Maybe you've noticed that I'm more active on the blog. As you know I chose the word "Simplify" as my word for 2018. Last year my work schedule got a little crazy and a little too over the top for a semi-retired person, so this year I decided to pare it all down. I was trying to do everything, write books, launch books, create relationships with readers, network with other authors, take courses, implement and manage ads AND get a Master's degree all while traveling, taking care of myself and spending time with my husband. Something had to give. So I picked my word for 2018 and made some tough choices. Obviously health and family come first, plus I also can't give up on my Master's Degree, so I decided to just write books and focus on building relationships with readers. So you'll notice I'm more active on Facebook, I'm never missing a newsletter, and I'm going to write more on the blog.
I have some amazing connections with a bunch of readers already - I'm hoping to meet and get to know more readers so I'm opening every channel that might facilitate that connection, email, social media, blog.
Today I thought I'd share some of the work that I've been doing in my Master's Degree course. The story below is a little piece of flash fiction. We were given the prompt "She Grew To Hate The Winter."
A challenge for you! Take the prompt above and write a 500 piece creative (poetry, prose, a song). You don't have to share, but I'd love to read it. Post it in the comments if you are happy to share.
They married quickly. He was a widower with much to offer, a home, a farm and the prospect of bundles of children, even though he'd none yet of his own. It was summer only three years ago. One morning, after a night spent at the saloon, her father asked her to join him on a walk to the old basswood tree, the one with the red scarf tied around a lower branch to mark the best path through the neighbouring forest. It was an odd request, so she looked to her mother as she rose from the breakfast table. Her mother had tried to disguise her swollen eyes with an excess of the expensive powder her father brought her from the city. She nodded. Go ahead.
“He’s a good man for you,” he said. He picked bark from the trunk of the old tree and tossed it. Every toss sent a waft of stale beer under the nose of her grinning face.
She was seventeen and full of hope. She cried when they crossed the state line, she hadn’t realized her future was so far away. But, her new husband pulled her to him and held her firmly beneath his arm as they bounced their way across the Iowa plains. They arrived after night had fallen. In the inky black, she couldn’t see the isolation, the miles of waving wheat that surrounded the humble two-room farmhouse.
They lived a simple life. She kept the house and the chickens. Once a month they traveled to the Saturday market in the closest town. He insisted they arrive early, which meant leaving the farm hours before dawn.
“The best deals are at daylight darling. You don’t want there to be nothing left to dicker for.”
He was a good provider. Their pantry and their bellies were always full. It was just the two of them, but they had little need for other company. Her father was right. They were a good match in every way but one. The children never came.
She grew to hate the winter. She hated twilight, and the rhythmic knocking of a boot on the door frame spilling mud and gravel onto the wide-planked floor. How many baths had she poured, her knuckles chapped to bleeding, into that battered copper tub? Daily she knelt to sweep up the remnants of the farm he’d dragged inside, hiking up her skirt to save her only dress from the wash, the gravel pressing into her bare knees. She'd pick it out later, out of sight, in the privy where it would leave red pitted holes in her pale sunless skin. She hated the orderliness of everything. The days stretched out before her, the tidy house mocking her idleness, yet giving her nothing to do. And the quiet. She hated the quiet; the soundless snow, the still air, the lack of conversation. He barely said a word to her now. He hauled grain and fixed fences. The work was backbreaking and unrewarding. She was uninteresting.
She grew to hate their futile coupling. His icy weight pinned her down like the oppressively infinite Iowa sky, and his sticky fruitless seed spilled from her as she dreamed of children, of summer.
*Photo by Sandy Schultz