Well, my post is due in less than an hour (forgot; it was 100 degrees today…I forgot to breathe for a little while, too). Let’s see if I can play this off. This is something I do a lot, something that I recommend for all fiction writers. Flash fiction is fun, and challenging yourself keeps you sharp. So, I will give myself five minutes. Go.
The smell of hay settled on them like the dust motes in the sunbeam – lazily, as if it had all day. And it did. They knew as they lay still that nothing needed to be done. Sure, there were chores that could be done, but they were well aware of the delicious difference.
It had been a long summer. Heat came in waves over the fields. Not much rain. The grownups were nervous, but they were too young to worry about the future. The adults worried. They kept the worry in the front of their minds where they could knead at it like bread dough.
Faith. That was what it came down to. No sense worrying too much…the good lord will do as he sees fit. That was what Gram said and it had been repeated often. A refrain for deaths and disease and trucks that plum ran out of fight.
It wasn’t easy. Wasn’t supposed to be. Easy was for the kids. Let them enjoy the time while it was simple and life was strung together with fishing and catching fireflies. When the peach cobbler always tasted like the best Gram had ever made.
Pops wasn’t worried about anything. There was a ball of disease inside him. No one knew about it. And he would not tell. It would be one more slow, grinding surprise. One more test of their faith. For some of them, the final time they would ever say the word.
The dinner bell had been ringing for several minutes when they roused themselves, two thin, tan kids with summer thick in their brains and the future laid out before them, coming, whether they could see it or not.
OK, that was exactly five minutes. No editing to speak of – there is a lot I would change, but this is an exercise and this one probably won’t live past this post. It was hot today so that was an obvious place to start. My mind then took me to a collection of memories I have of hot Southern Illinois summers I spent with my Grandma and Grandpa. None of it is ‘true’ – the feelings are true I guess, but not the story.
So, that’s my cop-out post. But seriously, this is something I do a lot. Sometimes they turn out better than others. This one is nothing special, but it’s like a high intensity workout. Five minutes. No edits. Like a boxer skipping rope. The end result is not as important as the doing of the thing.
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JD Mader is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and author of the novels JOE CAFÉ and THE BIKER – and co-author of the mighty Bad Book. For more information, please see the IU Bio page and his blog: www.jdmader.com (and musical nonsense here: JD Mader). Mader’s edgier works can be found at www.blergpop.com.
25 thoughts on “Wind Sprints”
If that is what you put out with no editing then … I'm speechless.
That's why I think this kind of exercise is so valuable. Keeps mind and fingers sharp. The more you do it, the easier it is.
I did fix a few minor typos AS I wrote, too. But when I do these I write more slowly and deliberately than when I already have an idea in mind. They get written more slowly by virtue of navigation. 🙂
I’m pleased to see you mention the helpfulness of writing prompts. Having started this path only a short while ago, I find flash fiction and participation in regular writing challenges like five sentence fiction, through http://lilliemcferrin.com , has greatly improved my writing. I initially started with a bias,a notion that a real writer starts at 1000 words and works from there. I’m very glad I realized that to improve I needed all the challenges I could get!
I agree with Yvonne. If this five minutes of your unedited writing, a ‘wow’ is definitely in order. Thanks JD.
Thanks. It's weird. I do this kind of stuff a lot, and sometimes a piece comes off better in five minutes than if I'd spent an hour on it. That is not the case with this one, but 'Green' was a five minutes exercise I did with my students. I may have edited it, but no revision I don't think. Sometimes the 'stress' brings interesting things to the surface. The prompt here was 'green'.
And yeah, it was five minutes. I have a 3yo and a 35yo witness. 😉
I remember your 'Green' story because it was the first time you mentioned, or that I read, you did the same writing exercises as you gave your students. That impressed the heck out of me and is one of the reasons I nagged you to talk more about teaching. Just to give the whole thing context.
Thanks for the link, I'm going to read that amazing 'Green' again.
P.S. I WILL ask both ladies in your household. In fact, I have a list of things to ask!!
Uh oh. 😉 I'm currently working on an article about my teaching days, BTW.
Dagnabit! Quit raising the bar for the rest of us! My next post on the letter "Q" is gonna seem pretty elementary compared to this.
LOL. Don't worry, I'm writing my Thursday post and it sucks.
No way! I've just written a small piece and one line in it is "dust motes dancing in the sunbeam"! No one will believe me that I didn't pinch that line off you! Honestly! Bummer. 😉
It's all yours, Audrey. I will come to your defense if necessary. 😉
I respect and admire talented novelists. Thanks for demonstrating why, JD.
Thanks, Marcia. The best thing that ever happened for my writing was teaching writing workshops to people with no expectations of what writing "IS". I was very lucky.
Dan, we used to do this exercise using a pen and paper (gasp) in which the instructor would give us maybe a couple of cues (say, a garden gnome and a nun) and a ten minute block of time, and we were told to never remove the pen from the paper, so even typos had to be left, but it was good. Really hones that sense of momentum writing can have once we lose our self-consciousness.
Totally, my hand cramps up bad when I write with a pen (that was the way we did it in my workshops though). But yeah, it removes some ego and adds some urgency. Both good things. And sometimes it turns out well, like Green.
Green is awesome, yes!
I remember Green, one of my favorites of yours. So, I'll third that WOW from above.
Thanks Krista. Green was a big turning point for me. Thanks to the lovely Morgen Bailey.
Damn. I would give quite a few body parts to be able to write something like this and you shrug it off 🙁 Lovely JD Mader, just lovely.
Thanks Meeks, you can do it, too. I used to be an OK writer. I practiced like hell.
lol – in that case I hope to match you by my 100th birthday :p
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