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Category Archives: Short Stories

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Image Credits: Wikipedia

Hey guys! So I still suck at playing catch up with the 30-day writing challenge. But I had a really good birthday! My sister came over just as I was wrapping up yesterday’s post. By the time she left I was pretty tired and it was a “watch Netflix in bed with leftover ice cream birthday cake” kind of night lol.

But anyway, I left off on day 6 of the challenge.Day 6 is to write about someone who fascinates me and why. This is another easy one: J.D. Salinger.

For those of you who don’t know, J.D. Salinger is the famous author of the classic novel from the 1960’s, Catcher in the Rye. He also wrote several famous short stories and Franny and Zooey.

I’ve written about my love/obsession for The Catcher in the Rye in the past when I discussed how I’ve read the book over 4 different times and each time I pick up on something I missed the first time. However, I never touched much on my obsession with Salinger as a whole and why I’m so fascinated by him.

I’ve read just about every biography of Salinger there is to read. I’ve watched the movie that was released and available on Netflix. I was extremely upset when Salinger died in 2010. I’ve been trying to track down a copy of his Valley Forge yearbook for years. But why? What is it that makes Salinger so interesting to me?

There’s really two things about Salinger that fascinate me the most: 1. The man is a total and complete legend, and 2. He is incredibly mysterious.

There is no denying the fact that Salinger was an incredibly talented writer. All of his writings were fantastic, but especially Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield was such a relatable character to pretty much everyone for a variety of reasons. I don’t think there is any literary character quite like Holden. He is a bit of a jerk, yet likable all at once and I think everyone can see a little bit of themselves in Holden. And so many people have gotten in trouble because of Holden…who isn’t even a real person. He’s left quite the impact on many individuals for better or for worst, like John Lennon’s now-famous killer.

There’s no denying the fact that Catcher in the Rye made Salinger famous. How could it not? It was banned from many high schools, it was used as a testimony in John Lennon’s killer’s case, and despite the controversy, it was a classic that to this day STILL  frequently tops the charts for the best novels written of all time.

But Salinger didn’t want any of that at all. He always said he regretted writing Catcher in the Rye. He hated being famous. He didn’t release hardly any of his writings after the success of Catcher. He didn’t do many (if any) media appearances. He hardly left his house. When people tried to visit him, he was rude and nasty to them. Why? Why is that? What left Salinger so troubled?

Maybe it was something directly connected to Holden Caulfield. Maybe Salinger WAS Holden Caulfield. Many historians and literary scholars seemed to believe so. But even if that was the case, it didn’t trouble Salinger enough to quit writing about Holden. After his death, it has been confirmed that while he stopped publishing his work, Salinger still had many many works in progress, some of which were complete and ready for print, stored away in his vault. Some of these include more stories featuring the character America loves to hate…the one and only Holden Caulfield.

His unpublished works are supposed to be published on a schedule that I believe runs until 2020. The first ones should’ve been released a year ago I believe, but I haven’t yet heard of anything new being released. I’ve been keeping careful watch on it though. I can’t wait to see what kinds of new adventures Holden will go on. I also can’t wait to see what new things I may end up discovering about Holden’s dark, mysterious, troubled, quiet, and above all else, fascinating creator.

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Last time I wrote I reflected on my last assignment for the NJ Writer’s Group where I had to write about an inanimate object. My crazy story about talking makeup products, strippers, and religion was actually much better received than I expected it to be. It was as different as it could possibly be from my peers’ stories (most of them were actually children’s stories), but everyone said they appreciated my creativity nonetheless and no one seemed offended.

Also, everyone was really happy and excited to see me since it was my first time being there in a few months. I took off before my surgery because I was afraid of getting sick and then naturally I took off for awhile after as I recovered.

Everyone was so excited that they passed the baton to me at the end of the meeting and asked me to choose what I’d like to do for the next meeting.

I decided to go back to my elementary roots and choose something I’ve always enjoyed doing but haven’t done in awhile — a collaborative “finish the story” style exercise.

We discussed the details and rules and decided that what we’d all do is come in with the first 2 paragraphs of our story hand-written and stapled to several extra pages for everyone else to finish for us. We’d pass it around at the meeting giving everyone I believe 2 minutes to add a paragraph or 2 of their own to the story.

I’ll admit that I sort of forgot about the assignment (bad, I know especially considering how I was the one to come up with it in the first place…) until last night. With it being due tonight (in less than an hour to be precised), I was a little rushed, but luckily it’s only 2 paragraphs I had to worry about — not an entire story.

I’m not sure if I ever mentioned it before, but I am by far the youngest in the writing group I attend. I’m only 25 and everyone else is in their 50’s or at least pushing 50. Some may even be a little older. I definitely considered writing a beginning of a story that would make them feel uncomfortable — but actually, it would probably end up having the reverse effect. They may be a bit older than me, but they’re a pretty chill group of people and sometimes the things they come out with are so open and raw that I’m the one left feeling slightly uncomfortable. But hey, it’s a writing group. When it comes to writing, anything goes.

In the end I decided I needed a story that would be open to creativity and could have a strong, quick opening that would be easy to add on to, especially when the writing was being done by others who didn’t have the same vision as I did for the story. I decided I would write s story about a gnome named Norman who comes home as a souvenir from Germany and then comes to life and demands to live a human life instead of staying in the garden with the other lawn ornaments.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with my story, but the thing with love is this: it happens when you least expect it.

A Home for a Gnome

Here are the first 2 paragraphs of my story (if you can read through my crazy handwriting that is). I didn’t want to have to stop!

 

Norman the gnome is my child. I created him. I created Elizabeth and my nameless narrator (darn it why didn’t I remember to give him a name?!?), too. They are my family and I know exactly how they should be. Norman should be a stubborn and feisty troublemaker. Elizabeth should be a little loud, quirky, fun, and very smart. The nameless narrator should be a hopeless romantic, a little shy, and almost bullied or intimidated (non-intentionally) by Elizabeth. Norman will get his way and be permitted to live in the home after putting up a good fight and instead of being a gnome, he’ll act more like a son to Elizabeth and the nameless narrator. But since he’s a gnome people will look at him weird when he goes out in public and he’ll face much adversity. That’s my story.

But here’s the thing: it’s not my story to be had. I am only the owner of the first two paragraphs. All of the fellow writers in the group will have a share in this story, too. They could ship my gnome back to Germany and have Elizabeth and the nameless narrator  get their money back. They could make my gnome the next US president. They can even smash and kill my poor Norman the Gnome baby.

And there’s nothing I can do about it.

It’s hard to just let go of the story like that. Especially when I already think I have it all planned out exactly how I want it to be. But who’s to say someone else won’t have a better idea? This will be a great exercise for not only getting to know other writers, but learning to view things in a different perspective, too.

But I am wondering — what happens if I like everyone else’s version of my story? What if I were to publish it with everyone else’s contributions? Would it still be my story, or is it a collaborative story that needs everyone else’s names on it for legal purposes? My guess would be the later, but I’m not quite sure. It’s definitely something I should ask Laura about when I see her tonight.

I’m definitely looking forward to contributing to everyone else’s stories tonight, too. I just hope I don’t completely butcher them all. I can definitely have a creative mind (creative here is slang for “weird”.

Regardless, I have to go and get ready. Group starts in just over a half hour! Stay tuned for a follow up post with my post-meeting reflections!


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Image Credits: Derick G

For those of you who don’t know, a few months ago I joined the NJ Writer’s Group. This is a group of individuals that meets about twice a month at the Margaret Heggan Library in Sewell, NJ. The group is open to anyone in the area I believe ages 16 and up. We meet in a library conference room and discuss writing strategies, book publishing, and other related topics. Sometimes we even have assignments.

For our January 12th meeting our assignment is to write a 1-3 page story using an inanimate object as the main character. This is certainly a unique and challenging assignment. Initially I wanted to use this exercise as an excuse to get back to writing my crazy cheese story I started back in college. However, I realized that story is far too advanced and complex now to be able to tell a part of it only 1-3 pages. I decided it was best to start over from scratch for this new project.

Writing short stories has always been a bit of a challenge to me. I am a novelist by nature. 1-3 pages is hardly enough for me to complete a single thought. I knew if I was going to tell a story in 1-3 pages, I’d have to focus on one main even or scene. I began to brainstorm some ideas and came up with the idea of a story about a couple’s first date — told in the perspective the woman’s makeup products.

I began to think about the kinds of things women would ask each other after a first date, things that people would assume, and why a woman might wear makeup for a first date and if the products could talk, what they’d say. The biggest thing that came to mind was sex. Many men and women will go on a first date and wonder if they’re going to have sex. Friends will ask if the new couple had sex, or when they’re going to have sex. Women may use certain makeup products to draw more attention to themselves to increase their chance of receiving sex.

I didn’t like this way of thinking. As a Christian, I didn’t want to write a story about sex.

But I did just that. I even made one of my main characters a stripper.

As I grow closer in my walk with the Lord, I have had a stronger and stronger desire to use my talent, or my writing skills, in a way that glorifies and honors the Lord and brings his word to his people. That was my goal with writing this story. I don’t have the impression that most of the members of the NJ Writer’s Group I intend are believers. I have the ability to bring the Lord’s word to them. It may be the only time they hear it. I took advantage of this opportunity.

I write about sexual immorality and promiscuity in my story and why I believe it to be biblically wrong. I even quote Galatians 5:19-21 which states:

19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
I am taking a huge risk with this story. It is unconventional and likely not at all what the group will be expecting, but if it brings the word of God to the people, it is well worth the risk, regardless of whether they like my story or not.
I’m not entirely sure how well I followed the directions for this assignment. I intended for Roxxy’s lipstick, Ruby, to be the main character, but I feel like instead I ended up with Roxxy as the main character and the story simply being told by her makeup products — Ruby the lipstick, Violet the eyeshadow, and Maxie the mascara. Making inhuman objects main characters is so different from what I’m used to and much more difficult that I anticipated. However, I really appreciated this assignment because it forced me to be much more creative than I normally would be and to “think outside the box”.
You can read my story below. Please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you think!

Seeing Through the Eyes of Truth

                “You’re home early,” Violet remarked. She was wedged inside her home – a red plastic makeup bag .

“It’s not that early — it’s 9 o’clock”, Ruby replied.

“You guys are never home before midnight anymore,” said Violet.

“Roxxy didn’t seem like she wanted to stay out very late tonight”.

“That bad, huh?” Violet snarled.

“No, it wasn’t bad — just…different.

                “Okay, tell me everything. Where did you go? What did they talk about?”

“Well they just went out to a diner. Nothing fancy at all. It was pretty quiet.”

“That doesn’t sound at all like Roxxy. This was just the warm-up, right? The calm before the storm?”

“What do you mean by that?” Ruby asked.

“Roxxy isn’t a diner kind of girl. She’s either a “wild night out at the bar”, or “expensive luxury dinner” kind of girl, or both. Usually both. And quiet? Pfft. As if.”

“Yeah…but like I said…she was different tonight. It was just a quiet night at the diner. There was hardly anyone there. All I could hear was them two talking and some faint music in the background.”

“What did they order?” Violet asked.

“Nothing major. I think he ordered a hamburger and she just had one of those wrap things. And coffee. They drank a lot of coffee,” Ruby replied.

“No alcohol?”

“They didn’t even sell it,” said Ruby.

“Roxxy going out on a date and not drinking? That’s a first!”

“Well, she didn’t really have the option. Jared picked the place.”

“She could’ve left”, replied Violet.

“She didn’t want to. She was really into him. They had a nice conversation going.”

“Well, what did they talk about?”

“Lots of things. It was really quiet so they were able to talk a lot. They actually had some deep and meaningful conversations.”

“About what?” Violet inquired.

“Religion mainly. He seems like a religious guy.”

Violet burst out laughing, clearly in disbelief.  “No way. I don’t believe it,” Violet said in between bursts of laughter.

“No Ruby is one hundred percent correct. I was right on top of her lashes the whole time. I saw that she was really into this guy,” said Maxie.

“See! I told you!” said Ruby.

“But this is Roxxy we’re talking about. Roxxy is as far from being religious as you can get. Did everyone forget, Roxxy is a stripper.”

“Yeah, normally. But like I said, she was different tonight.”

“Did he know she was a stripper? Usually, that’s the whole reason guys ask her out…” Violet stated.

“Oh he knew alright.”

“But he didn’t take her home like all of the others do?”

“No.”

“Was he blind? Deaf? Stupid? All of the above?”

“No, he actually seemed like a really good guy.”

“So what exactly did he say about religion?”

“Actually he used it to talk to her about stripping.”

“Really? How so?” Violet asked with wide-opened eyes, clearly stunned by Ruby’s response.

“I…I don’t know. He recited some bible verses. Lectured her about being prideful and causing people to sin. Something like that.”

“Galatians 5:19-21”, Maxie replied.

“Wait, what?” Ruby and Violet replied in unison.

“That was the verse,” Maxie replied, “Galatians 5:19-21: ‘The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

“How do YOU know? Violet asked.

“I was there, unlike you,” Maxie replied, plus Roxxy opened it up in her bible the minute she got home. I was still on her lashes; I read it with her.

Violet pouted before replying, “I don’t know why you and Ruby got to go tonight and I didn’t. Ruby didn’t even do her job tonight and I don’t know why she’d use mascara over eyeshadow…you really don’t do anything anyway.”

Maxie and Ruby shook their heads and rolled their eyes.

“She didn’t need you. She wanted to be more modest I guess.”

“Then how come Ruby still got to go?”

“Can’t answer that for you, but I can ensure you she stayed in her assigned seat tonight. Her date didn’t have a single lipstick stain on his shirt collar.”

“She really didn’t kiss him at all?”

“Nope. And I don’t think she will anytime soon.”

“Is she even going out with him again?” Violet asked.

“Yeah actually he mentioned bringing her to church on Sunday,” Ruby replied.

“Since when does Roxxy go to church?” Violet inquired.

“Since meeting her new boyfriend, Jared, and getting right with the Lord”, Ruby replied.

“Wow. This sounds serious. Do you think we’ll be replaced?”

“I don’t know. She seems determined to put her stripper days behind her, and fast. Hate to break it to you, Violet, but I think you’re already on your way out the door. Her dark violet eyeshadow was always just part of the act. But don’t feel bad, I’m sure I’ll be right there behind you.”

Violet never got the chance to reply. Before she knew it Roxxy reached into her red plastic makeup bag. She pulled out both Violet and Ruby and tossed them in the trash, saving only Maxie. She no longer wanted to cover her eyes or draw attention to her sinful lips. She needed only to keep her eyes popped wide open to see the truth that has always been right there in front of her.

 



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