Not ready, yet

I know you like to go by Charlie. My name is Charlie too. Not really, I hate my name. I think that Charlie sounds better. Better yet, call me Charles. That sounds more regal, something with respect. Somebody with respect.

I haven’t felt respect in a long while. Most people look at me with that “Oh, you’re that guy”-look. It doesn’t help that my picture floated around surrounded with phrases that started out fine: “Missing Man, Have You Seen Me?, He is Found!” They later changed to the more absurd and tabloid: “UFO Abductee, Man Probed for Months, What Happens in Space Stays in Space.”

Why would any being with power great enough to travel through space, even time to a degree, stop by this blue ball to take a non-Charles and study him? Of all the pretty things floating around in that black void they chose me. The ultimate lottery, I guess.

A lot like you Charlie. You are such a lucky guy.

Everyone likes to call it a spaceship, UFO, or maybe starship. It seems so demeaning to call them a spaceship. They are more versatile than that. Of course, they can move around in space. They also carve through the air, float on water, sink to the deep, and plow through rock. It would be like only calling an egg breakfast. They are so much more than that.

I see that you are nodding in agreement. That’s good Charlie.

Science fiction likes to make them round, aerodynamic, and shiny. The funny thing is that the ship I was on, indeed was aerodynamic. Apparently, there was a good reason for it. Think icebreaker ship. Even though space is a black void, it is full of all kinds of detritus – dead planets broken into tiny shards zipping around. You want something to deflect all of that. In particularly messy areas, the deflected flotsam sounds like popcorn exploding in a hot-air popper.

You don’t have to cry Charlie. It really wasn’t all that scary up there.

People try to imagine the experience I had. Writers spin tales of alien technology. Until after my personal experience, I had no interest in their yarns. I only recently started reading them. What else could I do? I’m a non-Charles, remember.
Charlie, you are one of those educated types. You probably have read one of those Kurt Vonnegut books.
I don’t think he would mind me calling him KV. Honestly, I don’t know. I never met him. I’m going call him KV anyway. KV wrote something about aliens. He had these aliens that transcended time and space. He even bothered to name them. I don’t see the point to that or the book in fact. Probably, because I’m a non-Charles.

I spent months looking at their flat, expressionless faces. I think that they must have a training camp for that. I imagine it is like our attempts at understanding the expressions of a lion. Don’t smile, it might eat you. Conversations were limited. Sparse words for my ears that mostly were commands: sit, stand, turn, walk. If they had given me a cookie each time I complied, I would have thought that they were looking for a new pet. Instead, I got these tasteless pellets that filled me and made me sleepy. Even with the lackluster cuisine, the view was magnanimous, a recompense for the pellet food. If I were to become a painter, I would only paint on black canvas.

You shouldn’t try to shout with that in your mouth Charlie. It doesn’t look elegant. Hold still.

Each test they performed gauged some aspect of my being. At first I thought of myself as a captive. As time moved on, it became more like my life meaning. A chance to be something other than a non-Charles. I learned to maneuver within the cabin. Each section of the ship held various levels of gravity. Within some sections I had to be hauled out; I wasn’t strong enough to walk in them. As the tests drew to an end a thin hand touched mine. “Not ready, yet.” It would say. After being on the ship and moving through the galaxy, I wasn’t Charles enough for them either, I suppose. It was obvious that I was in the right place at the wrong time.

You might be thinking something like that now, Charlie. You find yourself laying there in that damp hole, with the earth packing on top of you. The thought is bound to be crossing your mind.

“Not ready, yet.”

This Week

Well, it was a disappointment that we couldn’t pull off the Writers Forum this last weekend. You can read the letter from our President, Paul Moses.

We had a great meeting with the Rome Area Writers. Flash fiction readings went extremely well. Jason Lowrey brought the house down with his piece, The Toupee. Next month we are going to have another reading fiction/nonfiction flash. Make it less than 1,000 words and bring it on. We would love to see you there.

This Wednesday there will be a book signing at the Last Stop Gift Shop for the Lavender Mountain Anthology 4-6PM. I should be there for a bit. Come buy an anthology and get it signed by the authors. You could even chat with us a bit. You can see writers in the wild. Exciting!

Have a spectacular week.


Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! (In two more days.) It is a day of giving lovingly and without expectation. Yeah, right. At least that’s what the greeting cards say.

I have a weekly meeting with some writer buddies on Saturday mornings. I have talked about these guys before. We sit down, talk about nothing particular, and everything important. You know things like: ‘Why fart jokes are funny,’ ‘Ear hair-The evil that lurks,’ ‘What makes cars so awesome.’ We eventually talk about writing or reading as well. I mean otherwise we couldn’t call it a writer-buddy meeting, could we?

I just finished a book by Neil Gaiman, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” It was passed down to me by one of my writer buddies, Ray. He has published a few books on his own. I recently read his book, “Carniville.” It is a murder-mystery and a nice read. Gaiman’s book, which is the first of his that I have read, is pretty good. I mean really it is good. It certainly kept my attention with the fantastic writing. Although, I think that the ending is a bit of a flounder. But I think that I understand why it needed to be that way. YMMV. I am looking forward to reading “American Gods.” That is–when I get the chance. I have a few others in the pipeline to knock out first. A whole stack of others.

Just as a little aside. I would like to encourage anyone who is thinking about writing to take a stab at a short form art. Micro, flash, short story fiction is a great exercise. It is also a great loss that we don’t support it as much as we should. Writing compressed stories, like flash, can aid you in getting to the point of a story, yet still pull on the emotions of the reader. Sparse exposition, concise dialog, and direct, to-the-point descriptions make for better writing anyway. I have read quite a few novels that could have used a little more Xacto knife action.

I challenge any of you to write a short fiction story this month. It is the shortest month. Why not dedicate it to the shortest form of fiction writing?

I am a member of the Rome Area Writers and we are doing just that this month. Write a story with less than 1,000 words by March 9th. If you are in town and want to participate we would be glad to have you. Our meetings are open to the public. You can listen to others read their writing and you can read yours if you like.

The March/April edition of Writer’s Digest is focusing on the art of short fiction along with how to market it.  Maybe you could use this month to write something and get paid.

Come on. Take a shot. Write something. Come back here and tell us about it.

Psst. Don’t forget the flowers and chocolate for the women in your life. It is after all, Valentine’s day.


The Writers Forum 2017

Last year we had a blast with the speakers at The Writers Forum sponsored by the Rome Area Writers. This year looks like we will be having as much or even more fun.

We will be welcoming three speakers with great credentials. I am looking forward to meeting each of these guys and learning as much as I can along the way.

Save the date and join me for the day.