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Respect

A dry drum.
Steady rain.
Measured footsteps.
Taps.
Distant thunder.

Sounds from Arlington
11Nov2020

 

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The Princess Gang rolled into the cul-de-sac on the same day Mr. B’s plum tree decided to bloom.

That’s the first line from a story that started flowing yesterday. Remembering, of course, that (say it with me) all first drafts are crap, it’ll obviously go through some revisions, but the important thing is that it was followed by a thousand words of a quiet little story that’s been pinballing around my brain for over a year.

The reason I share this is because nothing like this has happened for a long, long time.

Yes, I’ve written some fiction in the past handful of years. Most of it has been in posts on this very blog—vignettes, word imagery, poems—all meant for immediate consumption. I’ve also been slugging my way through a championship bout with a new novel which, though reportedly of good quality (especially for a first draft), has been the most difficult fiction project of my life. But a short story, a for-real short story? It’s been years. The last one I wrote was “The Book of Solomon.” It’s good, and it found a home in The Timberline Review, but I wrote that story years ago, and there has been zip-a-dee-doo-dah since.

Then yesterday: Boom. My pen began to work. My brain began to conjure. It was like my voice suddenly returned after a decade of muted trauma.

Why? (more…)

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A number of years ago, my neighbor expressed an interest in my books. Being the  new-author-hungry-for-any-attention sort of guy, I gave her a copy of the first three books in my Fallen Cloud Saga. (No, I wasn’t being stingy; it’s all that had been published at the time.)

My neighbor never mentioned the books again—not a good sign—so, as per my usual practice, I never brought up the subject again.

Fast-forward a dozen years. (more…)

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———

the cat and I eat twice a day

I serve her before myself

a rule I learned from a rabbi

and she finishes her meal

before I even sit down

covering the leftovers

with invisible leaves before

returning to the maintenance of her fur

or to toy with a dirty sock

panther-dragged from room to room

as she mutters disconsolate subtext

I used to think the rabbi’s rule was meant to instill

respect for our animals

a lesson in responsibility

empathy for those in our care

but now I understand

it’s merely to avoid

her judgmental eyes

———

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This is what momentum looks like.

Despite work deadlines, two days down with a stomach bug, a major financial planning session, and getting a windshield replaced, I still managed to get another scene completed and entered. This was Scene 3 (begun last week), which ends Chapter/Day One, and it was the first time for a couple of things.

(more…)

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Writing on the novel continues, albeit slowly. In the middle of Scene 3, now.

In talking to my wife about my struggle, I mentioned that it felt like I’ve broken through a barrier, and that both my interest and enthusiasm had increased, to which she responded with a question: why is that?

I honestly hadn’t thought about why—I was just glad it was—but it engendered an interesting discussion.

Last week, I posted about how in this character-driven novel, I must engage in a lot more forethought. As I explained, writing about how a character reacts to action is a lot easier than writing about their motivation before that action is undertaken. That reality hasn’t changed, certainly not in the last week or so.

What has changed, though, is that I’m finally getting a handle on who my characters are.

This is a critical point, for me.

I’ve built and rebuilt my characters’ backstories close to a dozen times. I’ve changed family structure, occupations, names (lots and lots of names), affiliations, history, and well, damned near everything except their gender. I’ve also worked and reworked my outline, refining it, bringing in subplots, dropping subplots, chucking extraneous secondary characters, tightening it all up.

So, when I started writing, I had a pretty good handle on where my main characters had been and where they were headed.

All set, right?

Wrong.

(more…)

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Progress on my book has been slow—not stopped, just slow—but I choose to view this as a good thing.

After years of thrashing about and achieving zero forward movement, I’m finally getting words on paper (yes, literally; I’m a longhand writer). Last night I finished the second scene, and now that it’s all keyed in and backed up, I decided to reflect a bit and see if I could identify the reasons why I’m having such a tough time building momentum.

It didn’t take long to find several culprits, including a slew of bad habits that I’ve developed during the fallow years. While I certainly have to deal with those bad habits, they’re specific to me and my life, and thus irrelevant to writing, per se, so I’ll skip discussing them here. Two issues, however, I think are worth discussing, as other writers may experience something similar. (more…)

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