Tiny Stories, Tiny Tales

I sit here swatting at fruit flies and further procrastinate on the daily writing grind. Oh! I'm writing, yes! but not on what I should be writing on. And it's really not much of a grind to write out a story that has beautiful mythological elements- but I still have to procrastinate over it because it's work.

Well, I got all hardcore today and made a pizza dough out of wheat-free mix. My first time using yeast and thank God, it was a success. Wheat-free flours or mixes are always a little funky and this pizza dough was too but it's definitely good enough to eat and eat…and to keep eating. Success, in my book.
Oh- and in case you don't know, I'm allergic to wheat and dairy. I can only take one letting go of at a time and wheat is the first. It's a slow process, this letting go of wheat. In case you haven't noticed, we live in a society saturated in wheat. I'm surprised there aren't wheat babies yet (whatever that means). Eating food without wheat is very tricky. In most cases, I can get around it but the two things I can't resist are 1. pizza and 2. hamburgers. It's hard to order a salad when there is pizza to be had. It's darn well impossible. I did bravely resist all forms of incredible sandwiches and had a salad on Sat. at this rockin independent bookstore cafe but that wasn't pizza, was it? Or a hamburger.
So yeah. If I eat wheaty things I get tired. Not just tired but oh my god I just turned into an eighty year old sort of tired.

So yeah. That was babbling enough.

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How to Get Through a Big Book

How to get through a Big Book and have a little fun too.

  1. Make and eat food mentioned in the book (big books always include food, usually in meticulous detail).
  2. Read a little bit each day.
  3. Make a soundtrack.
  4. Dress like a character from the book for a day. Or a week. Or a month if it really grabs you.
  5. Ten minutes to kill? Daydream about the landscape or what the characters are seeing as they move through their day.
  6. Read passages you enjoy out loud. If you’re in the right mood, record yourself reading passages and share it (Instagram is great for this). Include illustrations if you like (thank you, Shirin).
  7. Whip out a highlighter or some sticky tabs for those great parts.
  8. Pace yourself and remember, reading gigantic books isn’t a race. It’s about the journey. Might as well bring along snacks, good drinks, great lighting, and enjoy the ride.

How to Search for Story Settings

A big city not far from mine has a casino. I’ve heard a few stories from friends that have worked there. Most center on being treated badly by a customer and revenging themselves by throwing the customer’s car keys into the Fox River. Karma is enacted on a regular basis at the casino.

There’s something about that river, flowing by, murky green during the day and black at night, a bottomless pit for car keys.

The river divides the city in half, east to west. The Fox flows along the old warehouses, limestone and brick, built back when the city had manufacturing plants and industry. Now the warehouses sit sturdy and silent, crumbling ever so slowly. Their roofs are flat and give the illusion of brick walls running straight into the sky. Some were built like prosaic wedding cakes, higher and higher, until the final topping is small square with tiny windows. Industry has never been about aesthetic needs and wants.  And yet by some miracle, these old turn of the century warehouses have achieved it just the same.

I observed the warehouses from the back deck of the riverside café, clutching my cup of earl grey and wishing I had put sunscreen on. It was the first time I had ever been to this café and I came because I needed a new setting for a fiction story I was working on. None of the cafes I remembered from the past were working for me. I needed this kind of café, one that hung out in an old manufacturing city where there wasn’t much industry left. There was, at least, a casino and many local businesses and this café hung on, here at the water’s edge.

A little further up was the casino where my friends had thrown those keys into the water. From my point on the deck, I could see the grimy metallic white heel of the building jutting out. Another friend told me that he goes there regularly to play black jack. It relieves stress and earns a little extra cash for his family.

The wind picks up a little and despite the sun, it’s chilly. Spring plays these tricks on us.

There is no sign of life in the warehouses all around me. We’re all boxed in together and the light plays off their empty windows, open and blank to the sun. I sip some tea and play “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin just to see if this café will work for my story. It only takes a few bars of listening to the song and I know that this place is perfect. This spot on the river is perfect for many stories. It’s  been perfect for all the stories I know nothing about and the ones that I’ve caught the smallest glimpses of.

A mallard suns himself in the weeds that line the water’s edge. The river moves fast and sure and I turn off the music. No need to for further noise. The song is already there.