humorous or at least light in tone for each day that they are home, from the beginning of distance learning until the end. Seventeen days. Seventeen installments.

Here’s the first one.

I call it…

Noise Canceling

Don’t bother Mommy.
She’s got her earbuds in.
You know what that means.

It means we can do what we
want, and she
won’t hear it.

They’re noise-canceling.
Did you know that?

It means they
cancel out

That means noise
doesn’t exist when she’s
wearing them.

I don’t know why she
doesn’t wear them all the time.

Yes, we can do that
now while she’s got her
noise-canceling earbuds in.

And yes, we can do that,

But probably not that.
No, we shouldn’t do that.

Not even if she has her earbuds in.

That seems dangerous.
I know, usually that’s fun.
But really.
Get off of there.

No. No, don’t do that.

Don’t unload the dishes.
That’s OK.
I know you’re trying to help.
But I don’t think she’d
like that.

No, put that back.

Hey, Mommy? Mama?

No, stop it.
Don’t do that.
I mean it, don’t!

Mom! Mom!
Help! Help me!

I said stop!

Mom! I need help!
Help me!
Oh shit.

I shouldn’t have said that.

Glad she didn’t hear it.

What’s the Why Here

Here I am at the end of the first week of January and I cannot begin to imagine I have any idea how the rest of this year will unfold. Therefore, I’m not into resolutions or plans, really.

I am thinking about what’s really helping me, though. I’m engaging more with writing flash fiction, which really means I’m reading more flash fiction and writing what I learn from what I read. I’m hoping to write three first drafts this month. Sounds like a plan, I guess, but what I mean when I say “I’m not into resolutions or plans,” is that I’m not into thinking much farther ahead than maybe the end of the month. That’s a good amount of time, I think. I can bet that COVID-19 will still be very present in our lives and that my family’s routine will probably be about the same as it is now; I can plan around these things because they’re likely to be our reality. I cannot make big predictions for the rest of the year, as in a New Year’s Resolution, because as we all have come to learn that is just not fruitful.

I am fighting with the daily why-do-I-bothers when there is a whole lot of pain biting away at us every day. But then I think, why not? Why not write for a few minutes? Why not attempt to tell a story for the sake of it? Why not offer some connection for people who may need a little inspiration to get their own creative stuff accomplished? Does it hurt anyone? I don’t think so, other than I’m not spending that time cleaning the house. 😉 Does it help? Engaging with my writing — something I’ve wanted to do since third grade — is both calming and exciting for me. I am fully satisfied when I simply write a damn story. And if I’m feeling decent about something, probably I’ll help the rest of my little family feel more decent, too.

In this way, my Why here is really a Why Not. And so, why not keep doing what’s working. Write every day. Even if it’s just a few minutes.

That’s it. Why not.

Jerry Is a Stray That I Want to Sleep on My Pillow

A twitchy orange tomcat named Jerry doesn’t belong to me, but damn it if I want to bring him inside, give him milk, check him for bugs, groom him however cats tolerate such an ordeal, and just generally domesticate him so that he will turn into a mama cat and have kittens in my room.

This is to say Jerry is not a cat. Jerry doesn’t roam around a farm somewhere in Iowa and feast on field mice and fight with badgers. This is to say Jerry doesn’t come around the house every so many weeks to see what cats are hanging around on the porch. This is to say Jerry doesn’t exist, exactly.

But he does. It does. Jerry is this thing I’m doing. Jerry wanders around, just like my interests. He is old and ratty, much like this writing I do. Inconsistent and underfed, but scrappy. It’s out there, roaming about.

I set it loose when I was in third grade, I’m guessing. This past weekend when we were at my parents’ for Thanksgiving, my mom brought out my contribution to my elementary school’s Invention Convention. My recollection is that this convention was like a science fair, but for elementary school kids’ inventions.

“Hey Erin, what would you like to invent?”

Third grade Erin: “Hm. Let’s see. Oh, I got it. How about a big board that I could wear like a bag? Like, a really big board, but maybe Dad could do all the work and build two boards together, and we could call it a ‘box.’ So it will be a big board-box thing that I could wear with some elastic as a strap or something, and that could carry around all my third grade writing supplies — like this pen I’m using that says PROPERTY OF ERIN on it — and then I could always have a desk with me whenever I want to sit down and write a story.”

“Are you frequently in need of a hard surface? Are you often at a place where there are no tables or desks? Or floors? Do you live on a prairie? In the woods, maybe?”

“No. I don’t see your point.”

The Story Box exists and takes up (a lot of) space, but Jerry doesn’t, really.

But Jerry meanders about. I fed him a lot when I was in elementary school, on through middle school, but then when high school came, Jerry was more often neglected than nurtured. I didn’t know what diseases Jerry carried in his gaunt little frame; maybe he would stay home on the farm when I left for college. Who knows what other things I could do in college? College, where instead of creative writing or journalism, I majored in a much more high-paying field: music.

I left him home to fend for himself or go out in the cold and die. I didn’t know whether he’d make it, and I wasn’t sure if I should care.

And now here I am, deeply embedded in adulthood. I’ve seen glimpses of Jerry in the past few years. He yowls, and his fur is patchy. He hasn’t eaten for long stretches of time. He’s been ignored, but he perseveres. So I’ve been throwing him some scraps and putting out some tepid water when I think of it. He comes around more often now. I even see him sit and attempt to groom himself; he’s trying to get better.

I’m thinking of him again, in a new light. I’m no longer wielding a 10-pound box on my person to use as an oversized cradle for him should I be too far from any hard surface. I am prepared, now, for him to come around more often as I have, well, a real adult desk (or a table, in a pinch) and a few pockets of time in my week. Yes, I have little kids who need constant care. But I kinda wanna take care of Jerry, too. I kinda want him to get healthy and come by every day. Or if he is determined to go on walkabout, at least when he comes back I could collect whatever pieces of the outdoors from his back to meld into some kind of writing. Maybe he could even come indoors with me, lie down on the bed. Snuggle up. And whoops, maybe Jerry isn’t a tomcat, but a lady, pregnant with a bunch of ideas for me to take care of, too.

I think my real, human kids would like a cat hanging around.

Another Story Out in September

Last week I got word that another short story of mine will be published in September. This is such great news. This particular story is about the invisibility of motherhood. There is bloodshed. 🙂 Yay!

I am reading a lot and writing a lot lately. I’m obsessed with the story “Tenth of December,” by George Saunders. Dang. So great.

We’re reading that and “Heads of the Colored People: Four Fancy Sketches, Two Chalk Outlines, And No Apology,” by Nafissa Thompson-Spires as well as “The Lady with the Toy Dog,” by Anton Chekhov for the Short Story Club this month.

We’re always happy to have more members.

Happy summer to you.

I write: Building stamina

Listen. I am new to this. I have two small babes and am three days into a new schedule, complete with an out-of-town husband. I find it so easy to think big picture as opposed to what I can realistically accomplish today.

A while ago my husband and I trained for a half marathon together. (We completed the half marathon, and a full marathon the following year, though the word “complete” is loosely used here.) Anyway, I hadn’t run such a long distance before, so I really appreciated having a training schedule that accommodated that. I had to build stamina and strength and learn how to endure the boring stretches of pavement in front of me. Yes, I could’ve talked to my husband, who was running right beside me. But that would have left me more breathless and pained. One day I may share about the race that we ran together wherein he, being the nurturing, thoughtful person he is, offered me some water and I yelled an obscenity and threw the Dixie cup on the ground for hundreds of people to stomp on. Immediately following the race he proposed to me. I guess my rage must do it for him.

My hope is that one day I will accept a gift without screaming and throwing a tantrum in public. Also, I hope to spend hours upon hours — maybe not consecutively — writing. But to do that, I have to teach myself how to sit and create and think like I need to do, in smaller chunks. I’m aiming to write for one hour per day. So far this week I’ve hit that mark. I’m also hoping to finish something that I’ve been trying to get done for a while now and submit it to a magazine I’ve landed on by the end of the week.

I have no idea how to do any of this. 🙂

I write: Accountability

I am supposed to have two pieces of writing ready to share with my writers’ group on Saturday. Here’s one:

I was in the hospital.
I’m going to use that as
an excuse.

Critiques? Comments?

I actually do have something that I started in November when my writing penpal and I challenged each other (and ourselves) to write every day. I think our target was to write 500 words a day. Some days it happened, some it didn’t. I liked having a person on the other end who was expecting my writing at the end of the day. Having her there gave me a reason to do the thing I enjoy most. Since November, we have fallen in and out of contact, but we’re going to try to get back to sending each other some work on a regular basis.

I wonder how Saturday’s group will go.

I want to start submitting some of my writing for publication and to contests, but there is plenty of work to do on it before that happens.

I am so impatient. Why can’t it all happen right now.

Does this count?

I didn’t make my word count for last week. Dang. I’m not super sure I’ll make it this week, either, but perhaps.
What I’m writing: Tweets. Does that count? Nah.
Hey, but I finished Sweetbitter. My final grade: A D. I believe I will post a spoiler of sorts here in a bit.
I have a goal to enter the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. I also have a goal to write a poem to submit to it.
I’ll talk at you later.

I write: What I’m writing nowadays

What am I writing nowadays? When do I do it? What good questions I ask myself nearly every day. Sometimes the answers are “nothing” and “never,” but I want the answers to more often be “something” and “whenever I can shove it in a 30-minute block of time between working and mothering and wife-ing.”

I did have two flash fiction pieces published late last year.

The Dog in the Moonlight was published in Flash Fiction Magazine.

Copycat can be found at 101 Words.

Next, a big fat novel! No, not really. Not for a few more years. I’d have to truly start it first. My writing accountability partner and I share 1,000 words of original work every week. By that I mean she sends me her 1,000 words, and I send her 1,000 words of excuses for not creating work. Now that I think about it, I wonder if that would meet my word count… However, my project at the moment is to write a stand-alone piece of fiction in a 30-minute chunk of time whenever I can do it. Ideally, that would be every day. Realistically, maybe twice a week. Maybe.

I’ll keep this space updated on that progress.