Archive for the daily writing Category

The Whale-Shaped Man (fiction? poetry? both? neither?!?!)

Posted in character development, characters, creative writing, daily writing, flash fiction, poem, Poetry, short stories, short story, surreal, Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , on November 30, 2017 by Robert Crisp

The Whale-Shaped Man

Is he in his office? asked the whale-shaped man.
Is who is his office? the woman in sparkly pants replied.
You know.
I don’t.
Him.
That doesn’t clear it up.
The whale-shaped man grimaced. I’m talking about your father.
Oh. Why do you want to see him?
To ask for your hand in marriage.
That’s stupid, the woman laughed.
What?
Why would I marry you? You’re shaped like a whale.
But I love you.
That doesn’t change anything.

So the whale-shaped man left. Inside his office, the woman’s father sighed in relief.

The Lizard’s Wish

Posted in alcoholic, alcoholism, creative writing, daily writing, poem, Poetry, surreal, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 3, 2017 by Robert Crisp

I’ve been following with keen interest the developments around the fast radio bursts from a part of the universe three billion light years away (and I’ve also given myself a headache imagining three billion light years). This poem came from all that pondering. Also, I’ve wanted to use Temecula, California in a poem for some time because I love the word “Temecula.” It sounds like a king of giant spiders. I understand the Native American origin, but I can so clearly see a kick-ass spider….

The Lizard’s Wish

A self-medicating lizard basks on
a sidewalk in Temecula, California.

He dreams he can still see the stars,
and relives infamous moments in time—

especially the one when aliens came
and the dinosaurs ate every single one.

He’s seen a lot, this lizard, and the
thousands of years have taken a toll.

His therapist, a chameleon who doesn’t
believe in reincarnation, worries about him.

His mother makes him fly-pies and cries
at night into tiny green throw pillows.

The lizard gazes up at the sky, wishing
the aliens would give it another go.

 

We Spin On (word vomit)

Posted in creative writing, daily writing, poem, Poetry, Uncategorized, writing, writing craft with tags , , , , , on June 2, 2017 by Robert Crisp

Since I ended my job as a middle-school English teacher (I would love to say never again, but I know better), writing has been sporadic. Actually, that’s not true–I show up at the page every day, but the quality has been sporadic. On the last day of my job, I had cleaned out my room but couldn’t leave until the principal gave me the all-clear, so I had plenty of time to write. What came out was garbage. Granted, it was a lot of garbag (nearly three thousand words), but there was nothing salvageable. 

Perhaps, as my wife says, my brain needed a break. It’s only been a week since school got out, and my writing is still mainly junk. What follows is an example. It isn’t so much poetry as it is word vomit. I’m sharing it to encourage other writers to get out on the page whatever needs to come out, even if you look at it and say, “By Jove, that’s a mess.” A mess is better than nothing.

That being said, there’s still hope (I know I make it all sound dire, like I’ll never write anything I’m happy with. EVER AGAIN). As an editor told me once:

I dig the weirdness in [your] poems, but weirdness would be a bit of an understatement. It’s as if you’re using this idea of weirdness/strangeness to explore irreparable longing – perhaps irreparable longing is the glue that holds today’s world together.   – Justin Karcher, Ghost City Review

These words mean the world to me because that’s what I try to do in my poetry. It burbles up from my subconcious, fueled by the Great Cosmic Signal, and I do my best to convey the feelings inside me. My work is often dark and sad, and I do feel a sense of irreparble longing; it’s part and parcel of the human condition. Two things alleviate some of that longing: writing poetry and writing music. 

So…here’s some word vomit.

We Spin On

The vampire flowers made her sad,
and I ate another plate of fear salad.
This isn’t helping anything, said the erstwhile
Martian as he clung to the last thread of life.
The boulders of Colorado made a rodeo.
Eggs beat in rhythm to the veins of ocean.
More likely, the face of autumn.
The fan blew on the mighty moon, and
the tail of escaping steam was moody.
We spin on, the stars murmured. We spin on.

Dear, yet Cursed, Rachel (poem)

Posted in creative writing, daily writing, poem, Poetry, writing on September 3, 2016 by Robert Crisp

 

I’m still around, though not writing as much due to the demands of my new job. I’m teaching English to 8th graders, most of whom regard me with cool disregard or outright contempt…but there are some who get me. I sense a few sparks flickering to life, and that’s encouraging. I still come home tired–and some days plain exhausted–but I haven’t been so drained of energy that I’ve started siphoning from my spirit.  Taking spiritual energy and repackaging it to give away to young people who can’t help but be vampiric, especially those who have little or no support at home, took a disastrous toll on me when I last taught in public school. Not again, say I.

I’m determined to find a way to write more. Twenty minutes a day is reasonable, and I can build from there.  In that spirit, below is the first poem I’ve written in weeks. Weirdness, it seems, is still with me.

Dear, yet Cursed, Rachel

“I hope you don’t mind a little bit of blood,” said Dear Rachel,
unleashing a torrent of red upon my finest carpets—recently cleaned!—
and heaving a crimson sigh that colored the rest of my days,

numbered as they were, I know, counted and sifted by a cowardly
man using the sky as cover and the clouds as disgusting, disguising agents,
oh, how I knew, and yet—AND YET!—Dear Rachel commits to a visit
and has the bitterest gall to bleed and bleed and bleed freely for at least an hour,

during which time I prayed (I’m ashamed to say!) and called upon friends
near and far to remove her, to chain her, to lock her away and swallow the key,
kill and bury themselves in an old-growth forest so nothing but nurse logs
would know the fate of the vile metal and Dear Rachel would be Cursed Rachel
and then forever forgotten, erased as surely as my lineage which dates back to

A Shrewdness of Apes

Posted in creative writing, daily writing, fiction, poem, Poetry, writing, writing craft with tags , , , on March 22, 2016 by Robert Crisp

Fantastic resource here for what to call groups of animals. I’ve already used “murmuration of starlings” in a poem.

An End and a Beginning

Posted in creative writing, daily writing, fiction, freewriting, poem, Poetry with tags on January 12, 2016 by Robert Crisp

I am here, newly born, forged from the fires of adversity and the long shadows of self-loathing. Long have I crawled the shores of despair, riven by thirst only to find the bitter gall or rejection and alienation. I continue searching, praying to distant gods, and…

…okay, enough of that shite. All I’ve done is make this blog my “official” home (as a Poet and a Writer, replete with capital letters because I’m special). It’s now writingforghosts.com because I like the name and don’t plan on changing it even when I become rich and famous and hole up in a dismal castle somewhere.

Some of you will note that this site has far fewer posts than before. I made a number of them private because I may still pilfer from them, but I want to start fresh. New voices, new freewriting sessions, new everything.

Don’t take anything too seriously on this site, not even the poems, characters, and stories. Especially take with a truckload of salt anything I say about myself or others. As the late, great Kurt Vonnegut wisely says, “All persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental.”

Stuff to follow. I hope you dig it, but if you don’t, that’s fine. The world is wide, the blogs are plentiful, and magic abounds. And I’d like to think a little of that magic lives here.

-RC

 

The (Tough) Art of Creating a Short Story

Posted in creative writing, daily writing, fiction, freewriting, short stories, short story, writing, writing craft, writing prompts with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2015 by Robert Crisp

For some reason, I expect writing good short stories to be relatively easy. I don’t know why, at 41, I still think that since I’ve struggled with the short story form since I began cranking them out in my early teens. As I’ve said before, the entire process of poetry–the imagining, workshopping, revision–has been simple compared to writing short stories. Ideas pop into my head all the time, and those ideas usually find their way into my poems. Sometimes, though, characters and their voices show up, and I know to do them justice, I need to write prose.

Aside from my tendency to abandon stories after ten or so pages, I also acknowledge that my strength isn’t in description. I’m also not particularly good at pacing, either. I excel at dialogue, and I’ve heard as much from editors back when I was submitting stories for publication. I received personal rejection slips telling me that dialogue was spot on, but the rest of my writing was flabby. I took that as an encouraging sign, and I still do, despite the number of years that have passed between those rejection slips and now.

For help, I decided to buy the Gotham City Writer’s Workshop book on writing fiction. I like it so far, and while the first section seems geared more toward beginning writers, I still find it helpful. The exercises in the book have been useful thus far, too.

I’ve also returned to using Scrivener writing software, but not for a novel writing (though I’m also tempted to use Scrivener in conjunction with the beautiful word processing program Novlr), but for short stories. Scrivener helps me plan a story, much like I used it to plan my last novel. I realized over the weekend that I can’t continue treating short stories like poems. I need more time with stories, and some stories (like the one I’m currently working on) require research. Scrivener has a wonderful built-in feature to store research, and it allows you to visually plan scenes for a novel, story, or screenplay. Novlr is gorgeous and gets my fingers itchy to fill a blank page.

I can knock out at least one quality poem a day during my writing time, but the first draft of a story takes me at least a week if I tackle it every day. I have the time, and though it can be grueling, I’m willing to show up at the page and take the project on, even if I feel discouraged. Discouragment is just a feeling attached to a useless thought; it has nothing to do with my dedication to the craft or my ability as a writer. I think setting writing goals for myself is a good idea, too. One of many things that quitting drinking has taught me is that I’m a hell of a lot stronger and focused than I sometimes give myself credit for.

I’m also going to re-read Stephen King’s masterful On WritingIf you’re a writer and haven’t read it, I highly recommend you check it out. It transformed the way I wrote, and I’m sure I’ll glean more wisdom and encouragement this read-through.

For the curious, the story I’m working on came from a prompt in the Gotham City book. To paraphrase, it was something like: “Sam knew either it was a lucky sign or a sign of disaster when….” After some freewriting, that prompt led to a strange and touching story about a man who works with chimps, teaching them to sign, and in particular his relationship with a troubled chimp named Roscoe. I like where the story’s going…I just have to remind myself (several times a day) not to abandon it because the words aren’t lining up like obedient little children. They rarely do, anyway, and just because the writing is hard doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.

Whew, this was a longer post than I intended. Thanks for taking time to read.