Category Archives: short story

Redheads Writing in Cafes #1

***I have added a new page to the blog. It is called Redheads Writing in Cafes. Here is the first entry. 

Redheads Writing in Cafes #1

I’m a full-time writer. I work for myself. I don’t go into a Corporate office space. I create my own content. I work from home. I am my own boss. This is my perfect job. This is my dream. There is, however, one problem.  When you are working at home, there are…. how shall we say, distractions. I don’t mean the television, Netflix, YouTube or other forms of entertainment. I mean laundry, cleaning, washing that sink full of dirty dishes, figuring out what to make for dinner, tidying up, re-organizing. As you look up from your laptop, you see all the things that need to be done. You still get writing done, but between the tasks that are staring you down and when you don’t complete them…. there is that pesky guilt. Now that the weather is nicer, I plan on finding my way outside my home to write.  In the backyard, parks, cafes.

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As a full-time artist, writing in a cafe every day isn’t great for the change purse… I am considering a Kickstarter to help finance this endeavor. Feed my coffee addiction.  I’m sure others would be willing to give up a coffee a day to support my cup of coffee a day… right? No? Hmmmm….  All kidding aside, many well-known artists have written their novels, screenplays, plays and poems in cafes. There is a wonderful, addictive energy that fills the walls of cafes, not to mention the lovely wafts of fresh ground coffee beans and baked goods. Ok… now, I’m just making myself hungry. Focus. You need to focus.

The point of this new page is to write about what I’m writing about… while I’m in a cafe…. Maybe I could also convince other redheaded writers to guest write or join me in the cafe. I live in a neighbourhood that has cafes a plenty. I am going to try to choose a different one each time I write and let you know a bit about the cafe.

Today, I’m sitting in a cafe near High Park, looking out at the beautiful greenery, dreaming of the 1930s, listening to Edith Piaf’s beautiful voice, flow from the speakers. I am working on my novel as well as researching the 1930s. For some, being in a cafe would distract them. I drink in the energy that surrounds me, which is the complete opposite of when I am at home writing. At home, I need the sounds of televisions and stereos turned off, the windows open, so the sounds of the outside, find their way to my ears.

The cafe I’m in is Hannah’s Cafe and Bakery. They have a really nice dark roast and I’ve had their lattes. The staff is friendly and the cafe itself spacious. Recently we came here for a writing workshop. I’m Vegan and they have soy milk, they have some Vegetarian sandwiches and salads that can be made Vegan, however, the baked goods are not Vegan. Once you are done writing, you can hop across the street to High Park.

I’m lucky to live in such an amazing neighbourhood. I am a brief walk away from the best park in the city, shopping, bars, restaurants and groceries. The hood is also home to literary and art events. There are writers, painters, musicians, visual artists, burlesque dancers, and other artisans who call this area home. Most importantly, there are cafes a plenty and if you get lucky, you may walk into the one with the Redhead.  That might be an idea for a treasure hunt. Find the cafe with the Redhead who’s writing.

Redhead’s writing in cafes.

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Blast off!

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“Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.” — Ray Bradbury.

So here we are. The final day of the countdown. Months of numerical vague book entries.  The day I’ve been dreaming about since the first time I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I was ten years old and wanted to be just like Francie Nolan…

Alright! Alright! Stop yelling at me. I have to give you the long version of the story to make this worth your while. Right? No?

Ok.
Here goes.

I quit my job yesterday. Why? Why would I quit a job that paid my bills and kept me in food, clothes and off the streets. Why would I give up benefits, a pension and security? Why?

Let me tell you.
Let me explain.

For as long as I can remember I’ve written. I’ve done it part-time, full-time, as a contractor and as a freelancer. For the last several years I’ve written and edited for other people. I have done poetry and spoken word. I’ve had my writing published in literary magazines and short stories in anthologies. I’ve been a theatre reviewer and a columnist. I’ve fixed dialogue for movie scripts, written copy, done PR writing and business writing. I’ve won awards and contests. I have not written in the capacity I will be.

Full-time.
Fiction.
My own writing.

I have worked hard to get here. To get published in magazines and anthologies.
Applying for grants.
Performing my work in public.

Part-time was never enough.  There was always an ache. It always felt like something wasn’t being fulfilled. If I ever went days without writing, my soul hurt. I knew I needed fix this.

Time to sit down.
Finish my novel.
Send my short stories and poems to be published.
Finally finish all my writing projects.
Write.

Don’t worry. I’m not all starry-eyed about something that’s impossible.  Over a ten year period I worked in publishing and know what to expect and what not to expect. I know how much a writer makes and how hard they work to earn it. I know the ins and outs of what needs to be done to be seen, heard, published.  I’m not walking into this with my head in the clouds. I know reality and how to manage it.

I have paid off my debt.
Put aside some money.
Continually apply for grants.
I’ve prepared for this day.

The reason for doing this full-time; is to make money from my writing. To survive from it. It’s what I am waking up for. It’s my living. I don’t have a sugar daddy. Someone else won’t be supporting me. I will be working myself hard.  This is my career. My life.

I’ve already had many ask me how I could possibly survive doing this. Isn’t it just a hobby? That I’m unrealistic. Well folks, many people are full-time writers and they are doing ok. Cough JK Rowling Cough. (yes, we all want to be JK Rowling — even secretly) I have many friends who are full-time writers, musicians, artists, performers and guess what, they are able to survive doing it full-time as well. So you can now stop worrying. I’ll be fine.

Today is the beginning.
A new chapter.
I look outside. Low in the sky sits the Hunter’s Moon. Bright. Friday the 13th.
The perfect day.
The horror stories begin. Will the next chapter be werewolves, zombies or ghosts?

Actually, I really do need to get that next chapter written. Off I go. Laptop on my lap. Off to write the words.

Blast off!

 


Rainbows and Carousels (The 1000 word challenge)

Kat Leonard asked us to join her in this 1000 word challenge.  Although I gave myself a deadline for Sunday, I was able to finish this short story today.  Also included in the challenge was Life With More Cowbell. I have posted both of their story links and the original challenge link at the bottom of my story.

~~

Rainbows and Carousels

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No se mueva. Mama estará de regreso en un minuto.

Cicada’s were singing, their voices drifting high up into the mango trees.  The fruit so ripe that the pungency of the pregnant yellow fruit, floated through the air like humming birds seeking out nectar.  Beneath the largest of the trees was a rusting carousel, a retired antique from the 1950‘s. The tree branches low enough to the ground that customers entering the bodega would often pick them. 

Leaning against the carousel, a five year old Marlena fidgets with a nervous twitch that annoys her already agitated mother.

“Why can you not sit still?  Be patient for your poor Mama.  I will only be a minute.”
“Mama, I don’t like to stay here.”
“Do as you are told, I will only be a minute.” Marlena knew this was not so.  Her mother was never just… a minute. Never even just an hour.  Today she would be forever.

Absent-minded, she brushes Marlena’s hair away from her face, fixing her pony-tail, kisses her on the forehead before walking toward the bus stop.  Marlena silently watches, as her mother boards the bus.

Even at 9 am, the heat was making vapour shadows on the pavement. Marlena had already drank half of her bottled water.  A bottle her mother filled and froze each night, in hope that the melting ice would slow Marlena from drinking the water too quickly.   The Cuban sun had other ideas, it’s scorching heat setting fire to the already humid air, the condensation evaporated from the one litre bottle, before the drops had run down the entire length of  it.  With each drink of water, the melting ice scraped against the inside of the plastic, a muted warning that she must save the water for the hottest parts of the day.

Rita was only fifteen when she had Marlena.  A child whose family came from generations of farmers, Rita refused to live the same life.  Hands calloused, sore muscles and sun hardened skin was not the picture she painted for herself.  She wasn’t going to spend a life looking at shanty walls, cooking for a labouring husband or wash stains from aged white shirts.  She saw her future as an entertainer in the resorts.  Dreaming that one day, a rich tourist would sweep her away to America. 

Three days after her fifteenth birthday, she found herself getting off a bus, smiling as she welcomed herself to Havana.  After several weeks in the city, her dreams weren’t panning out as she’d hoped.  There were no rich tourists and after being kicked out of a rooming house, found herself hiding in the streets, moving from one rat infested hovel to the next.  Her ‘rich tourist’ left her pregnant, stranded and scared. Her life now consisted of vomiting up morning sickness and stealing fruit from the orchards at night.  

Marlena’s father was a ‘tourist’, staying at one of the five star Playas.  All inclusive Cervezas, slow dancing in a dirty dancehall and promises that only a fifteen year old dreamer would believe. He convinced her that in only ten short days he would whisk her away to the big city, as long as she kept him ‘company’ for his stay.

Each morning before making their walk to the carousel, Rita would fill a knapsack with a one litre bottle of water, several mangos, rice cakes wrapped in banana leaves and four empanadas. Every day, instructions were repeated that the rice and one mango was for breakfast, one empanada and 2 mangos for lunch  and the final two empanadas and any remaining mangos were her dinner. Marlena wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone other than the lady that ran the bodega and if she needed to nap was to crawl into the small space between the back of the tree and the store wall.  Before they left the shanty, Rita pinned a note, written on paper with a rainbow on it, inside Marlena’s shirt.

The old carousel was placed outside of the badego as a tourist attraction. It’s bright colours matching the shingled walls of the building surrounding it. The carousel never worked, most of it’s parts rusted and it’s mechanics seized.  When it first arrived the neighbourhood children would try to make it work, but like the sword embedded in the rock that only King Arthur could release, it never budged. The only reward for trying being a tetanus shot, from the rust splinters that would end up in someones hand.

The woman who ran the bodega would check on Marlena several times through out the day, often bringing her candy or homemade treats.  As she was locking up for the day, she noticed a small shoe sticking out from behind the mango tree. A panic swept over her, Marlena shouldn’t still be there, it’s well past 8 pm and the night was wrapping itself around them.  As she moved closer she could hear Marlena softly crying.  After much coaxing Marlena finally emerged from behind the tree.

Brushing the dirt from Marlena, she notices the safety pin sticking out from Marlena’s t-shirt.  She unpined it and after gently unfolding it, stood up and read the note.

Dear Friend,

 If you are reading my note, I am on a boat to America.  I have gone to find     Marlena’s father and to start a better life for us.  Please take care of her. She is a     good daughter.  When I have      settled, I will send a letter to the lady in the bodega.

Rita

After reading the note, the lady motioned Marlena to come sit on a bench with her, “Marlena, this letter is from your Mama. She says I am to look after you.”
“I know. Are you my new Mama?”
“No, but I can be your abuela.”
Pointing at the rainbow at the top of the paper, Marlene tell’s her, “Mi abuela, rainbows are my favourite.”

~~

Kat Leonard – http://katleonard.com/2013/08/21/resting-on-a-memory/
Life With More Cowbell – http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/writing-challenge-a-picture-paints-1000-words/
Original Challenge – https://lizzieviolet.wordpress.com/2013/08/19/weekly-writing-challenge-1000-words/


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