The Short Form

The short form crosses the skills of puzzle solving with the compression of poetry

The short form crosses the skills of puzzle solving with the compression of poetry

For the past seven months, I’ve been writing, publishing, broadcasting and posting short form essays at a rate of more than two a week. This has been gratifying work, connecting with my various audiences who listen to my broadcasts, subscribe to my blogs, and read me in The Rutland Herald.

Even my pen-for-hire work tends to be in the short form, from 400-word profiles to 700-word essays.

I’ve come to love the short form, which forces me to choose the exact words I need and to arrange them in the most effective order. The short form requires clear emphasis to establish a sharp focus all while telling a very short story. I think of the short form as a hybrid that crosses the skills of puzzle solving with the compression of poetry.

I like the short form, and I think I’m good at it, at least most of the time. But I long for the long form.

I have two book-length projects in different stages: an incomplete rough draft of a novel and a rough idea for a long piece of non-fiction.

I long to write in the long form of books.

I long to write in the long form of books.

These two long thoughts keep me company like imaginary friends. They comfort me at the oddest moments: in the shower, in traffic, in my dreams. When I can, I jot down notes of ideas and tuck them away for later. If later ever arrives, I’m not sure I’ll be able to find them, but I don’t worry about that. I still have the ideas. What I haven’t yet found is the long time in which to write the long form.

The short form suits my current life, which has been interrupted by both duties and delights. The long form requires more consistency than I’ve managed lately.

I’ve managed the long form before, so I know I can do it. I even know how: rise and write – before breakfast, before chores, before coffee. But I’ve been resistant, which is normal; now I’m tired of that, which is good.

I'm setting off to hike the Long Trail along the spine of the Green Mountains, the length of Vermont.

I’m setting off to hike the Long Trail along the spine of the Green Mountains, the length of Vermont.

In need of a kind of reset so that I can double down by getting up early to work at length before pounding out short form pieces later in the day, I’m setting off on a long walk. Walking never fails to help me find my writer’s voice, so I’m looking forward to listening for it as I hike The Long Trail, which follows the spine of Vermont from Massachusetts to Canada.

I’ll be carrying a tent, a sleeping bag, and a camp stove, as well as a pen and paper. I’m sure I’ll be writing, but I’ll be offline for a month. I’m looking forward to being unplugged. Before I leave, I plan to schedule some reruns of favorites, both here and on my personal blog.

Barring bears, broken limbs or other unforeseen mishaps, I expect to plug in again in mid-September. In the meanwhile, I wish good words to you all. –Deborah.

Deborah headshotDeborah Lee Luskin hikes and writes in Vermont and on the web at www.deborahleeluskin.com

 

 

 

 

Writing from the Dark Side (with cookies)

Come to the dark side, we have cookies.

Not only does the dark side have cookies, but it also has productivity. Lots of it. When a writer says she is going dark it means she is removing herself from distractions in order to write. For most of us that means we get off the internet. We force ourselves to unplug.

Come.

Or at least we try. But, (she said using a whining little voice) it’s really, really hard.

The only time I can really, truly get anything done for any period of time is when I go to the library where I do not have internet access. I concentrate. I know I can’t surf on the net so I buckle down and write.

But when I’m at home, it’s tough not to check on Lindsay’s status, or her Dad’s for that matter. And what about that legal case coming out of Virginia, oh, and let’s not forget that there are horrible tattoos to look at and even more horrible people from Walmart to critique. There are too many sites calling my name and I’m just not strong enough to say no.

Which is why when my son told me he was going to invent a program that blocked the internet on his computer for a specific amount of time, I paid attention.

That’s a great idea, I told him but look around first. Someone else might have written such a program.

And sure enough someone did. Allow me to introduce Freedom.

From their website: Freedom is a simple productivity application that locks you away from the internet on Mac or Windows computers for up to eight hours at a time. Freedom frees you from distractions, allowing you time to write, analyze, code, or create. At the end of your offline period, Freedom allows you back on the internet.

It’s a simple on or off program. You enter the amount of time you want “freedom from the internet” and when the time is up Freedom releases you. If you absolutely must get on the internet before the time is up, you can but you have to reboot forcing you to decide if it is truly worth the trouble.

Last night my son downloaded the trial version and set it to start at 6 and release at 9:00. He worked on (and ended up completing) his Science paper. In one sitting. At 9 his computer was released and he could go back to his beloved Youtube, Facebook, and online games.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

Freedom is a brilliant solution for those of us who are not strong enough to say no to the siren song of the internet memes. Which is exactly why I downloaded a copy of this software myself (for an incredibly reasonable 10 dollars payable by Paypal) and I plan to go dark from now on from 9 in the morning until 2:30 in the afternoon when the kids come home. I need to start giving my writing the priority in my life that it deserves. If I want to write, then I need to write. And I want to write.

Writing is a tough sport and when you have distractions, it can be near impossible. But now at least my writing has a fighting chance.

So yeah, go ahead bring the cookies and consider meeting me on the dark side. Oh and if you want to comment on this post, go ahead, I’ll just be replying to you a little bit later that’s all.

Note: These are my own views. I have not been compensated by nor am I affiliated with Freedom, I just think its a really, great, life  (and job and school) saving product.


About the Author:

Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons. Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens).

Photo Credit: Andres Rueda