Kelly Flowers

writer


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Work in Progress – New Novel

I feel like I’ve edited these 300 words a thousand times.

Transcendents

Chapter 1

Evan sees it in slow motion, the fall leaves scalloping Mara’s profile as the car hovers above her, the girl on the bike peddling by. He’s seen it a hundred times. Mara is turning to the sound of the squealing brakes, her silhouette swollen against the backdrop of autumn, her hand slung under her enormous belly. The breaching car winks in the sunlight and the sound of Mara’s body as the car hits her is like a sack of mortar being dropped from a truck. Then, she is gone.

It always start in the groin, the pressure so violent it’s almost pain. Evan stops walking. His fist clenches over six oval pills but when he opens his hand, it’s empty. He can taste the pills, the bitter film on them as he swallows one after the other. He feels the heaviness of his limbs, how easily he’d closed his eyes. But the pills hadn’t worked. He’s still here. Here. 

Evan turns in a small circle, his feet squeaky on the white floor. A set of tapping footsteps fades in front of him as the man he’s following walks on without him. Evan tries to focus on the man but all he sees shapes, changing, colliding, lines unfolding like dismantled origami. Hexagons turn into ellipses, triangles to quadrilaterals. When he opens his mouth, the queasy taste of metal comes in waves. 

The man turns, his face chiseled by the light. “Please try to keep up,” he says. “Our time is limited.” 

Beyond the man is a doorway, the white hallway telescoping to it. “I realize you are disoriented,” he adds. “But it will come to you as we go. This…” The man tilts a thin hand toward a door. “Is the waiting room. I will bring you back here once we’ve completed the tour.” He makes eye contact and then continues.

How many ways can this be rewritten? I’ll let you know.

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40 Before 40 – The Mid-Age Bucket List

bucket listMany moons ago, I was a bright-eyed go-getter, bent on squeezing every drop from the gristly lime of life. I had a lot of things I wanted to do and I was in a big hurry to do them.giphy-3

And then life happened. Every now and then, it occurred to me that the ME I had designed in my twenties was a long gone blueprint, some imaginary being the lab had given up on.

My priorities were unwillingly rearranged with children and societal pressure to normalize and the constant need to pay for some life necessity or another. The nerve.

Then comes 40. I’m on the countdown and it’s time to regroup, assess, question whether all that party planning and crafting really counts as moving forward in life. (Existentially, it is also time to question whether moving forward is the real goal.)

Have I lived enough? I asked myself. Have I accomplished enough? Have I adventured enough? I’ve never even been to India! 

This anxiety sent me straight to list making, because making lists is every Type-A’s therapy. A well-written list can solve any problem.

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Now, while I’m still ruminating on the existential meaning of life, I’ve constructed a really scintillating list. 40 things I want to do before I turn 40. Because if there’s one other thing a type-a likes, it’s a deadline. 😉

So, if anyone is so inclined… jump on board and do a 50 before 50 or a 30 before 30 or a 47 before 47 (although it, admittedly, doesn’t have the same ring).

(Legal disclaimer: I got a version of this idea from Gretchen Rubin, who on her podcast appearance with none other than Tim Ferriss, talked about her 18 for 2018 resolution list.)

Here’s my 40 Before 40…

  1. Publish book – Come hell or high water
  2. Sing karaoke – IN PUBLIC
  3. See the Northern Lights – I was born in Alaska and don’t even remember ever seeing the aurora borealis. poo.
  4. Do the splits
  5. Take Scottish dancing class – Seems random but I am Scottish, did Scottish dancing as a teenager (see how cool I was?) and am thoroughly obsessed with all things Scottish.
  6. Do 10 pull-ups
  7. Take a painting class
  8. Take a hip-hop/dance class – Maybe improve my Elaine-from-Seinfield moves. Maybe not.

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    I had to.

  9. Go tent camping – Glamping doesn’t count, much to my city-boy husband’s chagrin.
  10. Take a pottery class
  11. Buy a Motorhome
  12. Motorhome across the country
  13. Go to a horse ranch
  14. Organize/print digital photos – Honestly, this may be the hardest thing on this list.
  15. Go whale watching
  16. Go to Iceland
  17. Try aerial yoga
  18. Try acro yoga
  19. Ride a skateboard – Friends are trying to talk me out of this due to potential physical injury to my middle-aged body.
  20. Learn to ski
  21. Meet Tim Ferriss – Tim, if you’re out there, I’m a total fangirl and will likely have nothing intelligent to say due to nervous paralyzation.
  22. Do a handstand
  23. Get back to my college fluency in Spanish
  24. Remodel our home office
  25. Go rock climbing – Indoor is ok. I’m not a snob or anything.
  26. Learn how to swim strokes – like real swimming, not bobbing and flapping
  27. Play the ukulele
  28. Go to a poetry reading
  29. Read the Harry Potter books – Because I have heard this should be on every bucket list and apparently I’ve been living in a barn having not read them.
  30. Organize travel memorabilia – Hmmm, what to do with train tickets from Belgium, coasters from Peru and sugar packets from Morocco…
  31. Burn music to hard drive – I literally do not have a CD player
  32. Teach my kids to play chess
  33. Teach my son to read
  34. Go to a trampoline gym – I’m thinking without my kids. Would that be weird?
  35. Be vegan for a week
  36. Make a good (thai) curry
  37. Make a scrapbook for my husband’s last birthday – I’m such a giver.
  38. Take self-defense class
  39. Get laser hair removal – because shaving sucks
  40. Ride a jet ski – I have never done this and stole it from my friend’s bucket list because I was like “Oh yeah, I HAVE always wanted to do that.”

So there. I’m about to get at it.

P.S. If any writers out there are feeling mid-life crisis-y like I was, be comforted by the statistic that 95% of great writers are over the hump of 40. Like fine wine, apparently literary success improves with age. One in the pro column for getting older.


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Fresh Meat, New Novel. We Is Smitten.

I’ve been editing for so long, I forgot what it’s like to sink my teeth into fresh prose, to get that high from creating rather than rehashing and hacking. I am finally into a new book and my appetite has been whet.

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I was gun shy to start a new novel, not because it’s an agonizing, hair-pulling, time-consuming process, which it is. I dreaded it because I didn’t want to commit to a new set of characters for the next few years of my life. Honestly, I hadn’t met a bedfellow I thought I could handle the commitment with. We’re talking about fictional characters, people, but sometimes, you’re just SICK OF TALKING TO THEM.

I’m going to do everything different this time. First, I’m writing an outline (before I start describing settings and layering characters). I’ll make sure I have a working ending so that I can build it from the beginning rather than retrofitting it in later. (and then re-retrofitting it on the second draft) See? I can learn.

Tonight, one of my writer friends said that if she knew how hard writing actually was, she would have taken up painting. She’s on her 7th draft, which made me self-conscious about my own 3 paltry drafts.

But THIS is what it’s all about! It’s the rush of lifting my fingers from the keys after three hours and having to resurface enough to maintain a conversation. Sure, I then realize I’m running late and haven’t brushed my teeth but who cares?! It like a drug to me.

So if you can’t find me for the next year of my life, know I am holing myself up in a dark corner, face creepily lit by my laptop screen and a look of crazed joy on my haggard face. Writing like a ninja.

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Ahhh, authoring.

 


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The Art Of Doing Less

You CAN’T do it all. Here’s why.

Post It Notes Notice Board Sticky Notes Note1. How much time do you really have?

I once did a pie chart of my day, down to how long it took to eat, groom, commute, etc. Beyond trying to creatively multi-task (one should not do squats while brushing ones teeth, FYI), I discovered that apparently, I have a finite amount of “free” time. You know this, yes. But when you do a pie chart, you really know it.

With that sadly small sliver on my pie chart of “free time”, I had to decide how it was spent. TV? Long hot bath? Workout? Read? Write? Troll Instagram? Work on backhand? Clear out overcrowded inbox? Read magazines? Take up wood carving?

2. What is worthy of that time?

Have I ever mentioned that I want to speak like four languages, play the violin, become a black belt and a ceramicist?

If you have seen Tangled, (Yes, the children’s movie. Don’t judge!) you have seen my life’s aspiration.

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So many skills, so few hours in the day. *sigh* How, with this finite amount of time, could I ever do all the things I want to do?

  • I could work on each project/hobby/goal for 5 minutes a day and likely never become proficient at any of them.
  • I could spin my wheels on day to day stuff and put the big goals onto a different, less visited list.
  • Or I could devote and invest time into a single life goal and see it to fruition. Singular purpose. Multi-tasking is a no go here.

3. Is being busy and productive the same as accomplishing?

Being busy feels like being productive, right?

But the little stuff is usually not connected to the big stuff. For example, having a detailed car, washed dog and organized garage has little to do with my life goals. And a lot of the time, we DO have to choose. (Yes, even acknowledging this, I choose wrong.)

It’s tempting for us Type A’s out there to just put it all on the to do list and start pounding the pavement. We can do it all. We MUST do it all. WE WILL DO IT ALL!

todo list

Beyond the usual advice about burn out, the fact is, with an uber long to do list, you’re less likely to accomplish the things that matter most. The goal becomes shortening “the list” as opposed to working long and hard on a single project (with the reward of a single notch on said list). Guilty. At the end of the day, it’s easy to see a lot of little things done and harder to see a little of a big thing done.

But it’s fake productivity! Big things often don’t look like accomplishments until they are. And true accomplishment is only the big things. In 5 years, no one will care how busy you were, how clean your dog, pristine your garage, or tidy your files. What will you show for all that busy-ness? (if you think this is an excuse to not clean the garage, you wouldn’t be wrong)

Busy

Choose your biggest priority, the one you will care about in 5 years, for instance. Then, use those little slivers of pie time for it. As much of those pockets of time as you can for AS LONG AS IT TAKES.

Yeah, sure it’s not terribly gratifying when someone asks how a project is going and the answer is “still working on it” again and again. But one day they’ll be like, “I don’t know how you did that.” But you will know. You will know.


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That Time Of Year… Costuming

(I once thought this was a blog about writing. Really, it’s a blog about the things that get in the way of writing, like procrastination and writers block and things I consider important because they require creativity but ultimately eat up what precious time I have to actually write. Really… it’s a blog about costuming.)
October… ahh. Fall. 🍁 You’re celebrating pumpkin spice lattes, leaves changing color and wearing scarves.
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Me? I’m celebrating Halloween. (Not for the spooky stuff cause I’m still legit afraid of the dark. 🙄) I love Halloween for what it really is, an excuse to make costumes!
I put as much emphasis on this as any other thing in my life, a result of my inability to prioritize. My evenings are suuuper productive with things like sewing and gluing and the like.
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For me, making a costume is like any big project that I must first break into many small projects.
So instead of my to do list saying…
-Make xxx costume
It says…
-Sew vest for xxx costume
-Find wig for xxx costume
-Pick shoes for xxx costume
-Build chest plate for xxx costume
As you may guess, I get to cross stuff off my list ALL. THE. TIME. That’s what I like to do, cross stuff off my list. I metaphorically body bump myself like… Yeah. 👊🏻 You get sh*t done! You’re so damn productive. I can’t even handle how productive you are right now.
Meanwhile, my large projects are collecting dust on said list, trickling down from day to the next. Submissions? That’ll be a November list item for sure. 
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In the meantime, blogging is taking precious time from googling how to sew boot covers. Such breed of domestic I have become.
No spoiler alerts! I know you can’t wait. MUAHAHA!
November 1st blog post forthcoming. 🙂