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Posts Tagged ‘creative writing’

It’s been a helluva week.

At work, I had all my tasks back-burnered by “walk-on” issues, I called in chits to get assistance from team members who’ve moved on to greener pastures, and I yelled at my boss in an open meeting (no profanity, and no actual “yelling,” per se, but my blood was definitely up).

At home, I tested a new recipe, answered my correspondence, got a chance to playtest a new boardgame, and (after days of back and forth texts) finally got the contractor to agree on a date to start work fixing the back stairs.

But it was my Work-In-Progress that really did me in.

I sat down with what I have written so far and the current outline, and took a look forward. Even though this novel has so far been the hardest for me to write, all indications are that the real struggle is going to be getting it up to a decent novel-length, a realization that thoroughly depressed me. I mean, it’s hard enough to sell a novel these days, but selling a thin novel is likely to be even harder.

There are thin novels out there, true, but in general they’re either classics (when the expectations of novel length were different), or they’re written by established authors. Neither of those cases pertains to me, a modern writer with only modest credits to my name. Word counts of my previous books have all been in the 90–120k range—standard for their genres—but this one looks like it’s going to be closer to 60k.

Some of you may scoff at my struggle to reach 60,000 words. “Pish tosh,” you say. “I know folks who can write 20k in a weekend.”

I know some of those writers, as well.

I am not one of those writers.

In my head, the novel already exists. I know where I’m going, I know how it will all be resolved. But I am not Zeus, and things do not sprout fully formed from my mortal noggin. Putting the words down is torturous, as my desires and my failing confidence vie in a battle royale. Even the good review the WIP got from First Reader cannot cure that malady. It’s why NaNoWriMo is such a turn-off for me; it requires a skill that, try as I might, I cannot acquire, much less master. This book especially, with its new genre and its intensely personal content, has been very difficult to write.

And yet, I want to write it. I want to finish it. I want it to be read.

I also want to sell it, so it can reach more readers than I can garner on my own, but that will be a long hill to climb.

First, though, I have to finish the damned thing.

k

 

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This past holiday weekend, we broke with our stay-cation tradition and took a little getaway to a lovely place, a re-purposed US Army base on the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula.

But I don’t want to talk about the place, not right now. Instead, I want to share what we did while we were there. (Don’t worry, it’s SFW.)

Regular readers may have wondered what the hell is happening with my current Work-In-Progress, my dual-timeline novel set in Seattle. And you’ve had good reason to wonder. (more…)

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Last month
daily life was bland and insufficient
and my dreams
ranged far from home
smelled the sun-hot wind along Judean hills
tasted fruit sweet and warm from the Tuscan sun
shivered in the Celtic chill of dew-dazzled moors

Last week
a stroke threw veils across my eyes
and now my dreams
stay close to home
sit by the ticking, midnight embers
feel the gentle warmth of her hand
smile at the familiar curves of her face

I found this poem while cleaning out a storage closet. It was written circa 2011, following a clot that damaged my sight for a few months, an experience that I documented in my mini-memoir, Cryptogenesis. I don’t remember writing it, but I’m glad I tucked it away in our undercroft.


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I was three years old—it seems a world away, now—sitting in the front room, looking out the big window.

Our house on Oak Drive was a two-story affair on the uphill side of the street, and from my vantage I could look down on the massive junipers that bordered our small yard. When I played beneath them, they would tower over me, reach for me with scented claws, and dust me with clouds of pollen so that, when Mother called, I would come inside covered in red weals, begrimed with a patina of yellow, and redolent of resin. (more…)

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Today
I turned aside
from tragedies and trials
and sought instead
quiet marvels.

Today
I heard the winds of Mars
a thrum felt in the feet
a whistle filled with loneliness,
and heard Tesla coils singing
of sorrow and shame
in a house called
The Rising Sun.

Today
I saw a phoenix
rising in auroral hues
across Arctic skies,
and saw bridges of fire
Strombolian rage
spanning the Sicilian night.

Today
I felt the warmth of the sun
captured in the cat’s fur
as she slept by the window,
and then felt fingers go numb
as I worked outside where that same sun
provided light but no heat.

Today
I tasted watercress,
crisp and green and sharp and cold
fresh from my garden,
and tasted the salty age
of succulent panes
shaved from a joint that spent years
in a Spanish cave.

Today
the world holds more wonders
than we can possibly imagine
but they exist if we choose
to seek them.

k

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For decades now, a ginger-haired girl has lived near us. Not the same girl, mind you. We’ve lived in three places in the past thirty years and, at each address, a ginger-haired girl has lived a few houses down, across the street, or around the corner. There has only been one such girl living near us at any particular time, as if there is some sort of limit on how many redheads a neighborhood can sustain.

I’ve never spoken to any of these girls, aside from chitchat about costumes on Hallowe’en night, but nevertheless, I’ve gleaned something about their character, their personality.

When we lived up in Richmond Beach, there was the young redhead who we only saw as she ran by our house. I never, ever saw her walk. She only ran, a blur of that grew ever taller as the years went by. To school, from school, out to meet friends, coming home from play. Run, run, run, faster each year, as her legs grew longer and her speed increased.

She is Energy. Vitality. Eagerness.

For the past dozen years or so, there’s a girl with wild, ginger hair who lives behind us. From our kitchen window I can see the swing set in her yard and a day does not go by where I do not see her out there, kicking her way, to and fro, through the upended arc. She swings rain or shine, heat or cold. Her hair, once left wild, has now been tamed by Beats headphones. It is her haven there, alone on that swing.

She is Focus. Solitude. Diffidence.

And then there was the little girl who lived across the street for a few years. Vivacious and vocal, she was a true individual, as full of questions and unpredictability as only a seven-year old can be.

There is one day I remember clearly. It was December, closing in on Christmas, and it had snowed, just a few inches, just enough to give the world that magical, unsullied patina. I was on the treadmill, listening to McCreary’s “Passacaglia,” a serene piece for strings in 3/4 time, and I noticed our redheaded neighbor out in her yard, walking with a friend. The two girls were bundled up, wearing swing coats and knitted caps. The redhead’s parents had put up, along with the strings of lights along the eaves, a giant inflatable snowman on their lawn. The snowman, with carrot nose and top hat, rocked gently in the breeze.

The two girls, hand in mittened hand, walked across the snowy lawn and up to the snowman. They stopped a few feet from his round belly, both looking up at his face. It was an idyllic picture, and the music made a perfect soundtrack.

Until the ginger-haired girl, this sweet, inquisitive tyke, stepped up to the inflated giant, and began kicking the crap out of him. Her friend clapped her hands and ran forward to join the assault. Together, the two girls kicked and kicked, little boots punishing, snow flying. The snowman wobbled under their attack, reeling side to side against his guy wires. The girls continued the onslaught and the snowman began to sag, one side crumpling, his painted smile belying the tragedy as he slowly sank down onto the trampled snow until only his top hat remained upright.

Hand in hand once more, the girls walked up to the house and went inside, leaving me stunned, gaping, caught between laughter and mild horror, as the passacaglia finished.

She is Chaos. Complexity. Unrepentance.

Redheads. Go figger.

k

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We keep it out
shunned
banished
beyond the electric glare
past heavy curtains
behind double-glazed panes

We fear
its cold
its dark
its unspoken secrets

I say
open the drapes
shut the lights
put flame to a candle’s wick
and let it in

Invite the night inside
forget its chill
forgive its inky mien
offer it a seat
and pour a wee dram

Enjoy its quiet
the stillness of its nature
and listen closely
as it whispers
of secrets
eager to be known

Let it in

—————-

k

Moon and Cedar

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