First Responders, 9/11

Self was in New York just this past fall.

For some reason, she remembered an article she read in Salon, only days after 9/11. It was a first-person piece written by a student at Juilliard who, as soon as he got the news, grabbed his violin and headed downtown.

The Armory was where the injured were taken, and that’s where the music student decided to play. He played, Salon said, “the concert of his life.”

He played until his fingers bled. The weary and bedraggled survivors, the firemen, everyone listening at the Armory were in tears.

When he could no longer play, another student came and took his place.

So, in New York, this past fall, after a very determined internet search, self found the identity of the young man: William Harvey.

Did you know that self wrote her very own 9/11 story? It was very short. LitnImage published it. It was called “Wavering.”

LitnImage no longer exists. The link she posted a while back came back “broken.”

In her story, a businessman was late getting to work because his wife found out he was having an office affair and they fought.

In self’s story, the businessman arrives too late. His lover is up there in one of the towers, and he can’t get to her. And something in him dies, too. Even though he stays married. And all the wife reaps is bitterness.

Recently, Congress passed a law according medical care to the first responders of 9/11. She thinks she heard a figure like, roughly 4,000 first responders developed cancer. (If you add that figure to the number who were killed in the collapse of the towers, the number of 9/11 victims actually doubles and becomes close to 10,000)

On TV a few days ago, on a show about a medium, a wife tells the story of how her husband, a fireman, went straight to the World Trade Center and stayed there for days. When the TV show began, self was expecting to hear that the woman’s husband died during the collapse. But no. It turns out he lived for several years after, but he got cancer.

And self wondered: why did it take 14 years for Congress to pass a bill according these men medical care?

Self wrote another 9/11 piece called “The Walker.” Would you believe, the Yale Review wrote her about it? It was rejected, but just barely. She still has the story in her files. She hasn’t sent it out since.

Roughly, it’s about an insomniac who roams his neighborhood at 3 a.m., whose Filipino neighbor has a counter on his front lawn, counting the days after 9/11: Day 1, Day 2, and so forth.

So the man roams his neighborhood and is struck by the fact that the counter has been put away. It was the day after Osama bin Laden was killed.

When 9/11 happened, self was a visiting instructor at Santa Clara. When she asked the students to write about 9/11, they said “It’s such a clichĂ©.” And six of those students went to the Department Chair and complained about her.

Seriously?

Why wouldn’t you write about 9/11? Especially since it just happened. Self was barely hanging on, it felt like such a travesty to tell the students to do craft-y exercises like construct/de-construct or do meta-fiction.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Sylvain Landry Week 31 Photo Challenge: TIME

Boy does self love Sylvain Landry’s Photo Challenge.

She picks just one photo (as opposed to the three she loads for The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge)

This week’s theme is TIME.

And here’s a picture from a coffee shop on New York City’s Upper West Side, Oct. 2015. She had her notebook open. She carries a notebook with her everywhere so she can jot down random musings as she goes through her day.

No matter how busy she is, she always manages to take down notes on what she observes around her:

DSCN1346

New York City, Upper West Side Coffee Shop, October 2015

Self would describe this process as “layering” — enriching present experience by forcing her to observe details of what’s around her, no matter how mundane. It’s a way of forcing herself to slow down, to savor the moment.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

One Story, Six Ways

This is a workshop self invented, and the Mendocino Art Center is letting her run with it.

ONE STORY, SIX WAYS

Two days of intensive experimentation at different ways to tell ONE event.

In the Mendocino Art Center.

Saturday & Sunday: Feb. 6 & 7, 2016

Instructor: Your Fabulous Blog Mistress Herself

Cost: $200

Such a steal. For $200 you get self for two whole days.

Not to mention, six versions of the same story.

Here’s where to enroll:

MendocinoArtCenter.org/Winter16/Villanueva2.html

Or call: (707) 937 – 5818 xt. 10

Or call: (800) 653 – 3328

 

The State of the Everlark Fan-dom

First of all, that was not cool, replacing J-Hutch with Theo James in the Ben Kingsley movie Backstabbing for Beginners, just when it was about to start filming (Was that a publicity stunt? Because that movie title is so, so — premonitory!)

Next, ever since Mockingjay Part 2 dropped last November, Hunger Games fan sites began shutting down one by one and there was a very dolorous feeling in the air.

But suddenly, out of nowhere, self got some kind of mighty wind because she started writing a new fan fic in December, her first in over a year, and it now stands at over 60,000 words. Wrote it in six weeks. Still going strong. Over 500 comments. That’s a lot of comments.

And there have been fabulous Everlark fan fics dropping every day. Like this one self is totally ga-ga over, which has Katniss and Peeta living in North Carolina when the Apocalypse happens. Everyone turns into a zombie (except them, of course. And Haymitch). Peeta is missing an entire leg and a wheelchair, and moreover there are no more pharmacies open to dispense his prescription painkillers, and all the druggies have made off with the world’s available supply of Oxycontin, and Peeta has to suffer the most acute withdrawal pangs while collapsed in the back of Haymitch’s car as they leave North Carolina and head for Atlanta (with self thinking — no, screaming — what the hell are you doing leaving North Carolina because that’s where Katniss is! How the heck is this going to end up Everlark if Peeta is in Atlanta and Katniss is in North Carolina?)

So fabulous, suspense galore.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Self’s Very Own Wolf Story

One cold February night, Gabe’s wife began to howl.

He thought of a movie he’d seen a long time ago, a movie about a boy who turned into a wolf. The boy-animal became furtive, but fierce. In his wife’s eyes, now, were an animal intensity.

Teaching at the Mendocino Art Center, Jan/Feb 2016

Self is pretty psyched. Aside from a class for UCLA Extension Writers Program (starts Feb. 10), she is back in Mendocino to teach two writing workshops for the Mendocino Art Center this winter (Scroll down for Contact/Registration Information):

The first, January 22 – 24, is:

Journeys: Exploring Inward While Traveling Outward

Grounding in the world — it’s what the best travel writers have. This grounding can be honed. At the same time that travel brings a sense of discovery, and satisfies a deep human need to explore, to learn, to know, and to test oneself, the travel writer needs head space to make sense of the new sensations/sights/sounds — to create, out of all the different new experiences, a coherence. A theme.

Whether the focus is landscape or character, the participant will learn how to utilize specific techniques (like judicious use of juxtaposition) to re-create a travel experience. We’ll stay away from the all-too-easy tendency to exoticize different cultures. We’ll examine the responsibilities of witnessing and of sharing basic human truths.

Experience. Memory. Process.

Bring it on!

2nd Workshop:

One Story, Six Ways

Feb. 6 -7

Begin with an image. Begin with a song. Begin with a memory.

Learn to write that thing, six different ways.

That’s it! Could anything be more straightforward?

We’ll try different strategies: everything from writing flash (500 words or less) to episodic narrative (broken down into scenes) to dramatic monologue to help YOU decide what the best way to tell your story is. There’ll be lots of sharing, so be prepared to give (as well as receive) peer feedback.

Thanks to Karen Bowers and the Mendocino Art Center for having self back to teach!

Sign up here or call for information: (800) 653-3328, xt. 10

Mendocino Again! Still Writing About Cheating Peeta

Self took her leisurely time, leaving the Bay Area a little past 9, going slow in heavy rain through the Golden Gate Bridge, Marin, Cloverdale, Route 128, Highway 1, Yorkville, Albion, Little River. She saw all the usual stuff: sheep, redwoods, wineries. She didn’t stop until she got to Booneville, where she dropped another chapter of her Cheating Peeta fan fic (It is so much FUN to write about Cheating Peeta! The most fun she remembers having in aaaaages! The readers are vested to the max in her characters. They even offer tips about what they think should happen next. For instance, one reader suggests that Katniss and Cheating Peeta, to repair their dysfunctional marriage, go on a vacation “to a white sand beach, preferably right away, preferably without telling anyone.” Now, why didn’t self think of that before? Who wouldn’t love a getaway to a white sand beach? Or, how about this comment: “Oh, I do hope there is a fistfight!” LOL LOL LOL)

Since the internet can be quite poky here in the far northern California coast, she took the opportunity to stop at the Mosswood CafĂ© in Booneville where, while munching on delicious chorizo & goat cheese empanadas, she hurriedly dropped a new chapter — QED because her chapters are short, only about four pages long — and then watched with excitement and satisfaction as the # of hits climbed and climbed and climbed, with every passing second!

The only drawbacks so far since she installed herself in her unit at the Mendocino Art Center are: (1) It is cold; (2) At night, there are no lights; (3) She forgot to bring a flashlight; and (4) She discovered she left behind her copy of Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan’s The Strain, which she was meaning to read when she got through with Philipp Meyer’s American Rust.

The Strain is a horror story involving one or both of these elements: (1) vampires; (2) zombies. She knows she can always pick up a copy from Gallery Bookstore (one of her faaaave hangouts in Mendocino!) tomorrow, but perhaps she should re-think reading horror while in Mendocino. At least, until the days start getting longer. Because when she poked her head out of her unit about two hours ago, there was a stiff wind, it was mighty cold, and she couldn’t see her car because the night darkness was so total. And The Strain sounds genuinely scary. And maybe, just maybe, she doesn’t really need to add that kind of tension to her life right now?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Despite the Pouring Rain

When self left New York City, it was just beginning to get cold. The week before she left, she was still able to walk around Central Park in T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers!

She arrived in San Francisco to rain. Rain and rain and rain. And cold. Rain and cold. And now — storm coming! GAAAAAH!

Nevertheless —

Self dropped a new Everlark fan fic about Cheating Peeta/Stalker Delly in December. Over the past few weeks, it’s generated tremendous amount of discussion on the boards!

Gotten more comments than any fic that dropped in December!

The bare story is this: Peeta cheats on Katniss with Delly. Katniss files for divorce and decides to take time off from teaching to travel around Southeast Asia. And she cheats on Peeta. (The divorce takes a long time because, you know, California lawyers! It might be years!) The two meet in Siem Reap, Cambodia and — Kaboom! — Primal connection fireworks!

Who knew self would be getting comments like this!

  • When I get the new chapter alert in my office, I have to sneak to the comfort room so I can read. I’m very inefficient at work these days.
  • I’m addicted to Fallout 4, but yesterday when I got your story alert, I immediately dropped my controller and reached for my tablet.
  • Every chapter, I cry angry tears, it’s like you’re pounding a nail into my coffin.

Readers list possible ways to deal with the problem of Cheating Peeta:

  • Punch him in the face, Katniss!
  • Shoot him in the nuts with your bow and arrow!
  • Make Peeta grovel!
  • Find yourself some hot, sexy man!

Everlark is self’s be-all and end-all.

Stay tuned.

 

Cheating Peeta Update

Modern Everlark AU, dropped Chapter One Dec. 7.

46 chapters and 33K words later, Everlark’s first kiss.

Readers go crazy, 201 comments.

Haaaaaa!

Great Days

After a long year of almost no time to watch movies, self saw three in less than a week: Star Wars (love Rey!), Sisters, and Spotlight (Is the latest trend movie titles beginning with “S”? Is that someone’s idea of practicing good feng-shui or whatever? Good-bye 2015! What a year you’ve been!). As to the latter film, she loved Mark Ruffalo’s performance. Come to think of it, there is not one single Mark Ruffalo performance that self does not love.

Tomorrow, hopefully, J-Law in Joy.

Hits on self’s latest fic topped 1,000 today. It is a great, great day.

Dutch Warlord posted a new installment of her Battlestar Galactica/Hunger Games mash-up: “Four days after the destruction of the Twelve Colonies of Panem, Commander Haymitch and all that is left of humanity must avoid their Mutt pursuers, who ambush them thirty-three minutes after every successful jump.”

Story begins: “He hated clocks, always had.”

Oh, self loves Dutch Warlord. It only takes self a few minutes to figure out that the point of view is Peeta’s: “The real question was thirty-three. Why did they come every thirty-three minutes? Why not thirty-four, or fifty-four?”

“Why is it always thirty-three minutes,” he murmured.

“Your transmitter’s on, Baker,” someone growled and Peeta cringed.

(Baker as Peeta’s call sign! This post would not have room enough for all the emojis self wants to drop at this moment.)

Stay tuned.

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