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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

respite



I have very quietly put the lid on the hot basket of snakes that is my first rough draft. I'm going to sing them to sleep for a few days and lose myself in a book I've wanted to read for some time. "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving.

Monday, November 16, 2015

~shit~



When you get to that place where you realize that a pivotal scene is as bad as any network TV crap you've seen a thousand times and has to be hacked out and burned and you knew it when you roughed it out.

Friday, October 30, 2015

invasion

While I'm supposed to be thinking about the final chapters of the current book, the bones and nerves of another have been rattling around in my empty head.

Not the story so much as the characters. Anxious, they are, that I not leave them in limbo. Again.

taking notes.

Monday, October 26, 2015

action!

          They took the stairs down three flights, then a long hallway to the elevators. So far there were no sounds of alarm, no sirens. Anna went directly to the restroom and, finding it empty, pulled Jack inside behind her. His bow tie was undone, the top stud missing from his shirt.  He pulled a paper towel, wet it and wiped Ray’s blood from her forehead.
         “You are going to have to get rabies shots, babe.” he said, as she took a stud from the bottom of  the dress shirt and moved it to the top position.

“Here, turn around, I can’t tie this looking at you.” He turned and looked into the mirror as she reached over his shoulders and tied the bow tie by feel, her head down. She pressed close against his back and he could feel her pulse, slow and steady, the chill of her body.

“Are you okay?” he said watching her fingers blindly but deftly pull the sculpted ribbon of black cloth back to perfection under his chin. No answer. “Anna?”

She looked up over his shoulder at his reflection, her eyes intense under the fluorescent lights. She was shivering, right at that place where she could break down or bypass her emotions as if they belonged to someone else. She did what she was best at and lied to herself out loud.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

from MIM

Do we really remember or do we conjure up the magical past?


   Well after dark Bea leaned back in the wet clover and considered the stars which were largely obscured by the yellow wash of the street light. She also considered shooting out that street light. One well placed shooting aggie should do the trick, but she wasn't that good a shot and a miss would probably take out the Republics plate glass window. Mr. Mckinley had enough to worry about. Brucie would come talk to her if he felt like it, stars or no. She was patient.

  Since Brucie died, his mother, Audra, had taken to passing out drunk in any number of public places; the grocery store, the lobby of the post office and, just last week, Nell found her laying flat on the sidewalk halfway up Maple avenue, her butt on the high curb and her legs sticking out in the street like a dead goat. Lord only knows how many passersby clucked their tongues and made note that she had gone out with no drawers on.  Nell dragged her back onto the sidewalk, but couldn't lift her up onto the bus bench.
   
"She was like a sack of wet cement." she told Mack. Nell tucked Audra's bag under her head and left her posed decently, as if laid out in lavender, and went down the block to fetch her husband.

The whole town pitied her loss, but folks were fresh out of patience with her public drunkenness. If it hadn't been for Nell, Audra would have laid there until a patrol car came by or someone else ran over her sunburned legs. Mack returned to the bus stop with Nell and between the two of them, they were able to haul Mrs. M across the back seat of the Ford where she hummed to herself and then sat up and announced "I have to pee." And she did.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Thursday, September 24, 2015

There has to be a word for it. The buzz that you get from popping out a really great scene and the two or three days that you coast on that buzz doing nothing else.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

-

Sometime in the night the sandman sent me someone else's dream, which I will savor and ponder. That- and the clean, fresh air  woke me.

I don't even want to try and write it down because that never works. I might fixate on details like the young man's bright blue eyes, red-rimmed with the struggle to not cry, his blondish hair, six months overgrown beyond what must have been something stylish. His loss so clear on his face that I didn't even ask what had become of  his children's mother. An Ikea cafeteria of all places.

It's easy to paint with words. Much more difficult to capture the tone and tenor a dream; the dreams that leave you wondering why. They had to have been intended for another so why bother.

Monday, July 6, 2015

painting

Places with "the best kept secret" in front of their names never lasted long and they avoided them. This place was only known as 'the Mill' and didn't even have a listing in the Yellow Pages. Out front, steak and seafood at it's basic best. The bar was a warmly lit island with half of the twelve seats occupied by regulars on any night of the week. On the far side of the bar, the glassed-in dance floor extended out on pilings into the bay and was presided over by a pre-war Wurlitzer with no new music in it since 1965. The place had more than class. It was a time machine and since the past was Anna's realm, Jack let her take him there.

The bartender saw them coming in and spread a stack of quarters in a glittering arc on the end of the bar knowing that his tips would more than triple this evening. The man in the black slacks and dress shirt, sleeves rolled casually up his muscled forearms, would seat the striking woman at a table off to the side where they could both see the door. He'd order dinner and drinks and then they would take the dance floor. No one ever joined them as they moved around to the music of yesterday. Stardust. Artie Shaw. Benny Goodman and Moonglow.

"When are we now Anna?" He pulled her closer to him as if he could read more into her answers that way. She danced with her eyes closed, relying on his.

"It's 1941. Your leave is up and you head back to Pearl."

"As in Pearl Harbor?" 

"Yes. To the West Virginia."

"Damn. That don't bode well. Guess I survived?"

"It doesn't matter. We are here." She knew he could tell her nothing about her future. Now was all they had.

"And what about you?" he said quietly.

"I have no idea. I only know the life I've lived so far." 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

progress

From a printed synopsis I've been able to shuffle scenes around so things start making sense, see the gaping holes where I've kidded myself with "I'll flesh that out later" and killed a few gems of self-indulgence babbling


It's really too raw to call it a rough draft, but I don't know a better word for it.


Now the idle traffic light diversion is finding a title. Can you imagine? All this time having no name for a project that's taken up so much mental energy?


I used to look at a textile piece in progress and the title would pop out of my mouth without a bead of sweat forming on my brow!



Saturday, June 13, 2015

the wet office

All I need now is one of those giant baseball glove floats. The water has finally warmed up to the point where I can stand in it for a few hours with papers and such spread out on the decking, radio, drinks..all the amenities and I'm not sitting on my ass.  No computer of course, but that's not a terrible thing.


I finally printed out a synopsis and spent my time shuffling scenes around and noting which ones needed more work. Lot's of work. I've been foot dragging over this for a while now and it felt good to get it done.

There is a glimmer of this going on:  "Saying Goodbye"'

PS
HOLY SHIT! 230 single spaced pages, 138K words plus forty pages of notes to be added in. It's looking like a rough draft!

Monday, June 8, 2015

wherein the author bores herself.


The view from my office is not exactly inspirational, but it will do as a place to get things done - mostly in the form of transcribing notes that I've jotted down at every stoplight I come to.

What part of the brain is it that comes alive when I am driving on autopilot and listening to the same well-worn playlist on my ancient I-pod? It makes me long for the days of 1.55 per gallon gas. Then I was preoccupied with bitchin' about that too.

I haven't been walking as much as I want to. It's getting very hot earlier in the day here and the pool is final warm enough to get into.

It's time for a change of routine. I'm dragging my feet over writing key scenes - the ones of heavy conflict, murder and mayhem. A change of scenery would be welcome, but not likely to happen anytime soon.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

thank you Mad Men


I've waited a couple of days to write anything about the finale of Mad Men just so that I wouldn't be assassinated by some stalker for spilling any spoilers. Not here, btw. For now, I just want to say how much I loved the opening sequence -

Don piloting this muscle car across the salt flats like nothing mattered (it was just dawning on him that it didn't), then him stepping out of the car and peeling off the snoopy flying helmet and the realization that he had bamboozled some fools into thinking he was a race car driver. Of course, he is. From the beginning, it's always been about the car.

I watched the show in a celebratory manner, trying to go drink for drink with whoever was on screen drinking. I even watched the encore, another round, I think.

Sleep was deep, but never dreamless.

For some time now I've been wrestling with the realization that my female main character is weak. It's been tough writing her into things. So much wallpaper. Jack is rich and complex and he's been easy to write. Hell, it's no secret that I like men, particularly bad boys. On the other hand, I don't think I could put up with Anna on a regular basis. Her bitter cynicism and weakness make me want to slap her. She needed some kind of power, even if it was kept secret, something most likely to matter a lot when the shit hits the fan.

So I gave her a secret passion and a car. I may have just set myself for a total rewrite before the first draft is done, but now it's got legs - better, she has wheels.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

herding rabid sea slugs


There are no cobwebs here. Perhaps the only place in the house that's web free.

Now that I've learned some trixie things that I can do with Scrivener and DragonSpeak, I've stopped dragging my heels about making sense and order out of some 130 thousand words that have materialized since this time last year.

Notice my new muse, St. Brad...I don't know if he's interested in the endeavor or he's looking down my shirt.
I'm not sure I want to see "Fury." I tend to get emotionally involved with rage.




I was feeling the need for some 70s color in the book and I found some useful source material on Ebay.

This is where I got my cultural news. No TV, no internet.

Remembering life before so much technology and connectivity is like spending time on a deserted island. So slow and delicious.

Friday, March 27, 2015

100 words



The sign read “the MONKEY BITES”.  Ace sat with his back to the room tearing out single pages from a small bible and eating them, chewing slowly while looking up at the ceiling of his cage as if he was memorizing the passages. Billy, the owner and bartender, said he only ate one or two pages a day – it was not as if he was hungry. Billy always fed Ace every time he fed himself. In fact, he fed the monkey first since he was worried about being poisoned, a fair concern because he treated the cook like dirt.

Monday, March 23, 2015

story in a story


I came across this yesterday.  It's a theme that has always run through my writing and personal philosophy.

I suppose I'll have to learn the process of asking for permission to use quotes from other authors hoping it could be as simple as an email.





Tuesday, February 24, 2015

focusing

I can't just drop in on the thing and visit. I wind up wasting time tinkering. Fixing nail holes with spackle, meanwhile the third story stairs are missing.

I have to go there, be there, hang with the people and spend some time before I can really get anything substantive on the page.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

the germ of a new story

Yeah..just look at her face for a second.

The shit we used to hear! And yes dear, we listened in. Just for a second to make sure the connection was good.

Way back in the day, I was a telephone operator for Ma Bell. It was just like that, right down to the equipment.

I could write a book!

The premise could go in two directions . Like her, it could easily happen that you accidentally overheard something that you wished to God you hadn't. Shit ensues. It happened to me more than once.

And then there was my daily idle fantasy of establishing my own phone company called the ES&D network. That stood for "eat shit and die". A network for the burgeoning legion of creeps who liked being abused over the phone. I believe they have grown up to be fans of E.L. James.

The customer would pay fifty bucks a month for the service (a lot back then for a phone) and could only call The Operator who would abuse  him (or the rare her) in a creative and deeply offensive manner for a minute or two and then hang up on them to the tune of a dollar a minute. You never get to make or receive any real calls. Some called it Heaven.

At Ma Bell we had to be unrelenting pleasant and professional no matter what the caller said to us and NOBODY ever called up the telephone operator to say "Have a nice day!"  There is nothing that anyone could say to me over the phone that would shock or insult me. It's all been said.

I conspired with a core group of other evil minds on our coffee breaks over what we would say to people on that fabled Last Day at Work. You know, the day you snatch the headset off, fling it blindly, stand on a chair and have your say and then, walk out.

Unfortunately, back in the late sixties, working as an operator for Ma Bell was one of the highest paying blue collar jobs a woman could get so not too many of us jumped ship with our hair on fire.

Oh, the stories I could tell you.


Friday, January 23, 2015

night skating

waiting until after midnight, waiting for the furnace to kick on so the sound would cover my movements, the muttering mechanicals breathing warmed air throughout the house, everyone deep into their dreams but me.

Thick socks over thin, jeans and sweater pulled on over pajamas, I sat in a chair in the kitchen and pushed my feet into my skates and laced them tight, tight, my high heels, in just enough time to ease the back door open, slip out and close it before the furnace sighed and stilled.

the ground was covered with brittle brown grass, frozen hard and unforgiving of the misstep. I picked my way carefully down across the yard to the edge of the lake where the ice had trapped little pockects of air that you wanted to avoid stepping on and cutting with the sound like ripping silk.

keeping the blades flat and taking the first steps out onto the black ice..right foot left foot ..tock. tock, tock  then leaning and letting the glide take me further away from the house into deeper silence and darkness  then setting the toeteeth and pushing off. Another long glide before settling into the rhythm and picking up speed, steadying, shifting and lifting the right foot up and back, leaning in and forward, shoulders down, head up..flying into the night on that burning, bad, but anchored, ankle. 

Picking up speed in a wide arc I fly off into the darkness for  a while but soon catch a careless toe and go sprawling. Heated up and winded, I lie on my back and look into the overcast blackness unable to find any stars, my eyes smarting with the cold. The ice speaks underneath me then, through me, a thrummimg groan, booming low and pinging high at the same time. letting me know it's gathering strength under me as unseen snowflakes land on my burning cheeks and melt instantly the water running into my hair.


  originally posted here

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

taking instruction, or not

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, there are two "how to" books in that pile. "The Fire in Fiction" by Donald Maas and the other that I won't even  mention because, one chapter in, I'm already disappointed. Oh well, out of a heap like this I'm glad the first stinker is non-fiction.

"My writing has been stalled by a variety of life circumstances" is complete bullshit and a handy statement of fact. When the fever is on me, I write, no matter where or when. Any writer will tell the same thing.

In this little slack sail period I've been reading. Didion and Maas are great inspirations from two very different points on the compass, but when I started reading "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" I did what I always do, check the first date of publication. In this case, 1961. It helps me to fix the author in her time to get a better feel for the writing. I got to wondering if Joan Didion could even find work these days. I don't think she'd make a good blogger.

Then I started reading a few online articles about the trials and tribulations of present day authors and the pros and cons of the various methods of publication. To simplify, either the traditional path or e-publishing and all the variants in between. Daunting? How about stomach turning.

An associate, who was actually making a comfortable living selling her writing, has had that rug yanked out from under her by this changeover in the publication world and spoke about having to find part time work just to survive. It's almost enough to make one chuck the manuscript in the drawer and hire oneself out as a nanny.  Almost.

"Just write" they say.

Not inspired or hopeful, I opened said manuscript up last night and picked out a section with only a few paragraphs. It was a framework for action, like a trellis. In about an hour of work, it became a living thing with heart, head and purpose. If no one but me ever sees the finished work, the satisfaction I felt when I was finished working on it last night was enough to keep me going today.

Friday, January 2, 2015

dog flu

I kept my promise to Day One and hit the trek on the Greenway. It was sunny and cold, cold, but I was prepared. I should have noticed that I was only perceiving cold cold. It was not the weather, but me. Illness underway.

Layered, gloved, earbuds, my shuffle making love to my ears, I set out in hopes of reclaiming a little lost stamina. Just before I locked the car I thought  'pen and paper'. Ok, you never know. I've been dithering about a big scene, the bad guy take down, and gave it two seconds of thought before I had to negotiate with the dogs. Guy on two leads being dragged by two blind looking, big, strong, Man Ray dogs that mystical shade of gray. They wanted to know what I was thinking.


This part of the trail attracts a lot of dog walkers and, lately, the dogs are all giving me the stink-eye. Friendly people with what are probably friendly dogs have to haul them up short on their leashes because they all want to investigate me. Why not? I live with three cats. It's my reaction to these investigations that's unnerving. I find myself stepping off the trail and standing still as if the old invisibility trick will actually work.

So, I'm trudging along, not being able to find the swing. My legs are being dumb and needing constant instruction. "Don't step on that. Stride longer. Watch out stupid". It's like I'm walking my own two witless hounds. Then, a idea occurs out of the blue, a particularly nasty mindset and some dialogue, and I pull over to lean on the convenient railing and scribble stuff down before it evaporates.

 Another fifty yards down the trail and I pull over again for a few more notes, but really  a few more deep breaths that aren't working. There is a pain in the center of my chest where the air seems to be bottlenecking and a twin pain in the hinge of my right shoulder. What's this then? A fucking heart attack? I'm only at the damn quarter mile marker but cold sweat on my face and common sense prevail and I turn to head back.

After a minute I seem to find my stride and breath and stop worrying about dropping dead in a pile of dog shit (not everyone scoops the poop) and  I stop one final time for a little more scribbling with my back to the traffic when I get the magic weimaraner nose lift  from behind. I almost peed on his head.

I turned around and the big bozo jumps up to wash my sweaty face for me with his tongue. He's slipped his lead, Daddy nowhere to be seen. I'm hanging on to the railing to keep from going down. My notes, pen and one glove  go over the side, down into a ravine where the paper is quickly swallowed by some industrial looking slime oozing along into the creek.

In seconds, goofuss dog daddy hollering "Fred, Freddy" rounds the bend and pulls Fred off me, all apologies. Who names a dog Fred?  I assured him I was only sticky. All I wanted was to make it back to the car where I sat and hopefully rewrote most of what was lost,  then drove straight home, no retail side trips. Something was bearing down on me.

I was sick as shit until four in the morning, most of that time spent rolling this way and that in the sheets completely bulldozing a king sized bed, trying unsuccessfully to find the cool place that wasn't freezing and the soft spot that didn't feel like bricks.

At some point I forced myself to get up, take a handful of something with a half quart of apple cider and went back to bed to finally pass out. It must be the dog flu. I dreamed I was standing in front of Freddy who was seated at a desk flicking his way through my manuscript with a red pen muttering "It's mostly shit, but only mostly."

Back to work.