Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Trifecta meme

Trifecta has been my main source of motivation lately. I have other bits in the hopper, resting, waiting for me to pay them some attention. While they linger I've found the prompts from the Trifecta Writing Challenge a great way to get in a writing workout. The strictures of the challenges make the work exciting and difficult enough to be interesting. The community makes it a learning experience. I'm proud to be a part of it (when my time permits).

As part of the community function, Trifecta launched a meme a bit ago that lets the Trifectans (that's their name for members of the community) get to know each other. Here's my contribution.

  1. What is your name (real or otherwise)? Nicole Leigh Shaw aka Ninja Mom (A confession: I think "Ninja Mom," while catchy, is beyond cornball. But it's who I am in my mommy blogging world and it's stuck.)
  2. Describe your writing style in three words. Typos, metaphors, and humanity. All present and accounted for in my writing. 
  3. How long have you been writing online? I've been blogging for my family since 2005 (sorry, that's a private blog). I've been blogging as Ninja Mom for two years. This blog is much younger and is a place I can publish things that might not interest my Ninja Mom readers. I also write for NickMom and have created several BlinkBooks
  4. Which, if any, other writing challenges do you participate in? None. If I had more time. . .
  5. Describe one way in which you could improve your writing. Fewer typos springs to mind. I need a scheduled writing life. I need a habit. 
  6. What is the best writing advice you’ve ever been given? Well, my mother told me once, "So write! Be a writer." Good advice. Less directly, Chuck Wendig has a great piece, "25 Things I Want to Say to Aspiring Writers." Number 6 resonates with me most, part of which is, "You will always have days when you feel like an amateur. When it feels like everybody else is better than you." And, for the record, I'm not aspiring. I'm writing. 
  7. Who is your favorite author? Not even remotely possible to pick. No way. With one exception. In terms of a writer I'd like to emulate, for my essay-style humor I do on Ninja Mom, I adore Dave Barry.
  8. How do you make time to write? I stay up too late. I ignore my kids. I pay for preschool. 
  9. Give us one word we should consider using as a prompt. Remember--it must have a third definition. I can't do just one! Fine. Tint, the noun.
  10. Direct us to one blog post of yours that we shouldn't miss reading. On this blog, Addressing memories.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The drunk will set you true

It seems I'm only good for weekends these days. Here's my latest Trifextra entry. The prompt is ". . . we are giving you the first 33 words of a story. You need to complete it with 33 of your own words."


“There’s nothing cute about it,” he said. The register of his voice indicated decision more so than discussion.

She disagreed heartily and privately, staring past his head and out the window behind him.

In the middle distance was her reflection, ghosts of pig tails bobbing along as the limo drove.

She was forty today and drunk tonight. The honest kind of drunk.

Honesty outlasted the hangover.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lost the thread

Trifextra: Week Eight.

"Lost" in 33 words, and the inspiration word can only appear in the title. Here goes.

"Lost the thread"

We string life episodes into life history.

Once, three sisters were weaving, measuring, and cutting. They’ve been buried in science; we know now how the scissors work.

But not how to work them.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Menace calling


The phone rang at 4 a.m. Menace owns the overnight hours, incompatible with dawn's promise. Otherworldly shades occupy the window and throw scraps of shadow to feed greedy doubts. Gremlins call when no one is awake to save you.


This is my response to Trifecta's Week 6 Trifextra Challenge. The prompt (not to be included in the 33 words—precisely—that the challenge requires, was "The phone rang at 4 a.m."


I've been fascinated with the overnight hours for a long, long time. When I was 12 I tried to stay awake all night watching TV and keeping a notebook by my side to record the "action" (um, there wasn't any) and to prove to myself in the morning that I'd managed the exercise without dozing off.

I loved the middle of the night feedings with my kids. Sure, I got exhausted by them in short order, but I relished being awake when few others were, doing something feeding, burping, diaper changing) that was so important it had to be addressed in the small hours.

But I never could imagine leaving the house at that time of night. Everything's less certain at 4 a.m. How can we be sure were in the same world we were in when the sun went down?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hand-me-down memories

There are clothes the kids love that are not things I've picked out for them. At least, not this year (or last). Maybe it's a pair of overalls from three years ago when my oldest was still happy to have me put her hair in pig tails. They prefer pants torn at the pockets from three girls who all stuff their pockets to bursting with untold treasures snatched from the grass, the toy chest, my bedside table.

They wear dresses in muted shades of over-washed; they sport rainbow socks with threadbare heels. These, more than the new clothes stagnating on hangers in their closetsthe special occasion clothes and the everyone's-wearing-them clothes, and the just-try-it-for-mommy clothesthese wretched threads still bound together by luck and laundry soap are their favorites.

Sometimes I worry that hand me downs are telling the larger world a story of meager means. Are they broadcasting the details of our tight clothing budget or my inability to coordinate four children's worth of outfits? For these reasons I cringe when they bounce off through the school doors, a tattered hemline fluttering in their wake.

But I'm smart enough to shake off self-conscious concerns about my public image and re-imagine the emotional inheritance in cast-off clothing. All of my kids have gone crashing through the world around them in these clothes. Past and present versions of them fill out the shoulders of a much-loved sweater just so. These clothes re-collect my going-going-gone babies and toddlers, my memory's children.

There will be many autumns spent buying clothes my kids carefully pick for a new school year, eager to show off to old friends and new classmates. But someday the hand-me-downs will run out, packed off to Goodwill. For now, I'll be praying the tears at the seams hang on for a few more memories.


Here's a bit of essay-writing for Trifecta's Week Sixteen challenge. The inspiration word is "wretched."

3: being or appearing mean, miserable, or contemptible <dressed in wretched old clothes>
I fixated on that clothing example, as well as the third meaning of the adjective "mean."
a: of poor shabby inferior quality or status <mean city streets> b : worthy of little regard : contemptible —often used in negative constructions as a term of praise <no mean feat>
How's that for meta?

Friday, February 24, 2012

I'm a manthropologist, baby.

-My friend said I'd never get an anthropologist into bed.
-She's right. Says here on the Mandible of Manifest Sexual Destiny, "Anthropologists are asexual geeks."
-Which makes you?
-A "manthropologist," manly, love-making anthropologist.


This is my response to Trifecta's Trifextra Week 5 Challenge. I have no idea what I was smoking when I imagined this dialogue, except to say that I have Indiana Jones on the brain thanks to a commenter on Kim from Let Me Start By Saying's entry for the Week 15 challenge. I saw the bed, the skull, and the closeness of these two and boom!, what would a young, hot-to-trot Indiana Jones (channeling Austin Powers) say? Really, I expect all the reponses to be like this, it's SO obvious.

Also, I don't consider dialogue a strong point. I don't do much fiction writing and it seems that's the real place to work out convincing dialogue. Instead, you get me working it out in 33 words. Comments appreciated, folks. As well as reminiscing about how hot Harrison Ford is as Indy.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Trifecta: Fool

I have a good friend who is also a blogger, Kim at Let Me Start By Saying, who is involved with a few writing groups that provide weekly prompts. I was inspired by one of her recent pieces, Snow White in 33 Words. I think it's time I gave these writing exercises a try.

I'm starting with the group that hosted the prompt that inspired the very abridged Snow White. The group is known as Trifecta, a curated workshop that provides one-word prompts once a week, as well as a unique weekend prompt. The one-word prompt exercise challenges participants to write a piece using the third definition of that word as found in the Mirriam Webster's Online Dictionary. 

This week, it's fool. A word I feel unashamedly intimate with. Here's the third entry in the online definition:
 - a harmlessly deranged person or one lacking in common powers of understanding

And here's my poetic take:

I think that I shall never see
Parent who lord of fool shall be.

These half-sized gambolers mind not sense.
Grown-up cares! They thrive on nonsense.
Flip flops in the blustering snow.
Toys are planted in hopes theyll grow.

In our castle, our mundane house,
Queen is trumped by scurrying mouse.
As maid she sweeps the crumbs and bits,
That fools remake in scant minutes.

The king himself is foolish found
When tickles bring him to the ground.
Wild crying fits he sighs about,
“Come in? I thought you wanted out?”

They think us parents fools, but no,
We rubber; they glue. That is so
That when their offspring come in time,
Fools their children will make of mine.


Hey howdy Ninja Mom readers. Thanks for stopping in.