5.1 The Next Story

I have been plotting the next story (or stories as the case may be here) since June last year when I decided I wanted to invite a small number of friends, former collaborators, readers and creatives into an intimate group which I ended up calling The Belief Trust. I wrote to them all and asked them if they could provide an energetic net of support for me while I worked out how to be a writer again. It was an enlightening process — handwriting the 13 handmade bi-fold postcards — which helped me to better understand what I was actually asking for.

This year when I wrote my update, I included a blank handmade postcard; these postcards were the backbone of my FireStarter Project. I asked each member of The Trust to send the postcard back with a set of prompts: a song, a year and a socio-political-cultural event. These would be the catalyst of a new set of short stories.

A week later, the Australian cards began to land in my post box: my next stories were arriving!

I was so excited reading what I had been sent. And then nothing else happened. The prompts flatlined.

I am being a little bit of a drama queen. They didn’t so much as flat line but were given a number and asked to stand in the very, very long line with other stories waiting their turn at the counter.

As it turns out, it has not been such a bad thing. The slow maturation of these postcard prompts is allowing something far juicier to emerge.

In 2014, I wrote a short story for the Strange Little Girls anthology. It didn’t make the cut and when I shopped it around, one of the rejections I got said I had to make the story shorter, or longer; at the current length of 4500 it didn’t work. I knew I could not make it shorter and I was at a complete loss at how to make it longer. Sometimes you have to be patient across years and wait for a homemade Velveteen Rabbit postcard to arrive with the year 1961 and Wanda Jackson’s Funnel of Love nominated on the back, to know what to do with a story.

And I loved that the first song I was gifted was Funnel Love as it is on a playlist I made for The Starling Requiem (the cover from the Only Lovers Left Alive). Little moments of synchronicity like that light me up.

When I get to my next story is debatable because while The FireStarter project is my next story in spirit, I first have to complete the current revisions of my birthpunk novella ahead of passing it to Rus for editing mid-month and its publication in December. Then there is the completion and editing of The JAR Story novel, ready for March 2020 publication. Plus Rus and I are both seriously drawn back a story we started in 2017 called The Glass Marionette.

However…

There are no tumble weeds rolling through my creative life. There haven’t been for a quite while. My creative life is the most fertile, expansive and actionable it has (perhaps) ever been. I look forward (rather than backward) knowing that everyone has their time and my time is now and there is never a time that is not now. The Next Story is really this: living my best creative life every day with the JAR Writers’ Collective at my back, making it all possible.

The JAR is Back in Town

The JAR is back after two months of intense activity behind the scenes. As the photo below shows – it has been stacks on!

Adam and Jodi’s debut epistolary novel Postmarked Piper’s Reach launched on the 21st July (through Vine Leaves Press). Rus and Jodi were busy completing the edits on Fossil Five, the collective’s debut novel, and generally getting the manuscript book-shaped ahead of its September 23rd release (or 21st of July if you are in the Baltimore area and keen to be part of the in-person launch in Ellicott County).

Fossil Five is accompanied by A Reader’s Companion, which includes behind the scenes interviews, questions and journal space for processing what surfaces after the novel. We are also ecstatic to share the news of Pattie Lin’s single, Pulse, inspired by the novel. It is due for release on the 7th of the month, the same day we email out the prologue and opening chapter.

Keep abreast of everything Fossil Five by signing up for our newsletter or pre-order your copy of Fossil Five*. We are also active on Facebook on the Fossil Five page or through our official account. We also hangout on Instagram if that’s your preferred platform.

Blogging returns this Friday, with our usual weekly schedule staying the same, though from here on in Small Rebellious Acts of Creativity will be a monthly prompt and we will be partnering with someone outside the collective to bring you the fruits of our explorations.

We hope this finds you well and as excited as we each are for the final months of 2019.

Home Grown by Jodi Cleghorn, Alchemy by Oracle (The Daily Breath)

* Fossil Five is currently only available in Australia via hand delivery. It is an epic tome of 630g/420 pages and currently costs over $10 to post out. Once it reaches our favourite online bookstores, with free postage, we will let you know the relevant links. We will be organising signed book plates for those in far flung places.

 

SRAOC #14 Seeds

Small Rebellious Acts of Creativity (#SRAOC) is a weekly invitation to explore a word, or phrase, through whichever creative avenue, platform or modality the participant wishes. It is intended to be a philosophical or creative catalyst moreso than a straight up writing prompt.

This week’s prompt was:  Seeds

JODI

 Earlier in the week I saw this cartoon and it immediately made me think of this week’s theme.

As some who feels competent to wield a pencil to write a list and nothing more, I had a little poke at those boundaries to produce this.

ADAM

He sat on the back step like a malignant deity, unimpressed by the lawn scattered with dandelions. A carpet of yellow suns surrounded by the explosions of a thousand stars. Walking across the grass he kicked at the seeded heads, parachuting them on the stiff breeze in a cascade of anger. He uprooted one, and blew, pushing spit and seeds into oblivion. His temerity brokered no secret pocket of grace, not even in the rolled cuffs of his trousers. And the dandelions would continue to flower in the hardened soil.

SRAOC #10 Triad Love

Small Rebellious Acts of Creativity (#SRAOC) is a weekly invitation to explore a word, or phrase, through whichever creative avenue, platform or modality the participant wishes. It is intended to be a philosophical or creative catalyst moreso than a straight up writing prompt.

This week’s prompt was: Triad Love

JODI

I could say a lot about three-way love and non-conventional relationships, but it was this image which sprung to mind the moment I pulled the prompt from the jar.

The triad of love as it relates to the self; self-perpetuating if we are willing to intentionally put self love in motion and, like tending the flame, turn up regularly to keep it in motion.

The triad of love asks that we: love our younger self;  love our present self consciously and without thought to the past or the future;  and love our shadow self.