15 July 2022

new fiction: Big Boat

My newest fiction is a short-short, "Big Boat," coming out in Cirque Journal, #24 Vol. 12 No 2. It is currently posted online at the journal's website: cirquejournal.com The print issue will be available in August, 2022. 

This story is a tribute piece I wrote in honor of Ernest Hemingway, specifically in response to Old Man and the Sea. It is not directly comparable, especially since my piece is 1000 words to Hemingway's 127-ish pages. But it was born alongside the novella.

Often when I am blocked from creativity, I return to my oldest influences. I re-read and re-write their work. What that looks like is me reading into the obscenely early hours of the morning after long days of teaching, and then transcribing by hand pages and pages of their work into regular lined-paper composition books, as if I am a displaced monk on a mission to transcribe the last copy in the universe. Writing this way gives me a feel for the rhythm of the author's words in a visceral, body-memory way by that physical capture of words up through the pencil and into my fingers. It's been some years now, but I discovered this practice worked to break me out of dead calm, so to speak.

It has also been interesting to discover (over time and two graduate degrees) how controversial it is to acknowledge Hemingway as an influence. For context, the full list of influences is radically diverse and multi-gendered. However, in review, my writing is often described as "masculine" or "Hemingway-esque," which I'll take as a compliment and also attribute more to my own masculinity rather than to the man himself. 

But it's more than a gender issue. I own my experience, and as such, it is irrefutable, and it is this: I connect to Hemingway's use of words and language of story that continues to inspire me to be a writer. I savor the sharp, specific details of place and time: deer-foot gun racks; ash piles of lye where the women once made soap; a trout flinging itself out of a river; a marlin out of the ocean; the expanse of an African savannah as wide as the sea; and the skies over Mt Kilimanjaro. 

Truth: a year ago, when I was stuck in a non-writing space, I returned to Hemingway. Read a ton of my favorite shorts and Old Man and the Sea. Then, starting from the beginning, I hand-wrote about half of the novella. Wrote enough pages to shake loose my own. A few weeks later, I had a new chapter for my novel and a new short story, "Big Boat." 

For that influence, I remain grateful. 

This month marks 61 years since Hemingway took his own life. I hope it's rest he's found. RIP.

"The clouds were building up now for the trade wind and he looked ahead and saw a flight of wild ducks etching themselves against the sky over the water, then blurring, then etching again and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea."

~ Ernest Hemingway, from Old Man and the Sea

31 May 2022

film release: Bad Bones

Watch this! Bad Bones is a new film by Scott Eggleston, now available on YouTube for full viewing. And it's free! I'm super excited for this film project and hope you enjoy it. 

Bad Bones is a scifi-horror-mystery written and directed by Scott Eggleston and features Chris Levine and Maddison Bullock.

Official website: badbonesmovie.com

A man and his dying wife move into a strange house with the hopes of healing her, but what does the house want in return?

14 February 2022

new novel excerpt: song on the corner

Cormoran Lodge on Lake Kivu, Rwanda
A new chapter from my novel in progress has been published in Coastal Shelf as a novel excerpt. It's another piece that follows the expatriate doctors in Rwanda. 

Dr. Gregg Marcus has seniority at the Teaching Hospital since he's been in Kigali longer than any of the other American docs. But he's not himself lately and has stepped down from leadership as Chief of Staff. He is haunted by memories of home in Idaho. 

Should he leave Rwanda? What would become of his work at the Teaching Hospital? What becomes of a home once no one is left to live in it? 

--- (excerpt)

And don’t look at the sun. Bryce repeated the rules. It’s like 300 billion-billion mega- watts. Gregg was twelve. They’d cut class to watch the partial eclipse, and Bryce “borrowed” a welding shield from his shop class at the high school. They held the dark glass to the sky and took turns peering at the sun. The round, black shadow of the moon slid in from one side to scoop out the light, and the sun became a gold bowl that tipped up one side and rolled down the other.

No cheating. It’ll fry your retinas in an instant, Bryce said.

The danger made Gregg’s blood rush in his ears. It felt naughty or holy to stand on the edge of the canal behind the junior high school and feel the weight of the planet up through the soles of his feet.

You’ve never seen anything, until you’ve seen the sun through the rings of Saturn,
he quoted his favorite Saturday Afternoon Creature Feature.
Bryce laughed but not in a mean way. Whoa there, Melting Man. You’d sooner fall down a ladder and wake up dead than melt like a toasted cheese sandwich.

Gregg was no longer scared, and he never thought his brother wouldn’t always be there for him.

Read the whole story at Coastal Shelf: Song on the Corner

"And when he shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars."

    ~ Shakespeare, from Romeo and Juliet 

20 January 2022

writing workshop: going vertical

Join me and a small group of writers February 3 and February 10 for a two-part, online workshop about a creative writing strategy I call "vertical movement." New and experienced writers are welcome. We're going to read, write, and talk about creating depth in your fiction with this writing strategy. 

This is an interactive workshop series. I'll ask you to read two short stories, write to several prompts during our Zoom sessions, and complete one short, take-home assignment to bring to the second session for an interactive workshop review with your peers. 

This online workshop is part of the regular series of creative writing classes sponsored by The Stacks Coffeehouse (Thanks, Stacks!) Cost for both days is $40. 

Register online at The Stacks Coffeehouse:

If you have any questions about the workshop, post them in the comments section below or message me on my FB page: facebook.com/Sherri.H.Hoffman. I'm always happy to hear from other writers.