Six Word Story (54)

For healthy development, both emotionally and physically, an infant needs touch. Though many of us hide our longing for intimacy that doesn’t involve sexual contact, adults need touch as well.

A hand to hold. A shoulder to hug. Playful jostling while laughing with friends. These things are important. Give them generously. Receive them gratefully.

©2022 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Photo sourced from unsplash.com.


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Pointed Short Stories

Short stories bring moments to a sharp focus.

It’s challenging to wrap a whole beginning middle and ending into 3000 words or fewer, just as it’s challenging to write a 150,000 word novel. In fact, I am not sure if one is inherently easier than the other when done well. The latter takes planning and perseverance. The first, a lot of word skill. I see both as equally valuable.

It’s addictive and helps propel one forward to the next project with vigor and a sharper focus.

One thing short forms have going for them is time economy. I am a slow writer, and sometimes I take months to craft a short story draft. But I can do it. Whether I take a day, or a few months, I have tasted the flavor of finished work. For a writer, that is huge.

It’s addictive and helps propel one forward to the next project with vigor and a sharper focus. If you struggle to never finish a writing project. Try a short story on for size.

What is difficult to do in short forms is world build. Only that which moves the story forward can be present. Only enough detail as to not confuse the reader should be used. Focus, a sharp point to stay within the intended word count.

Short stories come in many forms. 10,000 words, 5,000 words, 3,000 words and anything in between. Under 1,000 is generally referred to as flash fiction. These brief flashes of creativity seem a natural fit to our modern busy lives. I see them becoming more and more important as our world spins faster and faster.

Then there is the micro-story, anything under 300 words. I particularly enjoy dribbles and drabbles, 100, and 50 word stories. You can read my latest contribution to the drabble world here.

To weave a story with words that are implied, but not written, takes skill.

The shorter your word count, the less the story becomes about the words on a page or screen, and the more in becomes about what is not there. Reading in between the lines, writing with emotions that are not spelled out. It’s truly an art form.

To weave a story with words that are implied, but not written, takes skill. It’s a skill worth honing for any writer as that word economy can be what lifts a full-length novel apart from all the other books on a shelf.

Short stories written about the same people, or place, can be used as building blocks to larger projects. Use them as bridges between your dreams and reality.

But we should never forget the power of the standalone short piece. Their honed narratives and pointed emotions can drive truth and learning into our busy hearts and minds.

When was the last time you read a short story? Did you enjoy it?

©2022 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Six Word Story (53)

Do you ever dig for those hiding morsels? Bits and pieces packed full of flavor and sugar like the chocolate in trail mix, or the chips in a chocolate chip muffin.

I have three kids and one is a gobbler, one is a nibble and one is a picker. It’s fascinating how a simple thing like, “how you eat your muffin,” can show so much of your personality.

Do you savor those small things? Do you gulp them down with ecstasy? Or do you pick at them, unsure if you are ready to partake or afraid to enjoy?

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Photo sourced from unsplash.com


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The Dreaded Red Mark

I love the adventure of writing. I love exploring and experiencing the world or emotions I write about. But when I finish that first draft, editing must always happen.

I hate seeing those nasty confidence crippling red marks. Let me tell you, for someone who is mildly dyslexic, it’s never just one red mark. More than likely, it is a sea of them I feel I could drown in. This has been my number one challenge in completing my work.

“I have learned that taking one bite at a time and chewing it well is important.”

So how do I face those red marks?

Slowly, methodically, and with help.

I have learned that taking one bite at a time and chewing it well is important. One word, one-line, one paragraph, one page. If I get ahead of myself, I give up.

I also pace myself. Sometimes we are unaware of the energy spent while creating something, and the drain it can have on our being. I fix one word, then remind myself to blink and breathe. After tackling the next sentence, I do the breathing over again, and maybe step away from the screen to get a drink.

I am a much slower writer than most people, but that’s okay. We all create in our own way and honestly, I’m not trying to be anyone else’s competition. (Unless I am writing for a contest, that is.) I dread those red marks, but there is also nothing quite like the satisfaction of seeing them disappear from my work.

Trying is also something I do slowly. I often make mistakes while trying to fix things. Rarely is a second draft enough. More likely, a third, fourth, or even fifth draft happens before the piece is ready. The longer the project, the more drafts needed.

“So those red marks keep me humble and social.”

I rely heavily on grammar software as it’s difficult for me to see mistakes like the use if the wrong ‘to’ in a sentence. I don’t know if I could even attempt writing if it wasn’t for programs like Grammarly and ProWritingAid. But even after I reread things myself, and let the computer to its thing, I always need at least one other person to help. Software just can’t pickup all my mistakes.

So those red marks keep me humble and social. If my husband isn’t available to read through my work, I have to reach out and ask someone else. This is always awkward for me. Will they roles there eyes at my mistakes? Will they be able to see past the red to the heart of things? Can I trust them?

Oh, those little red marks teach so many things…

How do you handle the dreaded red mark?

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef


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The Give and Take of Creativity

Most things in life are a give and a take relationship. We breathe in oxygen, and give out carbon-monoxide. That feeds the plant life around us that turns it back into the oxygen we breathe again.

Give and take is the foundation of life, and it’s no different for creativity and writing.

As a writer, I take things in from life around me. The people, the places, the nature, the communion of prayer. These things feed my spirit and enable me to spend energy on writing. I pour what I receive across the page as I try to give order to thoughts and paint pictures with words.

Next comes a really amazing part. Other people take in the things that I write. Maybe not many, but a few. Even one is enough to continue this relationship.

Is their reaction negative or positive? Either way, there is an exchange.

They read my words, they take them in. Is their reaction negative or positive? Either way, there is an exchange. Do they leave a ‘like’ or a comment? Do they simple ghost through the pages of my website? Even if they do not engage with me, they give a tinny bit, a marker that says, someone was there and read my work. It’s a spark of energy shared with a computer keyboard or phone screen.

This give from a reader can go even further if they use their finances to bless me and buy my book or artwork. That is a HUGE give. It tells me not only have they read my work, but they found it worthy enough to spend money.

The financial blessing enables me to give more of my writing to the world, and maybe even bless my family with a little extra for household necessities.

So the branches of give and take grow even wider.

There is a step further a reader can go, they can share my work. By leaving a review, they bless my heart with words of encouragement, or maybe correction. Either way, there is give there. They give not only to me the writer but also to others who might read their review and decide if my work is worth the time to read it. So the branches of give and take grow even wider.

It becomes a circle when the writer takes in enough again to create something new. A cycle, and that cycle is a beautiful thing.

My personal place is that cycle changes. Sometimes I am the writer, but I also experience being the reader. I take in what other people create and give back to them. Another connection, a community of creativity.

When was the last time you gave?

What did you create? When was the last time you engaged? Did a writer’s words stir your emotions so much you had to share them? When was the last time you bought a book or artwork? Did you even know you are a part of a web of creative energy?

You are.

We all are.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef


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The Art of Remembering/The Edge of Humanity Magazine

I have always enjoyed learning about others, other cultures, other peoples, other places. The Edge of Humanity Magazine has been a great place to see glimpses of others, and their daily lives, through the photography, art, poetry, and articles they highlight. I particularly enjoy the art, and poetry.

Since it’s a magazine I have followed for quite a while, it thrilled me when they accepted my non-fiction piece ‘The Art Of Remembering’. They have added it to their Human Condition category, and I feel it’s found a great home there.

‘The Art Of Remembering’ was written in memory of my Grandfather. My fondest memories are of him working in his carpentry shop, making his own forms of Art. I encourage you to visit The Edge of Humanity’s Website, read my contribution, and also enjoy the huge library of humanity they share.

Mary Grace van der Kroef


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Six Word Story (47)

How often do we over look the things that hold us together? The threads that gently bind us into functional complexity…

Did you know, that YOU are someone’s thread?

We all touch each other in small ways that are overlooked. We hold each other together by actions, words, and prayers whispered out of earshot. Don’t be fooled by people’s silence. They are as unaware of their importance as you are of yours.

If we truly understood just how deeply we are all intertwined, it might prove to be a weight unbearable. Like a thread that is strong, but still not made to hold the entire weight of a body, we would snap. Thank God, we are not the only threads that bind.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Photo sourced from unsplash.com


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The Beauty of Fiction

Why do people make up stories that aren’t true? Why do we play with reality in search of a fantastical story line? Is there any worth to this nonsense?

First, there is worth in Rainbow unicorns… THEY ARE PRETTY! But I digress…

Why do we enjoy stories we know are just not true, could never be true, and never will be true?

One answer is, it’s just fun.

A good fiction story, regardless of genre, grabs us and takes us for a ride. A ride we can’t get from anywhere else. It’s just plain fun to go places we never will be able to in real life.

Second, they stretch something within us, and open doors to learning subtly. We get to explore times, environments, and possibilities all from the comfort of our favorite reading corners. We can dig through the mire of human existence without getting our hands dirty and gain an understanding of different peoples without risking life and limb.

We can learn to have the courage of Frodo in the middle of his fantasy. (The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.) The power of love, curiosity, and empathy live in stories like ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett. 

Of course, a book is not the equal of realm life experience, but there is real value to be gained from the trip through its pages.

A third case can be made for fiction, stretching the human mind to find possibilities. What would it be like to walk on the moon? Humans dreamt of it and wrote about it before we accomplished it. Sharing those dreams in different ways, one of them being through science fiction stories, helped build a collective desire to make it happen.

Stories and their telling, holds power, even fiction.

What is your favorite fiction story, and what did you learn from it? 

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef


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Six Word Story (46)

Many people are afraid of the night, and it’s true that menacing and dangerous things call it there home.

But not everything about it is evil. It was created for rest, not death.

Autumn is an in between. Its not night, but its also not daylight. Twilight, time that prepares us for rest, but still holds action.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Six Word Story (45)

Is there anything else like a good campfire, a friend with a guitar, a metal cup full of something warm, and…

learning to be present this this world.

Its a world God has gifted to us. Something to be cherished, something to be protected.

It’s beauty deepens when we share it together, as Church.

©2021 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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