Read “Shoulder Bird”
Write a story in which the presence of a real or imaginary animal changes the outcome of a story. Feel free to use 5 words from “Shoulder Bird”. (this story lives in my new flash collection Alligators At Night.)
Read Sex in Siberia, from the collection Alligators At Night. It’s been reprinted below. Then write your own story about a real or imaginary situation in which a character feels both hot and cold, but the effect is pleasant. Incorporate at least 5 words from Sex in Siberia if you would like to.
Sex in Siberia
My imaginary man lives in Siberia. We touch down on each other like helicopters. I smile, move my mouth around him—offer a warming hut, a place to explode. When he bursts, storm clouds open.
Southern California boasts mild, featureless people. The Weather Channel’s talking heads, all botoxed and baby-fatted in their cheeks, ramble on about radical snowstorms in New York State. I paint leaves, collect Styrofoam in buckets. Driving downtown for wrapping paper, I count the fake blonds wearing two dollar Santa Claus hats.
My parents divorced and nobody yells anymore, but that is no longer important. I want a Siberian life, a Siberian husband. One whose hair changes from brown to light.
My dog seems worried, and so he and I take long walks. Sweat trickles down my back. The dog pants miserably. I promise him that someday, we’ll skate alongside a large man who loves Labs.
In December, I slump into bed early, imagine what it will be like—Siberian sex. Better than any other kind—so cold outside, so warm under the covers. I ball up socks and rub them where the man would go. We’re there, and he is teaching me how to taste snow.
Here is a story called The Bug Man, originally published by Tin House, from the collection ‘Alligators At Night’ Write a story inspired by inventive childhood truths, whatever that means to you. Show us who your child character is by what they believe in. Write this one in first person. See if you can incorporate the following optional freewrite words: spider, army, tender, coil, block
Here is an example of this kind of story, “Probably, I’ll Marry You” <READ IT HERE
from my new flash collection Alligators At Night. When you read “Probably, I’ll Marry You”, keep in mind that without unusual character details, we’d never see the kind of romantic dilemma the main character is in! See if you can show the reader how a character’s quirks can create and define the dramatic tension in this story.
fyi I was very excited to find out that “Probably, I’ll Marry You” was recently nominated by Ilanot Review for Best of the Web!
Write a story about how when one seemingly benign thing changes, everything else changes with it, resulting in unintended consequences. Write about an unintentional “domino effect”! Try to incorporate the following random words in your first draft if you can: chill, peanut, corner, lift.
Here is an example of this kind of story, an excerpt from “Lifts” which appears in my new flash collection Alligators At Night.
Our son, Frank, has run off to live in Chile and we don’t know if we’ll ever hear from him again. Sometimes a place, a spot of the world, a tiny corner can make it better, he said, shooting me and his father a scowl the night before he left. There was nothing to do about it, so I packed him a peanut butter sandwich.
Frank stopped wishing to be our son after we had facelifts. We used our retirement savings to pay for our youth. We looked thirty years younger. We were happy. We looked lovely. But Frank said he didn’t know his parents anymore or maybe he never did.
“You really need to chill, dude,” his father said, beaming—younger-looking than Frank.
“I have always believed age does define us,” I said. To which Frank replied: “How the fuck would you feel if I changed my name to Leonard Bernstein and moved to Chile?”
To which his father said, “We all need to follow our dreams, Lenny.”