Gentle readers and fellow scribblers, on Monday, March 31st, I will begin a game with a cabal of other creatives on Twitter. At 6 p.m. PDT, I will tweet the most overblown opening line I can concoct in 140 characters. Another author will add the next line, perhaps mentioning heaving bosoms or a mysterious and alluring stranger. And, lo, we shall unleash a storm of fiction unto the Twitterverse. Purple prose will majestically sweep forth to darken the scene. Furious flashes of fractured alliteration will fly. Together, we shall bring forth a monster of a story, and we shall call it… #badfiction!
Feel free to follow me, @chendersonbauer, and join my little game. The water will be filled with sharks, dragons, and possibly even unicorn sailors. Rumors of marshmallow-covered zombierotica have surfaced from the deep. What could possibly go wrong?
Stories say there’s a pot of gold at the end of each rainbow, if you can only find it–and if the silly things would hold still. Every child who ever chased a bright band of colors as it retreated across the sky is familiar with this difficulty.
Other, less frequently repeated stories say that fairy gold turns to leaves and twigs in the morning.
Taken together, these tales don’t exactly teach us to go hunting for riches in the wild. But in my years of wandering through the woods, I’ve learned a different lesson: treasures are hidden everywhere. There is a trick, though. If you’re barreling after the end of a rainbow, you may never see them. They often aren’t where you expect them to be, and sometimes you don’t notice them until after the fact.
Last August, Adam and I hiked up to Flapjack Lakes in the Olympic Mountains. Read More
Last Sunday I participated in a fundraiser for a woman who just lost her husband to cancer and is now supporting their two children, both under the age of three, by herself. The main event was a silent auction, full of amazing services and goods donated by friends and businesses in Seattle. There were two full bars and plentiful delicious food. And there was also me, tucked away in a corner of the room, writing compliments for people in exchange for donations. Read More
My mother used to haul around a fat, cloth-covered binder called a “Day Minder.” It was scribbled over with notes, paper-clipped with lists on scraps of paper, and ridged with ugly tabs. Teenaged me would roll her eyes every time Mom pulled this brute out of her over-stuffed bag to write down a new appointment or remind the family of some forgotten chore. Sure, she was managing the schedule and tasks of five people, but did it have to look so cluttered? Did she really need that many lists?
Then Mom got her first Blackberry. Overnight, the size of her purse shrank in half. The reign of the ratty Day Minder was over. Other than occasionally teasing her about it, my siblings and I quickly forgot about the old beast. Read More
Yesterday I walked outside to discover it’s suddenly Spring! Don’t believe me? I see you pointing at your calendar, but I’ve got proof. Here it is:
This is the second of a two-part post. In Part I, I analyzed a brave and powerful story by Lauren Fleshman and discussed how to find the monster–the thing that prevents a hero from accomplishing her goal–in a story. In Part II, I’m hunting one of my own inner monsters.
It’s not difficult to find things I’ve been avoiding in my life. As you may have guessed from this blog, I like taking pictures. But I haven’t posted any pictures of myself for the last year. Why? I’ve had a hole in my mouth.
It’s difficult to even type this, which means I’m off to a good start. Read More
This one is especially for my friends who are in much colder places than Seattle right now.
I love snow, but I’ll be the first to admit that winter is not my season. If I were a superhero, my weakness would be the cold. I can sit in a 60º room with a sweater on and start shivering. I look at the beginning of December like an overloaded hiker staring up at an enormous, ice-capped mountain: ugh, how the hell am I going to get over that?
Over the years, I’ve developed a few strategies to survive the chilly months. Much to my husband’s dismay, I begin wearing a minimum of eight pieces of clothing at all times. I spend the first ten minutes of every shower convincing my body that yes, it is possible to be warm again. I turn the heat in my office up past 70 on both the thermostat and the space heater that sits directly behind my chair. And when breathing outside feels like inhaling knives, when I lose feeling in my toes in the first five minutes of my run, when my shoulder muscles have braided themselves into permanent knots and my hands are too stiff from the cold to type, I like to take a few minutes and summon summer.
I set out this morning to write a post about monsters. I make up weird creatures all the time as part of my writing, and I thought it would be fun to turn some of them loose here on my blog. Then a friend pointed me to this post, where Lauren Fleshman, a professional runner, tells the story of how she published unflattering photos of herself to give context to her “fantasy” pictures from a NY Fashion Week runway show. Her story made me think about fear and courage. It also made me think about how the real monsters in our lives aren’t always easy to spot.
There can be any number of villains in a story, but most good stories have one real monster. This monster is the primary entity that keeps the hero from getting to her goal. For me, one of the hardest parts about writing a story is figuring out whether I’m focusing on the correct monster. I’ll start detailing a man’s terrible hobby of encasing live frogs in melted glass only to realize that I’ve blamed the wrong bad guy; my protagonist is actually fighting against the ghost of her father. Read More