Posted in Craft of writing, fiction, Travel Writing, Workshops, Writing exercises, Writing Workshops

Flash Fiction

The Story Behind the Story 

The story behind a story, I recently had published The City that Stole His Daughter, offers insight into the kind of an exercise that can stoke the imagination of a writer.

The Exercise 

In Rolf Potts‘ course, Travel Writing as Memoir, in October 2019 sponsored by Santa Fe Workshops, he set before us a “pyschogeography” exercise to prompt the imagination as a flaneur, wandering not so aimlessly through the streets of San Miguel de Allende.

We were to select a color — I picked blue. Wander the street to find the first instance of the color while walking the streets and follow it until it disappeared or ran out of sight. Then pick up the next element of blue and follow it until I walked past it or it fell out of sight. Again and again until a story or fragments came into being.

 The Outcome

This process led me to notice a man on a park bench with his hat tipped to shade the sun with a big fat yellow lab asleep underneath. I imagined he had come to the city to see an adult son or daughter who had left the countryside for a better way of life.

I sauntered to a yellow coffee shop with a lavender blue door and shutters, Lavanda, for lemonade and asked for the owner. The manager, Karla, came to visit me about where they purchased their lavender and leapt to the topic of “specialty” coffee.

I recall her excitement as she told me, “Our coffee is fair trade. It is good for the farmer, the roasters, the coffee shop, and our clients. It is a win-win for everyone. It makes a good economy for our community. When asked by customers if our coffee is organic, I must tell that that ‘Yes, it is farmed without pesticides and with the old ways of tilling the fields and harvesting, but sadly no, our government does not regulate for an organic label’.”

When I combined the image of the old man and my imagined story of him with the enthusiasm of Karla about speciality coffee, I had my story.

The Resulting Story

I have submitted the story to contests and for publication several times, revised it each time a bit, and then won honorable mention by WOW! Women on Writing in early 2020 but it was not published. I submitted it for review and feedback by Flash Fiction Magazine and then received substantial recommendations to make changes. They published my 1000-word flash fiction, The City that Stole His Daughter, this week, August 18, 2020. Thanks to Flash Fiction Magazine.

Posted in journal writing, Travel Writing, Workshops, Writing Workshops

Treat Yourself to a Writing Retreat

Why go to a “travel journal writing retreat” while traveling? Why not? What better time? Why not here (Isla Mujeres, Mexico) and now (February 7)?

Why?

Get inspired to write your nightly notes or scribbled itinerary or captured conversations while in route. During the “Travel Touchstones: Transformative Travel through Creative Journal Writing” workshop, discover new techniques to trap your memories on paper in words and sketches. Share your journal writing experiences with other travelers. Explore multiple journal writing tools and techniques to use, as well as identify topics you might not have thought to pursue.

Why Not?

You are on a break from your day-to-day routine. This is when you are more open to taking in new perspectives on your travel, your world back home, and/or who you are and want to become.

What better time?

Travel time provides the perfect circumstance for nourishing your creativity. You have more flexible time. Different scenery offers new outlooks. Various people (you might not otherwise spend time with) come and go temporarily from whom you can learn.

Why not here and now?

The Red Buddha yoga studio serves as lovely, soulful place for a writing retreat in Isla Mujeres, Mexico; February 7, 6-9pm. The three-hour workshop costs $50 USD (or equivalent pesos), a bargain for the fun of spending time with like-minded folks and for the years of enhanced journal writing experiences you will log.

Transformative travel happens when …

  • sojourners anticipate, mentally rehearse, and build expectations for the future;
  • explorers experience places, people, and circumstance that challenge and test them;
  • adventurers return home with stories that have transformed their thinking, actions, and perspectives.

For more workshop information, click below.

 announcement-of-isla-feb-7-workshop

Posted in journal writing, Travel, Travel Writing

Upcoming Workshops in Texas and Mexico

Travel Touchstones: Transformative Travel through Creative Journal Writing

 

I had always thought that travel books and travel writers were all about where to go and how to get there. “Been there, done it, got the t-shirt” mentality. But the following quote from Arthur Frommer dispelled my thinking.

“The only things that interest me are people and ideas. I love going on trips that shock me, where everything I believe in my religion, my politics, my social outlook is immediately challenged with diametrically different viewpoints.” – Arthur Frommer

Frommer took his interest in people and ideas and turned it into an international travel business. His advice is one way to start thinking about the Travel Touchstones workshop, where we attempt to turn standard excursions into transformative travel.

How? Several ways.

  1. Anticipate (play out in our mind or rehearse) what you may encounter and decide how you want to experience what lies in front of you. Often setting a ‘theme’ for your travel may be sufficient to help you get more from the journey into the world. What do I mean by theme? Choosing a cultural phenomenon, like the place of food in the French lifestyle, to investigate as you meet people, eat in restaurants, or shop in grocery stores. Or say, select something about yourselves you want to explore, like notice when you feel threatened, defensive, or uncomfortable and why.
  2. Learn to pay attention to the little things. Use your senses to experience all there is along the way. Not just through the eye of the camera, but sounds and scents, textures and tastes. Note how children are viewed by the country’s culture. Watch for body language in place of verbal attempts. Put your brain and your senses on high alert to help you experience more than you typically would.
  3. Discover what kind of journal writing tools you want and need for the particular journey, find journal writing techniques that make it fast and fun and fulfilling to write, and anticipate topics and themes you may want to pursue. With tools, techniques, and topics in your toolkit, you are ready to hit the road.

These are the three key areas that participants will explore in the upcoming “Travel Touchstones: Transformative Travel through Creative Journal Writing” workshops.

Dates and Locations 

Saturday, January 14, 1-4 pm;  Kerrville, Texas

Tuesday, February 7, 6-9 pm; Isla Mujeres, Mexico, at the Red Buddha Studio

Join me and others to learn how to enjoy transformative travel through creative journal writing. For details and registration, email me at rwileyjones@gmail.com.

 

Posted in Travel

Buyer Beware: Booking a Flight on Volaris

Recently, I decided on a lark to go with two girlfriends, Cathy and Jenn to Tuxtla and San Cristóbal, Mexico from Cancun. They already had their flights reserved, so I went in to make my arrangements. Buyer beware: then fly Volaris®.

Volaris®, the Mexican airline with the best fares (their claim, not mine), is a budget airline. It offers a low fee, then you add on services you desire. But as you can imagine some of those add-ons get buried.

I could see that Volaris®had automatically added “seat selection” ($10) and “flight insurance” ($8) to my bottom line. However, it was not until the next page that those options were offered. So I had to uncheck them.

The website developers at Volaris® made the “flight insurance” readily obvious. (I recommend flight insurance to anyone, unless you have adequate credit card insurance coverage, which I did) So I disabled the “add-on”.

The Volaris® developers hid the “seat selection” much deeper. I had to call Jenn to help me find that. Interestingly, the amount of $6 each way would have totalled $12, not $10 they charged me. That anomaly aside, I disabled the add-on for a reduction in my fare of $18.00.

Volaris® offered a 20% discount if flying internationally or within Mexico from February 4-March 31 and purchased by February 8. I met all the criteria, but Volaris®did not provide a “promo code” box, nor did the airline apply the 20% off to the fare. I purchased the ticket without the discount, because I didn’t know if there would be seats later, if I questioned the airline first. It was still a good deal, but not the $15-20 dollars I could have saved.

I have now written Volaris® asking for the 20% discount off my fare. In total, I have spent about an hour working for that flight reservation and discount refund. I am awaiting their reply; and am hopeful.

With all of that said, I still recommend Volaris® as a budget airline. I flew with them last year from Cancun to San Miguel de Allende without problems. If you know what to expect, if you are willing to be a savvy shopper, and if you take the time, you can fly inexpensively with one to two small bags without checking them.

Buyer beware: then fly Volaris®.