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.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Things You Find in Desks


The following is submitted for the February WEPFF Back of the Drawer Flash Fiction challenge. Feel free to make a full critique (including the painting) and also submit your own entry.

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This is my messy desk. In the back of the main drawer is a tattered old folder that I never open, except for today. I have been dragging this folder around with me since I was in my twenties. It contains some diary pages written in French. I think I should reread these to remember who I was at twenty and then destroy them. 


There is the beginning of a romance novel (in English) that takes place in France during the Middle Ages. (The writing kind of makes my stomach turn.) Somehow I am still drawn to the mystery of the Middle Ages as if I had been there--to France as if I had been there.

There is a copy of Jacques Prévert's poem, Déjeuner du Matin, which I still love. My copy of La Ballade des pendus by Francois Villon seems to be missing. My taste in poetry runs to the dark side.

There is an old post card from a former boss sent to me while he was attending a law conference in Florida and a birthday card from someone I lost touch with long ago who probably isn’t alive anymore.
From my days studying for an AA degree in electronics, there are two small notebooks full of electronics formulas and notes about calculating power in circuits, all meticulously and beautifully written in small print. I loved those two years. It was hard work and a long story in itself.

I am usually a person who discards anything for which I no longer have any use. I am not a collector or a hoarder. Getting rid of things feels like taking a bath, feels like getting rid of the detritus of life. I rarely look back. Why I have hung on to these things I do not know and when I will be ready to toss them into the fire I cannot say. And so for the moment, the tattered folder goes back into my desk until I can decide.

35 comments:

  1. Linda, it's great to have you posting for WEP again this week. Love that painting of your desk. Your desk contains a rich mine of treasures. I wouldn't be getting rid of anything anytime soon. And I'd love to read that romance set in France during the Middle Ages. Come on!

    Thank you for posting for WEP!

    Denise :-)

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    1. And I'd like to recommend Linda's Dreaming of Laughing Hawk to everyone! It's amazing!

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    2. Thanks Denise. I appreciate your warm welcome.

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  2. A trip down a memory lane could be so sweet sometimes.

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  3. Nuanced and very evocative! Liked the painting - beautiful, and the flash. Great word control! I do hope one day the Medieval French romance will get (re)written.

    Best wishes always,
    Nilanjana.

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    1. Yes it would be fun to attempt a medieval French romance.

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  4. Hi Linda,
    I find it interesting that you found a birthday card from someone you have lost contact. To send a birthday card to someone means you meant something to that person. Maybe they're still alive and at the same address. I'm not a collector either so finding things like that always awakens in me a desire to know what happened to the person.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G

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    1. Yeah, I want to know why I kept a birthday card too--and a belated one at that.

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  5. Hi Linda - love the artwork descriptive image of your 'place' ... the Medieval French story would be a great read - I hope that comes to fruition ... there are always a few things we need to keep - life can hold us that like ... perhaps in writing the stories down we can then declutter ... yet handwriting, drawings etc are so valuable in their own right ... that we lose with the technical aspects of life ... so much here to read and think about - cheers Hilary

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    1. Thank you. I think we hang on to certain things because they held so much power over us at some point in the past.

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  6. Beautiful, the sentiment, the painting, the memories. Funny, the things we hold onto. I still have address books from when I was a kid. :) Love letters, too, but it's the small things that you can hold onto verses the larger items when you're a mover!

    Thank you, Linda, for sharing this with for the WEP challenge. I hope we see/read more of your amazing pieces!

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    1. Thank you Yolanda. I'll try to check in more often than I have. I don't know where my time goes.

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  7. I'd love to see the electronics notebooks....another aspect of your wonderfully complex personality.

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    1. Ha! I was one of four women in a class of Vietnam vets and boys just out of high school. What an education that was! Five days a week, 8 to 5. You learn real quick to carry your own weight and to swear (always one of my favorite things and an art in itself).

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  8. Isn't it interesting some of the things we save?i I move too much to be a hoarder, but find myself saving some of the oddest things. I like to look at them and try to solve the mystery of why they were ever important. I love that painting of you desk.

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    1. Thank you. Me too--I want to understand why.

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  9. Hello Linda,

    I really enjoyed this little peek into your desk drawer. The painting is lovely! Very well done. It gives us a better glimpse into the lovely area you inhabit, where the story is based.

    I save things too, lots of old journals I swear I need to toss out; school folders with old term papers. Weird and random things! Every time I go to toss them, I wonder: could there be a story in these? So I keep them. Who knows? Maybe there's a story in that folder of yours.

    Cheers,
    Jen

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    1. Thank you. Glad you enjoyed. I make an effort to routinely declutter things but some weird things have staying power.

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  10. I loved your painting as well as your list of things kept at the back of the drawer in the tattered old folder. It did feel as if I was reading someone's private musings - it was so personal.
    Would enjoy reading a novel set in France in the middle ages and I must add that I will try and order your Dreaming of a Laughing Hawk and add it to my TBR pile.

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    1. Thank you for reading my entry and I'm glad you enjoyed the painting.

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  11. The painting is beautiful. So is this sentimental story. I think everyone has things from their past that they just can't part with. I have a few things; but I have moved around so much that my clutter is relatively fresh. I know some day my children will throw away those things I've collected that have sentimental value to nobody except me. I'm ok knowing they will finally discard them for me.

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    1. Thank you. I try to imagine what my kids are going to do with "my stuff" some day--my art supplies, paintings, collection of tarot cards, my collection of recipes, my gardening stuff, family heirlooms. I hope they'll be up to it.

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  12. I love the painting! I'm not a hoarder, either, but there are a couple of things that I just wouldn't want to part with.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the painting. Still struggling to learn watercolor painting.

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  13. I think it is great that you have a folder with items that you can't get rid of - in the back of your mind they must mean something. I love the painting of the desk with the shoes underneath and the jacket on the back of the chair - it reminds me of my work space (although my desk is not as tidy as yours)!

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    1. Thank you. One of the things you can do as an artist is alter reality by removing some of the desk clutter. My work space gets messy pretty quickly.

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  14. Thank you for all the comments. We are a legion of sentimental collectors, aren't we? Now I must get busy reading all your entries (after taxes and French class).

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  15. Nice walk down memory lane and the minute places in our minds that knows something we haven't yet figured out. One day you'll decide to get rid of the folder and, perhaps at that time, you'll understand why you've kept it for so long. I like the painting. Is it watercolors? Seems like a comfortable place to create.

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  16. An interesting take on the challenge. People do seem to collect the odd things in life, even though you said you weren't a collector.
    Nancy

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    1. Thanks for dropping by. Always fighting the urge to be a collector.

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  17. I love your painting, and I understand your confusion about whether to discard or keep the old folder. Will you want anyone else to find what is in there if you were suddenly incapacitated? If you don't care, then let it be. If there is something that is too personal either put in in a memoir file then read it and discard it. There may be some secrets we want to take to the grave with us. That's the secrets that could be hurtful to others.

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  18. Hah, that certainly struck a chord. I'm not a hoarder by any means, but there are certain things I've never thrown away, and I don't know why. Sentimental value? Or value that's only in my mind? Who can say...

    I do tend to keep birthday cards, though....and I do have quite a few from people I've long lost contact with. It's a good bit of nostalgia, though there's always that twinge of sadness as you come back to the present and realize that person isn't a part of your life anymore, for whatever reason.

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  19. Your painting gives off a feeling of serenity, somehow. Those things in the folder seem to have sentimental value. Even if you don't recall all the details, it's hard to let go. I'm a packrat and do keep things like greeting cards from special people. After so many decades, it's gotten a bit ridiculous and the drawer is jammed full. I enjoyed your take on the prompt.

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