Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

They Thought He Was God

Below is my entry for the Romantic Friday Writers Challenge No. 32: The Perfect 9.5
They thought he was God. So did he, but Stella wasn’t so sure. Nevertheless, when Stella sat in that first class of advanced fiction writing, she vowed to learn everything Colin Harmon could teach her. He was an author of several novels, a screen writer, and a successful New York publisher. As a teacher, he was a Machiavellian task master who quickly identified the vulnerabilities of his students and wielded that knowledge like a sword. No ego was safe. His vulnerability was that he had never quite achieved the fame of his peers—Tennessee Williams, James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, Elia Kazan. It grated on him.

Stella took in every word that Colin Harmon uttered, but she would not sit at his knee in rapt adoration like the other acolytes. She ignored his subtle overtures, his determination to reform her writing style in ways that were contrary to her own heart. He labeled her one of his most resistant students, not because she didn’t understand his teaching, but because she refused to implement those teachings that didn’t feel right. Colin’s spare prose and insightful knowledge of character and plotting was missing passion. It troubled Stella’s writerly sensibilities.


Not that Colin Harmon wasn’t capable of passion. Stella and two other writers had inadvertently discovered his secret passion for one of their very attractive fellow writers, a 9.5 on the Richter scale. Weekly critique sessions at his home became a source of amusement for the three as the lovers attempted to conceal their involvement. But Stella observed on more than one occasion that Colin Harmon’s sweet wife, who drifted in and out of the room like a shadow, seemed to be drinking quite heavily. She had born him a half dozen children, ran his household and publishing business, and accommodated his writing career in every way. She was the woman behind the man and she seemed to be in trouble. Perhaps she suspected his betrayal. When would he tell her?


During one evening writers’ session, while Stella and all the writers were seated at the long dining table, Colin’s wife came flying out of the kitchen, her face flushed with anger. A cold chill ran down Stella’s back as the woman’s furious eyes locked on Stella. Colin Harmon's secret love life, the source of so much gossip, was about to explode. Sweet Jesus, Stella muttered. She thinks I’m the one. 

13 comments:

  1. Hi Linda! Thank you for joining up officially. I'm glad you've been a regular contributor lately as your voice is unique. Well, I suppose we all have unique writing voices, but I mean you are quite different - and I love it. You always catch me at the end. I never know what to expect with your twist, and that is one of the hallmarks of flash fiction writing.

    I loved the wife: 'Colin Harmon’s sweet wife, who drifted in and out of the room like a shadow...' Hmm, some shadow eh?

    I like how this God had feet of clay. I hope he gets his just desserts, not Stella!

    Denise

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  2. Dear Linda,
    What a clever story!
    You drew me into the text with the words 'They thought he was God'. What an opening!

    Great descriptions such as: She had born him a half dozen children, ran his household and publishing business, and accommodated his writing career in every way. She was the woman behind the man and she seemed to be in trouble.

    Snappy ending.

    Love this one!

    Best wishes,
    Anna
    Anna's Perfect 9.5 for RFW No 32

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  3. STELLA! STELLA! STELLA! (stomping feet and clapping hands)
    Wow! Can you define a protagonist and antagonist in such a short space? Yes she can, and I bow to you. My, have you a talent for weaving intrigue into this short story! I found this excellent.

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  4. Hi S.
    Oh what a delightful twist at the end. Love your writing and the way this tale played out. I think I might have had a professor like this before.
    Nancy

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  5. This. Was. Perfect.
    I was completely engrossed in the story, wanting to know exactly where it was going, but not wanting it to be over.
    Great!
    Laura x

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  6. Dear Linda,

    I have made the corrections that you suggested in a revision that can be found after the RFW-badge on my post. I have also written an extra 'P.S.'-text; but I don't know what to do with the extra seven words that I have gained. For me this story is complete.

    Thanks for taking the time to write these suggestions.

    Best wishes,
    Anna
    xo

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  7. Really enjoyed reading your piece, Linda. So engaging and a clever twist at the end. Flash is certainly a strength in your writing arsenal.

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  8. Loved the twisted ending Linda. The descriptions of your characters was just amazing for such a short piece. I felt as if i knew these people and their intrigues.

    Well done.

    ......dhole

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  9. Hello.
    I'm really enjoying your RFW entries, Linda. The scene setting & character descriptions were quite vivid.
    You've got me anxiously waiting for a continuation of this with that unexpected twist at the end.
    Nicely written.
    Thanks for sharing.

    True Beauty Comes from Imperfection

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  10. Thank you all for taking the time to read my entry. I'm afraid I have been a little slow reading all your entries. I promise to get through them this evening!

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  11. Came back for another read Linda. It is even better second time around. D.

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  12. Did you know you have the dreaded WV Captcha Codes for your commenters which are SO hard to read??? D.

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  13. No Denise, I didn't know that I had a Captcha code problem. So how do you fix that? I know a lot of blogs use them and they often give me grief.

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