Monday, January 29, 2007


I was listening to an interview with a famous singer-songwriter many years ago, and this man (maybe David Crosby?) likened songs to treasures in a river running above our heads (maybe it was Tom Waits - sounds like some bizarro thing he might say). He said good songwriters can just reach into the Great River Above and pluck out a song. His closing soundbite was "I'm just glad I'm not downstream from Bob Dylan." (right)

I wish I could remember the guy. As I recall he was accomplished and interesting, which is why it sticks with me. There's always going to be an author I read and say to myself "Thank God I'm not downstream from her."

Right now, and perhaps always, Raymond Carver is my Bob Dylan. When I read his work I feel a pain in my heart, like seeing a man I love kissing another woman. Every sentence, each character - when I read his stories it's like watching my own failings jangled in front of me, mocking me.

Do you know who said this thing? This thing about the river? It's haunting me.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Minor in the majors.

Of course there should be mandatory drug testing at EVERY level. This kid is obviously bulking up outside of the weight room, if you know what I mean. You should see the way he sucks that binkie between innings. Like it's candy. CANDY.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Books books the musical fruit.

Done with story #2. I'm not completely comfortable posting the whole thing here, considering I just wrapped it up last night (and then drank the remnants of a tequila bottle in celebration - whoo hoo alcoholic writers' syndrome!). In addition, according to Stephen King's On Writing, I have to let it sit for 6 weeks, then revise it twice before showing it to anyone. But when you've just given birth, do you want to wait until your baby's a month and a half before parading her around as the next Madeleine Albright/Madeleine L'Engle/Madeleine Peyroux? I didn't - I ran out the hospital with guts and placenta dripping off of her and wondered where all the reporters were. So, I'm telling myself I must resist the urge to show off my placenta-dripping story.

Yesterday I received a mysterious package in the mail. Not that mysterious, actually, considering there was a return address label, and the sender had just asked me a couple days earlier for my address. But I pretended it was mysterious for the effect. However, despite my theatrics, Quinn really didn't care, and Jim, when realizing it was an internet friend, was suddenly much more interested in the coupon mailer that was tucked in with the rest of the junk. Wow! Discount checks decorated with Bald Eagles carrying American flags in their talons! Jim feigns anti-curiosity with respect to blogging. It's charming, really. But so the package - it was a copy of a new arts journal, unboundpress. So far the cover and the first two pages are real page turners! Mamalujo, thank you. It was very thoughtful, and now that Story #2 is done I'm going to spend a week Read Read Reading, and this is first on my list. (It's also inspiration for submitting. It used to be that whenever I thought about publishing my sphincter lost all control, but I'm slowly warming to the idea. So thanks for that too.)

Which brings me to the Me!Me!, as I was tagged by Mamalujo. This one isn't so me-centric, therefore palatable. It's this:
1. Grab the nearest book to you
2. Open to page 123, look down to the 5th sentence
3. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog
4. Include the title and the author's name
5. Tag 3 people.

You know it's a good book, when...

It's the Stephen King book. I've never read one of his books prior to this, but I kept seeing references to his genius writing analogy: the art of using tools to uncover a skeleton. It's less intimidating to think that a story is already there, intact, and it's just a matter of carefully unearthing it. To approach a fiction project, be it a novel or a short-short, with the entire plot in mind produces a clunky, forced story. I like my stories, both ones I read and write, to be character driven, and I sit down to write with some interesting people in mind, and just watch what the do with/to each other. Anyway, here's the sentences from On Writing:

You can tell without even reading if the book you've chosen is apt to be easy or hard, right? Easy books contain lots of short paragraphs - including dialogue paragraphs which may only be a word or two long - and lots of white space. They're as airy as Dairy Queen ice cream cones.

I'd like to invite you all to participate in this meme, in the comments. That means you, mom, Damon, Carson (little brother just got engaged! Shout out, yo!), Janet, Laura, Madeleine and any other lurkers out there. All y'all. Let's hear what you all are reading these days.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Not at all politically correct or nice. At all.

Holy shit. Apparently he's asking all us hacks how to fight terrorism. While Richard Gere is telling the man's country how to prevent AIDS. Does Mr. Oompa Loompa have a cush job or what?

Sunday, January 14, 2007


I got some serendipitous free time this afternoon, so...

Bit, a story perhaps posted in parts

Gina heard the scream just as Hector was rolling off, exhaling. She jumped up from the futon and grabbed her robe.

“Who the hell?” he said, sitting up quickly.

Looking back at Hector, she motioned for him to lie back down. “It’s Addy. Stay here.” She rushed from the room as Hector was reaching for his jeans.

The screen door slammed behind Addy as she threw her backpack on the recliner. Gina rushed through the kitchen from her room at the back of the house to find her daughter in tears, undoing her jeans in the front room.

“Honey what are your doing?” She grabbed the girls shoulders, feeling her shaking beneath her t-shirt.

“I got bit Mommy! I got bit.” She had her jeans pulled down to her knees, exposing her thin, tanned thighs. Gina turned the girls shoulders to see the back of her legs, then sucked in her breath sharply when she saw the torn skin and blood spilling out of the deep bite.

“Holy shit! What the hell?” Hector was pulling on his plaid workshort as he came through the kitchen, but stopped short when he saw the girl’s leg. “Was it a dog? Did a dog do that?”

Gina turned back to him, annoyed. “Get a towel or something, will you?”

Hector didn’t move. “Addy, what did this? We gotta call the cops!” Gina scowled and moved by him into the kitchen.

The girl looked at him, her face dirty and wet from tears and sweat. She had stopped crying when she came through the door, but her jaw was tense, holding back. She jabbed her finger towards the wall and Hector glanced in that direction. There was a poster pinned above the television. A sketch of a woman and a child. He looked back at her, confused.

“That brown and black dog – the end of the street.” She pointed at the poster again, taking in a ragged breath. “It busted out the door and caught me. I was trying to peddle so fast, but I couldn’t – I couldn’t...” The last word came out in a burst as she started to sob. Hector moved to her quickly and held her close, pressing her head against his chest.

“Hector, don’t you have to get back?” Gina came back into the room and pulled Hector away. She tried to tape a large square of folded paper towel to the wound with some old surgical tape, but the tape wouldn’t stick to the bloodied skin. She wrapped an ice-filled towel around the girl’s leg instead and guided her to the couch. “Sweetie I’m gonna put you here for a minute to see if we can stop the bleeding. Do you want water or something?”

“Mommy I was so scared!” The girl held her Gina’s neck as she was arranging a pillow behind her daughter’s head.

“I know Sweetie. I know. It’s okay now – I’ll just go get you some water, okay?” She pulled the girl’s hands away.

“No! Stay just for a minute her. Just here please?” She tried to reach for her mom’s wrist as Gina was moving back.

Hector stepped forward. “I’ll stay here next to you, okay?” He turned to Gina as she went by him. “Gina, you gotta call the cops.”

Gina stopped and grabbed his arm. “Come with me - I need your help for a sec.”

He was looking at the girl, but when Gina pulled sharply on his arm he turned at looked at her, confused. She pulled his arm again, and he turned to follow her to the kitchen, looking back at the girl. She was crying quietly on the couch, both hands covering her face.

“What the fuck, girl? You gonna call the cops or what? You don’t, I’m going down right now to shoot the fucking thing!” Hector was standing next to her at the sink, craning his neck to watch the girl in the next room. He flexed his hands opened and closed at his sides.

Gina held her fingers under the running water, looking out the window at the dandelions in her neighbors backyard. She sighed. “No, I’m not calling the cops, idiot. And you’re not gonna shoot the animal. And we don’t REALLY want the law up in here, right? RIGHT?” She pushed his shoulder, and he turned back to her, frowning.

“What we got downstairs got nothing to do with this here, you know? They ask a few questions, see her leg and they go shoot that dog, you know?” He threw both hands into the air suddenly. “You gotta take her to the doctor, at least, you know? She need stitches. That thing need work!” He grabbed the glass of water from her hand to take to the girl, and Gina went back to her room to put her clothes on.

When she came back into the living room, tying her tangled hair into a ponytail she stopped and dropped both hands, her mouth open. Hector was sitting on the couch, one hand stroking the girl’s hair, the other hand holding the phone.

“Twenty-seven twelve Alder, near Albertson’s offa 39th. Yeah, it’s down the street… I don’t know, hold on… Honey, did the dog go back to the house?”

“I don’t know – I kicked at it and then it let go but I didn’t look back. I just pedaled and pedaled and - ” Hector put his hand to her cheek and she stopped. He finished his call and put the receiver back into the cradle of the phone in his lap.

“They won’t shoot the dog, Hector. We don’t do that in this country.” Gina bent to pick up some magazines on the recliner and straightened the coffee table in front of the couch. She finished fixing her ponytail, looking around the small living room. “You gotta go.” She pulled Hector up and sat next to her daughter. “You can’t be here.”

“Why Mommy? I don’t want Hector to go.”

“He’s gotta get back to work, Sweetheart. Maybe we’ll see him later.” She smoothed the girl’s hair, not looking up.

Hector shook his head, but he went back to the bedroom to get his work boots.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Sound of One Hand Giving Me the Finger

Wanna know what's strangling me today, aside from the usual? After having sent out some writing stuff to some writing people over the past couple week, I've been looking at this all day.

I feel like a blind girl at a mime convention. Which is maybe just slightly worse than being a seeing girl at a mime convention? Maybe not. Maybe I just feel like a girl at a mime convention.

Friday, January 05, 2007

It's working. I've written one entire story and did a complete edit on "Life in the Valley." If you click on the link, you will notice that it's gone because it sucked. The dialogue was unpleasant, and I didn't know what to do with Lanny at the end and it just petered out. And the name Lanny sucked. This guy - the one with the asshole brother and the pregnant girlfriend - he's a tall skinny dude. He really is a Lanny, but it's a bad fictional name. I can't be married to it, so I've got to come up with something else. Madeleine gave me three suggestions, Quinn, Clausiana, and David. I'm starting to like David. Davey.

Thanks for all the supportive comments. I said I don't pander, but I should have added "intentionally." I'll address some of your questions herein, because they were thoughtful and helpful:

Debbie: If I'm slack, you're wack. Heh heh. Sure, call me a slacker. But not to my face and not to anyone I know and not out loud. But go ahead!

Meno: Mother Jones is a worthy and excellent periodical. I would never kick them out of bed for eating (whole grain, vegan) crackers.

Wordgirl: It's you I think of when I debated whether to move on from freelancing. I think your talents are so obvious and natural and, well, inspiring. I understand the need for accountability, so for now I'm writing in a self-paced Creative Writing course. I hope to join some writing groups, as well.

Kathie: No, not abandoning the blog. It's just time. It's not on my side. So I had to choose between primarily writing here/commenting around everywhere and writing fiction.

Orange: Yes, I hope there's a good writers' group. I'm a little intimidated, having existed in the vacuum of the internet for far too long. And getting paid to write would be excellent, but I've realized it's not really my short-term goal. I want to be a very good writer of fiction. That's what I want.

V-Grrrl: I think I've got my voice, and I know I want to write fiction. Now I just want to produce something I'm proud of.

Mark: You nailed it. True art. Your discussion is exactly the inner monologue I've been entertaining for the last couple months. The problem? I have time for one endeavor only. True art or "redirected creativity." This week, as I said, I got one story done. It was in ten minute increments, and half of the stuff was written while I sat on the toilet and kids were in the tub, hanging off of the back of my chair, or locked in high chairs with mini-boxes of Froot Loops. I sent some of my work to my writing instructor and, while supportive, he pointed out that in every conversation my characters are "snorting" at each other, incessantly. Which is because I end up editing about 5 sentences at a time and don't have an opportunity to read through entire scenes before I submit them.

Maybe between stories or when I've got writers' block I'll spend more time here or work on some freelance pieces. In the meantime, I'm just trying to get good. As you can see, I don't want to abandon the thing altogether, and that was never my intention. I like too many of you too much.

Monday, January 01, 2007


Suddenly I don't feel so inspired to write here. No, not suddenly. A glacier of discontent has been creeping into my fingers and brain for the last couple months. I'm not writing well any more. I mean, I don't edit, I'm not as forthwright, my words are meaningless and throw-away. It's all been in the pursuit of pure entertainment, and as such has led me to the conclusion that entertainment is my genre. I've imagined myself freelancing for magazines and periodicals, submitting humorous and cynical pieces about parenting and movie stars. I pursued positions in local papers, shouting out, loud and proud, how funny and entertaining I can be. How their circulation would rise exponentially with my words in their pages. I was full of my self-perceived potential.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I was gushing about My Goals and My Potential to my friend and her freelancing husband. As a concession to his success, I asked him what he thought of my plan. He nodded and looked thoughtful, suggesting I pick up a copy of Writers' Whatever - the magazine for freelancers. He said that's the best way for me to get my stuff out there. You know, in Good Housekeeping and stuff. That's what he said. Get my work into Good Housekeeping. I like this man, so don't get all indignant and angry for me. He's clever and fun - a good husband and father. But that's what he thought of my work. Of me. Good Housekeeping. And since then this little bug in my ear keeps whispering in this nasty teasing voice, "Good Housekeeping Good Housekeeping Good Housekeeping Good Housekeeping Good Housekeeping" as I'm typing away on my blog. So that's what it's come to. That's what I do. I write articles for Good Housekeeping and call it the Thought Concoction.

Fuck that. That's not what I signed up for. I want to write and I want to write well. No, not just well, amazingly well. That's what I want. I'm not there, and I'm not going to get there by writing prim little articles for Good Housekeeping. So at the risk of being snobby, elitist and dismissive, I just can't do this any more. I can't devote my few moments a day, here and there to Good Housekeeping. I've been thinking about this for a while and have come up with the following analogies to my blogging vs. my work-writing: speed chess vs. tournament chess, jogging on a treadmill vs. a 90-minute soccer game, wiping after a pee vs. a full pelvic exam. You get the picture. I just feel like a sell-out, pandering for snickers and LOLs. That's not who I am. I don't pander.

So, 2007, do you want to know what I'm going to do to you? I'm going to rip you a new literary asshole, that's what. I'm gonna work it. I'll be up in the gym, just a workin on my fitness. To my friends and peers out there, I'll be here and there, just not as often, and I might be a little fucked up, considering the story ideas that are floating around right now. The people in my head are strange and ignoble people.

Wish me luck.

And Happy New Year to you all. I hope 2007 brings you happiness, and I'm sorry if I've roughed him up a little. I don't like odd numbers.