November is an auspicious month. Not only is it National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), it’s also the month of my birthday. More about that birthday later. This year I decided I wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo in a way that feels manageable. Rather than setting a goal of writing 50,000 words, I’m writing a one-hundred-word story each day. Each week I choose a different theme and this week (Nov 16 – 23) is Observing Nature.
I’m halfway through November, and I am having so much fun writing these short pieces. It’s like a longer version of Haiku (17 syllables), where the writing is shaped by my question, “What do I really want to say?” Writing short pieces helps me get to the essence of my experience and feel successful with each completion.
I’ve been posting suggestions and themes, as well as some of my writing, in Marie’s Writing Oasis (my private Facebook Group). If you’re not already using the Oasis, I invite you to join the community. If you prefer to stay off Facebook, here are the basic guidelines for 100-word Stories:
One Hundred Word Story Guidelines
Write 100 words for your story, no more or no less. Tell a story, pen a slice of your memoir, or try your hand at an essay. You get 100 words—exactly 100 words—which is both the pain and the pleasure here. It’s short, you tell yourself. You could write 100 words at a bus stop, on your lunch break, in your sleep. But with 100 words you must tell the whole story in its entirety, so it holds together like a perfect little doll house. (Your title is not part of the 100 words.)
Endings: ending on an image can be a powerful way to end. Look for an image stated earlier in the piece. A strong word can be repeated at the end. How you end depends on the author’s intention – what do you want your audience to feel, to leave with? The last word of a story is really what it’s all about.
The theme for Week One for one hundred word stories was “Ancestors, Beloveds, Those who have gone Before. And here’s the first one I posted in my Facebook Writing Oasis:
Hands with enlarged knuckles work the bread dough with ease, defying arthritis, and aching joints. Those gnarled hands tell her story when she doesn’t. Homestead living as a child. Hauling water. Caring for animals. Carrying wood. Growing vegetables and preserving for winter. Harvesting from the land. An only child with many chores to do each day. Until she was sent to convent boarding school. Her swollen-knuckled fingers were never still. Knitting, sewing, embroidery, cooking, baking, wiping, slapping. A stick held in those hands wielded hard smacks, fierce punishments for wayward children. The only touch remembered, delivered by her gnarled hands.
On The Birthday Front
This year marks the start of another decade – my 70th turn around the sun. Dear friends gathered to create a ceremony for me to enter this new stage of life. I have received many gifts from our time together, and one of them was a set of three questions to ask myself, as I prepared for the ceremony:
- Who am I on the inside?
- Who am I on the outside?
- Where are the gaps?
During this time of reflection and receiving, I’m savoring my deep connections with family, friends, and creativity. I am filled with gratitude for this life, and I love the community of writers that has formed over the years. Every one of you is the reason I am committed to continue offering writing circles and retreats for 2024.