Friday, November 25, 2016

The Quilt

"In reality, the woman belonged to sometime else as she was just here at this time by accident. A slip of the cosmic order had caused her to be born out of sequence, under the wrong stars. She had been overlooked by the universe. In the book of all names and beings, she was unlisted, with no past nor future written down for her. She was invisible to the gods, the passage of time and the protection of the stars."

Saturday, November 19, 2016

escaping into fiction

In the late 50's I spent most after school hours in the public library waiting for my father to pick me up on his way home from work. I wore out the children's library in short order and haunted the upstairs, adult stacks where there many places to hide with whatever books I could reach.

I was in third grade when I read John Hershey's “Hiroshima”. I remember taking it to the desk and asking the librarian if it was a true story. Alarmed, she asked, “Have you read it yet?” I knew I was probably in trouble, but I had to answer true. She looked at me sadly and said, “Yes, I'm sorry to say it really happened.”

Not long after,  I was sent home from school for refusing to participate in the duck and cover exercises that were supposed to save us in the event of an atomic bomb attack. I told anyone who would listen that the wall of windows and bricks in our classroom would bury and burn us alive and we'd all be dead of radioactive rain and we'd never see our families again because they would all be burned and buried in our houses. My mother was called to school. I would not be budged. Thenceforth, if drills were planned, I would spend the time in the principal's office, filled with dread for my friends who were buying into this sham.

That knot of dread flared in me again after the election results became clear.

I came to WUUCON with 220 thousand words worth of bread and circuses, which I will finish. Thanks to Donald Maass, I left with the hard kernel of another book that will be one of the one hundred that could make a difference.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

the real post WUUCON

For those of you who don't know, this is WUUCON. It was grand, but now we are back and the task it to apply all that we learned to whatever we are working on.

Picture trying to swallow a Whopper whole, no chewing permitted.

I feel for the people who came to the conference with what they thought were completed manuscripts. There  were more than a few people with that pie-eyed, deer- in-the-headlights look on their faces as Lisa Cron crossed her forearms to make one of her many points or Donald Maass' eerie silences hovered over us as he studied the distance and waited for you to really absorb what he just said.

All I have is a raggedy first draft. I don't think you call it an autopsy when the patient is still alive, but that's my task at hand. There will be screaming. Tears.

To that end, I made a fresh start yesterday by relocating my workspace. The studio is still all about the textiles, stitching and visual art in a big way and mess. In one corner is the small desk and computer where I do the heinous day job. Until I have the heart to repurpose the room Jim so lovingly made perfect for me, no writing in here.

 I used to haul the laptop onto my bed for anticipated long stretches of writing. Those stretches never lasted as long as they should have because it was physically uncomfortable after an hour or so no matter how many pillows I propped around me. Being bedridden is not conducive to clear thinking, much less creative writing.

While I was away, Colin kept his promise and cleared 75% of his crap from the living room. To where I don't want to know. There is now an actual couch and a coffee table and a chair. I found an old folding tray table and have the laptop perched on it now. The chair is acceptable. So last night, I got to it and immediately fell back into the trap of tweaking scenes already written. Pearl polishing. But I worked on one with an eye to the notes that I took from both DM and LC. and there was progress.
"yeah. that's killer. use it."

Some who know them might argue that their respective takes on the writing process are at odds. Don't care.  I'm taking what I need from all like a thief in the night. I had to work at stifling my cackles while I was taking notes during the seminars.

So while I fiddled around with one scene, deep in my heart I know there are at least three (that were gnawing at my hindbrain all week) that have to be petted and calmed, walked out of the shed and have their furry throats slit while their hearts still beat. I may be able to salvage some skin or bone but there will be blood.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


I posted the following to the group FB page.

I'm late to this dance too. My first two hours off the plane were spent explaining my absence to a two-year-old who acquired language while I was gone and he wasn't buying my story. His watchword, the one all writers should quiver in front of, was “Why?” quickly followed by, “Hello, Nana.” simultaneously comforting himself with my return and scolding me for going in the first place.
Maybe it's because I'm reaching old. Maybe my heart is just too scarred over, but I felt myself unwilling or unable to lean into to the sweet gravity of camaraderie that flashed all around me like groundling firecrackers. It was all wonderful to behold, felt like backing your butt up to a bonfire, not too close, thanks. I knew I wasn't alone in my reticence. The ghosts were not on the sixth floor at all.
None of this to say I'm sad or sorry. On the contrary, I feel like I've been on a successful raiding party and have come home weighed down with pirated booty. Nope, not one single washcloth found it's way into my bag. It is the knowledge, the learning, the hints and warnings, the mysteries revealed and secrets shared. I'm rich, I tell you, rich! Do pirates say Thank you?
So now, I'm setting my wayback machine to the late 60's (Scootch closer, children. Let me tell you tales of love and rebellion.) Time to take stock of these treasures, go deep and get this job done and the next one begun. I'll come out to give blood every month or so - it's a special blend - and I'll keep tending the babies until I get them right too. Until 2018 my friends.