writing

Brain-Picking Becky #13: How We Tell (and Edit) Our Stories

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the micro memoir. I’m a wordy writer (and person in general), and I typically fall victim to over-explaining my ideas in an effort to be extra sure that what I’m trying to say is understood. This often results in clunky sentences and unnecessary repetition, not to mention how time-consuming it is. When I edit both my fiction and nonfiction, I try hard to channel my inner Hemingway and delete, delete, delete. Focus on the power of what is left unsaid. Except I’m bad at leaving things unsaid.

I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about the way we tell our stories, the choices we make when it comes to mood and tone, the language we use silently in our minds versus the language we share with our mouths and our fingers. So much of how we see the world, our place in it, ourselves in general, is our own choice, and this is so deeply affected by the way we frame our own stories. Yet how much of this framing really is our choice? How much of our personal narrative comes from our parents, their parents, and their parents? How much comes from early childhood memories we don’t remember but feel like we remember because our family has remembered them for us? From our genetic makeup, from the makeup of our neighborhoods, from the makeup we put on before we go out into the world?

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Last year, Lew loved the ocean water. He would run into it and shout with glee, jump, splash, run away, run back. This summer, he is two-years-old and has developed the capacity to fear. Now when he goes close to the water, he freezes and screams, partly playful, mostly afraid. He loves it when I carry him in, he’ll beg me to go deep enough that the waves splash against his delicious round belly, yet he clings to me so tightly that I can let go of him and he doesn’t even slip down my torso. The other day, as he and I were digging holes in the sand and filling them up again, my friend asked me if Lew liked the water and I said, “Oh he loves it but he’s also scared of it. It’s a new development this year, I hope it doesn’t last long.” Later that afternoon, Lew and I walked to the shore hand-in-hand and then right when we approached the ocean’s edge, he stopped, scrunched his nose and eyes together, reached his arms to me and cried, “Mommy, up, up, I scared of ocean water!” He had never used the word scared before.

In thinking about my story, Lew’s story, the story of my family and the tiny pieces that come together to make up these stories, I am deeply grateful for all the things I get to experience. Yet at the same time, I am deeply exhausted. An editor might say that my story is going in too many directions and needs to be pared down.

Leave more unsaid.

I’m reminded of Rivka Galchen’s book Little Labors, a beautiful, unique collection of short essays about new motherhood. I feel like these snippets, these micro memoirs, capture the reality of our existence so well. In the end, isn’t life really just little pieces of memory put together and called a whole?

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Click here to learn more about the ongoing column Brain-Picking Becky.

“Writing in the Digital Age” – My New Online Class Starts Monday!

I’m so excited to start my new online class, Writing in the Digital Age: Blogging, Social Media, & More, through Writers & Books, the amazing nonprofit in Rochester. Classes start this Monday the 31st, and it’s not too late to register – spread the word!

Writing in the Digital Age: Blogging, Social Media, & More (Online)

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Instructor(s): Becky Fine-Firesheets

Beginner Beginner Beginner

In the digital era, writers are no longer afforded the luxury of focusing solely on creation; agents and publishers are now seeking sellability in addition to quality. This four-part class will concentrate on creating and maintaining a writer’s blog (parts 1 and 2), developing your social media presence (part 3), and general self-promotion (part 4), with a focus on efficiency and affordability.

REGISTER ONLINE NOW.

If you would like to make a request for any accommodation, please email us at accommodation@wab.org.

Photo “blogging” by Eden Osabel / Creative Commons

Pictures from Mother Tongue with Jade Sanchez-Ventura, Caedra Scott-Flaherty and The Brooklyn Players Reading Society @ Sidewalk Cafe

We had such an amazing night at Sidewalk Cafe last Tuesday! Huge thanks to my amazing, talented mama writer friends, memoirist and Mutha Magazine columnist Jade Sanchez-Ventura and fiction author Caedra Scott-Flaherty, to my husband, David Stanley Fine-Firesheets, for bringing his beautiful energy to The Brooklyn Players Reading Society, to the babies for being so good and cute, to Sidewalk for having us, and to all of YOU for supporting us. We’re turning this into a regular reading/music series at Sidewalk featuring parents who are still committed to their art despite the little monsters sleeping under their beds, so stay tuned for future updates.

P.S. Domenica Ruta very sadly had to cancel due to a sick baby but will be appearing at a future event.

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TONIGHT! Mother Tongue: Words w/The Brooklyn Players Reading Society, Domenica Ruta & More @ Sidewalk Cafe, Tuesday, March 29th!

Please join us tonight, Tuesday, March 29th, from 6:30-8 pm at Sidewalk Cafe for Mother Tongue, a night of words across genres and topics delivered by new mamas who are still committed to their art despite the little monsters sleeping under their beds.

mothertongueThe evening features memoirist Domenica Ruta (author of NY Times best-seller With or Without You), memoirist and Mutha columnist Jade Sanchez-Ventura, fiction author Caedra Scott-Flaherty, and percussive poetry by The Brooklyn Players Reading Society (with yours truly on vox and hot new papa David Fine-Firesheets on bongos).

Readings from 6:30-8 pm, live bands to follow. No cover, donations appreciated. Please RSVP at our Facebook Event Page. Sidewalk is located on Ave A at the corner of 6th St (map here).

Hope to see you there!

P.S. For those of you on the fence, Lew will be there. You know you wanna squeeze his little Buddha belly.

Motivate Me! Podcast: My Interview on Staying Creative Even With a Baby

Lynette Renda over at Motivate Me! interviewed me for today’s podcast on my passion, combining literature and music, and how I’ve balanced (and sometimes not balanced!) my role as a new mom with the creative aspects of myself. It’s tough but important work. I truly believe that motherhood doesn’t mean we stop being who we were before, but rather that it’s even more important to make the time to continue exploring our passions so that we can provide our children with an example of a happy and fulfilled adult (though albeit an often exhausted adult). Give a listen on their website or via iTunes, and let me know if you can relate – I’m always looking for cohorts in this crazy endeavor!

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Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net Awards

sundress pubI am incredibly excited to announce that my short story, The Roof (appearing in Serving House Journal’s Fall 2013 issue), has been nominated for Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net Awards!  Winners will be announced in October, but no matter the results, I’m incredibly excited and honored.  Many thanks to Clare McQueen of Serving House Journal for nominating me.  Click here to browse last year’s Best of the Net anthology, and stay tuned for this year’s winners!

Sundress Publications’ logo pictured above.

The Roof to Appear in Serving House Journal

servinghousejournalI am very excited to announce that my short story, The Roof, will appear in Serving House Journal’s fall issue.  This is a very exciting step for me, as my previous publications have been either creative nonfiction or journalism.  I’m very eager to hear your thoughts!