Friday, February 26, 2010

Snow, Snow, Snow!

Last night another snowstorm blew into my area. As I watched the snow swirl across the courtyard, it reminded me of something post-apocalyptic, something from a bad science fiction film. I wanted to yell, "Enough already! Bring me spring time and flowers." Even in the novel I'm currently writing, snow brings sadness and disaster. Two young sisters twirl and try to catch snowflakes on their tongues, shouting out different flavors they imagine the snowflakes taste like. Their reverie is interrupted by a grumpy father who tells them they are being silly. Later the older sister slashes her wrists, and as she is carried to an ambulance, one sister observes drops of blood in the snow.

Snow didn't always conjure up such negative images for me. I have some wonderful snow memories. Even though it's been almost three years and two moves since my dog died, I still expect him to bowl me over when I go to the door and announce, "It's snowing!" I remember one time I landed in the emergency room after playing in the snow with Shadow. I was shoveling the walk and tossing snowballs to him. He'd jump up in the air, catch the snowballs and chomp, chomp. I bent over to make another snowball when he head-butted me. He knocked me down. But I got up and continued shoveling and continued tossing him snowballs. Later I discovered I was bleeding, that I had a gash under my eye. I would spend a few hours in the emergency room getting stitches and a tetanus shot. The memory always makes me smile. Another time my kids and I spent several hours walking all over town as the snow fell. We chased each other, throwing snowballs, white-washing each other. We laughed so much that day. The snow was falling heavily, and we kept walking, barely cognizant of the cold. Hours later, we returned home wet from the snow and drank hot chocolate.

I guess it's age, or maybe I'm just tired of all the snow we've had so far this year, that I noticed my perspective has changed. I used to get excited whenever it snowed. I liked to sit on my porch and watch it fall, sprinkling the trees like powdered sugar. I couldn't wait to go out in the snow. Now I cocoon myself in an afghan and only go out if it's absolutely necessary.

What about you? How do you feel about snow? What are your memories about snow? Set your timer for fifteen minutes and freewrite about snow. Remember, no stopping to edit. Just write...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Three-Minute Fiction

My dad, a talented photographer, always told me that a photograph should tell a story, evoke some type of mood. Sadly, I never mastered the art of photography. I am still trying to figure out what button to press to capture a photo. The result hasn't been very good, but still, I try. I do like to use photos for writing prompts. If the photographer has been successful, the photo evokes some type of reaction. The image might spark another image or a memory or an emotion. In the past, I've recommending looking through old photo albums. Choose several photos and do a fifteen-minute freewrite on each. Flip through magazines that are rich with photos and choose one to do a freewrite. It doesn't have to lead to a larger work or anything at all. The importance is that you've written something. Don't throw it away. Tuck it in your notebook. Maybe someday down the road, when you're flipping through your notebooks, it'll lead to something else. If it doesn't, that's okay, too.

Speaking of photographs...NPR is sponsoring round three of their Three-Minute Fiction contest. This time around, they're giving you a photo on which to base a 600 word story. The contest is free to enter, and you can enter online. Here are the links:
Three-Minute Fiction Round Three

Official Rules: Three-Minute Fiction Round Three

Good luck and keep writing!