Taking Myself Way Too Seriously

What follows is me working out some “stuff” up there in the ol’ brain pan. A bit indulgent to do this publicly, but maybe putting it out there helps someone else. Or makes me accountable for my own crap. Either way.

So here it is… I have been taking part in a Flickr group that challenges its members to do a new macro photo every week based on a theme the moderators choose.

I started participating on December 4th with this photo:

©2018 Karen Fayeth

I felt clever. Sassy. Like my photo was more creative and of better quality than the others in the group. Go me! I was rewarded with well over one hundred faves in the first day. Hey, fun!

So I kept going. Each week working hard and having fun doing these weekly photo challenges. Creating a new image every week. Some weeks I worked really hard (or agonized) over executing my idea.

Other weeks it came easy to me, I snapped a photo that was exactly what I wanted and went on about my day.

But always having fun and not taking it too seriously.

Until two weeks ago. Two weeks ago I stopped having fun and got deadly (overly) serious about my weekly photo entry.

Let me back up. This Flickr group is huge, over 13,000 members. Each Monday between 800 to 1,200 photos are posted for the theme. This means in order to function, the group must be tightly moderated. And it is. Tightly.

I both like and respect that there are heavily enforced rules for the group. But I also HATE it because I’m an *artist* and The Muse can’t be contained by your silly rules. I should be able to break them because MY work is the best.

Yeah, okay. I own it. I got weird. I hate it when I get weird.

The week’s theme was monochromatic, and I turned this one in:

©2018 Karen Fayeth

I really like this photo. I worked hard on it and felt really good about it. I feel like I did something worthwhile. Artistic.

Less than ten minutes after adding it to the group, a moderator pulled it, telling me “This is not monochromatic, I can see both brown and green.”

I seethed. I stewed. I started looking at other photos in the group and found SEVERAL that also had tiny bits of another color that made it through the moderator’s net.

I bellowed about how unfair it was. I started making a list of all the other photos that were let through. I prepared to launch my vitriol on anyone who would listen and demand answers for my mistreatment. How could they hate my photo so much!?!?! (I know, I know)

Then I went to talk to The Good Man, and as I detailed all the ways I had been wronged, I heard myself. I listened to my words and realized…aw damn…I’d stopped having fun. I was this worked up over a photo on Flickr in a group where the only prize is some eyes seeing the photo and some faves.

Yeah. I hit the wall pretty hard. This came just a day after struggling with a story for a writing contest that just would not gel for me. I hadn’t given myself enough time to work on it and the story would not come together no matter how hard I tried. I tried to shotgun it and I failed hard. I did still turn in the story but I know it’s not good.

You see, I wasn’t mad at that stupid unfair moderator. I was mad at me.

And that’s no way to create. That is the antithesis of creativity. This dampens The Muse.

So I went all the way there and now I’m reeling myself back in. I swear. I sat my Muse and my brain down and we had a talk. Feelings were felt and admonitions were issued. Promises to be better. To loosen up. To remember why I do any of my creative work…to have fun. To let the creativity out. To create something.

And I’m better. I am. The following week I swore I wasn’t going to participate in the Flickr group again, but that was EXACTLY why I needed to get back in the game. So I made a photo based on the theme “in a bottle.”

Here’s my Valentine to myself. Green like the Hulk who gets very, very mad. Sweet like the victory of turning out a piece of art and something I really like. It also met the rules and made it past the moderators.

©2018 Karen Fayeth

Lesson learned. Scars formed. Exterior just a little bit tougher.

And this week? Try, try again.

A Promise Made. Finally Kept.

Back on July 12, I made a cryptic post on my Facebook page that said “Got a lit mag acceptance in the mail today. Sa-weet! A nice way to end the week. Details as soon as I can share!”

And then tick-tock, calendar flip, no details were to be shared.

Recently a friend asked, “oh hey, what ever happened with that?”

Well, here’s what happened: I wanted to lay back on details so as not to tick off the editor of the magazine. They like having first crack at this stuff, so I kept it to myself.

My story was supposed to be published in the Winter (Oct/Nov/Dec) issue, so I was biding my time.

Turns out the editor decided to push up the publication, so my story actually appeared in the Fall (July/Aug/Sept) issue.

Editors are going to do what they need and I have ZERO problem with that. The editor chose to publish MY little ol’ story. With ink. In a literary magazine. Yes!

And since the publication date has come and gone, I don’t feel bad about sharing that story with you now.

Without further ado, here is my story “What Leibniz Never Learned” as published in The Storyteller magazine.

You can also click on the magazine cover, seen in the right column section title “As Seen In” on this page.


: jumping for joy :

Happy leaping lamb image found here.

Que Bonita

This past weekend was something like a “what weekend?” as I worked my tail feathers off both days. About 1/3 of the tail feather workout was due to my job. Yes, I get to work for free on behalf of my employer, even on my days off. The joys of being a salaried employee.

The other 2/3 was working on my own sideline creative stuff. I did about 25 story submissions, I edited a photo that I will be showing later this week (that takes such a long time…a little burn here, a little dodge there), and I wrote a story for the first round of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction contest.

The contest works this way: They give you a location, a genre and an object. All three have to be there in the story. This can be both liberating and constraining, depending on what you get. My draw for this first round was romance/haunted house/marshmallows. Not bad, not great.

Sunday around noon I found myself starting at that cursed curser blinking at me and I tried to find a story idea that was scary and lovey and marshmallowy all at the same time. A challenge. I was writing words but they weren’t coming easily. My iMac sits on a table near a window, and something caught the corner of my eye as I labored. I looked out the window. Seems on that sunny creatively frustrating Sunday I had an auspicious little visitor.

I grabbed my camera, put on the longest lens I own, popped the screen out of the window and started clicking away.

I’m so glad I did.

Photo copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth

This gorgeous lone Monarch Butterfly was just hanging out in the warm sun, using the ol’ proboscis to gather some pollen and doing its butterfly thing. As I watched, a couple bees were highly displeased at the presence of the butterfly and kept strafing him (I say him correctly, I looked up Monarch butterflies online and the dots around the wings signify a male. edit: Upon further Googling, I think this is actually a female).

These bees were executing deep aggressive fly bys that only caused the butterfly to flap his wings a bit but stay put. Man those bees were persistent. And I kept snapping away. I have some awesome action shots that I’m still editing.
After a while, the butterfly flew off and I downloaded and looked through my photos, very pleased with the results.

Then I sat back in my chair and I smiled. After the visit from Mr. Butterfly, I felt totally motivated and completely creative. I turned back to my story and banged out about 1,300 words in one sitting. Then set it aside and let it percolate while The Good Man and I went to local street fair.

When we came back I edited the beejeezus out of the story, got it to 999 words (the limit is 1,000) and submitted it about 45 minutes before the deadline. Man oh man hitting send on that story sure felt good.

I owe my creative surge to a visit from a pretty orange butterfly on the first day of Autumn.

Photo copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Taken with a Canon Rebel, edited lightly in Elements.

Oh, November

Masochism! It’s what’s for Thanksgiving dinner!

Yup. November means it’s National Novel Writing Month, a fun event where writers around the world challenge themselves to write a 50,000 word novel in just thirty days.

And after taking last year off, I’m back, baybee!

This will be my sixth year through the meat word grinder.

Along with blogging every weekday. And holding down a full time job. And having some semblance of a life.

Apparently I like the pain. 1667 words a day, here I come.

Flash Fiction – Day Four & Final

Whoooo, yes! Fist pumps and happy jigs. I managed to pull off this massive stretch goal of writing a new Flash Fiction story four days in a row.

I’m not going to lie to ya, this has been challenging. Getting today’s story done was tough, and I think it reads like it. This challenge really took some work.

Today, the overworked Muse got a little silly. I hope you’re willing to come along for this final ride.

Tomorrow, as promised, I’ll be posting an oral reading of a New Mexico folktale as my wrap up of this crazy off beat week of Flash Fiction and Fables.

It’s a good one, I think you’re going to like it, especially the readers/listeners from my home state.

But for today, my randomly generated word is: portability

Without further ado:

The Device

by Karen Fayeth

Darryl and Sean worked quietly, side-by-side in the corrugated metal work shed they referred to as “The Lair.”

Work was wrapping up on their invention, a device without a name so far. If you asked them, it was totally a fusion reacting, power providing, super über top of the line invention.

The whole deal was this, it was a small reactor that creates enough power to run a small city. Clean burning, no electricity or fuel required, and it only fills up a small footprint.

The genesis of the invention came when Darryl had entered a project in his college science fair to show how he could make small fusion reactions.

Sean had also worked on an entry for the fair, but wasn’t able to complete it in time. His was a device for efficient distribution of power in a small space and without heat or exhaust.

The two ideas put together was an invention in which Pajaro Ventures had invested $3 million in R&D money. It would totally pay off, assuming they could get the device to be stable.

Initial trials were not as successful as they’d hoped.

The Lair had been replaced three times due to what the boys referred to as “misfires.”

But if they got it to work right, they could rule the world. Literally, they hoped, because that would be cool.

When they weren’t working on, or fighting over what to call the device, they were arguing over what to call themselves. Darryl favored Captain Hazard as his superhero slash evildoer name. His costume included a bright yellow vest, the kind road crews wear to be seen by passing cars.

Sean was leaning toward Dr. Reaction. His costume was a bit more ill defined, consisting mostly of a white lab coat with nuclear symbols attached to both shoulders like epaulettes.

The U.S. Army was interested in the unnamed device, as they needed strong, reliable power at many of their installations in the Middle East. A clean burning self-contained unit that kept them off either generators requiring gasoline or power lines requiring infrastructure was looking real enticing.

However, the U.S. Army was a bit skeptical that two recent college grads had the gonads to actually pull this thing off. No matter, the risk was on Pajaro Ventures. If it worked, Parajo got a huge contract. If it didn’t, Pajaro ate the R&D fees and the U.S. Army would keep on looking.

Early on, Darryl and Sean had flown out to Washington to meet with senior ranking officials, including one five star general. The field commanders gave the boys their list of must haves and nice to haves around this thing.

The team agreed on device specs. Darryl and Sean would come back in six months to demo their progress.

That demo was due to take place the next morning. After a good night’s sleep, the boys rose early and got ready. A black Suburban rolled up and men in dark sunglasses loaded up The Device and the boys and delivered them to the airport, where they boarded the Parjaro private plane headed for the Pentagon.

The flight went without a hitch and soon Darryl and Sean found themselves in a large auditorium surrounded by a lot of people, most wearing dark green uniforms.

“Yeah, so, ok, let’s get right into this,” Darryl said, doing the talking. He was the more eloquent of the two.

The Device sat on the floor in front. When signaled, Sean hit the go button.

Fans whirred, parts rumbled and the machine’s lights flashed.

“As you can see,” Darryl said, “It takes only a few moments to come online. Once you see an orange light here, at the side, it’s fully charged and ready to go.”

The light came on, and Darryl took the plugs from a refrigerator, a clothes dryer and a microwave and plugged them into the outlets built into The Device.

“These high power drawing items are but a fraction of what The Device can power. When up to full capacity, this device could power a small city, say the size of Austin.”

The assembled crowed murmured their approval.

It worked. The Device was generating smooth power. It shook a little, but no fires so far.

“Gentlemen, I believe this meets your requirements for high voltage yet safe and steady power. We have achieved your list of must haves. Oh, wait, there’s one more item we haven’t demoed,” Darryl said, flipping a red switch on the back panel.

Immediately a bright blue undulating hole, about a foot wide, ripped into the fabric of time and space above the machine.

“And there you have it, General, sir. Your requirement is complete.”

General Johanssen looked at the eerie opening in the air that was starting to exert a gravitational pull.

“What the sam hell have you boys done?” he shouted.

“You said that your key requirement was portal ability. We’ve succeeded. The Device not only facilitates powering your base camps, but also provides the beginning stages of time travel. This really is a cutting edge machine.”

General Johanssen’s face turned tomato red with anger. “I said it was mandatory that this device have PORTability, meaning moving the stupid thing as our troops relocate around the world. I did NOT ask for goddamn portal ability! What the hell is that, anyway?”

Darryl and Sean looked at each other, eyes wide. Darryl began frantically fiddling with the red switch.

“Boys, close that goddamn worm hole before someone gets hurt!” a major called out from their left side.

“Um, I’m trying, sir,” Darryl said, sounding panicked.

Suddenly, a nearby office chair was sucked into the depths of the wormhole and sent two thousand light years ahead into space. It landed with a “whump” on the fifth moon of the planet Kranon, killing the opposition leader of the attempted violent overthrow of the King of the Kranonians.

Two thousand light years back on Earth, Darryl could only reply, “Whoops.”

Creative Commons License
“The Device” by Karen Fayeth is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.