Tom Flanders World

All the stuff about me and my life
Fruit and Memory – 100 words

Fruit and Memory

The field is full of fruit. It’s picking time. Fred wires the big speakers in the trees so the workers can listen to their music. The accordions remind him of the polkas he learned back in dancing school. Dusty Thursday nights where he learned which girls you could touch and where.

It wasn’t till he was in his 20’s that he learned that his gropings were not a secret to his parents and that this was their goal. Apparently they were worried that their poetry-loving little boy was headed down the wrong sexual path. Fred Smiles. They were so wrong.

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Quiet – 100 words

quiet pierSunset over the fishing boats. Where have all the sea lions gone? It’s so quiet you can hear the sheets slapping the masts in the breeze. No seagulls. No otters. A distant fog horn. No fog here.

The fishermen pack their things away weary and uneasy. They don’t talk much and seem guilty when they do. The beauty of the quiet had been broken. They have sinned.

The sun is now down. The men gone. The breeze has retired for the night. Even the ocean is unsettlingly still. As if the world has ground to gentle halt. Time to sleep.

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Some story arcs are flat, and that’s OK

Not all story arcs reach for the stars.

story  arcsSome story arcs are gently rolling hills and plateaus. Now I just have to get the inner critics to agree.

Here’s what led me to this train of thought; I was meditating and a worry cloud drifted in. My new novel is forming well but didn’t seem to be going anywhere. There was no big story climax on the horizon. Then I realized that’s OK. I’ve read and enjoyed many novels that had no car crashes or explosions.

Now that I’ve gotten over that for my current novel, I realize that was the problem with the recently abandoned novel as well. I was forcing all the characters into an artificial drama that even I couldn’t make sense of. I will however finish the current project before I go back to the other one.

The current novel is the story of a woman’s life. My attempts at plotting have concentrating on some big and explosive way for her to die at the end, but that just doesn’t fit the character or the message I think she is trying to send. Now I realize that she must die quietly and oldly to make her life complete. She is a survivor, so she must survive as long as humanly possible.

I attribute the desire the need for explosions and car chases to an inner critic I call The Manly Man. He thinks I have far too feminine an outlook on life. He’s one of those go big or go home kind of characters, but since he lives in my head he’s already home.

He is usually quieted by a vigorous bike ride and watching a Shakira video or two, but as I’ve managed lately to calm most of my other inner critics he’s gotten pushier. I think he enjoys the increased attention.

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100 Words – Roman Numerals

Norman started normal. Gwen did not. Roman numerals were the undoing of them both. Norman by way of a mistake at a Superbowl party where he mistook an L for an I and was the subject of so much ridicule that he never chanced speaking out loud again. Gwen on the other hand was traumatized by a misaligned sun dial.

They met one day at a support group for unsupportable neuroses. They found each other among the folding metal chairs and Styrofoam cups and lived silently ever after in a cute little house with no clocks or periodic sporting events.

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Making Friends With My Inner Critics

Yes, the inner critics can be a force for good.

inner criticsFor years I’ve tried unsuccessfully to ignore my inner critics. Those voices in your head that point out every weakness and mistake and make your life generally miserable. And for years I’ve failed to drown out the little buggers.

Then I read this article about how a woman learned to love them. She explained that the voices are actually on your side but like so many well-meaning obnoxious relatives they don’t know how to help so they focus on insults and criticism.


I should mention here that what I’m talking about are the self-generated voices in your head, not the external ones that come from supernatural possession or mental illness. Those voices are almost never helpful.

For me, the strongest voice is the one that tells me my writing is no good. I’ve never been able to block out that voice. Now what I’m doing is agreeing with it. Yes, my writing is no good, but it’s a first draft. First drafts aren’t supposed be any good. What I’m doing now is promising to rewrite it and make it better. That seems to be working.

What I’ve also discovered is that instead of one inner critic I have several. Realizing this has been very helpful. It allows me to address each as a minor problem rather than one big negative force. Among the voice I have found; the perfectionist, the guilt-tripper, the manly man, the voice of doom and others yet to be labeled.

This process has led to an understanding of the positive side of the voices. The voice of doom for instance; while it comes up with horrible possibilities it also the part of my brain responsible for my wild imagination when I’m writing. You can’t have one without the other.

So now instead of saying to the voice of doom, “That could never happen,” I say, “Yes, that could happen, but I will try to avoid it.”

I’m still struggling with the likes of the guilt-tripper. It keeps inventing potential guilt for things I’m not likely ever to do. As usual, this is all a work in progress.


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