Is This a Story?

APRIL 2014

I’ve been busy honing my creative writing skills at a series of free San Francisco workshops. Oh San Francisco, I love you! Free writing workshops and free art portfolio development workshops too? Oh, what with hiking and biking and writing and painting and work too, I’ve had little time to write for We Were Nothing. I apologize for the absence.

“Girl” silver point, gouache and ink on vellum mounted on paper. 3.5 x 5 inches © 2014

Currently I am working on two, maybe three, series of miniature paintings. “Girl” is one of my latest creations. This business of making art is time consuming but it is now a priority. I am planning to “get my work out there” by the end of this year/beginning of next year. That means that I have lots of work to do (like developing my portfolio, artist’s bio and statement) besides creating the art itself. I got off to a good start this year, having sold a miniature at a New York art auction and now have a second piece slated for auction this May at San Francisco’s White Walls.

Auctions are interesting places for an emerging artist to debut. If your submission to the auction is accepted you are happy. If it sells, you are even happier — Your work has gone from being worthless to being something of value, at least to the purchaser. Awesome!

All this work means that I will have to convert We Were Nothing into a monthly blog. My first monthly presentation is a short story about a  ride on BART. I have also included background information on how the story came to be. I hope you enjoy it.

About the Writing Workshops

Over a period of five weeks (we met one night per week) the participants in my writing workshop were challenged to develop a story about the SOMA area, the section of San Francisco where the workshops were held. I wrote about the building with the furniture hanging off it (see my previous post), but failed in my mission. I was supposed to write a story, not a poem! Back to the drawing board, with just one week left to write the piece. While everyone else from the workshop was in revision mode, I was starting all over from scratch.

I wrote the story below about a ride on BART. It turns out that once again, I failed to write a story: my protagonist had not developed, had not experienced any change. Back to the drawing board one last time. I am determined to write a story. In the meantime, I submit the original story here and will present the final story in May. I hope you enjoy reading it.

 The Things on BART Today

BART is crazy, yo! You get on and there’s a guy with a knife frantically cutting up his backpack. With a knife, a short thick one like the knives divers wear when scuba diving. When you try to escape to the next car, you find yourself seated next to a woman with no pants on! Just a top, is all she is wearing. You decide you better strike up conversation with the crazy. You don’t want to anger her by leaving as soon as you get there. So you strike up a conversation with her in the hopes she ain’t as crazy as you think she is. Maybe if you treat her like normal, she’ll act like normal. She asks if you have a cell phone she can borrow. Aww hell naw! If I give my phone to her she may run off with it. I lie and say I don’t have one. She looks at me suspiciously, eyes narrowing. Aw shit, I’ve made her mad. “You must not have kids,” she says. “Cos if you did, you’d have a cell phone.” I lie some more and say I left it at home and really only use it for emergencies anyway. That last part is true. The knife guy in the other car could be an emergency. Hell, this lady might be one too.

Uhh, what is that guy doing, the one who just came from the knife car into ours? He is going straight for the red emergency button. Did knife guy do something even more bizarre than bringing that knife out into the open on the train? New guy goes straight for the red emergency button. Is he going to make the train come to a halt like it does if you pull the emergency cord in New York City’s subway trains? If yes, that’s not too bright because now we will all be stuck in an immobile train with knife guy.

Aw hell. I don’t believe what I’m hearing, new guy, who looks like he is as high as a kite, is asking the train operator for a band aid because he cut his finger. What kind of lunatic cargo is this that BART is carrying this morning? Pantless wonder is talking next to me. “I was in Russia. Got jacked every day. It’s worse there than here.” Uh huh. Lady, how soon you gonna get off this train?


If you are interested in reading more of my short stories, try this one, set in Jamaica. It is from an earlier post.

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