Something Wonderful

Something Told the Wild Geese
Rachel Field

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go.
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, — “Snow.”

Leaves were green and stirring,
Berries, luster-glossed,
But beneath warm feathers
Something cautioned, — “Frost.”

All the sagging orchards
Steamed with amber spice,
But each wild breast stiffened
At remembered ice.

Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly,–
Summer sun was on their wings,
Winter in their cry.

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Flash Alert

//small.POWERFUL//     The Masters Review

Flash fiction continues to be a “hot” genre and some of you may have wholeheartedly embraced it. If so, here’s a reminder about a promising contest! The deadline: September 30, 2018. Have some short gems of literary wit and magic that you’ve polished until they sparkle? If so, why not step them out?

The Masters Review, which is devoted to emerging writers, now sponsors flash-fiction contests twice a year. The winning entry this time around will receive $3000 and publication on The Masters Review site Second and third place prizes will also be awarded.

Here’s the original call for entries: “Our love of flash fiction runs deep. And throughout our six years of reading work by emerging writers we’ve seen some incredible pieces of small and powerful fiction, but we’ve never hosted a call for flash. So here it is: a home for your very best small fiction. Send us big worlds in tiny packages, large ideas with a low word count. Dazzle us with your best fiction under 1000 words.

“Emerging writers only (We are interested in offering a larger platform to new writers.) Self-published writers and writers of story collections and novels with a small circulation are welcome to submit.”

Guidelines:

Stories under 1000 words
Previously unpublished stories only
Simultaneous and multiple submissions allowed
International submissions allowed
Entry fee of $20 for submission of up to two stories
No identifying information on your story
All stories are considered for publication

For more details and to submit visit: https://mastersreview.com/flash-fiction-contest/
Write on!

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Brothers Bestows

On my desk I have a worn green index card with these words on it: ”Now I’m going to concentrate as hard as I can. I’m not going to think of anything else.” This touchstone quote from Joyce Brothers has been enormously helpful to me. A popular psychologist, Joyce brought a down-to-earth attitude toward life and work to her columns and books that many people continue to find nourishing. September 20 is her birthday – so here are some of her words of wisdom to inspire us:

 “Trust your hunches. They’re usually based on facts filed just below the conscious level.”

 “Accept that all of us can be hurt, that all of us can — and surely will at times — fail. Other vulnerabilities, like being embarrassed or risking love, can be terrifying, too. I think we should follow a simple rule: if we can take the worst, take the risk.”

“The cynic finds love with the idealist. The rebel with the conformist. The social butterfly with the bookworm. They help each other balance their lives.”

“The world at large does not judge us by who we are and what we know; it judges us by what we have.”

“In each of us there are places where we have never gone. Only by pressing the limits do you ever find them.”

“There’s a very positive relationship between people’s ability to accomplish any task and the time they’re willing to spend on it.”

“An individual’s self-concept is the core of his personality. It affects every aspect of human behavior: the ability to learn, the capacity to grow and change. A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success in life.”

“When you come right down to it, the secret of having it all is loving it all.”

“Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.”

“Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.”

“I have found in work that you only get back what you put into it, but it does come back gift-wrapped.”

“If Shakespeare had to go on an author tour to promote Romeo and Juliet, he never would have written Macbeth.

“The best proof of love is trust.”

Insights we can apply to developing both our characters and our careers – write on!

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London Lessons

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

“The most beautiful stories always start with wreckage.”

“The hardest thing in the world is to put feeling, deep feeling, into words.”

Jack London

Jack London was offered $5.00 for his first story, but persevered to become a worldwide celebrity and one of the first writers to achieve wealth solely through his fiction writing. Here, he shares his advice for writers:

From “Getting into Print” by Jack London, 1903

“Don’t dash off a six-thousand-word story before breakfast. Don’t write too much. Concentrate your sweat on one story, rather than dissipate it over a dozen. Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light after it with a club, and if you don’t get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it. Set yourself a “stint” and see that you do that “stint” each day; you will have more words to your credit at the end of the year
[London wrote 1,000 words nearly every day of his adult life}.

Study the tricks of the writers who have arrived. They have mastered the tools with which you are cutting your fingers. They are doing things, and their work bears the internal evidence of how it is done. Don’t wait for some good Samaritan to tell you, but dig it out for yourself.

See that your pores are open and your digestion is good. That is, I am confident, the most important rule of all. And don’t fling Carlyle in my teeth, please.

Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.

And work. Spell it in capital letters, WORK. WORK all the time. Find out about this earth, this universe; this force and matter, and the spirit that glimmers up through force and matter from the maggot to the Godhead. And by all this I mean WORK for a philosophy of life. It does not hurt how wrong your philosophy of life may be, so long as you have one and have it well.

The three great things are: GOOD HEALTH; WORK; and a PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE. I may add, nay, must add, a fourth — SINCERITY. Without this, the other three are without avail; with it you may cleave to greatness and sit among the giants. “

Advice to ponder and apply as we all write on!

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Be Unstoppable

“It’s the fifth time I stand on this shore, the Cuban shore, looking out at the distant horizon, believing again that I’m going to make it all the way across that vast, dangerous wilderness of an ocean….this year, the mantra is — and I’ve been using it I training — find a way. You have a dream and you have obstacles in front of you, as we all do. None of us ever get through this life without heartache, without turmoil, and if you believe and you have faith and you can get knocked down and get back up again and you believe in perseverance as a great human quality, you find your way…
Diana Nyad, on her epic swim from Cuba to Florida at age 64

Wow, what a thrilling story! After four failed attempts, the first when she was in her 20s, Diana Nyad plunged into the water and tried again — determined to swim 100 miles across the open ocean from Cuba to Florida. She braved endless nights, deadly jellyfish, sharks, hypothermia and all the unbelievers who said she couldn’t do it to finally win the biggest competition in her life — the one she had with herself. What grit! What determination! What a triumph over adversity! In an inspiring TED she gave this advice:

Be the journey — Over the 40 or so years that Diana was thinking, dreaming, preparing, and failing for her epic swim, she was on a journey. As she put it, she was “reaching for the horizon” over and over again. And as she said so well, “…when you reach for the horizon, as I’ve proven, you may not get there, but what a tremendous build of character and spirit that you lay down. What a foundation you lay down in reaching for those horizons.” Every time she pushed and stretched herself, even when she failed, she was adding to her bank of perseverance, so that when she needed to draw on it to survive, she had “money in the bank.” Something to reflect on.

Build a team — Diana swam those 100 miles on her own, but she wasn’t alone. Over the years, she’d built an incredible team of 30 people — friends and experts in all areas — who guided, encouraged, and supported her. All around her during those 53 long hours, she had people in boats giving her food and support.

“Never, ever give up” — These are some of the words Diana shared with the world when she finally stepped on the shore of Key West. “Find a way” — by taking this as her mantra, Diana opened herself up to all kinds of ideas and opportunities that ultimately led to her triumph. When you are determined to find a way, you’re telling the universe, “I can do this — I can make it happen. And I will. I’m going to keep going until I get there.”

When you summon up this kind of grit — and show up every day and take action to achieve your goal, the universe takes notice and supports you. And when the universe is part of your team — anything is possible. So today, let’s decide to “find a way” and “never, ever give up” as we all write on.

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Extra Miling

A short story: One day his conservatory teacher, Nicolay Rubenstein, gave a young Tchaikovsky’s composition class an assignment to write out variations on a given theme. Emphasizing that he wanted his students to deliver as many as possible, Rubenstein expected each young musician to write a dozen or so.

At the next class, Tchaikovsky nonchalantly handed his stunned teacher 200 variations he’d composed! Amazed at the quality and intricacy of the work, Rubenstein observed, “To examine all these would have taken me more time than it took him to write them.”

Even as a young student, Tchaikovsky was widely recognized as a shining light of Russian music. He inspired such belief, not solely because of his natural talent, but because he consistently exhibited the desire to give more than was required — to do more than was expected — to “go the extra mile.”*

Our takeaway? When talent is combined with the determination to excel, anything is possible — the sky’s the limit! Two variations can turn into twenty and twenty into two hundred. Yes, we all need to nurture and develop our innate talent. But we also need to unleash our desire to excel, to surpass ourselves by going beyond what we think others expect, but even more important, beyond what we typically expect of ourselves. So often, we demand too little from ourselves and the results we reap reflect our lack of rigor.

Some time today, you may find yourself tackling a writing project large or small that requires your time and attention. As you explore its dimensions, why not ask yourself, What do I expect of myself here? How can I do even more than expected? What will it take for me to do my absolute best on this, even though no one is looking over my shoulder? What more can I ask of myself here?

When we consistently bring our “A-game” to our work, our mind quickens and our words begin to sing and dance off the page. So let’s all “go the extra mile” — and write on!

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Something Wonderful

Nantucket

William Carlos Williams

 

Flowers through the window
lavender and yellow

changed by white curtains –
Smell of cleanliness –

Sunshine of late afternoon
On the glass tray

a glass pitcher, the tumbler
turned down, by which

A key is lying – And the
immaculate white bed.

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