Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Splish splash, spark in the dark

We just got power back.
Thank you Mary Mother of God and I'm not even Catholic. 

The quiet was unnerving at first but it was nice, and a pain in the ass to be part of the universal struggle to keep the frozen, frozen and cold, cold. I can handle any of it except not being able to flush. We filled the tubs, and we bailed to flush but really, I mean really, we are so accustomed to electricity to pump away the food our bodies rent.

All around my town houses are off foundations, walls washed away and lives forever changed, just like last year. They fixed then and they will fix again, the unfixable wrath of mother nature.

I stood on our town beach today and watched the waves pounding against the seawalls and foundations of the homes, the homes that were left. "The sea...she was angry".
It was beautiful and it was a message,"Treat me better," she says, "or else I'll do this to you all over again".

My husband and one of my my son-in-laws are off to deliver the extra ice and water we have left, to friends who are still in the dark. My youngest daughter and her new husband drove the ice and water here to us from Massachusetts, 2 1/2 hours away. They helped us cut the downed trees which blocked our driveway and our country road. My daughters and their husbands are amazing.

Soon a line will be forming outside my bathroom doors so friends can wash away the detritus of the last couple of days. My empty nest bedrooms will be full tonight, come on in, you're all welcome.

Gloria, in the dark for eight days.
Irene, in the dark for three days.
Sandy, 24 hours.
We were lucky this time, very, very lucky.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Remembering, what you forgot to forget

Childhood, a 100 yard dash to gone.

Heads up young parents, you think you get it but you don't. At least your kids' childhood is saved on a sim card. All we have is a box of old photos, a few VCR tapes and our own memories. No matter the volume, it's never enough.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Spin baby spin

Every morning I check my horoscope on two websites. Hardly ever are they in sync and if they are it’s usually me drawing a distant parallel between the two so that the positive nature of the message may better form my day. 

I am a planner; I like to know what’s going to happen and this daily joke-book look into my future opens the curiosity door for a few minutes. It doesn’t pattern my day, like stepping on the scale once did, but it reminds me of the wonder of what we simply do not understand about ourselves.

Like, why do good people suffer and bastards win the lottery? How is it that there can be so many opinions about just one thing? Why is it that when somebody is really nice, I’m suspect of their motives; maybe they are just being nice? And, when our stomachs are full why do we ask for more?

I want more; I want everything, is that so bad? I’m humble enough to ask, why me and realistic enough to ask, why not me? Maybe what we are is nothing more than mice scrambling up the pegs of a roulette wheel while the gods take a spin. Some of us hold on to the same life-long peg and never let go and some of us jump from peg to peg thinking that movement discerns the outcome. I have come to realize that sitting still or scrambling has nothing to do with which number comes up; it’s the spin baby, it’s the ride around the circle that life is about. 

But I wonder when I click on my sign, for just a fleeting moment I think, this is the day. This is the day the heavens will open up, the angels will sing and the sweet syrup of dreams fulfilled will flow across my plate, for me, for my family and for mankind. 

Pancakes, now I’m in the mood for pancakes. What are you having for breakfast?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Jump back in

Yesterday, Sunday, was an amazing day, sunny, a bit windy yet calm by demeanor, if days have a demeanor. My husband went fishing early, the house was mine, and clean, so I didn’t have a long list of to-dos…I could do anything I wanted and what I wanted to do was write. 

All finished in my mind, and with little actually written, I had set aside my latest book. The decision of whether to continue has been rattling around in my head like a monotonous chorus and melody playing over and over in my mind; should I, or shouldn’t I? Because the ideas, to continue or quit, were so prevalent I knew not to dismiss either the pro or the con. A few days before, I read a comment from a writer I often see jumping in here and there as I wander from blog to blog. She suggested I reread my original post about the book and try to grasp that new-found enthusiasm. 

I did.

And on Sunday I recaptured all the characters and plot and ideas and gathered them at my kitchen table for a conference. With beautiful music playing in the background I began again. This time, I didn’t write what I thought someone else might want to read, I didn’t write ‘proper’, I wrote in a voice which is characteristically mine. Is the main character me, thank God no, but she sounds like me, she says fuck and shit, she laughs and she cries, just like I do.

I spent Sunday writing about her ‘discovery of place’ and as I did I cried because what she was going through was so tragic and heartbreaking…I couldn’t help but recall my own setbacks. Were the scenes overly sentimental, do they manipulate the reader’s heart, are they depressing, no they are none of those things because I don’t like to enter the heart of the reader just so I may break it later. I like to warm the heart, inform the mind in a wide-eyed way and make readers smile after the ugly-cry.  

Ten pages.

Doesn’t sound like much but what I did was rediscover the wonderful world handed to me by the little voices in my head, and the mysterious place from which stories come, during a ten minute ride in my car.

When the movie is made, J is invited to the screening. I never would have restarted if it weren’t for her.

Think of your last amazing day of creating another world and how good you felt while giving birth to it. Just think about it, you certainly don’t have to share it here. Remember the magic, than pass it on somewhere, so another writer teetering on the edge of the next ten pages, might use it as a platform for a high-dive to a realized dream.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Legacy in glass

Years ago I was a designer of stained glass windows.  There are only certain cuts you can make with glass; cuts create weakness, so the technical part of the craft has to be designed in as if no weaknesses exist. It’s a tricky art form because the limitations of the glass create artistic boundaries you must observe. These rules constrict artistic license, deviate from them and your work eventually destroys itself.  

Once the drawing was done, the project always felt finished in my mind. I saw it complete, back-lit, in all its glory. Then and only then did I have to plant ass in chair, take glass-cutter in hand and begin to build, cut, grind, wrap and solder. When complete it was always more beautiful than what had existed in my mind or in the drawing on my table. 

I’ve designed and built, glass pieces as diminutive as jewelry, and as massive as a series of eight themed windows for a church, each window 3 feet by 12 feet. Those windows were not only a challenge because of their size but also because of their theme. Everything within the design was symbolic. Fitting those symbols in, with the limitations presented, became a test for me, was I good enough, could I do it? I not only drew the ‘pretty-pictures’ I helped cut the glass and assemble. My designs worked. They are some of the grandest of my achievements. For generations to come I know people will sit in that church and during times of great personal turmoil they will be comforted by the blueprints which flowed from my heart. When the minister drones on and on they will study the glass because that’s what you do in church when you are bored and done with prayers. In the reflected colors of those windows they will weep in grief and joy and they will feel whole again because of their faith and because around them symbols in glass, and the tradition of their beliefs, washes their souls. My windows, my legacy, designed with respect for their God. 

Writing is like designing and building those windows. There are confines and rules and yet writing allows me to step outside my studio, to run my pencil off the page and think outside the sketch-pad.  In fact if I do not reach beyond that boundary the work destroys itself. When the story is in my mind I see it done and then it’s time to plant ass in chair and fingers on the keyboard and cut, grind, wrap and solder the words together until the project is finished. The monumental task of writing a book is like filling that church with colorful symbolic light and images. Only when the window of the last page is held vertical does the light shine through and the symbols and the colors of the story come to life.

Words are my legacy now. My art form is not limited to windows in walls, and when someone weeps or smiles or finds joy from something I have written, it is like a legacy in glass. What are your art forms, what is your legacy?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Another Divine Caroline piece

My new philosophy of life; I wish I had figured this out years ago.

After the piece was published I found a couple of places to edit, went in and tried...oh well, maybe it worked, maybe it didn't. Enjoy.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A warm place to write

As I sit here, thinking about what to write, I settle back into my chair and contemplate my surroundings. Glances outside, to staring ahead inside, helps me to realize how lucky I am to have a warm place to write.
My kitchen table is a portal to other worlds for me, forward in time, back; my characters my own life and that of my family, sit at this table. Ahead of me on the wall above the stove a large rooster plate lit by the light under the fan hood. I should name that cock because like Mary’s picture on the bed in Under the Tuscan Sun, my kitchen-kock watches over me.

I am safe here and warm and all around me are things to spur me along, people to support my muse and a wealth of memories as grist.

I can write anywhere, with almost any amount of chaos swirling around me, but if I’m here, at this table, ass in this chair, with indoor plumbing only a room away, my journey is easier and more comfortable.

For someone who talks too much and doesn’t ask enough, a question, where best do you write?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Spot of Tea

I read a post and a link from Nathan Bransford about what it’s like to be a literary agent. http://www.themillions.com/2012/08/a-right-fit-navigating-the-world-of-literary-agents.html
In my mind I pared down what the author, Michael Bourne said, to one thing. That the odds of getting one of my two completed novels to be picked up by the agent he was interviewing, at 1 in 11,111.

 I cried myself to sleep after reading that.

Have I queried that agent, not sure but one of the agents in that office is in my top 5, he was very gracious and helpful when I queried him. I’ve been rejected by many of the best and most of the unknown. I’ve been told my fiction isn’t ready, I’ve been told it’s phenomenal but not the right fit. So what is it?
It got me to thinking, I mean really thinking, because I am in the process of writing my third book; is it worth the effort? When I think back to what it has taken to complete my books, query, and wait and dream, get pissed off and cry, it just breaks my heart.

I don’t normally compare writing a book with having a baby but many writers do. I now understand why. To have such high hopes for your child only to see it go nowhere, to languish and die, even though it had so much potential, is awful.  To think that the potential I dreamed about was faulty just rips my heart out.
It’s not like I’m unpublished, I’m out there, past and present, it’s not as if I’ve never experienced the highs of writing success relative to my market and ability; I’m a minnow in a mud puddle dreaming of being a big-ass fish in Lake ‘fucking’ Superior. It’s that the monetary success in writing what I write, and exposure of what I write, is even harder to achieve than the fiction I’ve been peddling for seven years.
So what do I do?

I’m a Maxwell House girl but as I write this I’m thinking of a kind of British tea and term.
“Stay Calm and Carry On.”  I shall with a tear in my eye.