Saturday, May 30, 2009

Working on My Novel

I'm trying to get back to working on my romance/erotica novel.  Hard to categorize and I hate labels.  I hate formulas, too.  It just is what it is.  This is a passage from a scene I'm working on between the main character, April, and her new boyfriend:

"He took this as a green light and moved in for a kiss.  April not only opened her mouth, but opened her heart, a risky thing indeed, far riskier than a one-night stand or living with a man who desired her but did not love her. No, this was even more dangerous because if she opened herself to him, gave everything to him, and he took it and then was gone the next day, she would be devastated.  That could not happen to April; she would not let it.  Oh, but this felt so good, so right, and her body responded to his kiss; she closed her eyes and saw a future, a reason to keep going, something to reach for, to hold onto as tightly as a string on a balloon.  She would trust him, damn it, she would have to trust him."

Monday, May 25, 2009

After the cookout

So much food got eaten today, 
 I'm afraid I overindulged,  
Hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill
and s'mores that bubbled and bulged.

I cleaned before our guests arrived
til everything sparkled and shone
Alas, it's all messed up again
Now that they've all gone home.

Oh well, my home's a constant state
of mess, day in, day out,
A woman's work is never done
of that, there is no doubt.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Steps in the right direction

I was very impressed by the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.  So interesting to think about what life would be like backwards--starting off with old age then gradually growing younger.

So yesterday I decided to read F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story on which the movie was based.  It's quite different from the movie, and obviously much shorter, but still an interesting and thought-provoking story. When I read the inspiration for it, Mark Twain's comment that it was too bad the best part of life came at the beginning and the worst part at the end, I thought that made a lot of sense.  I often think about people nearing retirement age, who look forward to finally getting the chance to do all the things they've put off doing, waiting for their retirement years, and then that time finally comes but....

Will the person still have time to fulfill those dreams?  How many years of healthy living will he or she have left?  Now there is time, but what kind of time will that be?

All of this makes me feel compelled to make sure I accomplish the things I want to accomplish as soon as possible.  I'm healthy right now, but I have no idea how healthy I'll be 20 years from now.  When we put off our dreams and the things we want to get around to for another day down the road when there's "more time", it's like counting on winning the lottery in order to pay our debts or bills.  If that money never materializes, then what?

There are those who try to live each day as if it might be their last.  At the very least, we should try to make sure each step we're taking is headed in the direction we want to go.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The female in the fedora

Let's call this Little Snippets of Life.

Scene:  Burger King

The main character:  An average height woman, slightly chunky, with light brown curly hair wearing a fedora, a black vest and black pants.  

She is standing in line behind me SINGING!  Yes, that's right, singing.  O-kay.  Singing, why?  I have no freakin' idea.  I am standing in line waiting for my turn (seems to be a busy afternoon at BK) and this young woman is standing behind me singing.  I was really tempted to turn around and look at her, but no, I didn't.  But of course I was curious.  What on earth prompts a person to suddenly break into song in a public place?  She wasn't with anyone else that she might be singing to.

Okay, I'm a very curious person.  I asked my husband what he thought about this.  He said, "She must have forgotten to take her meds today."

Maybe.  I just thought she'd make a good character for an upcoming story.

So how about you?  Have you encountered anyone recently who might make an interesting character in one of your stories?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Reading, Writing and Planning

So I feel it's time now to focus on other things and get back to living a normal life.  I had put a lot of things on a back burner because of the grieving process, but I know my mother would want me to live my life.

I have been trying to focus on my various writing projects.  After coming in fourth place in one of the contests on Absolute Write, I decided to send out that manuscript to a few publishers.  Now in the past I would only send a manuscript to one publisher at a time and wait an enormous amount of time for a reply before sending it to another.  Not anymore!  Life is too short for that.  I sent my children's picture book story to two publishers at once and have already heard back from one--a reject.  That's okay because another publisher still has the opportunity to review it and hopefully publish it.  This method also makes the sting of rejection hurt less.

My daughter and I are also planning to collaborate on another picture book.  I wrote Brenda and Blair--a story about two young sisters who are opposites--many years ago, but I know my daughter always liked it.  I wrote it for her when she was in elementary school having trouble pronouncing words with "bl" and "br".   She will draw the pictures to go with my story.  This will be a self-publishing project.

I also decided to get back to reading a bunch of books, one of my New Year's resolutions.  I have two novels to read, plus I've just purchased a fellow AWer's non-fiction book called The Unbreakable Child.  I've read about 60 pages so far and all I can say is "Wow".  Children are very precious to me and I cannot fathom ever hurting them.  In addition to the parents in this world who are clueless about raising/caring for children, there are "religious" figures who have no business being around kids.  Kimmi's opening chapter made me wince, made me cry.  I wanted to get that nun into a corner and teach her a lesson.  I kept thinking of that song The Carpenters sang in the 70's, "Bless The Beasts and the Children" and the line that goes, "for in this world they have no voice, they have no choice."  How does a child fight back when a much bigger, stronger adult is hitting, punching, abusing her?

I'm also considering writing a piece about Alzheimer's from the perspective of someone whose mother suffered from it for a number of years so that hopefully I could help others know what to expect and how to get through it.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Saying Goodbye

This is a portion of the eulogy I read at the funeral today:

Life is unpredictable.  In one of my favorite poems, Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold, to paraphrase one line from the poem, the world has no certainty; life has no certainty.  We can't know for certain how long we have to live in this world.

Because I was always very close to my mother, trying to write something in her memory was particularly challenging for me.  But writing about the sad things that happen in life is my way of making sense of them and coming to terms with them.  Recently, I was trying to write a song for Mom to convey some of my feelings.  One part of it goes like this:  "I always thought that you would live forever, you could never die, But life's a fine thin line that time can sever, And now you're gone in the blink of an eye."

And that's how I've come to think of it.  After her stroke and various ailments, Mom finally let go of this thin thread we call life and moved on to a different place.  I think it's a better place and a very peaceful one.  I'm sure we all want Mom to be at peace.  I also think of her as finally getting the chance to be reunited with Dad, joining hands with him in heaven.

(omitting much of the tribute)

The ending:

There are no certainties in life, there are only people who can try to make the life they're living good and funny and interesting and meaningful to the ones they leave behind.  Mom has touched all of our lives in very different ways and has left us with so many happy and special memories.  Whether it was something she said or something she did, it will stay with us forever.  We have photographs and memories to keep Mom forever close to us.  

And we also have each other.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Memorializing Mom

Life turns on a dime.  I love the poem by Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach.  To paraphrase one line, the world has no certainty, life has no certainty.  None of us knows how long we have to live in this world.

My mother lost her battle last night, if we can call it a battle.  I suppose that's not very accurate a description.  I prefer to think of it as she let go of this thin thread we call life and moved on to a different place.  I hope it's a better place and a peaceful one.

As I'm making notes now to write something for her funeral, I've been listening to some songs from some of my favorite singer/songwriters.  Along with many of her beautiful songs, Beth Nielsen Chapman has one called No One Knows But You.  It's extremely sad, but also uplifting and says many of the things I'm thinking and feeling.  These lyrics:  "And if there is some magic, some way around these stars, some road that I can travel to get to where you are, I'll cry this empty canyon, an ocean full of tears, And I won't stop believing that your love is always near" gets to me every time.

I hope that I can find the right words when the time comes to stand before family and friends and describe what kind of woman my mother was and how much she meant to all of us.  I don't want to dwell on sickness and sadness; I want them to remember her sense of humor, her kindness, her intelligence, perseverance, sacrifices for her family and her love, her greatest gift.

 My mother taught me how to love, there's no doubt about that.  A priceless gift I'm happy to pass along to my kids and I hope they'll pass along to theirs.