Quantum Truck, A Writing Sketch

She looked out a front window. A three-quarter ton Ford truck was sitting in the driveway. Okay, it’s going to be one of those days. She put on jeans and made sure she had a pair of leather work gloves with her.

She liked truck days. It was hell on gas mileage, but she enjoyed sitting above the rest of the traffic. Later today, a friend would ask her to move an over-sized painting, or to pick up a few boxes out of storage. On one notable occasion, she hauled a horse trailer from a local rest stop after the owner’s truck suffered a debilitating internal crisis. The gooseneck hitch in the bed had been a give-away. People asked her because they knew she had a truck. She was fine with it. She usually got a pizza for her efforts.

No one ever seemed to notice that she drove different cars.

When a co-worker had surgery on their right knee, they couldn’t drive for a month. She offered to carpool and help run errands. She cruised around wrapped in the comfort and luxury of an Infiniti for the duration of the time she played chauffeur.

On an unexpected snow day, she was driving a Fiat 500. She thought a mistake until she felt how well the little car handled the conditions. It might be a short, squat toad of a car, but the low-slung shape hugged the road admirably.

Another time, when she was feeling kicked in the teeth by life, a Jeep showed up. She’d driven a Jeep in high school. That was a fun few days of flashback.

Most days, her ride was a mid-range economy car, a Honda Civic or a Toyota Corolla. Neither cheap nor fancy. Overall, a generic car that blended in with the rest of the cars on the road.

Except for the color. Oh my, the color. No matter what the model, the color was always the same, one that hovered on the border between hot pink and neon green. Her mother said it looked like a preppy at a disco. Once she looked up the terms, she agreed. At least the color made it easy to find her car in a parking lot when she forgot what she was driving.

The color was what had attracted her to the car in the used lot. It was a Volvo at that point. The color was also why it was still for sale. People raised their eyebrows at the color. The car could change from a Mini-Cooper to a BMW and no one said a word. But the color, that they noticed.

As the make and model shifted, the amenities also shifted around. She was always looking for the gas cap release. She quite liked when heated seats showed up. Technically a luxury, but one she was quite willing to put on her necessity list.

On maintenance or repair days, an America car always arrived. Cheaper to work on domestic cars. Her wallet appreciated that touch.

She had learned to accept what appeared. Thinking that perhaps the cars were manifestation of her psyche, she tried to game the system. Before going to sleep she watched several hours of the Barrett-Jackson car auction, hoping for classic Corvette or a mid-century Cadillac. She did get a car from the previous century. She spend a week belching smoke from a rusted-out 1999 Oldsmobile Cutlass with the exhaust pipe held on by a coat hanger. She could tell a reprimand when she drove it. She never tried that again.

Was she touched by the divine? Hardly likely. The tasks she ended up performing where so small. Deliver this. Pick up that. Take those people there. No racing the injured to a hospital. No last chance dashes to delivery serum to Nome.

An alien probing human culture for avenues of invasion? Again, the stakes were so small. What could they be learning?

She thought of it as the world’s least adventurous super power. Car Girl. Drive Lady. She didn’t need an secret identity. It was sitting right there in her driveway and no one noticed. No Clark Kent glasses needed.

It wasn’t something you told people about. She had asked friends a few times, but they had given vague answers, or seemed not to understand the question. “Don’t you know what kind of car you drive?”

She had tried to see the change. She’d stayed up late on several occasions. Most of the time, nothing changed and she’d gotten no sleep for no purpose. One time, it changed when she went to the rest room. So, she got hard core and brought a yogurt container for her stakeout. She still missed the change. You can’t keep your eyes on something at all times. If nothing else, you have to blink. She blinked. The car changed. It was like a benign version of the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who.

She didn’t feel threatened. She went about her day-to-day life and the car changed to suit her needs, or the needs of others. Weird. Deeply, deeply weird. But not scary.

Also not avoidable.

Once on a work trip, her plane was delayed. By the time she checked in, the rental car agency had one car left. A eight-passenger SUV. Guess what color it was. She ended up driving her team around for the duration of the convention. Everyone said how lucky it was that the rental agency had upgraded her. Funny color though.

Did she question it? Of course she did. The first time, she thought she’d lost her mind. It still bugged her if she thought about it, particularly how no one else noticed. On the whole, she got use to it. You get use to anything after a while.

See you on my book tour,
Katherine Walcott
[VBB January 4, 2020]

Have You Read This? Inspiration

From The Bookshelf

 
Series Intro
I know the feeling of finding a good book. I want to spread the joy.

Not reviews. Imagine we are in a bookstore. I wander up to you, hand you one of these books, say ‘Have you read this one?’, then wander off. Whereupon you look at the cover, turn it over, look at the back cover, read the blurb, flip through the book, and decide for yourself if you are interested. It’s like that. Enjoy.

Scanner broken. All covers off the Internet.
[Have You Read This? Graphic Novel Edition]
[Have You Read This? Travel]

Post Intro
As I type, these books sit in a pile to my right, on the corner of my desk. I leave them there for moral support. (Crossposted VBB.)

Creative Struggle: Illustrated Advice from Masters of Creativity
by Gavin Aung Than
(McMeel 2018)
Than draws Zen Pencils.

On the blog. I’ve mentioned Zen Pencil more than once, particularly Ira Glass’s Advice For Beginners, most recently [Fiction Faith Graphic],

In Progress: See Inside a Lettering Artist’s Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector
by Jessica Hische
(Chronicle 2015)

On the blog.
[N is for National Velvet]
[Letter Art, AlphaBooks: C is for Cooper]
[Letter Art: Invitation]
[Letter Art: A Superabundance of Swashes]

Make Good Art
by Neil Gaiman
(Morrow 2013)
A dude who needs no introduction from the likes of me.

The books is from a speech given as a commencement address at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, Neil Gaiman: Keynote Address 2012. While you can read the text online, or watch the video on YouTube, the book is intriguingly laid out and beautifully made.

On the blog.
[New Title, New Twitter]

Draplin Design Co.: Pretty Much Everything
by Aaron James Draplin
Draplin Design Co.
(Abrams 2016)

On the blog.
[Logo Study, Descending Capitals]
[Letter Art: Logo]

What books inspire you?

See you on my book tour,
Katherine Walcott

FYI, Another Writing Contest


 
14th Annual Short Story Challenge
“There are 4 rounds of competition this year. In the 1st Round (January 17-25, 2020), writers are placed randomly in heats and are assigned a genre, subject, and character assignment. Writers have 8 days to write an original story no longer than 2,500 words.” And so on. NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge

Undecided about entering. I remain dubious about paying for contests, but I may be fighting a losing battle. Perhaps if I think of it as tuition for an learning exercise rather than as paying a potential market.

I suspect I heard about this one because I entered the two Gotham Workshop contests [Can You Write Short?]. I am now on their radar.

Early entry deadline, with discount – December 12, 2019.
Final entry deadline – January 16, 2020.

What think you, should I? Would you join me?

See you on my book tour,
Katherine Walcott
VBB 11/30/19

Can You Write Short?


 

Gotham Writers Workshop offers two free writing contests. The prize for both is a free class, which I am assuming one can take online.

Contest 1: “Create the first line of a frightening story. Just the first line. But we want that first line to be so intriguing or chilling or scary that it makes our skin tingle and our nerves twitch.” Frightening First Line Contest—2019 Deadline 12/1/19

Contest 2: “Post a story on Twitter … no longer than 25 words.” #GWstorieseverywhere. Monthly contest.

It’s hard to find free contests. Most ask for a hefty fee, and therefore strike me as fundraisers more than artistic venues, for example the GW short story contest charges $25. Prize is $1000 & a 10-week course. Prize money is covered after 40 entries. Perhaps I am being overly cynical.

“Money flows toward the writer.” Making Light: Yog’s Law

To participate in the Stories Everywhere contest, I need to be on Twitter. Once more into the breach. New Twitter handle @willwrite4feed.

Previous Twitter Efforts
@box_brush [New Title, New Twitter], last active in 2018 [There & Back Again, Show Tweets].
@RodneysSaga [Another Aborted Twitter Adventure, Pondering Twitter], last active in 2017 [NACHS17, A Horse Show in 6 Tweets].

I will be sending in/tweeting my entries at the end of the month. Will you?

Crossposted on [Virtual Brush Box].

See you on my book tour,
Katherine Walcott

Answering My Own Question

Write. Write every day. This is what all of the writing advice gurus will tell you. Does it matter what you write? What if you are just making words shapes on your screen?

Is it better to write 750 words of fluff if I can’t figure out what to write?

Yes. Daily habit. Typing is typing.

No. I do not need to prove that I can crank out text. Between blog posts & emails, I know I generate words as fast as I can type them.

The preceding block quote is from my 750 entry for November 1st. [A Place To Write, Best Laid Plans]

At the beginning of the month, a friend decided to do NaNoWriMo. (Waves hi.) I did it back in 2011 and felt no desire to do it again. However, I offered to match their word count with my 750 typing.

So there I was, first day of the month, sitting at my desktop, having to type 750 words. I had nothing. The only, absolutely only, reason I continued was so that I could text my friend and say that I had done it. I even typed about it. Was there a point? Was this a valid use of my time?

I went to brush my teeth. Noted it in the text.

Typed.

Took a Google break. Noted it in the text. Hey, words is words.

Typed.

Somewhere in there my mind started wandering. The last 300 words were spent wondering about a character who might reappear someday, if I can ever figure out what to do with him, or her, or it.

The second day I spent writing about writing prompts [What To Write].

The third day, I was as blank as the first day, “If it wasn’t for reporting to Kris I would so not slog through this.” Shortly thereafter, I found myself typing at great speed in the words of a kid complaining about a school field trip to the moon.

Two out of the three days, I started with drivel and ended up committing fiction. While the muse did not come along and whack me coup de foudre with a complete story idea, both are little bits of business that I did not have before and my fiction habit is that much stronger.

So, it it worth typing just to type? Yes.

Even if you type ‘The cat sat on the mat.’ over and over. Soon you will start to wonder. Why was the cat sitting on the mat? Where was the mat? What color was the mat? What color was the cat?

Does it matter what you write? No. Just write.

That was a quick answer.

Crossposted [Virtual Brush Box]

See you on my book tour,
Katherine Walcott

What To Write When You Don’t Know What To Write

A young violin student had a chance to play before a visiting maestro. He played his best piece. He put his heart and soul into the performance. Afterwards, he asked the maestro for his opinion. Is he good enough? Does he have what it takes?

The maestro considered. Asked him to play a simple piece, then a complicated one, ran him though exercises. Finally, the great man spoke,

“Technically you are proficient. But that is all. You lack the fire.”

Crestfallen, the young man turned from music to business. He made a fortune in widget distribution. One day, the same maestro came back to town as a guest conductor. At a select sponsors party, the two talked,

“I want to thank you for taking the time to evaluate my playing all those years ago.”

“I didn’t listen. I never do. I tell everyone the same thing.”

The former violin student was thunderstruck. “I changed my life because of you. I change my major because you told me I lack the fire.”

“Ah,” says the great man, “But if you’d had the fire, you would have ignored me.”

This post was supposed to be another fiction sketch. I am having an H of a time – as my grandmother used to say – getting traction on this project. I’ve surfed for writing prompts. I’ve surfed for what to write when you don’t know what to write. One site said, essentially, if you don’t have something to say then you aren’t a fiction writer.

PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFTTTTTTTTT.

People have been telling me that I can’t write all of my life [Schadenfreude Saturday, My Pain Is Your Amusement]. Why should fiction be any different?

This will happen. I don’t know how, but it will.

Open to any advice on how to jumpstart my inner novelist after a career of writing to order.

Crossposted [Virtual Brush Box]

See you on my book tour,
Katherine Walcott