A Man in the Snow

A Man in the Snow

a man in the snow
photo by Lara Algre

Today I decided to scratch the dialogue I was going to post and wrote a new short and sweet one in honor of the blizzard that has me stuck at the hotel all weekend. It’s short and sweet (the story, not the blizzard). I’d say the dialogue is exploring the nature of art or some shit like that. I enjoyed the image I conjured up and enjoyed writing the piece. Hopefully a future editor of a magazine will like it enough to publish it. And if I’m really lucky, a reader or two will like it as well (yes, my mom counts as one of these two hypothetical readers).

Actually, fuck that editor and those two hypothetical fans (Sorry, Mom!). I’m posting this story on Medium for all the world to ignore. Again, it’s short, sweet, and totally first draft (I wrote it in a rush like 20 minutes ago). So ready to read it or not, hop on over to Medium to check out Man in the Snow.

A Man in the Snow

UPDATE on a fudged up update:
Somehow when I was updating the Medium series that has similar posts about the dialogues as this blog does, all but 23 cards (everything before dialogue #37 + the title card) were totally deleted with no way to get them back. According to my stats, no one reads the series anyway. Just about anyone who cares how this challenge and future book of short stories of mine reads the blog (Thanks, Mom!). It’d be a pain to hunt down every last link to the series in all my old posts and articles; instead, I’ll just leave a note on the series directing people back here and, later, directing people to a book sale link (in advance: Thanks for buying two copies, Mom!).

I will be getting rid of links to the series feature on the Dialogues page, so if you’re really interested, this is the last time I’m linking to the Medium series feature even though it’s just going to contain a link back to this website and hopefully someday a book link. Oh, and it did something really weird to the title card, and I’m just going to leave that too. As always, just zoom out if it says you need a larger screen to read it. All right, click the link to proceed:
Image result for link fighting link

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The River Flows in One Direction

The River Flows in One Direction

This week’s dialogue for my weekly writing challenge is The River Flows in One Direction. The story concerns an old man and a young man. The old man keeps repeating his story. The young man keeps interrupting. But will the young man walk away before the twist ending?


Okay, as much as I love these dialogues I’m itching to write some short stories with meat on the bones (i.e. with something more substantial than dialogue). Hopefully I’ll get some evenings to work on some other creative writing.


I really have no other news right now, so if you haven’t already, you can check out some of my writing here.

Icy River

Digesting Disillusionment

digesting disillusionment

I bought a cool backpack on my summer vacation at the end of last month. It really came in handy for hauling around water bottles and any little things my wife and I happened to purchase.

Hemp backpack

Today I brought it to work for the first time because my best friend wanted to borrow my copy of Against the Day since his is in one of a dozen tubs of books in a storage unit temporarily. Of course, I obliged.

Normally I bring a canvas messenger bag to work. In it I store my planner and usually a folder or two. It’s fairly thin, though I can easily squeeze in one, sometimes two novels. But if you’ve ever seen Against the Day, you’ll realize that it’s a thick book, at not quite half a million words (about a Descriptions of Heaven’s worth shy of the half million actually). So, I thought this was a great time to use my new backpack. And while it made carrying Against the Day much easier, I totally forgot to transfer the folder I keep my latest handwritten dialogue in over to it from my messenger bag.

The reason I’m telling you this? Well, I didn’t get a chance to type up the dialogue I wrote. In other words, I wrote it, stored it, and haven’t thought about it since early in the week. And now that I’m at work from 7am to 11pm on the last possible day to announce the completion of my next dialogue, I have to admit I’m only guessing at the title. I think it’s Digesting Disillusionment. Although I might be a little off. So, just to clarify, it’s the working title. So if it changes or is published by somewhere under a slightly altered name, you know why.

So, with that said, leave your comments, questions, and stories about your own writing mishaps below.

disillusioned bride

In this dialogue, a woman drunkenly snapchats her friends while wearing the wedding dress from the wedding that never happened. A friend goes to visit, but the ex-bride-to-be won’t open the door.

Maskenfreiheit

maskenfreiheit

The last dialogue I wrote was short. This one is long. Like one of my longer pieces to date. The idea of a masked ball was floating around my head for quite a while. I knew I wanted my characters to be wearing animals masks and that I wanted to refer to them by their animal.

Well, finally a story coalesced around the idea. It’s dialogue 27. So I’m over the halfway mark now in my 2018 writing challenge.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to know what your writing goals are (or were) this year and how they have (or haven’t) been progressing.

Animal Masks Photo by Angel Yulo

Photo by Angel Yulo

2018 Challenge Halfway Point

2019 Challenge Halfway Point

I gave myself a challenge for 2018, and I’m at the halfway point. I challenged myself to start a series on Medium and to post to that series once a week. What I primarily write is fiction, so I decided to have my series follow me as I wrote a dialogue-only short story collection.

Idea Flash

The idea germinated from two unpublished flash-length manuscripts I had in my computer’s story folder. Both were a single, long paragraph. The first was totally in dialogue, with the speakers differentiated through the use of dialect and italics. This story was “Expire,” and I always knew it’d be the first piece in some future collection; I just didn’t know what that collection would be. It’s the first of my dialogues for many reasons. Primarily though, it’s because the content and form of the story both explore the complications of communication through storytelling. Meaning is difficult to convey, especially when you’re working with literary fiction where there may be multiple meanings or the form can be odd, experimental, and artfully crafted.

The second story was a monologue originally designed as a page-length long sentence. I pulled it up, proofread, changed some things within the extant text, added a second speaker to comment on the focus of the long sentence, and — voila! — I had another dialogue.

And so with these two as my base, I challenged myself to write a collection of creative conversations — dialogues all. A challenge not only because of the tight weekly schedule, but also because of the constraints of the form. Dialogues are more or less constrained by an inability to indicate inner-thoughts, background information, motivation, or describe characters and setting (at least I can’t do any of these things without verbalizing them, which isn’t always possible or desirable in this form). While constraining, much like a choosing a poetic form to constrain one’s writing, restricting myself has also been freeing; I haven’t been able to choose from the infinite options normally available to a writer of fiction. Having infinite choices eliminated is in its own way liberating. While I can be experimental and push boundaries to a degree, I still know one thing: it’s all got to be dialogue.

writer silhouette

So, having stuck with the terms of the challenge I set (only dialogue and at least once a week), now that I’m halfway through, I want to reflect on what I’ve done thus far. Specifically, 1) How have I done? 2) What would I do differently? 3) How will I proceed? 4) Will I do it again?

 

How have I done?

I started the series by posting an introduction the first week of January. Every week after that I’ve dutifully put out a dialogue. So I’ve succeeded in that respect. But I haven’t succeeded in every respect.

One of the reasons I gave myself this challenge (outside of forcing myself to complete fiction writing projects quickly) was to build my fan base by putting writing life out there, letting people see the writing journey as it happens. While I’ve gotten a few more blog followers just from being more active on WordPress where I’ve also posted weekly about the latest dialogue, my Medium stats indicate that I haven’t really increased my readership for my fiction — and it’s my fiction reader fan base I am attempting to grow. I’ve done something not quite right. My readership remains dismally low. So low, in fact, that I count it as nonexistent.

Dialogue series stats

 

What would I do different?

The first thing I would have done differently is to have chosen a platform for my updates other than the Medium series platform. There are myriad issueswith the series platform, including accessibility problems and an issue with subscribers actually getting notifications when a series is updated. I also figured out that series have even worse read ratios and interactions from readers than your typical self-posted article. It’s really only publications who opt to use Medium as their parent platform that give most writers any real chance of visibility (two of my dialogues were sent and accepted into Medium publications, The Creative Cafe and Lit Up).

So even without accessibility issues and a broken notification system for series, I may not have found it any easier to build a fan base or increase readership had I simply been self-posting updates or even stories as regular Medium articles. As it is, my stats indicate that I am — though not intentionally — writing these series updates solely for myself. No one else views them. I’ve added to my oeuvre and kept to the strictures of my challenge, but the public journey hasn’t brought in new readers like I thought it would.

While there are no guarantees that another platform would have gotten me more readers, I think the series platform simply doesn’t work for writers trying to build their platform around it, though those with an existent platform could arguably succeed with it. Writing for publishers on Medium seems like the best approach if you’re going to do Medium. Could I choose again, I’m not sure what I would go with (Medium articles, Wattpad, solely my blog, etc.) but it certainly would not be the Medium series platform.

door choices.jpg

How will I proceed?

I am failing to gain readers even as I weekly come closer to completing a short story collection, so why continue to write updates at all if I don’t have anyone to read what I’ve written?

As Rosie Leizrowice, one of my favorite bloggers, wrote: “If you love the process, you react the same way to failure as you do to success.”

I am successfully writing; I am failing to reach readers. I don’t care. I love the process. So I will carry on doing exactly what I am doing. More or less.

Vision Planning Strategy Process GOAL puzzle

The one thing I’ll do differently does not change my process, but is itself another process. Since no one is really taking this writers journey with me, I am going to seriously start seeking publication in zines, magazines, journals, and literary reviews where allowed.

While the series itself is just acting as a kind of one-stop place for me to easily view my challenge updates, the process stays intact. The process has allowed me to create at an accelerated rate, far surpassing my normal leisurely speed of writing where I tend to setting aside what I’ve written, only to come back, edit more, and set aside again, practically ad infinitum. And since I’m not reaching readers with the challenge itself, maybe I can reach readers and publishers at the same time.

 

Will I do it again?

Not exactly. While I love the process, I also need to learn from the process, whether that process led to success or failure or (as in this case) a mix of both. What I’ve learned is that imposing deadlines on myself is a fantastic motivator to work more quickly and cleanly. I think knowing this will help me when I turn my attention to planned future collections of stories and essays. I might even be able to apply the most positive parts of this process to future novels.

What I won’t do again is give myself extra work without more assurance that it will pay off in some tangible way. While meeting obligations when under the scrutiny of the public eye is a powerful motivator, I’ve found that without the public eye or an expectant readership I’m still finding success in sticking to the deadlines of my challenge. Deadlines that — I came to realize a while ago — are really for myself.

I’ve also realized that the information-addicted internet culture doesn’t really need me to add my personal writing challenge to the digital cacophony. If I want my words read, I’d do better to stick to the traditional routes of finding readers through the types of publishers whose subscribers have the temperament and attention my words deserve.

So I will be cultivating a process — a process that includes setting deadlines to complete a story, a chapter, or to have a work ready to send to a potential publisher. And you can be sure that once this challenge is done, I won’t be writing another book of dialogues. But the stories and the words, oh yes, they will keep coming.

dialogues

LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE

LIVE, LAUGH, LOVE

I dashed off a quick dialogue this week and even decided to already submit it. I hope it comes off as ironic as the phrase “live, laugh, love” comes off kitschy (kitschy to the point of being meaningless).

While I am devoted to cultivating a fulfilling life, I find “live, laugh, love” to be the condensed expression of all that is opposite to what I mean by “fulfilling life.”

According to my medium series (where I’m actually keeping count during this writing challenge) this is my 26th dialogue. So this marks the halfway point in my challenge! Thanks for cheering me on, Bookworms!

Squid Life

Hiss, Squawk, Bellow Mutter

Hiss, Squawk, Bellow, Mutter

The characters Hiss, Squawk, Bellow, and Mutter in my new dialogue are business men, and they talk just like their names imply. It’s a part of the new dialogue collection I’m writing.

About the Series
Dialogues is a series of short fictional stories written entirely in conversational form. So far, there are 11 works written for the collection. A new dialogue arrives every week of 2018. Follow me on Medium or subscribe via email to keep notified there.

 

In Case You Missed It
In other news this week, I had two publications come out. One, about a lost little boy, was published in The Creative Cafe. The other, about a kid with a body hair fetish, appeared in Literally Literary. Check them both out, please!

 

 

Read featured dialogues and links to available dialogues on Randal’s Medium series

Business Pyramid to Success

88 “Spice Up Your Date” Shimmer Palette

888 "Spice Up Your Date" Shimmer Palette

its a fucking rainbow on your face!

First GOOD NEWS, you can now read all Medium.com series without an app. This last Saturday when I posted about To Get to the Other Side this was not the case. Today, when I listed 88 “Spice Up Your Date” Shimmer Palette, it took me to an option to read the series in a web browser.

Note: some web browsers will ask that you “read on a larger screen” when it comes to series. This is an EASY FIX. Simply zoom out a bit, or you can go full screen. Either option works. F11 on most PC keyboards is a great shortcut for going full screen and back. Hitting the control (Ctrl) key while using the scroll wheel on your mouse is the easiest method for zooming in and out (assuming you have a mouse and it has a scroll wheel).You can always read the series on your phone by using the Medium app.

So, if you haven’t keep updated about dialogue series via Medium because of the previous mobile app requirement, please please please check it out.


Q: Why the hell did I write a story called 88 “Spice Up Your Date” Shimmer Palette?
A: Because I was inspired by the blogging-form of literature known as “the product review.” This story is a commentary on that and also delves into the deeper meaning of happiness in life.

Read featured dialogues and links to available dialogues on Randal’s Medium series

woman wearing shimmery makeup all over

If you still can’t get the app or Medium.com series to load up, I did make this story available as a regular article on Medium. Feel free to visit, read, and clap. Thanks.

Blue Cafe – Photos

Callout29

On May 18th I did a reading and book signing at Sioux City’s Blue Cafe. The owner, Gia Emory, told me that we packed the house.

0518TenieshaTeniesha Kessler was our featured poet, giving us a variety of poemswild, weird, and wonderful.

One of my best friends in the world, Chris Larson, provided us with some classy piano jazz both before and after the reading portion of the evening.

0518RandalthruFlowersWhile Chris played his tunes for us, I got to sit on stage and sign books.

I read stories, poems, and even a bit of creative non-fiction about my blind little pooch, Missy.

0518bookreading
Of course I read from Descriptions of Heaven too.

Sara, one of my oldest friends going way back to our elementary school days, was awesome enough to drive several hours just to see me read. #FanGirl  😀 0518EmoryStudio
Blue Cafe also houses the music studio of Ron Emory from T.S.O.L. He couldn’t make it to the show, grieving the death of his good friend, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave. I did see Ron earlier in the day and was able to wish him an early “happy birthday.” (Cool fact: we share a May 20th birthday).

0518LibsAndI
My wife Libby and I having our photo taken after the show.

We were also celebrating my birthday that night. Gia surprised the patrons with free cake I had her make for the occasion. Afterward, some of us went out for drinks at the nearby Diving Elk. My gorgeous wife got herself an old fashion, and I had a couple of tasty dark beers in celebration.