Archive | April 2014

A Stranger Grief Than This…

Driving home the other night, I saw a man at the base of an ancient tree. He was on his haunches, his shoulders bowed with grief. In front of him, against the tree, was a white cross. He was planting flowers– spring flowers– at the base of the tree. From the comfort of my car, I watched as he created a shrine to a loved one. The music on the radio conspired with him, and… it was a moving moment.

Third person poignancy.

I have a mini-shrine in my room. Two collages of my mom, some of her tea cups, a thimble. Off to the side of the shelf where they are, is a picture of my mom at the Japanese Tea Garden in SF. She loved that place. But the thing is… this mini shrine… I barely look at it. I didn’t even think of it as a “shrine” until.. well, the other night, when I started thinking about shrines. It could be because it’s been up for so long. It could be because it’s been 20, 21 years.

The hard edges have worn off my grief. It no longer crushes me under its unforgiving weight.

And yet, my shrine still stands. I may change it up tomorrow, or may leave it. But I think I’ll take my boy, and go to the local Japanese Tea Garden….. and let him discover why it was one of her favorite places. I can walk in the peace, meditate…
Well. Lets be honest. I have a 7 year old boy. I can trail behind him, taking deep breaths. Because no matter how hard, life does go on.

And it is ok to enjoy it.

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Journaling

Do you keep a journal? I did for years… through good times and right up until the point when I gave up my own voice.

I think journals are wonderful things. A repository for all the odd ball thoughts.. that I actually have followed up on. One night, I was writing in my journal by candlelight (pre kid days LOL) and it started a whole thing on what it felt like and what the light did and how people had been doing it for time unknown…. That eventually found itself in a story.

But then I just started writing pages and pages of I Hate You, and I knew it was time to quit for a while.

Now, I have a pretty pink leather bound journal. The inside pages are teeny tiny squares. a grid. It is not spiral bound, which is different for me, and I can tell you right now that I will not be writing on the backs of pages. Too risky— would hate to break the binding and loose all those beautiful words that I will fill it up with. It’s also awkward.

So why am I having such a hard time starting? It’s not fair! Everything is going too slow, and yet way too fast. I just can’t make sense of it all, and don’t know where to even begin.

But I’m a writer. And in order to tell fictional stories, I feel that I need to come completely honest with someone. Or something.

 

Even if it is a pink leather journal that has groovy paper but the wrong sort of binding.

 

So, am I the only one who prefers a specific type of binding on journals?

 

Oh crap. Who’s gonna hide it from my son? Can you imagine reading your mom’s journal? Actually, I think it might be cool to read my moms…. Would you want your children to read your personal journals?

Why do we write?

It’s a fair question. If you write, as a hobby, aspiring professional/artist or even as a full time professional: why do you do it? What is it that makes a person sit down at a keyboard (or with pad and pen), block out the world and dive?

Poetry, essays, fiction, whatever. If I told you right now that the odds are you will never be published… will you still do it? Will you still scribble on napkins, the backs of envelopes? Will you fill notebooks and computer files with your ideas? Or will you simply stop working? If you were working in paint, and were told that you have an amazing gift but it will only be for you & your loved ones… maybe a few friends… would you keep painting? Art for arts sake.

Writing is a weird art. Everyone thinks they can do it. Most of us deal in words daily, tossing them around. Not everyone can pick up a paint brush and make something that looks remotely like what it’s supposed to. Most people understand that just because you can do a  line dance doesn’t mean that you can dance in a professional ballet….

But we’re not talking about them. Or are we? If you could never be published, if your words only affected a select few in your life, would you still have the compunction to share them?

I’ve actually faced this question twice this year. Both times, I felt perhaps it was time to stop submitting my work. Stop sharing for a little while. And yet somehow I kept it together, kept going. Little by little, I’m still sharing that writing. But even publication was beyond my grasp, I would still write. I know this because I’ve lived it.

I write for one or two reasons. The first is that I’m bored with other books and want to see what kind of adventure I can come up with. The second is…. because I have to. A compulsion, a spilling forth of part of your soul that needs healing. So yes, if I never had another contract again, I would still write.

The contracts are nice, I will admit that. But not just because it gets the words out there. Lord knows its not because I’m getting rich off of it. Contracts are nice because they tell you when you’re on the right track. Also, the editing process is an eye opener into the craft. Ultimately, it makes you better not because of the accolades but because of the practice.

Because it takes practice. Practice. Writing a million words or more, reading widely… it all adds up.

So what about you? Would you write without accolades?

Personally, I have to write if I want to stay sane.

Changing Tastes

Well Hello there, lovelies. How are you doing today? I’m doing pretty darn well. Hopefully, by the time the night is over, I will have all of my work back on my computer.. this one. Yay!

I bought Dorthea Breton Frank’s newest story, The Last Original Wife, and I have to say… I was disappointed. I don’t know if her writing changed, or if my tastes changed, but the last two books by her I did not like at all. It got me to thinking… I know our writing changes and grows. We might go dark and creepy for one, and be light hearted for the rest. But could my tastes have changed so completely that I just can’t stand the books any more? I’m not talking childhood to adult, but rather a span of time maybe… 3 or 4 years?

What got me about this is all the talking about the plot. There wasn’t much internal going on, and when it did…. it just didn’t ring right. Lots of talking things through with other characters was available. And since there was no action or tags with it, it kind of went talking heads. I just couldn’t connect.

Which I hate! I love the setting of the books, and they used to have so much more depth. I think. I am going to have to go back and see… Because it is possible that at that time in my life I was projecting more into my reading than was really there. I hate it when that happens. Of course, that’s also when I discovered Anne Bishop, and her’s still grip me and pull me under.

I am sad to say that while I love beach reads set in South Carolina (never been there except in my imagination…  but I want to!), the low country to be specific…. I think I will take a pass on this author for a while.

And go back and look at those other books. Because I really can’t see myself loving her books so much if they were like this. I might have been living in a fuge at the time, but I’ve always been very picky about my reading.

Anyone got any South Carolina beach reads to recommend? Since I need a new author for it ?

Shards of Time by Lynn Flewelling (APRIL 2014)

Review: Shards of Time by Lynn Flewelling

 

I love Seregil and Alec. They, and their adventures, have captured my imagination and my heart. So when I heard that this was potentially their last novel, I was saddened. And then I read Rex Regis, the last in the Imager Series by L.E. Modesitt, and I was afraid of what would happen to my favorites (Alec and Seregill). I cried with frustration with Rex Regis. It was a book too far, something that should have been an extra few chapters on the last book.

I didn’t need to worry.

Although I did cry.

Several times.

This one is gonna yank you in and not let you go until the end. It takes what is best from all the varied stories and wraps them together. While it harkens back to the first trilogy, with a nod to the Tamir Trilogy, this book will stand on its own two feet. The characters feel as if they are living, breathing humans that live just beyond our sight. Which is what great fiction is all about.

And most importantly, she leaves the boys where we love them. Enjoying their life, having adventures. While the story may be over, their story is not. It’s a happily ever after for the fantasy set.

Make sure you turn the page, and read the Afterword, too. I can’t wait to see the new adventures that await us with Ms. Flewelling.

 

Wyn