Monday, August 3

Jumping the shark

by Liz Flaherty

Occasionally, it is fun to "jump the shark," to write something different. It's not done with the intent to change genres, merely to bump yourself awake. I have had a busy few weeks (and they ain't over yet) and haven't kept up on new blog posts. I apologize for this. However, I've made good use of things written for writers' group meetings. 

Let me urge you once again to join one if you haven't. I am the only romance writer in mine, but it is still a growing, learning, laughing time--for all of us, I think, not just for me. 

A few months ago, on the morning of a meeting, I had--just like I do today--nothing to share, so I wrote this. I'm not sure it qualifies as a poem, but it was fun to write. It's not really true, either. Except for little pieces I pulled from the back of my heart.

Enjoy, and tell us about when you jump the writing shark.

It was a beautiful day, but I could not lie still in the green, green grass.
At work I couldn’t focus on the IBM Selectric and kept typing long, tidy rows of z’s.
I burned the corn even as the potatoes stayed hard in the middle. I scorched an iron-shaped mark into the back of my favorite blouse.
Because he’d said, you know, we have to talk.
No, we don’t, I thought but didn’t say.
Things are fine as they are.
I have my apartment, you have your room at your mother’s and we see each other when we want to.
We don’t have to talk.
I don’t want to get married.
No, I do, but not now. Not when things are fine as they are.
We eat. He chews manfully on the potatoes. Leave the dishes, he says—this is the 1960s—he doesn’t offer to help with them. Let’s go out on the hill.
Oh, but I—okay.
The hill behind the house is lush with springtime. We lie in the grass and he says it again. We have to talk.
I prepare my answer in my mind...not now...not yet...later...I really do love you, but...
I got my draft notice today.
The words are stark and cold, bouncing off the grass and making spots before my eyes.
I leave in a few weeks. It’ll be Vietnam. Everyone’s going there now.
Oh, but—
When this is over and I get back, maybe we can talk about our future. You think?
Then? That’s forever. Why don’t we talk about it now?
No. Things are fine as they are.
Fine? How can you say they’re fine?
Because they are.
His eyes are so blue.
It is a beautiful day, but I can’t lie still in the green green grass.

As I wait.


  1. I think this is fab, Liz! And maybe it *is* a story - you know, a recent past kind of non-genre thing? Or maybe a'la Nicholas Sparks it's a story within a story - 2 sets of protagonists one contemporary and one from another generation?

    1. LOL. No Nicholas Sparks, Kristi--there is a happy ending! It was fun, though, and kind of freeing.

  2. Enjoyed your brain storm on paper -

  3. Never heard the phrase before, but the concept is good! I like your 'leap' there.

    1. Thanks, Barb. I don't even remember where it came from--something on TV.

  4. Love the leap, Liz. It's a beautiful scene.

  5. I used to belong to an online critique group in which we did weekly exercises. And I wrote Sci-fi, Fantasy, Poetry...I loved trying out new genres and some of my favorite short things I've written came because of that group.

    I think it's good to wander outside our personal boxes now and again. Love your poem.

    1. Thanks, Margie. I think it's fun, too. Like stretching in exercise, I guess--only that's not really fun, is it? :-)

  6. I love my crit group and I love that poem!

  7. I love your poem/story. I never jump the shark, unless you would call writing legal briefs, memos and motions jumping the shark. It sounds like a great idea, if I could find the time...

    1. Thanks, Maria. Believe me, if I'd had another thought in my head, I wouldn't have jumped it. :-)

  8. Love this! I'm not so brave yet...maybe one day. You are always my writerly inspiration, Liz!

  9. That was lovely, Barb. Just lovely. So glad you shared it. Very powerful. You never know what may happen in life.