The Great Enemy

In his song Friends With You, John Denver marveled at what a wonderful friend time was, giving us children, wisdom, stories to tell, and more. He had a point.

But some days, time seems to be our biggest enemy, or rather, lack of time does. We end up with so much on our plates that we can’t possibly attend to it all, and things end up not getting done. As ‘Abdu’l-Baha once said after noting that he hadn’t written to his sister in a long time, “When the most important work is before us, the important must wait.”

That’s why this blog has languished for some time. I have four jobs right now, and blogging is part of the one that gets done in my “spare” time. My day job pays the bills. A side gig I have with a former employer adds a much-needed boost to the kitty. My sideline as CEO and President of One Voice Press doesn’t pay us anything, so we’re in the process of shutting that down. Even so, it takes up some of my time. And then there is my writing, which pays me about enough for a tank of gas every month. Blogging is connected to that, so it often doesn’t get done.

Still, I have good intentions. I hope in 2019 to return to more active blogging.  In the meantime, I’d like to share with you a holiday story I wrote for Medium.com about a cat, an artificial Christmas tree, and a meteor. It’s called “Falling Star.” I hope you like it.

Whatever holidays you celebrate, I hope they are filled with joy, love, and friendship. I’ll see you again in 2019, or if time permits, maybe a bit sooner.

Experimenting With Stories

I’ve found myself experimenting with stories recently, which is a bit surprising since I’ve been writing on and off for most of my life and haven’t typically been too experimental. But lately I’ve concocted three different experiments.

First, I wrote a story in an unusual style. Rather than the narration and dialogue that typify most tales, “Testimony” is a science fiction tale told as a condemned prisoner’s appeal to a planetary governor. More unusual still, due to a nefarious form of espionage technology, the condemned has no memory of events and must rely upon the testimony given by others to construct his defense.

Second, by way of illustrating the writing process, I wrote two stories, revised them, and polished them “as readers watch.” Obviously readers weren’t really watching, but I annotated these works as I developed them, to show my thought processes. The first story, “Zoe,” is one of my recent favorites. I presented it in both first draft with annotations and final draft without annotations. The second story, “The Test,” was presented in three drafts, first, revised, and final, with annotations on the first and revised drafts. Taken together, these two experiments offer a number of insights into the writing process.

Finally, “The Stones on the Shore” was originally written as a flash fiction story, then expanded to a longer short story. This is an interesting creative exercise, because every story has its natural length. You can’t just lengthen a story. It changes in the process. In this case, a new character appeared in the longer version, and the ending differs significantly.

I hope you enjoy all of these experiments. Feel free to let me know what you think.

Image “purple outdoor light turned on” by mahda doglek on Unsplash

A Place for Readers and Writers

For the past few months, I’ve been a member of Medium.com and have been posting stories there, some fiction, some nonfiction.  The idea behind Medium is simple. Writers post stories, then readers read them and “clap” for the ones they like. (There’s a little hand icon you can click repeatedly to signal how much you like a story. That’s “clapping.”) Writers get paid based on how well their work is received, measured by story views, time spent reading a story, and claps.

How do writers get paid? Medium could have splashed ads all over the place, but they don’t do that. Instead, they charge a small subscription fee. You can read three stories per month for free, but to really use the service you’ll need to pay $5.00 per month, or $50 per year (which saves you $10 over the monthly rate). Do that and you’ll have access to everything Medium offers. The writers you engage with (by reading and clapping) earn a share of your subscription fee.

For readers, this isn’t a bad deal. What else can you get for $5.00 per month? Not even your morning coffee, or if you’re a coffee-hater like me, your morning tea. It’s really a very small price to pay, especially since there are a wide variety of stories to read, written by a wide variety of writers.

For writers, it’s also a great deal, because you can get paid for your work. Likely you won’t get rich off of it, but I and a number of other writers I know who have ventured into the world of Medium find it insanely easy to make back that investment of $50 per year plus a small profit. Initially I was making about $5 per week. By now, I’m earning nearly $30 per month, and I expect that to slowly rise as I gain more followers and publish more stories.

Of course, you want to publish good stories that people enjoy reading. It also helps if you can be accepted as a writer for a publication. Publications can be created by anyone and run the gamut from one-person shows to major productions like the one managed by the Washington Post. Generally, publications have much wider reach than most individuals can achieve. I’m currently writing for two publications, The Writing Cooperative, which is all about writing and the writing life, and Lit Up, which focuses on short fiction and poetry. I’ve also published material under my own account, mostly nonfiction as well as flash fiction I’ve written for the weekly Indies Unlimited contests.

I’d encourage you to check out Medium and consider joining. If you do, please follow me and read my stories. Here are a few to whet your appetite, but remember, you can only read three a month without joining:

Running Down the Track – a short story from Lit Up

How a Roadrunner Saved my Wife’s Sanity – a true story of parental genius

Moonlight Sonata – a flash fiction SF tale

Baha’i Houses of Worship – the growth of a religion illustrated in architecture

Plotting When you Hate Plotting – advice for writers like me from The Writing Cooperative

Enjoy, and see you there!

The offiical website of author Dale E. Lehman