So Long, NaNoWriMo2017, #stillwriting

Today self spent the whole day writing. Well, she spent all of yesterday writing as well. And the day before that. And the day before that. And . . .

Actually, the only times she hasn’t been writing in November are when she’s been on an airport or an airplane (pretty often, actually, in November, and lest she forget to mention — Aer Lingus sent her from Dublin to Cork, in a three-hour taxi ride because of a cancelled flight from Heathrow, on Nov. 2)

She did not, of course, do 50k words. But she never expected to anyway.

What she has as of today are 282 pages of a novel-in-progress, and she knows pretty much how she wants it to end.

She even thought of a cool-sounding title for her manuscript, a few days ago:

Blue Water, Distant Shores

Sooo fan-ta-ma-tas-tic. She got the idea yesterday. She likes to think she wouldn’t have gotten there if she hadn’t spent so much time working up to 282 pages. Two years ago, this idea was 60 pages which she forced up to 80 pages so she could go to Banff Writers Studio. And she’s had such problems with confidence (because it’s 18th century, and she’s never written a novel before, and she set it in Spain, which she’s only been to once in her whole life). But, slow and steady, and BIG BIG thanks to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig for giving her that space and that peace and that determination to finish her book.

And she is so happy right now. Incredible.

Stay tuned.

 

Work-In-Progress: Memory (II)

Feeling discouraged about the novel-in-progress at the moment. It turned out a bit too much for self to chew. She should have known . . .

Stuck at 266 pages. All day.

In the meantime, she’s going back to some old short stories. Ones she’s forgotten about and stopped sending out, for years.

Here is the continuation of the story about the woman who stole her mother’s Chopard earrings:

I was going to do something, but I didn’t know what. I felt brave. I felt I would never fail, as long as I had the earrings with me.

I sewed them into a little pouch on the inside of the waistband of my jeans, and I wore just the one pair of jeans, day in and day out. They were soft and loose, ripped at the knees.

I didn’t have to pretend: I was what I was. I was crazy. I was living.

Stay tuned.

 

AWP Bookfair, Tampa 2018: Game Plan

Self will be frank: the only reason she’s going to Tampa next year is the Bookfair.

Oh, wait! There’s another reason: George Saunders is the keynote speaker.

But okay, back to the Bookfair. It’s huge and exhausting. Here is the floor plan.

There have been past AWPs (notably, one in Chicago) where self was so buzzed she did not sleep for 48 hours.

Several years ago, she remembers walking down aisle after aisle of the Bookfair (2015? 2014?) and she had new stories in a number of journals and it felt GLORIOUS. Empowering. And, she should have known: it was an experience never to be repeated. (Aw, shucks!)

She didn’t even go to the AWP last year, even though she had many, many good friends who were booksigning. Even though she was in DC! And participated in an off-site reading (for Quarterly West).

Here’s a selective list of 2018 AWP Bookfair exhibitors:

Akashic * American Short Fiction * Bellingham Review * Blue Mesa Review * Bread Loaf Writers Conferences * Electric Literature * The Florida Review * Fourteen Hills * Grove/Atlantic * Indiana Review * The Journal * Juked * Miami University Press * Mid-American Review * Mississippi Review * New Letters * New Ohio Review * Nimrod * Old Dominion University * The Paris Review * Poets & Writers * Potomac Review * Prairie Schooner * Puerto del Sol * RHINO * Santa Fe Writers Project * Sarabande Books * Small Press Distribution * Submittable * The New York Review of Books * Tin House * University of Arizona Creative Writing * University of Missouri Creative Writing Program * Veterans Writing Project * War, Literature & the Arts * Wings Press * Witness/UNLV English Dept * Women’s Review of Books

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Libretto, MARIFE

Ten years ago, in VCCA (Virginia Center for the Creative Arts), self was working on a novella called Marife, loosely based on the events of the Oklahoma City bombing.

A composer named Drew Hemenger, who she met at VCCA, worked with her to turn it into a full-length opera.

The orchestral suite was performed by Hampshire Symphony two years ago. In her most woebegone moments, Drew would direct self to this or that opera (Porgy and Bess?) which took 20 years to be performed. And self would say, “Drew. I do not have 20 years.”

Dear blog readers, this is just to let you know that two people, if they are determined enough, even with no money, can create an opera. The problem has always been finding people who want to stage it. So self is doing this blog on the opera, for the first time. In case someone has any ideas to share?

Here’s how the libretto begins:

I.

MARIFE:

They were talking and talking and talking.

LAWYER:

About what?

MARIFE:

How do I know? What men talk about. Fishing, maybe.

LAWYER:

Fishing?

MARIFE:

Yes, fishing.


Self remembers when she first presented the libretto to Drew, he looked at the 80 pages and said, “That’s going to take three days to sing.”

So self chopped off all the lines to about half their length.

Is that how one writes a libretto? Self doesn’t know. She never wrote a libretto before.

“And just put in the word love, as many times as you can,” Drew said.

“I am not that kind of writer,” self declared.

“This is opera! Do it!”

Right after the Las Vegas shooting, self saw so many parallels with the Oklahoma City bombing. She asked Drew, “Didn’t it strike you as eerie? The ammonium nitrate? The Filipina?” Drew said: “I don’t know. I’ve been trying to stay away from all the Las Vegas shooting news.”

At  one point, Drew met someone who said we could have it staged in the CCP, the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He nearly flew over to Manila.

And self asked: Who was she? And then: Drew, this is one walk you’re going to have to take alone.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amwritingfantasy in Cork

Since signing up for her first-ever NaNoWriMo, self has been cutting pages from her novel-in-progress.

Today, she began a new short story.

Isn’t NaNoWriMo about writing novels?

‘Tis. What can she say? When told to write a novel, she writes short stories. Later, she’ll take a Rohrschach Test to diagnose her disorder.

I was told only that morning, in Luxor: I would be needed to make a delivery of a woman. At the time I received the summons, I was making offerings in the Karnak Temple. Naturally. When I am not at my desk, I am at the Temple, thanking the Gods for my unusual longevity.

I was not told the purpose, but it has always been thus. Our Enigmatic Sphinx knows how to guard its secrets.

I made the retrieval in Guangdong Province. The woman was not conversant in Cantonese or Taishanese and my Mandarin was — well, let’s just say that Professor Ibn Tulun in the Great Mosque did not have the purest Beijing delivery, but he was my teacher and that was the best I could afford.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

In Honor of Self’s First Sign-Up For NaNoWriMo (Which She Will Fail Miserably At, Since She’s Also Moving About Ireland, Plus Teaching)

An excerpt from her now 257-page novel-in-progress about a fighting priest in 18th century Spain:

He decided to play a trick on his mother — to punish her for leaving him alone so long. Perhaps all children suffer from this: the mistaken impression that they have power. Even if just over their mothers.

It seems strange that she is writing science fiction, fantasy, and 18th century historical fiction.

But, hers not to reason why. At least there’s a muse in there, somewhere.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

ROUNDED: The Daily Post Photo Challenge, 25 October 2017

Hello, curves.

— Ben Huberman, The Daily Post

Self’s son was married 14 October this year, in Albuquerque.

She nearly didn’t get to attend because the northern California wildfires grounded her United Airlines flight to Albuquerque from SF, two days in a row.

She finally flew to LAX, then got an American Airlines flight to Albuquerque. She arrived on the next-to-the-last day of the Hot Air Balloon Festival.

If she’d only managed to wake up at dawn, she’d have caught hundreds of balloons in the air, clearly visible from her hotel rooftop.

But she was exhausted. She was still able to catch a few stragglers:

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Albuquerque, New Mexico: October 2017

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Albuquerque, Still October 2017

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Albuquerque: Gorgeous, October 2017

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Welcome to Self’s Apocalypse

Got a rejection from Oxford American today. Nevertheless.

Self has decided to submit a short story collection to a contest.

Story # 1: The Departure

The Situation:  A mom says good-bye to her son, who’s on his way to a college on the coast. Not five minutes after she waves good-bye and re-enters her house, the world ends. The woman wakes up to find that the roof of her house has cracked wide open, and nothing’s working. She decides to check in with a neighbor across the street, who invites her to share some cake (Did self say yet that she writes dark fiction?)

They each took a chair and faced each other across the kitchen table, the cake between them. The cat was still on Julietta’s lap but seemed to show no interest in food. She simply lay there, as if comatose. Through Mrs. Bautista’s kitchen window, Julietta thought she saw wisps of clouds moving backwards. Far off, somewhere, she imagined a whole bevy of airplanes were getting ready to scramble.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

More Waiting: Fifth at 72nd

The Daily Post publishes a new Photo Challenge every Wednesday. This coming Wednesday, though, they’re taking a brief break. The next Photo Challenge will be posted next Wednesday, Sept. 20.

In the meantime, the Photo Challenge this week is WAITING.

Self’s nephew William was married yesterday morning, at St. Ignatius of Loyola on Park. Friends and family converged on New York City from Australia, Spain, England, the Philippines (Dearest Mum and all of self’s nephews and nieces, one sister-in-law) and of course other cities in the U.S., including Miami and Houston.

Last night, there was dinner and dancing at the Central Park Boathouse. Self got a Lyft to take her to 72nd and Fifth. Who should she see standing on the corner but a bunch of her Filipino nephews and nieces, all just standing there in very fancy attire. They told self they were waiting for a shuttle. Pictures are blurred because self has very trembl-y fingers.

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Niece and nephews came all the way from the Philippines to attend the wedding of their cousin, William Blackett.

Self’s niece, Maia, is in plum; Maia’s mom, Mia, is in electric blue. Everyone looked fantastic!

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It was a wonderful evening. Weather was just a bit chilly.

William’s sister, Georgina, was the maid of honor. Here she is, all dolled up, just before the start of the event:

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Last night at the Central Park Boathouse

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amwriting: A Story Begun in Hawthornden

Just to show you how mind-numbingly slow her mind is, there are stories she’s begun five, even 10 years ago, whose words sit in her MacBook, languishing.

Five years ago, while self was in Hawthornden, she met two British poets: Joan McGavin and Jenny Lewis.

After dinner, while we all gathered in the parlor, these two would talk. And if self did nothing in that whole month she was there (June 2012) except listen to the stories, she would count that month well spent.

She also remembers visiting the National Museum in Edinburgh, and seeing there a figure of Dolly the Sheep. And dreaming of a giant Dolly the Sheep looking in through the manor windows.

Dolly the Sheep was the first successfully cloned sheep. She was born on 5 July 1996 and died on 14 February 2003.

Self was channeling sheep apparently because she even began writing a Dolly the Sheep story, which began:

  • The ghost of Dolly the Sheep, and three dun-polled cows.

Hawthornden was the place where self worked on editing Magellan’s Mirror for J Journal. And that is quite a fantastical story (The Philippines populated by a race of giants).

Then she began going to Ireland and started writing dystopia.

Goal for today: Finish that Dolly the Sheep story!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

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