The Bedwell Curse 0

I am sure she really meant no harm when she said, “You will never be a writer.”

The shock of the statement caused me to burn inside and I ached to prove her wrong. My sophomore English teacher failed to understand my punctuation and short sentences that often lacked complexity or my fascination with Tyburn poems.

“Rat-a-tat-tat,” she would write on my papers.

“Less poetry, more exposition,” she scrawled in big red letters.

[plain]Rhyming
Timing
Quaffing
Imbibing
Rhyming, timing spontaneity
Rebuffed as a quaffing, imbibing wastefulness.
[/plain]

Sentences consisting of subject-verb-object became my bread and butter; my go to sentence when I needed to clearly state a point. Ten years of television journalism proved a simple sentence often was all that was needed.

I felt pride in knowing Mrs. Bedwell was wrong.

Yet, I wasn’t really sure.

Writing 75 words a day for a crime story really doesn’t make for a deep writing career. The first day on the job as a science writer, I was assigned to write a 3,500 word story on a complex chemical reaction. I nearly left the Selectric II behind.

“How do I start?” I asked my new editor Kippie.

“Start by writing,” she had replied.

I still couldn’t begin. This was the first time I considered Mrs. Bedwell might have been right.

“You will never be a writer.”

The blank page turned brighter and I just stared at it until whiteness filed the room. I was pulled out of my brooding by a phone call.

“Just start,” Kippie, said through the speaker.

The typewriter clacked out the first word. Then the next. Soon there was a page of thoughts and sentences. Surprisingly, some of it seemed to flow and tell the story. It was rough.

“That’s what editors are for,” said Kippie, when I confessed it wasn’t very polished.

Who knows if I am the writer Mrs. Bedwell envisioned.

It doesn’t matter.

I am the writer I want to be.

[plain]Where you ever told you couldn’t write? Was that a proper judgement? If not, what did you do about it? Add your thoughts to the comments below.[/plain]

A Simple Mistake 0

It had happened again. And he feared the result. A near miss or a slip up and the entire room was questioning his ability. More than 30 years doing this job. And yet, he wondered if he really understood how to do it.

The mistake had happened almost as soon as he made the decision to move forward. A reaction timed wrongly, and if it had not been noticed, he might have been able to correct it. Unfortunately, he was no longer as young as he was once was and others now seemed to be quicker and better able to do the job. They pounced on the mistake faster than a lioness. He was dead before he hit the ground.

“Let me just try this again,” he said sheepishly.

“It’s really nothing,” she said.

“Just give me a minute.”

“No need. We’ll take it from here,” she finalized.

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The Thrill of Writing 0

I started Wordsmith Holler to experiment and put myself out there. I have no other reason. It seemed pointless to keep writing first drafts and store them in the cloud. Stored and forgotten. Go ahead and post them and let others decide their true worth.

I also do not understand the current publishing business. Writers are discovered online on Twitter. Can 140-character riffs really indicate your ability to write? I suppose if you are writing one-liners. Before my birth, a writer would sit in a pub, think Starbucks, and write an essay, short story, diatribe, and submit it for publishing. Edgar Allen Poe comes to mind.

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On the Path from Small to Large 0

Small.
Brownie Cottage.
300 square feet.
Enough room to sit.
And maybe spin all around.
The size of a gingerbread doghouse.
If the dog was a small mastiff.
A big dog with a very large appetite.
With no place to store the dog food bags.
The minimalists say we all could stand to slim down.
That our mega mansions, stuff, and stacks of books signify waste.
But the very thought of living in a one-room cabin frightens me:
Like Thoreau living in an urban forest with no solitude or private pond.
The stacks of books, hand selected, some with gold leaf edges are precious friends.
Even if they spill off the shelves and pile up in towers on the floor.
“You’re a hoarder,” say visitors who look down in disdain at my collection of wordy excess.
And although I attempt to purge, sort, and reduce the pages, it is hard to part company.
They all contain dreams, fantastic journeys, ginormous thoughts, hidden truths, ineffable fruit, obsolete wisdom, scientific hypotheses, and farce.
Put them on a Kindle, they say, yet most are out-of-print, esoteric, or hand-me-down treasures.
Which makes it all the more difficult to release them to a better place; a Goodwill, or a book sale.
So they stand stacked like beleaguered sentries circled in spindly towers keeping silent watch over words cluttering the floor.
They wait and watch with dread wondering when they will be released into the world and set free.
Each knows I haven’t the courage to sort, pick, or drop any of them into a box.
A certain belief none of them will be downsized to shoehorn them into a tiny house.
Or are they mistaken to express this joyful expectation that they are so highly regarded?
Unfortunately some must be labeled, screened, and stacked for certain delivery to the curb.
The house must shrink from 3,500 to 1,700 squares, albeit not a one-room schoolhouse.
It is still smaller than the library where the sentries now stand guard.
The childhood adventures remain and the college texts with inspired margin notes.
Each is carefully stacked next to the poems and dime-store mysteries.
The free classics will find a home electronic and portable.
Words stacked neatly alphabetical in my library virtual.
I will sneak in some Steinbeck or Holmes.
The rest will be donated for free.
To give others pleasure or pain.
The words will worm inward.
To plant a seed.
An inspirational spark.
To think.
Large.

Copyright 2015, Michael S. Sommermeyer. All Rights Reserved.

[plain]This shape poem works from one to 20 words and then back to a single word. Pick a topic and write your own shape poem. Add it to the comments below.[/plain]

Make The Rain. Stop. 0

Years ago in the American southwest, there was an apprentice rainmaker. He learned everything he could from his mentor, a Great Chief, who could taste the wind, read the sky, and cause it to rain in the very spot he picked.

This Great Chief was known throughout the four corners for his rainmaking and he was often called upon by farmers and ranchers when their crops or their cattle were suffering. They would send a messenger or a telegram and the Great Chief would make it rain.

The apprentice took note of everything his mentor would do. He tasted the sky. He stared up at the clouds. And he watched as the Great Chief honored the four winds and paid tribute to the spirits.

One day after all of the long study and practice he believed he was ready to make his own rain.

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The Devil Knows You’re There 1

He hung 100 feet above Fremont Street, like Superman, tethered only to the narrow ribbon of wire in a harness. Unable to twist and look up at why he was stuck, he looked down at the street instead. A sea of tourists moved below him as if he was another attraction. A small boy let go of a smiley-face balloon and started to cry.  A bald dude stared at him in a peewee muscle shirt. A ragged homeless man bumped the crowd begging for a dollar. A topless brunette in a devil’s costume waved at everyone while holding a red fan over her exposed breasts.

Mark had promised a different outcome. Continue Reading



Making Time 0

I dislike the gym. I do not have a gym membership and the thought of exercise sends me back to the couch. I like the couch. It is safer and never leads to a pulled back muscle. Of course, I could use some stretching of my back muscles.

Writing – the actual practice of sitting down and writing – has never been a problem. I mean, the actual knocking out of words. The words flow when I need them too and I can write understandable sentences. Those words are for work assignments; I never have trouble writing for work.

Creative writing is a challenge. It always feels like it should come as easy as my non-fiction or technical writing. And it should be perfect on first draft.  That perverse thought comes from my television career. When writing news it is a once-off and there is no time for multiple drafts. You correct the errors on the next version and send it off to the teleprompter. Such is the quick pace of writing television news stories.

However, with creative writing, I want the words to flow and the stories to build without hesitation. It is never the case; creative writing requires more effort. I sit and get stuck in the character, or the plot takes a turn, or I get down a rabbit hole and it leads to a dead end. Creative writing makes my back hurt.

So I must make the time. Create a schedule and stick to it. Allow the stories to be told in their way rather than forcing the words to tell the tale. Take some time to ponder. Listen to the words. Then write them down.

[plain]What kind of a writing schedule do you keep? Add your thoughts to the comments below.[/plain]

A Ghost Story – Ghosts Wished People Believed 0

ghost story, creative writing, short story, ghosts, haunted house, football, magic, fantasy
A few of the residents believed they lived in a haunted house. To the ghosts, it seemed unlikely anyone believed. They bumped into the living without the slightest notice. Sometimes they made a sudden movement to remind each other they were still around. They bounced among the residents coloring happy memories or darkening deep regrets. Never had they sparked passion in the hearts of the living. The ghosts wished people believed.
 
Tommy woke from an afternoon nap. He rubbed his eyes, stretched up his arms, and crunched his knuckles. A ghost bounced a light stream around the cracking fingers. The light then flashed away. The ghost hung above the bed. An idea popped into Tommy’s head. He smiled at the sudden thought.
 
This time he would do it. Weighing only 98 pounds, more or less, his mother had told him he was too small to play football.
 
“You’re better suited to chess,” she would say.
 
But he wanted to grind his toe in the grass and scuff up his shoes until they were green. He yearned to slip the shoulder pads on, bury his head in the helmet, and chew on the mouthpiece.
 
Today he would race down the field and catch the winning pass. This was going to be his year; he would not be too short, too skinny, too uncoordinated. He was playing football, no matter what. Of course, mother would never approved. He let that thought slip away.
 
He climbed to end of the bed on his elbows and pushed up to the edge. His spindly feet touched the cold floor. He jerked up before setting them down again on the concrete. Should he stay in bed?
 
He considered his plan. It is nice and warm in here. He looked back at the paperback he was reading. The next chapter could be good. He snapped out of his doubt. No, I have to do this.
 
Across the street from the old house, two teams gathered on a long field of green. Tommy grabbed his helmet and shoulder pads and rushed across the street. He slowed as he reached the edge of the grass and paused. He thought better of the idea. He turned back.
 
Tommy missed his chance to retreat. A large hand grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled out on the field. On the line, a hulk known as Smasher thumped Tommy’s helmet down hard over his head. Tommy bit down deeper into his mouthpiece. Smasher smiled a deep satisfying grin. He crouched down opposite the wimpy football player.
 
“You’re going down,” said Smasher. Tommy cringed. “Not likely,” he said under his breath. Tommy breathed in and stared into Smasher’s eyes. Blood gathered in his veins.
 
Tommy slipped sideways to avoid the mass facing off from him. Smasher followed and crouched back into a stance. Tommy trembled at the thought of grizzled terror bearing down on his small frame. He stepped backward and started to pull up but missed his chance to flee. The quarterback counted down, the ball snapped, and both lines pushed together. Tommy froze.
 
He started counting. One, two. Tommy didn’t get to three.
 
Smasher lunged forward before grabbing Tommy by the waist. He twirled Tommy above the crumbling defenders. He pushed him high above the tangled bodies and laughed. Smasher curled the smaller player downward and then pushed him back up. A weak scream escaped from Tommy as Smasher reached higher and higher. Tommy hung above the field in slow motion. He could see the entire team below him collapsing into a twisted heap. Smasher dropped his prey.
 
Before falling onto the mangled mass, Tommy saw an entire stand of cheering fans. The crowd vanished in a blink as Tommy landed on the pile below. Mom would not like this, he decided.
 
Tommy lay on the ground for a few more minutes before pulling himself up. He limped to the side of the field and fell down again on the grass. He stared up at the clouds rolling passed. He smiled a satisfied grin. After a few minutes, two orderlies placed him on a stretcher and carted him off to the infirmary.
 
“What you don’t seem to remember,” said the nurse “is that you are 84-years-old and too fragile to be playing football.” She placed an ice bag on Tommy’s knee. He covered the bag and smiled up at her.
 
Both men sat in the library playing chess and grinning. It had been a good day.
 
“And you, Mr. David Lemboski.” The nurse pushed away a wandering hand from the bottom of her skirt. “You should be ashamed of yourself. Trying to pick up a grown man over your head!” She smacked the back of his head and walked away to the nurse’s station.
 
“You know Smasher,” Tommy said. “I never felt more alive.”
 
The two men turned to the chessboard between them. Smasher picked up a rook and put his queen in jeopardy. Tommy considered a sudden revelation. “Mom was right. I should have stuck to chess.”
 
Touching the ceiling, two ghosts hovered above Tommy and Smasher feeling very alive. They then floated through the pieces on the game board. Tommy and Smasher advanced through the squares. The ghosts picked up speed and flew across the room.
 
They drifted over to join a group of other faded personages. Both ghosts shined brighter than the rest. One in particular seemed very pleased and she beamed a sliver of light down to the chessboard.
 
Tommy looked over at the two happy ghosts and winked. A wave of happiness extended from the ghost of his mother to his eyes. He chuckled. She nodded in approval. Tommy realized it didn’t matter anymore what she thought.
 
The line of ghosts drew inward forming a common light, floated through the chess pieces, and then shot out the window. Tommy watched them disappear. The truth was very clear to him. They lived in a haunted house.
 
 Copyright 2013, Michael S. Sommermeyer. All Rights Reserved.

Inspiration:



Feel Better, Already? 0

Letter to the editor of the Las Vegas Sun, December 2005

What are they really looking for at Hoover Dam?

Coming home from Texas after Thanksgiving with a small trailer load of furniture I left Kingman wondering if I should drive through Laughlin or cross Hoover Dam. The signs and the radio messages in Kingman made it clear my trailer would be inspected. Since past inspections were cursory I decided we could move across the dam as usual and put an end to our 1,100 mile journey.

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