Letters, Random, Writing

A Letter to the Pacific Ocean


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Ocean and humans,

Pacific, no more conflict,

World without stories.

Photo by Gantas Vaiu010diulu0117nas on Pexels.com


Dear Pacific Ocean,

I’ve been reading a book about you. It’s called Pacific, and it’s written by Simon Winchester. It’s also Earth Day, so I guess I’ve been thinking about you lately. My publisher,

FriesenPress

, also lives about a ten-minute walk from you, so you seem to be dominating my life and my thoughts right now. But I also just kind of like you, and I’m beginning to believe that every wave can inspire a story. They might be able to tell stories too, but I don’t think they speak a language anybody else can understand.
There are a couple of reasons why you inspire me. The first is movement. When I’m in a boat, rolling along, the rhythm takes me to a place where ideas are as thick on the ground as snow in a midwest winter. You take me to a space of safety where only good things can go on. That said, I don’t want to be anywhere near you when you’re having a “tempest tantrum!” You were named “peacful ocean,” but sometimes, you act like you would rather make war. That’s not very nice, but I suppose you can’t help what you are any more than I can help who I am.
Another reason you inspire stories is your great depth. Your grandure is not to be diminished or ignored, and, being the largest ocean in the world, you command the title of champ, and you could be called Earth’s representative. You may wear that badge proudly, but with power comes a certain responsibility. I hope that you understand how big, profound, and beautiful you are, because all of that inspired me a while ago, and I still haven’t quite gotten over thinking about miles of water below a boat above the Challenger Deep.
Your job isn’t to try to be what you’re not, i.e., always living up to your tranquil name, but to thrash and roar when we pour pollution into you and to pound your shores with all your might when we don’t show you the respect you’re due.
Your twin nature of bellicosity and pacificity makes me think about human nature, and also about writing. Yes, I know, I’m always thinking about writing, but really, there’s a parallel here. Whenever I did book reports in school, I was always asked what the conflict was in the book. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever once read a story that didn’t contain some sort of argument, problem, war, or disagreement. It’s what causes tension, even in a romance. It doesn’t have to be a fight between individuals or nations, it can be a struggle within oneself.


I love her, but what will Dad say?


I love him, but if we start a family, what will happen to my career?


Fiction is built on conflict and resolution. Maybe a friend spills the beans to Dad and he thinks the girl his son loves is great and asks when the wedding will be. Maybe the woman chooses career over a family or the other way round, or maybe she finds out that her boyfriend wants to become a stay-at-home dad.
Nonfiction also offers problems and their solutions. A surgical textbook explains the fine points of operations so that surgeons can correct problems in their patients’ bodies. A book about marketing strategies helps people to find ways to sell their products so they can solve their financial problems. In other words, every single book you ever pick up will contain some type of conflict.
With technological advances enabling us to kill enormous numbers of people and devastate huge tracts of land and put terrible amounts of pollution into your waters, there is the potential for severe global harm. COVID-19 certainly doesn’t make us feel confident about the future. And yet, fear and uncertainty in our conflicted lives lead us to write many stories that thrum with tension. Imagine a story without conflict. It would be a long list of things people did, and might read something like this.


She woke up and ate breakfast. She went to work. Everything went well during the staff meeting. She ate lunch, worked at her desk for two hours, and then drove home. Her children greeted her with delight, and her husband had also had a great day taking the kids to the park and reading them stories when they got home. The family ate dinner together, and then she put the kids to bed. She and her husband spent some quality time together, and then they went to bed.


An entire book that was nothing but a litany of what people did would be about as appealing as being caught out in a small boat in a big storm. Sure, a bit of quiet routine is great between tense moments, but by itself, it’s incredibly boring. So now, imagine a world without conflict, and I think that if there were no arguments, no dilemmas, no disagreements, and not a single problem to be solved, that our ideal world without conflict would also be a world without waves, without inspiration, and worst of all, it would be a world without stories.
Yours truly,
Hyacinth Grey


What do you think about the Pacific, Earth Day, and conflict and resultion in writing? Please leave a comment.

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Writing Process

My Writing Space and a Question for Readers

I write best when I’m alone. Whether it’s a blog post or a novel, I can write anywhere, as long as nobody else is in the room. In practice, that means my home office, where my computer lives.

I don’t need anything special. As long as I have a computer and am not too hot or cold, I can usually write. I don’t try to cultivate a certain atmosphere in my writing area, because When I write, I tend to disappear into my “zone,” so I don’t really notice my surroundings so much. It’s usually fairly easy for me to get into that special place where writing happens, but I do sometimes have trouble. I often find that when I’m writing, especially if it’s something new, the beginning of it ends up needing a lot of revision and rewriting, but I’d rather do that than not write at all.


Now, I have a question for you. What kinds of posts would you like to read on my blog? Please leave a comment below. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, please send me a private message via my

Contact Form

. Suggestions sent privately, if used, will be credited to a Reader. If I use a suggestion from a public comment, I will credit you using the name shown in the comment.

Short Stories

The Choice – Part 6

This post is a work of fiction inspired by the Everyday Inspirations writing course from WordPress. The one-word prompt was “choice.”


Matthew’s phone rang. Good, his new client would be ready for him. He lifted the receiver, but didn’t speak.

“Good morning, Mr. Reid,” his secretary said. “Your nine o’clock has arrived and is in conference room one.”

He looked at his watch and saw that it was 8:55 a.m. Good. That meant he had twenty more minutes to drink his coffee in peace.

At 9:15 a.m., he left his office, which took up half of the top floor, and unlocked his private elevator. The doors opened, and he stepped out. He turned left and walked down the hall, turned the corner, and stopped in his tracks.

Stretched across the full width of the hallway was a banner with a picture of a gray kitten printed on it. The animal had been photographed in mid-leap from floor to bookshelf, and a speach bubble had been added, which read: “We quit.” Standing under and behind the banner were the six women and four men who worked in cubicles and who had no business there, especially not when he had an important meeting to attend.

The conference room door opened, and his secretary came out.

He heard her say, “Mr. Reid will be here any minute now.” She closed the door and joined the group behind the banner. “Good morning, Mr. Reid, please take this as my resignation. Your client’s becoming rather edgy without his dose of caffeine, so I suggest that you go to the kitchen, if you can find it, and brew him a pot of coffee.”

“Hi Matt,” somebody said behind him. He turned and saw Amelia, his wife. A tall man stood beside her. “I’ve always wanted to go into business, and after talking to Rita, I know we’ll work well together. Don’t worry, we don’t plan to compete with you. Oh, and let me introduce my lawyer, Mr. Jasper. After reading that despicable e-mail you sent, I want a divorce.”


I’ve had a ton of fun writing “The Choice,” and the first installment of my next shory story, “The Dark Tide,” will be posted on Friday, April 24.


Need a link to parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5? Here you go!

The Choice – Part 1

The Choice – Part 2

The Choice – Part 3

The Choice – Part 4

The Choice – Part 5


Looking for another short story?

The Dark Tide – Part 1

Short Stories

The Choice – Part 5

This post is a work of fiction inspired by the Everyday Inspirations writing course from WordPress. The one-word prompt was “choice.”


Rita watched Matt walk out of the Starbucks and get into a dark gray car. The engine came on and he roared away.

She took a sip of coffee but it tasted awful. Might as well go home, where she could cry unobserved. At least Matt hadn’t stayed to watch her reaction.

The door opened, and a beautiful woman came in. She had strawberry blond hair, a heart-shaped face, full lips, and was smiling. Rita recognized her right away from the picture on her blog. Maybe she’d listen. She left her cup on the table and walked over.

“Excuse me,” she said, “are you Gloria?”

“Yep, that’s me.”

“Do you have time to talk?”

“Sure. On or off the record?”

*

“You have a nice house,” Gloria said, as they got out of their cars, each with a cup in her hand.

“Thanks.” It wouldn’t be hers for much longer, what with no job and the outstanding mortgage payments.

She showed Gloria into the kitchen, went and got her laptop, and came back and sat across from her. While the computer started up, Gloria sipped coffee.

The desktop finally materialized out of the electronic gloom, and Rita opened up the e-mail from Matt. She turned the computer to face Gloria, who put down her cup and began to read.

After a minute, she said, “Thank you for showing me. Do you mind if I read your reply?”

“Sure, go ahead.”

Gloria clicked the trackpad and said, “Oh, I’m in Trash. Those cat pictures are so cute! Is that your kitty?”

“No, that’s Mom’s new kitten, Fluffy. That trackpad jumps around as much as she does.” Gloria laughed.

“Got it. Here we go. Okay, I’ve read everything. So what happened when you met him?”

“He’s the CEO. Matthew Taylor Hargrave Reid. He’d been watching me all along. He fired me.”

“What a dirty trick! I wonder if he’s done it before. Have others been dismissed that you know of?”

“Yeah, maybe, but I don’t know if they were fired or if they quit, but three or four women have left in the last year.”

“Would you like me to write a story about this?”

“For your blog?” She nodded. “Won’t he sue me?”

“If you published information about his company, he could certainly take legal action, but I would publish his e-mail and the fact that he fired you. I won’t say anything bad about him, and his e-mail doesn’t say that you shouldn’t tell anybody.”

Rita took a sip of coffee, smiled at Gloria, and said, “Thank you. Let’s do this.”


The final part of “The Choice” is coming tomorrow, so stay tuned!


Need a link to parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6? Here you go!

The Choice – Part 1

The Choice – Part 2

The Choice – Part 3

The Choice – Part 4

The Choice – Part 6

Short Stories

The Choice – Part 4

This post is a work of fiction inspired by the Everyday Inspirations writing course from WordPress. The one-word prompt was “choice.”


Rita looked into Matt’s clear blue eyes and wanted to ask a million questions, but didn’t know where to start.

“How are you feeling, Rita?” His words were soft, mellow, and yet very clear.

How long had he saved up to buy that suit? Was he really going to propose to her, right then and there? She picked up her cup and discovered that it was empty.

“D-do you m-mind if I g-go get another c-c-cup of coffee?”

“Not at all.” She tried to get up, but found it difficult. She had to brace herself using the table, but finally, she was upright. She walked toward the line, which was now six people long, glancing back every few seconds to make sure he was still there. Each time, he smiled and gave her the thumbs up. She got in line behind a woman who smelled like she worked in a perfume factory and waited. She spent the next ten minutes glancing at Matt, who took occasional sips from his large cup and smiled reassuringly at her each time she looked.

Finally, she made it to the front of the line.

“What would you like?”

“I don’t know!”

“Well make up your mind, some of us have to work,” a woman behind her said.

“Sorry,” Rita said. “I’ll have what I just had.”

“Which was?” the barista asked.

“Um, that drink with the funny name.”

“Come on, hurry up,” the same woman said. “I have a meeting.”

“I’m trying to remember,” Rita said.

“Oh, was it a caramel macchiato?” the barista said.

“Yes, that’s right.”

“Which size?”

“The biggest one, please.”

She managed to pay without dropping her wallet, and then waited for them to make her drink. Finally, she got it and took it back to the table. Matt smiled.

“So, how are you feeling about work these days?”

“I can’t stand it,” she said. “I hate how we’re being asked to advertize all these bad products, and I just feel so drained, I mean, when I go home, you know what I mean?” He nodded.

“Go on, please.”

“I want to quit, but I need to pay my bills.”

Matt’s smile went out. It was like a light being turned off, and it plunged his face into utter darkness. His eyes became cold, indifferent, blue stones.

“I thought so,” he said, his voice still the same as it had been. “You’ve never met me, so let me introduce myself. My name is Matthew Taylor Hargrave Reid.” He got up from the table, and for a terrible instant, she thought he was going to extend his hand for shaking, but he picked up his bag instead. “I watched your job interview from behind a one-way mirror and I have cameras and microphones in the work areas, so I had no trouble hearing your conversation with your mother during morning break. I’ve been watching you, Rita. Do you know who I am now?” She nodded. “Say it.”

“You’re the CEO.”

He nodded, turned and took three steps toward the door, looked back over his shoulder, and said, “You’re fired.”


The next part of “The Choice” is coming tomorrow, so stay tuned!


Need a link to parts 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6? Here you go!

The Choice – Part 1

The Choice – Part 2

The Choice – Part 3

The Choice – Part 5

The Choice – Part 6

Short Stories

The Choice – Part 3

This post is a work of fiction inspired by the Everyday Inspirations writing course from WordPress. The one-word prompt was “choice.”


Rita asked Matt to meet her at a Starbucks the next morning. He replied almost immediately, confirming that he’d meet her there at 7:00 a.m.

She tossed and turned all night long. At five, she rubbed her eyes and paced around her home until it was time to leave.

When she arrived, the place was pretty much empty, and she was fifteen minutes early. She got a caramel macchiato, even though she really didn’t need an even worse case of the jitters than she already had.

She sat down and looked around. There was only one man in the place. He was wearing a blue suit and had his head bent over a sleek laptop. A cup of something stood on the table to the right of his computer. Nobody she worked with dressed like that. They couldn’t afford to; the thing probably cost $3,000. She looked away from him to the door. It opened, and two women came in. She looked at the watch Mom had given her for her tenth birthday. Five minutes to go until the meeting. She sipped her coffee, and the slight tremor that had started in her hands a few minutes ago intensified. Any second now, the door would open and she’d see the old guy, the guy who loved to work out, or some other guy who would have a plan to improve both their lives. She sipped more coffee. She tried not to look at her watch, but couldn’t help glancing at it every thirty seconds or so. Was it slowing down? Maybe it needed to be repaired. She looked at the time on her phone, and it agreed with the time on her wrist. Her left foot began to jerk back and forth against the chair leg. Then her right foot started to do the same with the other chair leg.

Come on, come on, hurry up already.

Somebody tapped her on the shoulder. Good thing her cup was on the table and not in her hands, or it would have wound up on the floor.

She turned and came face to face with the man in the blue suit.

“Hi, Rita,” he said. “May I sit across from you?” His voice was pleasantly smooth and he was smiling. She nodded. He put a laptop bag down on one of the empty chairs and his cup on the table. His suit matched his eyes beautifully.


The next part of “The Choice” is coming tomorrow, so stay tuned!


Need a link to parts 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6? Here you go!

The Choice – Part 1

The Choice – Part 2

The Choice – Part 4

The Choice – Part 5

The Choice – Part 6

Short Stories

The Choice – Part 2

This post is a work of fiction inspired by the Everyday Inspirations writing course from WordPress. The one-word prompt was “choice.”


Rita tried to think who Matt might be. The older guy with sallow skin who would probably drop dead if he didn’t eat some vegetables soon? Or maybe Matt was the thirtysomething black guy who looked like he really enjoyed working out. What was the point of trying to guess who he was? She should just delete the e-mail and forget about him.

I think we’d make a great team. Together, I believe we could make a better life for ourselves. If you’re interested in talking to me about this, please let me know and we can arrange to meet for discussion over coffee.
Yours truly,
Matt

Was it some kind of marriage proposal he was making, or did he just want to be friends who could help each other leave a career neither of them liked? He sure was right about how miserable she was advertizing bad products for unscrupulous clients. Just press the Delete button. That was all there was to it. Move the e-mail to the Trash, and then empty the Trash. Gone. Over. Finished. Bills needed to be paid, and now wasn’t the time to quit her job, especially not for this guy Matt. Her finger hovered above the little key.
The phone rang. She jumped. She answered it.
“Hi Rita, did you get my e-mail?” Mom said. She pulled the phone away slightly, wishing Mom would learn that she didn’t need to shout to be heard.
“I haven’t really looked yet,” she said.
“Can you check, please? I sent you three cute photos of Fluffy.” She tried not to groan; Mom was obsessed with her new terror of a kitten. The pics probably showed her climbing the curtains and getting tangled in electrical cords. It was a miracle Mom’s computer still worked.
“Okay.” She touched the trackpad carefully, the thing was so sensitive, and managed to open Mom’s e-mail without messing anything else up. “I got it. Thanks.”
“Well, isn’t Fluffy the cutest cat ever?”
She sighed and said, “Yes, but I’m tired, so I’ll look more carefully tomorrow. Good night.” She replaced the receiver, sent the Fluffy pictures to the Trash, reopened the e-mail from Matt, and clicked Reply.


The next part of “The Choice” is coming tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Photo by Matthew Baur on Pexels.com


Need a link to parts 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6? Here you go!

The Choice – Part 1

The Choice – Part 3

The Choice – Part 4

The Choice – Part 5

The Choice – Part 6

Short Stories

The Choice – Part 1

This post is a work of fiction inspired by the Everyday Inspirations writing course from WordPress. The one-word prompt was “choice.”


What to do? She looked at the clock. It was 9:24 p.m. on a rainy Saturday evening in April. Take a chance, accept his invitation, or pretend his e-mail didn’t exist and go back to life as usual.

She looked from the clock to the tiny, glowing screen of her cheap netbook. It was for personal use only, and up until today, it had been uncluttered.

Her brief glance at the clock hadn’t made his message disappear. The screen was so bad, it was hard to read, but if she worked at it, she could make out the letters. She already knew what it said anyway.

Hi Rita,

It’s Matt from work. I overheard you talking to your mom. I know you probably didn’t mean for me to hear you reminding her of your e-mail address, so if you don’t want me to use it, you don’t have to worry; I’m only going to send you one message.

That, Rita thought, was one very good reason not to talk to Mom in a room full of nosy strangers, AKA colleagues. Why was she even bothering with this? The answer was plain and simple, the choice wasn’t a choice, there was no way she should actually consider his offer. She kept scanning the screen, although the message was playing in her head more than it was scrolling in front of her eyes.

I watch you at work and I see how unhappy you are. I see the daily grind eating holes into the fabric of your self-worth. That probably wasn’t very poetic, but what I mean is I see how miserable the job makes you. I want out, too. The problem is, I can’t do it alone.


The next part of “The Choice” is coming tomorrow, so stay tuned!


Need a link to parts 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6? Here you go!

The Choice – Part 2

The Choice – Part 3

The Choice – Part 4

The Choice – Part 5

The Choice – Part 6

Writing Process

What I’ve Learned

  1. Blogging is a great sport.
  2. Reading about writing makes me want to write more.
  3. I can rarely resist an upgrade.
  4. I should pay attention to things I don’t know about, such as using tags in blog posts, because doing so could bring more people to my website.
  5. Trying a suggestion, such as writing a list for this “Everyday Inspirations” writing course, can give me writing experiences I might not have thought of.
Writing Process

Why I Write

I write because I enjoy writing. I also deeply feel the need to express myself through the written word. Writing helps me to deal with my emotions in a safe and liberating way.


Let’s take the current coronavirus pandemic as an example. I don’t want to blog or tweet about how I feel about it. I’m saving up those emotions and putting them into future books. I can write an entire novel about somebody living through a pandemic or I can have characters in my detective series be concerned about, talk about, or even come down with COVID-19. I can decide exactly what happens in the fictional words that I create with my own mind and with the help of hands and keyboard. I can both work through how I feel about things and control what happens in my stories. I’ve heard that one way of dealing with difficult events is to take one thing that we can control and control it a lot. I think that my power to write is my way of controling something and I also have something at the end — a finished novel!


There’s another extremely important reason that I write: it is just plain fun. There’s one book in my detective series where a character comes up with a plan to get out of a bad situation. The adrenalin rush I got writing that, and that I’ll probably get again when I revise it is as good as the thrill of reading such a book. Knowing what was going to happen didn’t diminish the thrill at all. In fact, I think it made it even more fun, because I knew the outcome, but not how I’d manage to get there.


I also tend to fall in love with characters. They aren’t real, but in my mind, they are. I write to find out what happens to them. Sure, I can decide what happens to them in my head and never write it down, but having their lives on paper (well, okay, on my computer) is more profound than just keeping them in my thoughts. And when the book gets ordered, printed, and sent to a customer, those lives that I have created with my imagination take on even more meaning.


The reason that I blog is because I love talking about writing. I’d like you to know that writing is a pleasure and to try it, not tomorrow, but right now. I also blog because I enjoy sharing my experiences writing. It’s also nice to have some content on my site in between books, which take a heck of a lot longer to write than a blog post!