Flash Fiction, Love in an Instant, Writing

Flash Fiction: Love in an instant: At the Copa

Everyday, the same nothingness happened on the long commute home.  Two hours in my car, stuck in traffic, boredom abounds.  Inch by inch, I forge ahead, trying to make the twenty-three mile journey to my haven of solitude.  Twenty- three miles in two hours. Progress stops.

Horns, motors, exhaust fumes.  My car starts to overheat in the summer sun, so I turn off the AC and open the windows.  Nothing moves.  Angry faces stare at me out of their car windows as if the gridlock is my fault.  Sweat tickles my face.

I have a CD of my favorite songs playing quietly so as not to disturb the neighbors in their equally dismal commute. But, that song starts playing and I reach over to turn up the volume just a little.  And a little more.  At the chorus, I sing along with Barry Manilow.  “At the Copa.  Copacabana.  The hottest spot north of Havana…”  

Next to my car, the man in the red Ford F150 smiles and his head bobs in rhythm. His window is open to the elements, too. Blond hair matted with sweat and gray tank stuck to his chest, he starts singing. Hot wind brings in the smell of cigarette smoke and rum.

“At the Copa.  Copacabana.  Music and passion were always the fashion at the Copa.  She fell in love.”  Barry, Red Truck Man and me sing in complete harmony.

We three sing Lola’s story into life:  “His name is Rico.  He wore a diamond.  He was escorted to his chair, he saw Lola dancing there. And when she finished.  He called her over.  But, Rico went a bit too far. Tony sailed across the bar. And then the punches flew and chairs were smashed in two. There was blood and a single gunshot, but just who shot who? At the Copa…”

The musical bridge played and Red Truck Man and I cha-chaed in our cars.  Red gave me a spin and pulled me in close.  Our bodies move in perfect synchronicity. No longer stuck in gridlock, Red and me flew to the Copa to dance the hot Florida night away. One, two, cha cha cha.

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Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Barry, Red and me start singing right on cue.  “Her name is Lola…” all the way to the end of the song when we sing, “Don’t fall in love.”  It’s too late Barry and Red.  I already fell in love with both of you.

The traffic starts to move forward and Red releases me from our dance.  

For the duration of a song, my wish for the world worked.  Everyone knows the words to the song.  Everyone knows the steps to the dance.  The guy always gets the girl and everyone lives happily ever after. Just like a Fifties’ musical.  Just the way I really want to the world to be.

Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction: The Road Construction Worker: Love in an Instant.

Love can happen in an instant.  Many times I have fallen in love, the affair lasting only moments or a few precious minutes. Like this story.

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Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash

He stood on the road holding one of those signs that commanded drivers to stop. Six feet tall, with dirty well-fitting jeans and a faded t-shirt hidden by a Day-Glo yellow don’t-hit-me vest.  His brown work boots were scuffed and worn from months or years standing on the road, holding a sign.  Or maybe he did real work and that day his turn came up to catch a break.

I was the first in line, waiting for the signal to proceed, but the sign refused to allow forward movement.  It forced me to pause and assess my environs.

Slowly, he turned his face in my direction. He smiled at me revealing bright white teeth.  Eyes made out of blue crystals sparkled in the sun.  I opened my car window and said, “Good morning.”

“It won’t be long, Ma’am.”  he responded, the southern twang adding romance and color to his voice.  The sound of his voice alone told me the story of his life.

I imagined him in a small house in the woods. Pickup in the dirt drive, dirty boots left by the door, feeding two dogs, neither with any sign of pedigree, eating the hamburger he bought on the way home, popping open the can of beer to wash it all down, turning on the news, propping his feet on the coffee table, settling in for the evening.  Unencumbered by the pressures of life.

No responsibilities at work to weigh heavily on his shoulders, to wrinkle his features.  Just hold the sign.  Turn it around.  Shampoo, rinse, repeat.

I imagined him in another job.  Print ad model wearing the same clothes and holding a sign to direct the traffic of people to the store to buy jeans or signs.  Or perhaps the poster boy for the road department.  Watch out for the working class while you drive through the construction zone.

Regretfully, he spun the sign around.  He touched the brim of his yellow hard hat that covered most of his short dark hair and said, “Have a good day, Ma’am.”  He talked to me.  He noticed me.

I drove forward among Bob’s Barricades, asphalt trucks, more men in don’t-hit-me vests.  The love affair ended because I drove away from it, like all my other love affairs.  Involved for just a few moments and then forward into my life.  

I smiled all the way to work that day.

Writing

7 Passionate Ideas for Passionate Writing

I am a passionate writer.  That doesn’t mean that I write passionate stories, but rather I write passionately.  And what that means is I treat writing like a job.  True, it is a job I love doing and true, I would rather write than work at (something)Mart.  Passion is the critical element in writing.

Karen Writes' Writing Desk

If I write something bad, which happens more often than I care to think about, I have options:  I can delete it, I can put in that “terrible idea” file and maybe use it at a later time, or I can leave it on my desktop to percolate, marinate, season, age like fine wine or sharp cheese.  Maybe after a few days, I will find it is not such a terrible idea after all.

For me writing often reflects the mood I am in at that particular moment.  Like everyone, I have days that are dark and gloomy as the weather during a winter storm or as bright and sunny as the first of spring.  So, if I am gloomy today and I am trying to write a happy scene, it will not work very well.  I wait until the sun comes out, then I write something happy.  That’s not to say that I won’t write on that gloomy day.  I simply write a gloomy scene or spend time writing a reflective journal post.

I have learned recently that holding myself back while writing will never result in good writing.  What I will achieve is superficial and one dimensional.  To have passion in my writing, I have to get emotionally involved with my characters or my topic and not worry about what the neighbors think.  I have to stop writing what others want to read, because whatever I write will appeal to only one person in a thousand.  The other 999 will not be interested, anyway.

Now, for the advice portion of this post:

  1. Strive to be a passionate writer. Dig deep and find the passion that is there, anyway.
  2. Don’t write for an individual, either real or imagined. Find what’s in that deepest part of your heart and write about it.
  3. Don’t let a day go by without writing something, be it a journal entry, or a chapter in a novel that will later get deleted. Write something.  Every day.
  4. Write about the things inside. If it is emotional to you, it will be emotional to someone else.
  5. Use your favorite method to write, whether it is a #2 pencil and a scrap of paper rummaged from the trash pile or (my personal favorite) a keyboard. I prefer the keyboard because I type fast and fairly accurately, so I can get these random ideas down more quickly.  Also, I have began audio recordings while driving in my car or making breakfast.
  6. Write using your own voice. It makes you unique.  In that way, you will stand out from the crowd.  You’ve heard it before.  There is only one you, so don’t try to be someone else.
  7. Read something every day. Reading is an excellent method for improving your own writing because you are learning about sentence structure, plot lines, information that can be used in a story or article at a later day.  Much of what you are learning is on a subliminal, but reading is beneficial to every writer.

Writing 500 words a day doesn’t take that long to do.  Stephen King recommends writing 1000 words a day, although he writes 2000 a day.   But, I am no Stephen King nor am I trying to be him.  Most days, I write more than 500 words.  All I had to do was to turn off the TV (or Netflix or Amazon) and write.  I put down my computer games and then write.  I make time for writing.  I don’t wait for inspiration.  I start writing and then inspiration just happens.

I write passionately.

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Writing

How to Write: Put Your Fingers on the Keyboard and WRITE

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IBM Selectric Ball
To write something a person has to put pen to paper or, in my case, fingers to keyboard.
I type fast, having learned how to keyboard while in high school.  At that time, I never dreamed I would own a computer.  My big dream was an IBM Selectric–an electric typewriter with a ball instead of keys that got jammed together when I typed too fast.  After years of practice, I can keyboard almost as fast as I think.  Definitely as fast as I can talk.
The ability to type rapidly enables me to get my thoughts in front of me without losing them as new thoughts are processed.

I set aside time to write on my calendar.

By scheduling my time, I know I am going to sit down in front of the keyboard and create something.  That doesn’t mean I sit down to absolutely no idea of what to write.  I always have a general idea of which direction I am going.  I think about my stories or blog articles a lot before I actually show up at the keyboard.  I make notes in my iPhone if something particularly meaty occurs to me.

I don’t always type something meaningful or enlightening.  Often, it is just weird ramblings or several paragraphs in my novel that I can later delete.

The Delete Key

The main key to my writing is my delete key.  I know some writers disagree with that and treat every word they write as if they were chiseled onto a stone table.  For a while, I did, too.  I saved every word instead of deleting until I had a folder chock-a-block full of deleted paragraphs, phrases and chapters.

Delete Key
My DELETE Key

I NEVER went back in to re-read them.  Finally, I stopped saving everything and just delete, delete, delete.  Eventually, after two years of sitting idle and unopened, I deleted my deleted paragraphs folder.

 

I love the process of editing what I write.  How many times have I ran across something in someone else’s novel I am reading that just screams for an edit?  It is almost disappointing to me when what I have written reaches that point where no further editing is necessary.   In fact, the way I start writing when I am working on a novel is to read what I wrote the previous two or three days, edit while reading and then, I allow the ideas flow to add new content.  By the time I reach the end of the first draft, it is a nearly perfectly edited piece.

Let It Rest

Then, I let it rest for several days or even weeks before reading again and checking for additional edits needed.  I have at this point, chucked an entire body of work.  I have rearranged chapters, I have eliminated chapters.  I have even eliminated characters.  Then, I let it rest again.  And so forth until I am satisfied with the end product.
Working from an outline tends to limit my creativity.
I normally write on the fly, having a general idea of where I want the story to go.  It is like flying an airplane by dead reckoning.  I can pinpoint the landing as I get closer to my destination.
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Write on the fly