Five Sentence Fiction: “Clandestine”

Her father told her he’d been a spy when she was a child. Well, not a spy, exactly. He’d passed information to a CIA agent when they’d lived in Venezuela: snippets of gossip from the embassy parties; the odd photograph of people tagged by the agent as interesting; sealed envelopes given to him on the street by men in sweat-stained suits and wide-brimmed hats. She didn’t know whether to believe him or not. She pored through her memories, turning them this way and that, but no matter how hard she tried to squeeze them into this new reality, the shape of her father remained about as clandestine as an old boot.

Written for Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction challenge. I’m usually stymied by the five sentence limit, being inclined to verbosity as I am, but this week’s prompt was “Clandestine,” and it reminded me of a bizarre conversation I had with my own father when I was a teenager. 

New Year’s Resolutions, 2012 Edition

I almost didn’t post this, given that it’s already January 2, and I’m only now typing up my New Year’s resolutions. Hardly an auspicious start to 2012, right? However, since (a) none of my resolutions pertain to procrastination, and (b) I tend to tilt more toward skepticism than superstition, I figured what the hey. Let’s just plaster these puppies onto the blog where they’re nice and public and harder to ignore.

New Year’s resolutions are interesting things, aren’t they? We make them, we live them (oh so very briefly in my case), we pretend to forget about them, and then, in a very human and endearing display of die-hard optimism, we make them again. Of course, you may be one of those people who follows the roadmap of her/his resolutions religiously and relentlessly (not to say obnoxiously), in which case, I kind of hate you a little bit. But but mostly I admire you a whole bunch.

Of course, the trick, they say, lies in setting realistic goals. None of this “I will write a best-selling novel and be trading dinner invitations with J.K. Rowling by November 15” or “I will write 3,000 words a day and edit 15 of my languishing manuscripts into submittable form by June 30” nonsense. So, as much as I’d like to nibble on nibblish things with J.K. or to believe that 3,000 words a day is remotely achievable, I decided to pare down to basics for my 2012 writing resolutions. My criterion this year was simple: if it isn’t do-able, it doesn’t make the list. 


Many of these are a remix of goals I’ve set in the past, but streamlined for a cleaner, clearer more do-able 2012. A couple of them are new, inspired by Joseph Konrath’s blog post on Resolutions for Writers 2012. (e.g. The goal to support my fellow writers — it’s not that I haven’t done this in the past, but I’ve never considered making it a resolution. I think it’s an important one, though, so I’ve added it to my list.)The commitments for 2012:

  1. I will write every day. Except when I don’t, and then I’ll write twice as much the next day. [I realized almost immediately the flaw in this plan. To calculate the writing goal for the next day will, I’d need to use the following formula: 2 x y, where y = something that may potentially have existed if some lazy bugger had bothered to do it but didn’t. Since this calculation seemed to require a degree in higher mathematics or possibly metaphysics, and since my time is already limited without adding “get maths degree” to the list of to-dos, I came up with a clever fix for resolution #2.
  2. I will participate in the #WIP500 challenge and write a minimum of 500 words every day. These 500 words will not be blog entries, tweets, navel-gazery journal entries or letters to the editor. They will be words
  3. I will finish two of the novels I’ve started, at least to solid first draft stage.
  4. I will finish every short story that I start. Even the ones that want to peter out after two sentences. Even the ones that start out all shiny and sharp and then crash and burn into a puddle of porridge. Even the ones that threaten to bore the pants off me and make me wish I’d discovered a passion for jousting instead of writing.
  5. I will start submitting stories for publication. You know. Like a real writer.
  6. I will give writing pride of place in my list of priorities. Obviously the working for a living thing does have to come first, and occasionally I’m going to need to wave a duster about the place and wash a dish or two, but in the vast pantheon of non-bread-winning activities, writing will stop taking a back seat.
  7. I will encourage and support other writers. This doesn’t mean I will go into (even greater) credit card debt Hoovering up all the ebooks promoted on my Twitter feed, but I will do my small part to support the writers I’ve connected with via Twitter, whether this be by buying the occasional ebook, retweeting (without spamming), sharing resources and inspiration, and cheering my felolw writers on.
  8. I will update my blog regularly, by which I mean “more often than never.” Okay, fine, I know that’s way too vague and entirely unmeasurable outside of Hogwarts. Let’s see then. I can do once a week. I know I can manage that. It just sounds so…inadequate. Could I commit to three times a week? Maybe. Possibly. Not entirely implausible. How about this then: I will update my blog a minimum of once a week, and possibly (but don’t hold your breath) as often as three times a week. Yes, I think I can live with that.

So there we go. My 2012 is looking delightfully productive. How about yours?