Thank you to Portland, Oregon poet, Gail Brooks, for the flash non-fiction piece: Labyrinth.
First swallows of coffee down, my eyes begin to widen just a bit. I’m having a quick breakfast at a local favorite spot and leisurely checking out the familiar surroundings. The place is kind of a mess as usual–stuff piled up, somehow functional, not particularly attractive –but comfortable and welcoming and, most importantly, the food sings. It’s always crowded, suggesting that others may find what I find here.
The woman sitting at the table next to me is completely engrossed in her computer to the point that her breakfast is sitting there untouched. Since I’m really hungry, I’m tempted to ask if she’s going to eat and if not, slide it over, please. Get a grip, I ruefully smile to myself, remembering that my own breakfast will be arriving any minute..
Three women on my other side are avidly engaged in conversation about the coming school year. Clearly they are teachers–the eldest is a veteran, trying to offer suggestions to the younger women without overwhelming them. Their responsive smiles tinged with hysteria give a clue that perhaps she’s not being completely successful. Absorb what she’s saying, I silently say to the younger ones. She’s sharing some wisdom worth having. Remember it when the classroom door closes behind you and the judgement you’ll need to rely on will be your own. But you’ll come to know that. …
I took on the Flash Non-Fiction Challenge #1 – writing about three things and how they may relate to one another. I’m not exaggerating when I admit that I went through 30+ revisions, trying to find the perfect word, the perfect turn-of-phrase.
I was shocked at the ah-ha’s I experienced, but I’ll save that for another post. What I can tell you now, though, is that after I finished writing, I felt exhilarated and alive – truly alive.
As you complete your Flash Non-Fiction, send it over so I can post it; then, let’s talk about what we discovered about ourselves.
My desk is probably like yours; modem, router, speakers, and a phone, all joined by an oversized mug jammed with pens I never use and a blue-handled pair of scissors that I do. Crowding what little open space remains is a collection of fetishes picked up during my travels in the Southwest.
If you sat at my desk, I bet you’d reach for my turquoise bear. Crafted by an unknown Zuni artist, the fetish sat in a shop in Sedona, waiting for me to come along and rescue it. That was long before Sedona had its first traffic light or turquoise-arched McDonalds; back then, I could walk across 89A without dodging a mob …
I have long-loved the essay format; it appeals to both the logical part of my brain as well as the writer in me who envys a well-turned phrase. Essays are the closest in format to the magical magazine articles I used to write, which probably accounts for considering the following:
I’ve been reading Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction, edited by Dinty W. Moore (available in paperback and Kindle) and it’s charging me up to try my hand at writing a 750-ish-word essay. Each chapter is written by a flash non-fiction writer and covers topics from writing about people, locations, objects, and observations. Each chapter contains an exercise followed by an example of the exercise, written by the chapter’s author.
The exercise I’m going to try is picking three specific elements from what you see around you (in the author’s case, his desk) and then examine how they correspond one to another; what associations they bring you, and how they illuminate something about you.
Over the next few days I’m going to work on my flash non-fiction essay and I invite you to join me. (Don’t be shy!). I’ve picked my three elements – a Zuni bear fetish, a porcelain unicorn and a ceramic blessing goddess- and am now considering what to write.
Will you join me? I’ll post my flash non-fiction piece here as soon as I’ve finished and will post your piece (with your permission) as well. Let’s see what we can create 🙂
P.S. Just use the Contact button to send over your flash non-fiction. Or, if you prefer, you can always find me nancy [at] nancyhendrickson.com
Thank you to Cristina Oliver for sharing her thoughts about beautiful writing:
Writing that brings heaven into the room,like a soft breeze ruffling lace curtains. Like the smell of the ocean on a warm summer day…………writing that send us into the best of ourselves answering all our hopes and dreams………….
Three paragraphs of a piece on the 19th century whaling trade.
“So be cheery, my lads, let your hearts never fail,
While the bold harpooner is striking the whale.”
old Nantucket song
George Dodge was born with saltwater in his veins. Growing up in Salem, Massachusetts, this son of the sea wandered the wharves, captivated by seamen’s tales of faraway lands. In 1831, he left home and headed for Nantucket, center of the New England whaling trade. On his arrival, he signed onto the whaler Baltic. He would not see home again for nearly four years. …