As I did last year, I found this Halloween challenge inspiring. I made more detailed cuts for my filters this year inspired by PBS’s Monstrum, and came up with the idea to use tiny brads to add movable aspects to my filters. Thank you Tourmaline .
Today’s prompt is Costume. I put my lights and decorations along the driveway. The candy table is ready just inside the door, and the candy bowl is full. Now for my costume:
I think it’s a good fit. I’m drinking “Three Ghost” Pinot Noir. I had to open it early to let the ghosts out.
I didn’t see a prompt today, so I’ll finish out my thirty-one poems with an Ode to Halloween.
Ode to Halloween
The neighbor’s black cat has crossed the path and back, and he’s the kind to keep company of witches, so I await their hour to witness their power, or at least a glance of bewitched dancing in the moonlight
Soon it will be night time to plug in all the lights to invite the strangers to come the monsters good and ill the doorbell gives a thrill and I’ll run to see the hideous and cute candy grabbing hands
Oh, Halloween finally arrived that one night a year we accept the dead alive, and slash open the veil to the other side where do they all hide when November comes?
We made it! The last flash fiction story of Writober. Thirty-one flash fiction story drafts, or at least some. Did you try it? I managed full drafts the first two days, but then didn’t write much more than what I shared here until I joined 4theWords. The last few days, I’ve been writing one or two full flash fiction drafts each day. I mean, they are absolute garbage first drafts, but they are complete stories with beginnings, middles, and ends. It has been great!
Today’s prompt for some stream of consciousness writing is “back of the fridge.” At first I thought of the space behind the fridge: dark, collecting dust and cobwebs that are impossible to get to. I wasn’t going to have a lot to say about that back of the fridge. But then I thought of the decomposed cucumber turned to liquid in a baggie at the back of the inside of the fridge, and the prompt made more sense. It inspired me to pull out some old an drying condiments to see if they looked like blood. That reminded me of the time I was working on a local movie as an assistant designer. One morning, I was part of a conversation about how to make a dried blood stain out of the condiments we had available at the cafe where we were drinking coffee. Everyone had ideas about how to make the right color, viscosity and texture. There was ketchup, hot sauce, honey and I offered the idea of coffee grounds to darken the color, but also for the crusty texture when blood dries. Amazing what comes up when an independent film crew forgot they needed fake blood for a scene.
Today’s prompt is Blood. Last year I used color filters and camera effects to turn the lake to blood, and create a river of blood. This year inspired by the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, “back of the fridge,” I made inkblots with ketchup and Tabasco (salsa did not work).
So what do you think? Could those inkblots have been painted in blood? I also made a plastic filter inkblot using ketchup. It actually worked. And unlike the other inkblots so far, the shape appeared in the orange light.
Today’s creepy image is by Michael Glooh. A young woman, holding an open umbrella inside as if she has dashed in out of the rain, crouches against a wall. She appears unaware that menacing hands reach down out of her umbrella. Here’s an excerpt from “Those Horrible Hands:”
Today’s word is “Fog” which immediately made me think of the movie “The Fog.” I first watched The Fog thinking it was the movie that inspired the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror V in which a fog made their bodies turn inside out, so I was surprised that the movie was about ghost pirates and not people turning inside out.
So last night I did a little searching and found a movie from 1979 called Screamers that advertised men turned inside out, but after reading about it, it turns out that like The Fog, it does not have people turning inside out. Finally I found the actual inspiration for the Simpsons sketch which was an episode of the Lights Out radio show called The Dark (1937).
The fog was so thick yesterday morning, I thought today’s images would be easy. But, no, of course there was no fog this morning, so I had to be creative. I came up with the idea to use hairspray on my plastic filters to create a misty fog. I made two filters: one I crumpled up before spraying and one I left flat and sprayed. The hairspray didn’t want to dry, so I tried my hairdryer. I thought it might melt the plastic in an interesting way, but the plastic wasn’t affected.
It turned out that the crumpled one made a fog effect in reality, and the plain one made a foggy effect in the mirrorworld.
Today’s image is “Self Exposed” by Thomas Barbèy. Click on the link to go to his gallery. The site states that he is now retired and no longer selling prints. He created his surrealist images by combining negatives in the dark room. The image shows a woman’s face being draped aside to reveal a town on the other side of a bridge on which a couple is kissing. Here’s an excerpt from my story “Her Face a Veil:”
Today’s prompt is Trick. So what new trick do I want to try today? Yesterday’s ideas of wisdom being connections of ideas inspired me to try sewing, typing with an old typewriter, and writing on transparencies. Then I thought about all the fun I had with inkblots, and tried making inkblots with acrylic paint on plastic filters.
It was a misty-moisty morning, so I tried hanging some lights under the deck. Then I hung some lights inside on the hearth. It was a fun morning exploring new tricks.
Today’s Poetics prompt is to write in the style of the Beat Generation. Sanaa challenges us to trust our first thought as best thought and play some word-jazz.
Every Morning Someone Shares
another picture, fuzzy and grainy of the stranger slinking up the drive sneaking behind gates, rummaging through cars, lurking on the porch in the uninviting hour around three am
a time that used to be magic full of electric love Three-o-eight, it’s getting late we’d say when we would meet after our gigs you with the boys, and me with the girls before there was a band that was ours in the city that let the bon temps rouler from night into day into night ’til the glitter never washed off even the expelled excess wafting from the gutters didn’t dispel the new song growing as I made my way to work
in that community of creators our small town in the big city anything was possible for a while sadly passion subsides and all those deals came due the Emperor of the Universe died we finally broke and the levy did too
Now, at three-o-eight when it’s well past late, I have nowhere to be and hope for no one to see
This week I am exploring the naivete in wisdom and the wisdom in naivete. Yesterday, while reading The Senses: Design Beyond Vision edited by Ellen Lipton and Andrea Lipps, I read, “Sensory design activates touch, sound, smell, taste, and the wisdom of the body.” That really opened up this week’s study for me. I already found my naivete in wisdom: I was only thinking of wisdom as a mental property. “Wisdom of the body, has a lot to do with homeostasis, but I’m just starting to think about it. I’ll be talking more about it throughout the week. Happily, the idea of wisdom of the body, goes great with Tourmaline .’s prompt “skeleton.” The visual prompt for #Writober titled “Owl Queen,” also fits perfectly with naive wisdom and wise naivete. I love it when all the prompts come together. 😍
I was mistakenly under the impression that October Poetry Writing Month (OctPoWriMo) wasn’t happening this year. But this morning, I received a nice note from Morgan letting me know where to find this year’s prompts. This year’s theme “Growing Your Creative Soul,” and the first prompt, “Shine your light,” fit so well with the amazing summer I’ve been having. It’s October and I spent most of yesterday swimming in the lake with my nieces. I’ve had incredible months of light and growth.
So I have some free-writing to do on how I shine my light, and an ode or sonnet to write about a Thunderstorm. But now it’s Day 3 and the prompt is Spirals of Creation. The loop form is recommended. I wasn’t going to use it, thinking the loop form was one long stanza using the last word of a line to start the next line, but there are two other variations. I like the third one for this poem.
It’s also Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub. The prompt for Quadrille #161 is “track.”
Track the Spiral Back
It’s naive to believe
wisdom lies in ideas: it resides
among connections connections like threads threads of web webbing truths
once weighed and lived, applied, sifted
through, with devotion, all one’s previous notions
wisdom is looping a looping track track the spiral spiral back
Today’s prompt is skeleton. Thinking about how weird and horrifying it would be if we could see the skeleton’s within the people and creatures around us, talking and walking around, I made a wire “skeleton” and added it to the Monster Me filters from Day 1.
Today’s image is called “Owl Queen” on Pinterest and Imgur, but I ran into trouble trying to find who the artist is or any more about the work. It’s fun that this image coincided with this first day of looking at wisdom and naivete. I definitely didn’t plan it. It begs the question, does the naive young woman sit among wise old owls, or are the owls being naive?
For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge “fog,” I jumped out of bed and was rewarded with a little morning fog on the lake. I love the pareidolia of a giant ghost bat in the trees over that mysterious light in the water.
I love how a photograph through the fog made this house look like a painting. All I did was crop the photo.
Here we are starting our second week already. Today’s prompt didn’t appeal to me (my whole life is either before or after the storm), so I took a look back at 2018. I like the prompt Moments of Madness. I didn’t respond to it in 2018, so now’s my chance.
If I truly surrender to love (of words and sound), will it be in a moment of madness that I glimpse genius: perhaps not genius, but the genuine, truth, my truth, the elusive in which I would choose to surrender forever?
Twine Twirling in the Fog
Flowing fog, the groggy morning mist kissing frogs of lingering madness, mysteries shrouded through history fester with testimony slogging along with hints, tinted glints glimmering lint littering winter darkness bringer, but the crazed found ways through the maze, a chance to dance along the fine line between life and divine and entwine the obsessed with the possessed inner-child and beguiled within this damned pestilence of tormented sadness within a ballet of blessings where delicious gets messy, fomenting malicious decisions for salacious reasons, or threads of sanity. Is it sanity clinging that hinders full progression to wild recession reminders in the cinders that logic, though toxic, still reigns in this brain still clinging to meaning, never truly trusting surrender? The twine though unraveled and taut twirls between my fingers never released, teases the flowing fog burns then ceases to be.
The first story
I named the first story of this Writober “But No One Died This Year.” Here’s an excerpt from the draft:
Rafael had to admit that Reese could even make a boar costume look sexy. The tusks jutting along her high cheekbones had accentuated her smile; the shadow from the snout protruding from her forehead made her brown eyes even bigger; and the spiky, glow-in-the-dark fur stripe down her back drew the eye to her tight, curved tail.
She had traipsed so lightly before she tripped, but her bloodied body curled in the wheelbarrow was heavy. Every rock, rut, and twig unbalanced the dead-weight of muscle and bones. The blade of the rusting shovel mercifully covered her face. Full concentration and determination were the only things that kept him readjusting and pushing forward.
The sound of snorting, snout rooting through dead leaves and underbrush, was all he could hear. He thought it was his guilt, bringing Reese’s costume to life, but then he heard footsteps.
Maria L. Berg 2021
The second story
I’m feeling intrigued by the image and microstory from October 14th last year. The image is by Gregory Crewdson. His cinematic scenes are great for story inspiration. Here’s the microstory I wrote:
He couldn’t stand that scraping sound under the bathroom floor for another day. He chiselled through the tile, and cut through the wood. He gripped the hammer, prepared for something to run out: a mouse, a rat, even a opossum, but nothing came. The scratching continued. He couldn’t see anything in the darkness. He grabbed his flashlight and slowly reached down.
Maria L. Berg 2020
Like last week’s story, this image and microstory present an intriguing image, but leave the real story untold. This week, I’ll attempt to remedy that.
During the first #Writober, I wrote a story about something found in a crawlspace. I’ll give it a read and see if the ideas can combine.
Let’s see. What questions arise when I look at this picture? Why did he dig through the bathroom floor? Is he one of those people who refuses to call a plumber? Did he bury something there in the past and is trying to get it back? Did he find out that someone else buried something there? Is he hoping to find something that someone else buried and thinks it’s there? Is this the spot where a sound or smell is coming from? Maybe the linoleum started bubbling up in that spot, or a tile kept hopping around?
Upon closer look, is he supposed to be reaching down the shower drain and there’s nothing there? And why is the cupboard under the sink open? And what’s up with the medicine cabinet over the sink? And the two white lights in the photo, what are those? I think Pinterest is trying to sell me his shower and medicine cabinet, so that’s just plain meta-weird.
There’s a lot to play with there. I have an obsessive do-it-yourselfer with a scary bathroom. Do I need to do some plumbing research? Maybe. Taking a look at A. M. Moscoso’s Halloween Prompt Challenge I might include:
A terrifying dark place, such as a basement, attic, or cellar
Fear of and contact with spiders or snakes
A repetitive scary noise without any apparent source
and maybe my DIYer could be
a Weird new neighbours with a secret
who finds out he had a close relative he knew nothing about that was insane
For Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge “zombie,” I wasn’t sure what to do. I’m not a fan of dead people walking around trying to eat my brain, so I avoid them. Yesterday, however, I had to go to the store, so I took a look at the slim Halloween offerings (my local Walgreen’s shelves were quite bare), and found a few fun zombies. This morning, I hopped out of bed and “unboxed” my wind-up zombie that poops candy. What a great way to start the day.
Today’s prompt is about finding balance. Living a creative life, it often feels like everything I do is work, and that I’m always working. However, I’m working at the things I love, and I am always playing (or should be). It’s a sad part of the human condition that ecstasy wears off. Everything, no matter how wonderful and enjoyable, becomes work eventually. How do I find that sweet spot where I’m improving, but still ecstatically enjoying the process?
The Balance looks like a fun form. I’m going to give it a try.
Waking the Zombies
talons balanced on live wires ignite fires slicing and dicing upon flight sparks in the dark excite my mushy mind to find
a sign for these dark times every monster alive alert and flirting for brain-bites meets ancient rites and smoke-filled skies from pyres
carefree banshees alarm like squealing tires mired in blood the body still fights a dance of duck and dive freezing fear climbs and chimes
through grime I design crimes against the monstrotized the zombie hoard, now bored, alights talons balanced on live fire-wires ignite
That form was fun, but didn’t feel like surrender, so I’m going to try a Cadralor to further explore my yearning for balance. Over at dVerse Poets Pub Björn challenges us to try this poem form made of 5, unrelated, numbered stanzas created by the editors of Gleam.
1. moans and groans fill the blood-red morning waking bones creak, seeking footing then should-ing begins even before pouring the mind-pricking poison
2. a dalliance with the day’s events sends me scurrying through tales regaling reveries, new discoveries, I flit like a feather until sore eyes and worry lines retether
3. in the carnage brain-eaters stain two-seaters like teenagers on a rampage hearty to party after, their bodies teeter entranced like plants to a heater, a sunbed of the well-fed undead
4. slanted light heightens delight as I search out the angles and tangles to represent my vision without derision or indecision I click and snap intending dissection
5. The swell and the crest of the wave rolling through each making day at play equivalent gold dishes chained, swinging fiercely alive, tamed, murdered, revived
For today’s prompt at Tourmaline .’s Halloween Challenge, “treat,” I reworked the mouth of my Jack-o-lantern bokeh filter. Since my treat today is going to be homemade butternut squash soup, I thought I’d try my idea of putting jack-o-lantern faces on my squash. And it worked! So fun.
Since treats are usually associated with taste, other than the soup, I wanted to think of treats for all of my other senses. I’m thinking of reading Salman Rushdie in a nice bath with lavender epsom salts while listening to piano classic records, then putting on my footie pajamas and playing with paint. That might have to happen.
Today’s prompt asks what we do to achieve our dreams. The chess piece (representing strategies) made me think of a great puzzle I designed for Artifact Puzzles.
Tyukanov Cheshire Cat has Alice in Wonderland inspired whimsies including chess pieces. I love that the thickness of the wood allows the pieces to stand up. Wooden jigsaw puzzles are definitely a special treat.
The suggested form is a Villanelle. With its repetition, it might work nicely with sonic surrender.
In 2018 I didn’t write a poem for the day 6 prompt “Conquered.” The prompt asks the question: Does love conquer all, or is love just a battlefield? With words and poetry as the focus of love, I would have to settle squarely on both. “Conquers” has some great sonic surrender potential.
Strategies of Perpetual Patience
Fear’s conquered contours linger on my fingers eternal patience fills the room with ginger blossoms and persistence tastes like plum-halves straight from the freezer their sweetness teases my teeth but fear conquered, I risk fleeting pain and am rewarded unguarded I eat my treats at my seat meeting defeat to the beat of my talking drum squeezing it between my thigh and side to hear it sing and sigh, a seesaw of highs and lows, to and fro the daily dance, love’s caveat emptor of risks taken leaps leapt, hopes kept to on-lookers bonkers I endure and conquer
(I guess the Villanelle will have to wait for another day)
While figuring out my plot points and filling in my outline, I got curious about what the “obligatory scenes” of the horror genre are, so I headed over to StoryGrid.com and found Secrets of the Horror Genre.
Looking at the horror genre conventions, I would say, so far so good. I have a huge power divide between my body-burier protagonist, Rafael, and a mystical wild boar monster. Rafael is unable to escape the isolated forest and small village. Rafael is actively burying Reese in the woods and following/interacting with the man and the boar. The idea of a giant boar protecting a forest and needing human sacrifice every fall is pretty improbable. If the boar isn’t satisfied, it will lash out and kill the villagers.
Both Rafael and the reader (and me at this point) don’t know what the boar and the man with it will do. Rafael’s goal to stay alive and not be damned is a common goal. The boar cannot be reasoned with and I think Rafael will remember Reese telling him that it cannot be defeated (speech in praise of the monster). Rafael will be the last one standing/ live to tell the tale and I’ll need to end with an implication that the boar will be back.
So there we have it. Characters and an outline. Time to start the draft. Here’s the logline for this horror masterpiece: The man selected to bury this Halloween’s sacrifice to Anouk, the wild boar that protects the forest, has to face the price of mocking superstition, and ignoring tradition.
How’s that for a trick? I found a simple healthy dark chocolate recipe, and a Halloween chocolate mold (glad I had one skull left, I already ate all the pumpkins). I think those little people are supposed to be cherubs (other chocolate mold), but I choose to see them as people running in terror.
Today’s prompt, Follow you path wherever it may lead was the focus of my August “Pathways” project. I think most of you have already watched it, but if you haven’t, I read two poems about pathways over my original music and a video of bokeh footprints. So I’ll choose a different path and look at the 2018 prompt for Day 5: Denied. “Denied” has a great sonic quality. I used it in a song I wrote a long time ago called “Dry Your Eyes.” Here’s the first verse and chorus.
I hadn’t planned on sharing the song, but I’m enjoying listening to it, so I thought you might too. Does it sound like “denied?” I sure think so, but I’m a bit biased.
In 2018 I wrote a short poem called “Denied” exploring all the senses of “denied.” I like the smell I came up with. So I’ve got a sound and a smell (laundry left in the wash overnight). But what is the texture of denied? Slippery, I think. I remember trying to get out of a pool of water that had been a treacherous jump to get into. The rocks were too slick and I couldn’t get out. It took one person pulling me from above and another pushing from below (embarrassing) before I finally found a foothold.
The taste? For me, cilantro. And these days, “denied” looks like rejection letter after rejection letter. The joy of the life of a fiction writer.
So I have my senses wrapped around “denied.” How do I sonically surrender to it? What’s the trick? Bring it back to this love of words and poetry. Accept that being denied is part of the process of the path I’m on. Let’s see what happens.
I opened the washing machine and I faced
forgotten laundry, wet, rotten, and tawdry sodden limp bodies, whirled cotton underthings left too long, waft wrong
a sharp reminder of efforts denied intentions resigned, redefined dallies-dillied, willies-nillied, paths-a-wandered time squandered, thoughts pondered monkeyshined attention bamboozled to other directions
but funkified clothes are but a sigh and an eye-roll a stale-fail waste of soap and water but taken in stride those whites get another ride the flunk undone and a battle soon won
I did my character sheets: Time-consuming, but fun. I love when the random selections fit the character I have in mind, almost as much as when they create conflict in the character.
All my characters have names now. Harvey is gone. My dead body is now name Reese Tribble. She was the school nurse of the small village, but got murderously greedy. The wheelbarrow man is named Rafael Minghella. He was an introverted ap designer who thought Reese was his best friend. Anouk, the mystical wild boar, protector of the forest, is an egocentric idealist whose destructive flaw is impatience, has a bad habit of snacking, and is afraid of the number four. Anouk is accompanied by Boonam Funk who is also impatient and egocentric and is moved by evil forces.
The story so far:
Every year on Halloween night, the people of a small village by an ancient forest bury the body of someone recently deceased deep in the forest as an offering for Anouk, the mythical wild boar that protects the forest. This year, however, no one has died and people are beginning to worry about Anouk’s wrath. Raphael Minghella, this year’s designated body burier, doesn’t believe in Anouk, and gets in an argument with his friend Reese, the school nurse who has been offered a lot of money to “come up with” a body. Reese doesn’t like the way Raphael is looking at her, and assumes his lustful pass at her is an attempt to strike first. She evades him in such a way that she slips and impales herself on his high hat stand. He decides to bury her in the forest and try to collect the money she was offered. On his way out of the forest, he sees Boonam Funk, the man with Anouk, approaching.
As you can see, the micro-story has expanded, but I still haven’t gotten to the real story. What happens to Raphael? To the village? Where is the fear and horror of the story?
At the moment, I still think the story is from Raphael’s point of view and starts as he is leaving the forest. Maybe it starts with his thoughts as he is burying his friend, and the turn of the story is when he sees Anouk and Boonam approaching. Since everything with Reese happened because he didn’t believe in Anouk and she did, his world view would completely change.
Okay, I think I’m getting somewhere. Rafael’s main fears are separation and dying which are pretty universal fears, so I’ll dig into those fears as my themes. Now that I have my themes and my turning point, I can get started on a chiastic outline. This article “The Strength of a Symmetrical Plot” does a good job of explaining chiastic structure and has a great example created by Susan Raab using the story of Beauty and the Beast. I created a similar worksheet for myself to print out and use to brainstorm my story outlines. Hopefully I’ll have a completed one to show you tomorrow
Today’s theme for #tshalloweenchallenge is Skeleton. I’m so glad I found this challenge yesterday. I’m finding it very inspiring. Yesterday, I started looking through my Halloween fabrics and today, I started playing with my Halloween decorations. For once in a long while, my Halloween might not feel rushed and last minute.
Today’s prompt is about the turning of the season. In the word prompts “change of direction” speaks to my interest in forces (In physics, a force is an influence that can change the motion of an object – Wikipedia) and peripeteia (noun – a sudden turn of events or an unexpected reversal, especially in a literary work). I also like “fresh starts” and “cool nights.”
In 2018 the prompt was “_________________ and other strange animals.” In my journaling this morning, I remembered it as wild animals and for some reason I’ve decided my skeleton is a wild animal. The poem I wrote back in 2018 “The Guilty Man and Other Animals” also removed the word strange, and the imagery is definitely more in the wild, or feral category.
I don’t think I explored the prompt much back then because I’ve never read My family and other Animals by Gerald Durrell or seen the film. I watched the first ten minutes this morning and I think I will enjoy it.
The suggested form was Kennings which will be a great compliment to sonic surrender. A Kenning is a two-word phrase describing and object through metaphor. The example given often is “whale-road” meaning “sea” from Ezra Pound’s The Seafarer.
What a great way to get the mind thinking metaphorically and to generate imagery. I’m so glad I came back to this prompt and really played with it.
So much to play with: surrender to sound, repetition of the Pantoum and metaphor-fun of Kennings. Here we go!
The Bone-train Symphony
I listen for the tones of my X-ray-whites the meatless-me meanders along the tracks the bone-train, pops and grinds when gravity fights groans and moans, creaks and cracks
the meatless me meanders along the tracks a shell of elemental elegance sketched groans and moans, creaks and cracks a schism, a radiation-picture etched
a shell of elemental elegance sketched rattling, prattling, tattling organ-armor a schism, a radiation-picture etched why does action bring on such a clamor?
rattling, prattling, tattling organ-armor the bone-train pops and grinds in gravity’s fight why does action bring on such a clamor, a cacophony of tones from my X-ray-whites?
So far I came up with an idea: A man coming out of the forest with a wheelbarrow and a shovel passes a man in dark goggles and a leather trench-coat, carrying a large suitcase and leading a tusked boar by a sheer scarf. Okay, that’s not really an idea, more of an intriguing image.
Then I did some research and found that there is mythology around boars as protectors of forests and that they are tenacious and hard to kill (especially if supernatural 😉). They may symbolize luck and fulfilling desire for some, but betrayal for others which fits well into a story.
The collective noun for boars is a Herd, a Singular, or a Sounder; as in how did this boar get separated from his singular? Or why did this boar choose the company of a man over his sounder? Yeah, anything other than “herd” would probably just confuse the reader.
Then I started to develop my characters. I need another day to develop these characters, so I’m going to put off theme and outline until tomorrow.
Any of you working on fun spooky story ideas for #Writober?