Posted in I TOSS THEE THE GAUNTLET

THE 100-WORD CHALLENGE

Dear Reader:

I’ve a challenge to toss you. (Call it a gauntlet.)

imagesI READ A BLOG POST YESTERDAY by a blogster/friend who, try though she may, could not muster up the enthusiasm to follow the goals she had set for herself.  Been there, and more time than I’d care to admit! And if you’re human–especially if you are a human involved in creativity, I daresay you’ve visited that wasteland of procrastination and fading dreams yourself.

SONIA G MEDEIROS … this is for you … kind of an addendum. Yours was the post I read yesterday for which I left a comment. The comment must have lacked the degree of merit I’d desired, else it wouldn’t have been niggling at me the rest of that day and into the evening. In a nutshell what I advised you was, pretty much, to overcome your lack of enthusiasm by being enthusiastic. I think I had a fancier–at least wordier–way than that of saying it.

IN THE OFF-CHANCE SOMEONE OTHER THAN the author reads this, here is Sonia G. Medeiros’ link to that blog post, “How Do You Revive Your Motivation?” After you read it, take the extra minute to sign up for her blog. You’ll find it, and Sonia, encouraging and helpful.

BACK TO THE NIGGLE. In keeping with the thrust of my comment to Sonia, which was to convert one’s goals into bite-sized portions, or projects, where there would be a reward at each juncture, instead of waiting for the grand goal to miraculously materialize its completion. Take those tiny rewards, watch them accumulate, celebrate their growth on the way to the major accomplishment.

ONE APPLICATION:

WAITING FOR THE GERM IDEA for that novel, now in a twenty-direction flight, to settle down and land? You’re itching to begin work on some juicy characters who can effectively hate/love/murder/hit and get hit/struggle-to-forgive, etc.  But until you have a clearer idea of what the plot is to be about, what self-respecting character will allow you to mess with his or her mind, will let you get them fighting and embracing each other …?

“Big, BIG, B-I-G  project you’d probably be wise to let bounce off your inner noggin undeterred a while.” Or so your MILDRED-THE-MUSE whispers in your ear. “Some processes you shouldn’t rush.”

And in the meantime?  You wonder, What do you do to keep the creative juices churning? You consider: Why not a short story? Surely you can knock one or two out in a day, couldn’t you? Good short-term infusion of success into your creative veins, eh?

You offer the thought to your muse (as though she would wait for the invitation).

“Trouble is,” she says, without the need to even ponder the question, “the conventional short stories can have the same architectural problems as the novel … but with this major difference: the short story is COMPRESSED. You have less space to resolve the problems of beginning, middle, end, the insurmountable problems for the protagonist to overcome, the ultimate major confrontation, its resolution, and the huge sigh of a satisfactory denouement. I don’t want you to spend the better part of a day, flying by the seat of your pants on a ten or twelve page short story, only to abandon it in frustration.  I want to still be around when your GENIUS is recognized by the world.”

You throw up your hands. What’s the use? What’s the value of a muse if it isn’t to offer a solution to one’s creative problem?

“And who’s to say I don’t have a solution?”

You feel the warmth of hope. Give it to me.

“Smaller bites.”

Than a short story?

“By golly, I think you have it!”

You mean flash fiction?

“Closer … closer. There’s this BLOGSTER, you see. He’s OLD AS DIRT, but feisty. Been writing over 60 years. Anyway, his MUSE, Charlie–Oh, Charlie! Charlie has the cutest tush–”

Please stay on point.

“Anyway, this Charlie–who has a thang for me–”

Mildred! Keep your private life out of my blog-space.

“–developed the 100-WORD CHALLENGE, and he–er, convinced me–I should introduce this challenge to my clients.”

Clients, with an S?

“Don’t act so privileged. There were others before you. Faulkner–now there was a writer! Currently, you may be interested to know you share me with as many as five a week.”

You’re a hussy, Mildred!

“I take precautions. You’ll never catch creativity transmitted from any of them.”

Charming. So Charlie’s blogster, who’s old as dirt …  he took the challenge?

“Would you like to see it? Doesn’t matter. You’re gonna read it anyway. It’s called PINKY PROMISE:

 

Jeremy slides on his bottom down the steeper part, remembering.

      Stay way dat crik, boy. Dis heart cain’t tek two buryin’s.

      Jeremy squints back beyond the ridge to the rooftop Franklin cardboard-patched two days earlier.

      Jest us, boy, now yer fool brother drownded hissef. God teked my youngest, an’ leaved me the burdenest. But, you’s not looney like folks say—jest slow.

      Thinking: I gotta, Ma, Jeremy inches downward, toward the sound of water churning over bloody rocks. I’s slow, Frankie, but I knowed you shounta crossed the rocks first, ’count o’ I’s Ma’s burden, now. Durn pinky promise. Sorry, Ma ….

* * *
NOW, DEAR READER, with special emphasis on Sonia, the 100-WORD CHALLENGE has been extended, the gauntlet tossed. Please pick it up. I feel rather silly standing here in full medieval armor, save for the one gauntlet I tossed.
HAVE A WONDERFUL REST OF THE DAY!

 

 

 

 

Author:

My Twitter account identifies me as “a writer, a salesman, an optimist, a dreamer,” and adds: “may the four always cohabit and produce wondrous progeny.” Each of the first two identifies a blood-and-bone human being, living in the real world who works very hard at being honest and caring—but, who is still evolving in these areas. The last two (“optimist” and “dreamer”) are foundational qualities in my life. They keep a fire crackling under me that hopefully fuels the writer … and also the salesman, whose hat each of us is hard-wired to wear. Sandwiched somewhere between writing and selling, I attended college and even tried my hand at selling high school kids on why they should love learning and reading and writing. That was a brief stint. Whether teaching failed me or I it, I don’t know. You’d have to ask the kids—though many might be doddering by now, and some dead. Still, experientially, it is a part of me. I am married, living with my dog, Sirius, in Bakersfield, California, and separately from my wife.

13 thoughts on “THE 100-WORD CHALLENGE

  1. Thank you so much, Jay!

    You’re right about breaking down a challenge, any challenge, in to smaller and smaller pieces until you feel you can overcome them. Then celebrate every little success, and they’ll build up.

    I’ll be thinking about this flash fiction challenge all weekend. I haven’t written any in a long time. It’ll be fun to work on some again.

  2. Good! I Sonia, I was agonizing before I pushed the publish button over whether you might think I was downplaying (or worse, making fun of) your blog. I’m so glad you read and actually commented on it. What you don’t need is pressure, though. I know you’re busy and didn’t intend to put you on the spot. Thanks for reading and replying.

    1. Oh, do, Sonali–especially your YouTube videos of your garden. You would gain so many followers attracted to the visual poetry of your creations. Let me know when it’s up and running.

      1. I wrote this once but my mind and my fingers were not connecting! Here goes agin, Brudder! You are so right on with your comment. Thanks for that… Would like you to know thar ain’t no shovel big enuf to carry dem gems your creative genius puts on dem ‘Septuagenarian posts’ (try saying that with a bunch of ice cubes in yer mouth!) All the way to the GG I’m carrying that thinking! ♥
        – SEE – https://brchitwood.com/2017/09/06/chasing-sunset/

      2. Dang, but you are such a friend, Billy Ray. Yeah, I clicked on “approve” your comment before, and it wasn’t there. It’s there now, and more than worth the wait, my friend. Give Julie my best.

        Jay

Leave a reply, a rant, or a giggle

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s