Monday, July 23, 2012

Looking Through Windows

"Looking through Windows" is the title of my short story collection. No it's not published yet, but writers have to reward and brag about the steps taken toward completing a project. I'm almost there. Two stories to revise and send out. They claim you should have 30 to 40 percent of the stories in a collection already published in jounrals so I'm close. Two more acceptances and I will have four out of ten published. In the meantime I have commited to getting this done.

Over the past five years I have worked on and abandoned this project--back and forth and getting nowhere. Now I've promised myself to do no other writing but what I need to do until I can start querying agents and publishers about a collection.

The title is symbolic of what I, and other writers, do when we create settings, plots, characters and dialogues. We pretend we are looking through the nightime windows of other people's homes. Backlit against the warm golden lamp light we watch silhouettes glide around their private rooms and pretend we know what they are doing, what they are thinking, to whom they are speaking. We pretned we know their inner joys and turmoils. We have to. How else can we create the fictions we love to weave when we are alone, silhouetted against the writing lamp on our desks?

I love writing short stories. The intensity of action and language make for engrossing writing. I like making a whole life evident in 2,000 words or less. I like being able to see a project completed and sent out in a time frame I can grasp in one hand. Short stories and flash fiction are so much fun to write.

I also, like writing novels for the chance to go deep into the plot and the characters' lives. The time to meander through the story. The time to delve deep. But--I have to finsih these stories first. Once "Looking through Windows" is done I can return to my novel. Hard to pick betwee novels and short stories when choosing a writing project. But that's a topic for another day's post.

Friday, July 20, 2012

NECESSARY

Writing is just something I have to do, like eating, sleeping, breathing. When art journals, collage and paint distract me, when I want to hide inside a new novel, or just stare at the television, writing calls me. I suppose it's the voice of my muse and her gentle hand, that pushes me to the desk. I can't get away from it. It can be morning pages, an idea for a new short story, a prompt for a flash fiction piece or some line of poetry that latches on, whatever--it calls and I must answer.

I ask myself often, perhaps daily, why I write. Why does the feel of a pen in my fingers and the slick smooth surface of a blank page on the heel of my hand make my heart beat faster? why can I never ignore it. And not just writing itself, but things related to writing--classes, conferences, books on writing, lists of writing prompts, articles online about how to put together a chapbook or a short story collection. They sing like the robins and sparrows whose lilting warbles wake me in the morning.

I may resist it, but eventually I must start again. I have a short story collection that is nearly there. A few more stories to revise, a couple already published, and then the queries have to go out to agents and small presses.

Like the squeal of a siren, the cry of a baby, or the whimper of a puppy--it will not be ignored.

If only they made velcro pillows for my writing chair that would keep me there until I finished. I have to follow.I have to commit. I have to do what I must do.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

JUST A POEM

MOTHER AND CHILD

It was the hum of your voice
That etched the first smile on my face.
The beat of your heart
Against my own
That made me feel safe.
The touch of your cool hand
On my fevered brow
That let me know
I was loved.
And the release of your hand
Setting me free in the world
That let me grow.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A VERY SHORT STORY








SEARCHING FOR STORIES

I walk across the quilt of glistening snow. The dying sun casts blue, white and yellow gems on the crust beneath my booted feet. The air crackles with cold. My breath billows, furls in the air, then disintegrates before my eyes.
Miles and miles of white marble headstones line up in straight rows. I turn and they all sift into diagonal arrangement. I search for Mom’s grave and hope I’m not too late.
Years have passed. I was away from home, trying to find myself. I didn’t know my womanhood, my selfhood, lived in the stories I didn’t stay around to hear.
I find the headstone.
Margaret Leah Peters
1918-2009
Beloved wife, mother, daughter, sister

            I kneel and trace the carved letters of my mother’s name. I press my ear to the frigid earth. Silence. All the stories are gone.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A NOVEL START


DEATH BE NOT PROUD


The sparkling July sunshine mocked the somber funeral participants. A semicircle of mourners curled around the open grave and watched as a smooth ebony coffin was lowered into the damp earth. Away from the crowd, huddled beneath the shade of a maple tree, three women looked over the proceedings. Tears studded their flushed cheeks and sweat bloomed beneath their black dresses.


“It’s so sad,” Lenore muttered. “Celia was so healthy and then this heart attack out of nowhere.”


“I know, “Paula agreed. ”And look at Warner he looks so lost and bereft.”


“And handsome too,” Corinne whispered. “He’s still a hunk. Celia was lucky to have him.”


“For sure. She was a wonderful, big hearted woman, but not so hot looking.” Corinne wiped her face with the back of her hand blending tears and perspiration. “Even in college she was the least good looking of the four of us.”


“Well,” Lenore said. “Age sure levels the playing field. Now in our sixties I think we are equally hot looking.”


“Or not so hot,” Corinne said.


“Oh we’re hot,” Paula said. “It’s ninety degrees out. Why did she pick such a steamy day to die?”


“Oooh, how cruel,” Lenore said with a catty smile.


“What’s sadder?” Paula asked. “Celia’s death or all those years Warner wasted on her.”


“Any one of us would have made a better match for him,” Corinne said.


“Well we had our chance to lure him,” Paula reminded the women as Warner walked to the gravesite and dropped a handful of dirt into the hole in the ground.


“Yeah,” Lenore said. “We all had a crack at him. We all slept with him before they got engaged.”


“Yes, but after they started dating. We were pretty sneaky. Amazing Celia never found out.” Paula said.


Corinne elbowed the other women.


“Shhh, here comes Warner.”

The tall slender man, his dark hair frosted with gray at the temples, approached the little group. He wiped his eyes with a handkerchief and attempted a smile that just wouldn’t come.


“Thank you for coming,” he said. “I appreciate your sympathy. Besides just watching you huddled together here reminds me that I picked the right one of you to marry.”


He walked away and disappeared into a shiny black limousine.


Corinne, Paula and Lenore watched with their mouths drooped open.




Saturday, July 7, 2012

A NEW CHALLENGE

Never one to completely give up I am giving myself a new challenge. I have just completed two five week long online writing classes. One in poetry and one in flash fiction. These are my preferred genres as I love the intensity and brevity of the pieces. These writings are small but make a huge impact on the reader. I also like being able to work with each poem or story as a whole unit rather than bits of scenes in a continuous long stream that I have to handle when penning a novel.

My new challenge involves posting a poem or the opening of a flash story each day for the rest of this month. Let's see how this goes!