Did everyone sign up for June? If not, we welcome and encourage you to follow the action, read, vote, and support your community mates! Remember, growth is sponsored by encouragement and feedback. At the Flame, we burn brightest together.

I’ve always been a writer in my heart. Since I was old enough to translate my thoughts into written words, I was telling stories. I’ve also always been an insufferable extrovert, despite all odds, so the storytelling didn’t stop at pen and paper. Growing up, I turned to every outlet possible to let it all out. At my best, I was joining clubs and taking part in activities. At my worst, I was making up tall tales and lying because I wanted something new to say. Kids, right?

As an adult, I’m still exploring. The next thing I really want to try is vlogging. For those of you who don’t spend your entire lives glued to your cell phones and computers, vlogging is a short term for “video blogging”. YouTube is crawling with talented vloggers with genuinely wonderful, funny, or insightful things to say. With enough searching, anyone can find their vlogger soul mate. In fact, I suggest you go try that. Anyway, I really want to try it. I’m always being told I have something to say. People have told me to do stand up comedy or public speaking or just basically anything that involves voicing my opinions or experiences to an audience. I don’t disagree, I think I’d probably be great at it.

So that’s my next journey — lights, camera, YouTube. But what to to vlog? Well, literally anything. I’m ridiculous enough, I could talk about anything. Food, makeup (fails, I’m amateur as heck), pets, single life (in the sense of being unmarried and on my own), feminism/humanism, city life, cycling, economics… That’s the thing about being a writer. We don’t even have to be ourselves all the time. We can be whomever we need to be, just to have something new to say.

How do you, as a writer, transform? How do you channel what you can already do, into something new you haven’t done yet? Do you find art is fluid, or can trying something new be difficult? Alternately, do you have a favorite vlogger to turn us onto?

Congratulations to our May contest winner, Shane Bell! The June contest is afoot; whether you’re signed up or just in to watch, click here to keep up.

Good morning! For those of us in the States, today is observed as Memorial Day, a 24-hour block once a year that we are meant to pause and show respect and gratitude for the men and women who have served our country's military. Understandably, not all people have clear feelings about military service, so today's chatter is not about service in general. It's about the difficulty of grasping something one has not experienced.

Appropriately, this month's theme is reality, and the question of its nature. Because every perception of reality is different, it is a dangerously fluid concept. The good news about that is, one hundred people could write about the same subject and we'd get one hundred very unique glimpses into the world. Some would even be so far a deviation from our own understanding that we may be forced to question our own perceptions altogether. I open up with the topic of military service simply because, even though I was raised by ex-military parents, I have never served and I know myself well enough to say I never will. It isn't a lack of patriotism, it's more a matter of knowing exactly how capable one's self is of accomplishing certain tasks. I was not built for service, so I know confidently that I will never serve. Because of that, I will never have the hands-on experience needed to truly understand what it means to be a soldier.

For me, not being able to experience something does not always mean I can't or won't write about it. Surely those of us who've written science fiction do not expect readers to believe we've flown in starships or had tea with alien life. I write about werewolves. I don't expect you to believe I've met any. But that's the double edge on imagination, isn't it? With the one blade, one can imagine into existence any and every world and situation possible. Yet, we turn the blade over and discover the opposite edge is a bit duller than we'd hoped, and we know it is from lack of use and care. The imagination can take us many places, but there are some experiences (like those of enlistment, as exampled above) that cannot be replicated without having lived it, or without a very intense course of research.

How do you approach topics you know you do not fully understand? How are you able to lend reality to a life you've never lived?

Remember to delve into your own answers to the question, What Is Reality?

Some sprints are available for your reading pleasure, as well as an archive of the sprint efforts thus far. Will you join us?

Good weekend, all? I hope so. I spent part of my Sunday sprinting on Google Hangouts with Tami, Cedar, and Kathy. This month’s contest will play host to a few different sprint events for those of you who need the exercise, or just thrive on prompt writing. Conveniently enough, it’s prompt writing I’d like to discuss.

Here at the Flame, we’re more than familiar with the idea of prompts and topics. We literally live off of them. Over the years, we’ve seen the gamut of prompt possibilities, ranging from open-ended one word prompts like “fire” and “fate”, to the challenge to begin all entries with a particular phrase. The Mod Hydra continues to strive to deliver the best variety we can provide, aiming to target each and every member of our diverse writing family.

I, personally, am easily prompted. I’ve learned this about myself over my years here at the Flame, both as a player and an administrator. The first prompt for which I ever wrote was “reap” back in 2009. My first mini-contest was a personalized four-part prompt provided to me by random selection: “cattle prod, dungeon, deus ex machina, written as a mystery”. It is worth noting that we also had a limit of 3k words, that mine reached 2,998, and I chose to be complete buffoon and add “the end”. I won. ;-) And my favorite “begin your entry with this sentence” prompt? “There it goes…” I didn’t win, but the entries were so diverse, it truly proved the myriad potential of even the most specific prompt.

I think the prompts to which we respond well say a lot about us as writers. Those of us who respond best to one word at a time need freedom and room to move. Those of us who thrive on selective challenges like the aforementioned mini-contest are thirsty for challenge and creative adversity. Those of us who can pull something from nothing regardless of topic? Well, I guess we’re just the floozies of the writing c0mmunity.

By what brand of prompt are you most easily inspired? Do you need to roam wild, unbound by bullet points and specifics, or do you need to be pushed to find a way to put a square peg through a round hole? What sort of insight to gain into yourself, as a writer, when you consider this question?

Click here to learn more about May’s prompt, and refer to paragraph one for links to information on sprints and more about Google+ Hangouts, a free service for all GMail users.

Good morning! Did everyone enjoy the sprint this weekend? I was otherwise engaged, unfortunately, but I am looking forward to being able to participate in another. So, let’s talk about sprints.

Where I come from (NaNoWriMo Land), a sprint is a pre-arranged span of time during which a group of writers joins to write furiously until the clock runs out, and then they compare notes and horror stories about word choice and panics over whether to use a colon or a semi-colon and really who even knows? Sprints can be hell. Really, they’re probably one of the Seven Circles. You’re just always caught in a sprint with no access to a Thesaurus so you just stare blankly at one sentence for the rest of eternity. Ouch.

I have a love/hate relationship with writing sprints. On the one hand, it’s easy enough to use a quick fifteen-minute window to test out a scene you’ve had churning in your head. On the other hand, if you’ve come unprepared, it becomes a uniquely trivial pursuit. I’ve found myself, on more than one occasion, filling the remaining time by very literally typing whatever comes into my head. The end result is typically terrifying and completely off-topic. I come into the sprint writing about soldiers in a foxhole and by the end they’ve adopted a gorilla and they’re bickering over whether to dress it in “people clothes”. It harkens me back to the days when my classmates would occupy the middle portions of ten-page essay reports by copying and pasting song lyrics and famous speeches into the body of the paper just to fill space. Their theory was, “The teacher doesn’t read them all the way through anyway.” I never tried that. I preferred borderline delirious rambling.

Are you a natural sprinter, or do your prefer the low-pressure marathon?

REMINDERS:

The May contest is a unique departure from our familiar form, and can be perused here for those of you who need reminding, or who would like to watch the fun.

The current sprint is up and accessible — come play!

This month, we plunge deep into the concept of reality, and what it means to each of us. So many factors in an individual can influence their perception of reality. We know this much to be true, but how much of it do we truly understand? A notorious BLUE AND BLACK dress (dang it) recently tore the internet to shreds, proving rather frustratingly that a literal reality can be influenced by light, angle, and the actual shape of one’s eye. If something literal and physical can be so fluid, can potential does the figurative hold?

The concept of reality actually haunts me. I don’t know if it’s mental illness or disability or if it’s just me, but there are frequent moments in which I question whether I am on the same page as the rest of the world. This month, I will be using these jarring experiences to create my vision of the prompt. I will parlay my phantoms into something I feel safe to share with others, and hopefully it will be relatable enough to quell my concerns that I am alone. (Now imagine how silly I’m gonna look if I don’t finish?)

In one thing, I know I am not alone. I am joined by hundreds of thousands of other writers who must wonder, at least on occasion, if a mental defect or simple difference is what makes them what they are, as an artist. The track record for mental illness is impressive through the ages of famous artists. We don’t all cut off our ears, but that doesn’t mean we’re hiding our demons as well as we think we are. Mental and spiritual disturbance shape our realities, and our realities shape our work. Unfortunately, there is no escaping this.

Even if you consider yourself completely mentally sound, how do you think the opposite affects talent? Would you argue that mental disease, defect, or glitch enhances the creative edge, or hinders it? Can there be brilliance without madness?

Keep an eye out for the Epilogue reading list, and click here to learn more about the May prompt!

ricochey: (Default)
([personal profile] ricochey Apr. 27th, 2015 10:38 am)

Good morn’, Flames.

The voting for Week Three is open.

The topic has been launched for Week Four — what shape does your Epilogue take?

The last few days of APAD are ticking away — check it out here.

My biggest writing project was meant to be a massive collaboration between myself and a friend. That friendship has since fallen apart and the rights (and work) have all been passed onto me. It’s looking like it’s gonna take at least five books to cover, so it’s going to be a huge undertaking every step of the way.

This happens to me fairly routinely. People come to me — “Hey, Cheyenne, you know how you can do that writing thing? Well how I about I tell you an idea and you just, like, write it?” It’s happened at least four times, and the pitch is identical every time. They tell me what they want, and I do the labor. The only reason the first one took on such a life of its own is because I contributed a great deal of the intellectual material, so it still feels like my own. The other endeavors, however, feel a lot like work.

The most recent project comes from my own boyfriend, who can write a bit, but apparently not enough. He has a brilliant mind and a vivid imagination, so stepping inside his ideas is always enjoyable. What isn’t enjoyable is trying to make sense of the timeline of his ideas. He’s one of those people who thinks “a guy shows up and saves everyone with a magic weapon” is sufficient to fill the bulk of 400 pages, because “that’s what happens!” It takes a lot of interrogation to get him to put fine detail on every single thought he has. As a writer (and a talker), I have difficulty tolerating his succinct nature. As a man of few words, he has difficulty understanding what my problem is. We’re a match made in heaven. I’m looking forward to the project, but this hang up may kill me.


Have you ever, or are you currently collaborating to complete a literary project? If not, have you ever considered it? Why or why not? What might be most difficult for you?

First thing’s first, Week Three is underway! Draw us toward your epic conclusion in ACT III.

April’s collection of poetry is still growing. Check it out here.

I consider myself a gifted writer. I have to, or I’d never share anything with anyone and you’d be reading a Chatter hosted by some other weirdo with a silly nickname. I like to think my strong point is short fiction, but I’m working on novel projects, so I’m hoping to hone that skill. I specify “fiction” because I’m not a non-fiction writer. I mean, I can write about myself in the sense of a blog entry, but to write a true memoir? I don’t know. I think my tendency toward makin’ stuff up would interfere at some point, such that the lines between fact and fairy tale would blur pretty dishonestly. My mother tells me it’s because we’re Irish. “We’re just full of blarney. We really can’t help it.”

So, alright then. I’m full of blarney. You’d think a person so full of blarney could put a talent like that to good use whenever the fancy strikes. After all, isn’t it the same drill, just applied to different subject matters or goals? Let me stop beating around the bush. See, there’s a new position open in my office and I’m trying t0 go for it. The application process requires a cover letter, and so I set about writing one. I didn’t even manage the first paragraph before I realized I was only spinning bull-spit and just barely representing myself truthfully. So, I tried again. On the second draft, there were more hard facts, but entirely too many superfluous words (kind of like the word superfluous, am I right?), and a lot of flowery language. It didn’t take me long to get frustrated.

Dry, straightforward reality just doesn’t appeal to me. It never has, and maybe that’s why I’m a writer. “I reject your reality and substitute my own.” Why? Because my version of events is far more colorful and interesting. Problem is, no prospective employer is going to use my walking-talking-human-Thesaurus skills to evaluate my eligibility for a desk job that requires, at best, only the ability to use spell check. Alas… the artist sabotages herself by doing the only thing she knows she’s good at.

Does your talent or style as a writer ever bleed into other parts of your life, with unwanted consequences? Does a tendency toward verboseness ever muddy the waters when all you need is to be blunt? Are they little inconveniences like an overly poetic cover letter, or truly disruptive complications?

Happy Monday, Flames! We have some fun stuff goin’ on.

The second topic of April is up — are you ready for Act II? Be on the lookout for the reading list and voting poll from Act I!

APAD is still afoot! Contribute to our effort to collect A Poem a Day during the whole month of April.

I carry my flash drive with me wherever I go. I’m like one of those kids who carries their bank cards in the same dangling lanyard as their bus pass. I can’t help but have it with me at all times. I have had actually paranoid delusions about my house burning to the ground with my flash drive inside. I worry about the animals too, of course, but my flash drive is definitely up there! I’ve been working harder than I’ve ever had to against writer’s block, just to get through ONE of the books in a series I dream of completing. In an effort to change the game a little, I used my junk paper pile to print off everything I have so far. I combined the pages into a binder and separated them by section/topic. The idea is that my natural inclination to edit hardcore with a red pen on physical paper will kick in and put my creativity into overdrive. I got so into the idea, I even made a hard copy binder for a second project of mine, and for a joint project my boyfriend would like to pursue.

Just seeing my book (or what I have so far) in print like that… it was a great feeling. It really helped me envision what it will be like to have a real, finished manuscript. I’ve already taken a red pen to some parts, changed up a few big chunks of the story, and whisked up some new ideas and plans. Something about taking a red pen to actual paper just felt more like I was taking something apart and putting it back together the way it needed to be. Editing from the computer is definitely quicker, but I think I missed the idea of having “drafts” — instead of mistakes going away, you get to keep copies of where your work started, so that you can truly compare it to h0w far it’s come. I am hopeful this means I’ve found the trick for jump-starting my brain… or whatever organ it is that writes books.

By what method do you inject a dose of adrenaline into your drive to complete a project? Also, do you edit more effectively by computer, or by pen and paper?

Good sunshiney morning, Flames. March is one of our special five-week months, so we have an Art Contest Mini for your entertainment! Don't forget to keep your eyes open for Week Four voting as well.

Netflix has a habit of giving me exactly what I want. Most recently, it gave me one of my favorite television series in its entirety: 3rd Rock from the Sun. For those of you who are not familiar (for which you should be ashamed), 3rd Rock is about a team of aliens who land on Earth with the common goal of studying human nature. Using this simple premise, the show examines completely average topics but, of course, makes them hilarious and points out (even more glaringly than life already does) just how ridiculous so many of our human customs seem. In this episode, S4:E16 "Superstitious Dick", the High Commander, Dick Solomon, discovers human superstition when he is given a chain letter. I had forgotten all about chain letters, despite the fact that Facebook and Tumblr still circulate a certain version of such a thing. I never believed in them, for which I am grateful. I don't think I could have handled the psychological stress caused by realizing I had improperly forwarded such a thing.

That is not to say, however, that I am never superstitious. My superstitions just happen to be pretty unique to me, as opposed to following a social trend like letters, broken mirrors, or black cats. Honestly, I think a lot of it is just an extension of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, with which I live. I'm pretty sure the fear of leaving the mustard in the wrong slot inside my refrigerator door will cause me a terrible comeuppance is not a socially acceptable superstition. I am, however, rather fascinated by old folk legends and wives' tales, particularly those with a magic(k)al background. To this day, I smirk to myself when a broom falls in the kitchen, and I am never surprised when unexpected company arrives that same day.

Are you superstitious? If so, will you share a few of your beliefs or suspicions? If not, why? Do you consider superstition to be legitimate, or a little hokey?
ricochey: (Default)
([personal profile] ricochey Mar. 23rd, 2015 07:10 am)

Goooooood morning, Brigit’s Flame!

The final topic for March is up and it’s delicious. How will you encounter The Devil I Have Not Met?

I have both a sentence AND an anecdotal question for you this morning. First, let me tell you how I spent my weekend. I went out Friday night with a friend to watch her have her septum pierced, and now I am obsessed with the idea of having my ears redone.

In 2010, I have 10g horseshoes in both ears. I was working up to a 6g because that’s where all the good jewelry starts. While visiting friends, I had an accident which led to the left one being RIPPED OUT by a car door. It took ten stitches to put my earlobe back together and eventually I let the right one close up on its own. I hadn’t considered starting over. Now it’s all I can think about.

I’m not one for body art, at least not for myself. For one thing, I don’t like needles. For another, I don’t like permanence, commitment, or damaging small parts of me irreversibly. So, ya know, piercings and tattoos are beyond me. They’re so beautiful though, when well executed. I always think someday I’ll be brave and inspired enough to have something done, but I ALWAYS punk out. I’m just a big weenie.

Are you a fan of body modification? Do you have any pieces you’d like to tell us about, or even show us? As with many, is it an addiction for you, or just a whimsy?

I also have a starter sentence for you! If you don’t remember the rules, just make sure you’re only contributing ONE sentence at a time, and that you’re allowing at least two turns in between your last turn and your current one. Here we go!: “I awoke to the shrill sound of something scraping along the length of the tall, glass windows…”

ricochey: (Default)
([personal profile] ricochey Mar. 16th, 2015 07:05 am)

The Week Two voting poll has opened, and now it’s up to us to choose our favorites! Remember to offer feedback and encouragement where able (and willing) — we’re here to grow!

 

Next on the table, the Week Three topic is up, and I feel like it is just BEGGING me to jump in. Will you Live to Tell the Tale?


 

A few days ago, I posted the following status to Facebook:
 

“I dreamt Daniel (my boyfriend) and I were holed up in an underground base with a bunch of other survivors in a high tech research and combat training facility during a zombie apocalypse. The scourge had evolved to greater strength, speed, and cognition. In the base, we were safe. We could train, study, and live without the constant vigilance we’d needed above ground (except when we went out scouting or hunting to thin the numbers), and we were alright.
 

Then the ground above us began to shake. The scourge was clawing, scraping, and gnawing down through the earth to get to us, and now they were directly above our heads. The alliance we thought we had with the people in the white coats broke in an instant — they piled into an elevator tube and disappeared, bidding us good luck as the ceiling continued to tremor.
 

People began to scream and scatter. Daniel and I, armed and always ready, stood side by side, eyes up. I looked into his face. “I love you,” I said resolutely. He met my eyes and shook his head, having found the only fear left in my face. “I’m not worried,” he said, pulling me into a kiss just as the metal above us began to groan.
 

And I woke up.”

 

This isn’t the first dream I’ve ever had that made me want to write. Beyond the fact that it reflects some things I am actually processing in real life (only vaguely metaphorically), it also speaks to the tendency of my subconscious to bully me into writing more often. I suppose, if you should listen to anyone, it’s the part of your mind that knows you better than you do.



 

Do your dreams ever inspire you?

Good morning. Before we begin, let me remind me that the Week Two topic has launched. What Worlds May Come to you in Week Two?

In similar news, the entrants from Week One humbly request your readership and evaluations. What do you make of their Local Color?



On to the mulligan chapter of this Chatter. Last week, I threw you an opening line and asked you to expand upon it. I think last Monday was particularly gloomy one indeed, so let's have a do-over!

Rules of Engagement: You may comment only one sentence at a time. Be sure to check "notify me of responses" so that you can keep up! The only other rule is, you must allow at least two other people to take a turn before you jump in for another. Ready? Go!




"Something fell heavily from above and struck me upon the crown of my head."

The first topic of March is up and available for conquering! Come show us your Local Color!

 

Let's start the week off right. Are we writers or are we writers? Monday is a legitimate Monday for me, as I work weekdays, so I follow the cliche. My mind is not prepared for its functions on the first day of a new week. Were I a wiser woman, I would flex its muscles to get it moving again. I figure we can be wise together.

 

Here's the game: I supply the first sentence, and you supply the next one, as a general "Reply" to this post. Only a sentence, and while run-ons are acceptable, know your limits. (As if we have any.) Since we'll be taking turns, the only rule is you have to put at least two people between yourself and your last contribution. No hogging! Ready?

 

"A lone man streaked through the darkness, and the others pursued him."

Happy Monday, Flames. The final topic of February is up, and it’ll get your heart going. Need help finding the words? Try a workshop.

In keeping with the theme of short fiction, let’s have some short non-fiction: I have this friend, and though I’ve known her since we were in grade school, we stopped talking for several years right toward the end of high school. We split, led two completely different lives, and somehow crashed back into each other last year. Now, barely a year after reuniting, her husband (also an old friend) has moved to Washington to start a new life for them and she plans to follow him some time in the next year.

I know exactly how difficult it’s going to be for her, missing her husband and eventually having to start a whole new life. I’m pretty much an expert on missing your significant other, and I’ve hauled off and started over twice so far. What’s new for me this time is being the one watching someone else move on and go away. Typically, it’s me doing the leaving. Now I’m not so sure I wasn’t too harsh when I told my friends, “You’ll be fine. I’m just moving, not dying.”

Of course I plan to be supportive, but I’m prepared to take it as a personal affront. I’M supposed to be the one who leaves and gets missed, not the other way around. How am I supposed to process this? Guess I’ll just have to, I dunno, grow or something.

Have you ever had the tables turned on you, quite unexpectedly? How did you deal? Do you think you could have been more graceful?

REMINDERS: The Week Three topic invites you to write one hundred words or less on Heart-Shaped Paper. Our workshops also remain open, awaiting your contribution: click here for 1 & 2, and here for 3 & 4.

 

Back when I was in charge of two Chatters a week, I failed to deliver on either of my two promises to stick to a theme. Now, as a one-Chatter woman who also happens to be incredibly manic at the best of times, I think I'm ready to re-embrace Manic Mondays as my true calling. It stands to reason anything written by me is inherently manic by nature. Welcome back to the most neurotic day of the week, Flames.

 

I'm writing this Chatter on what I consider to be a Sunday night, despite the fact that it is definitely two hours and fifteen minutes into Monday proper. I would have written it hours ago and gone to bed, but my job thinks President's Day is a good reason to stay home, so I stayed up about five extra hours watching Buzz Feed videos on YouTube. I never considered myself one of those people who gets absorbed by videos and wastes hours viewing one after the other, to no apparent goal. Buzz Feed, however, pulls me in like siren song. Between the different Buzz Feed channels (Blue, Red, Yellow, etc.), you get an eclectic mix of comedy, social commentary, and educational montage. On average, they're about three minutes long, so my short American attention span does not suffer. It also helps that I have a crush on a few of the women in the videos...

 

All in all tonight (among many other things), I've learned about foreign cuisine, watched men try drag for the first time, listened to women read hateful YouTube comments they received just for being a woman posting a video, and learned how to properly refrigerate certain odd food items. Compared to the mindless scrolling through celebrity selfies or stalking several different exes' Facebooks to find pictures of their new girlfriends and boyfriends, I think I've chosen the more enlightened road.

 

 

I know you enjoy the internet, so don't deny it! What part of the web is stickiest for you? Where do you find yourself getting most lost, drifting through content with that general attitude of "just one more"?
.

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