#amwriting: The Hill of Storms

The ghost of Dolly the sheep and three dun-polled cows grazed the storm-torn bracken.

From that day the King of France was never troubled by visits from the lands of dark-skinned peoples.

__________________

This is one of those stories where every other line is italicized because there are two interlocking threads.

An experiment, for sure!

Stay tuned.

Reading of the Day: BOOK OF PSALMS, Chapter 6

I have laboured in my groanings, every night I will wash my bed: I will water my couch with my tears.

My eye is troubled through indignation: I have grown old amongst all my enemies.

Depart from them, all ye workers of iniquity: for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping.

The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord hath received my prayer.

Let all my enemies be ashamed.

Voice is a “thing” with self.

She’ll labor over a story, for years sometimes, until she gets the voice of the main character just right. Sometimes it helps to read poetry. Sometimes it helps to read The Book of Psalms.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Quest: Daily Post Photo Challenge, 23 September 2016

We have a new Daily Post Photo Challenge, dropped today by Cheri Lucas Rowlands, QUEST:

  • What are you in search for? Capture your quest with your camera.

Here are some photos from self’s (huge) stash of photos that she thinks emblemize QUEST:

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An Ed Ruscha: Currently on Exhibit at the De Young Museum

And here’s from a handmade book self saw at the Legion of Honor:

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Illustrated Book at the Legion of Honor, Text is by San Francisco Poet Wallace Ting

Every new story is a quest. Here are two pages of her draft for “Ice” (forthcoming from Bellingham Review):

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Two Pages of Self’s Manuscript for “Ice,” One of Her Dystopian Fantasies

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Gil Sorrentino/ Stanford Creative Writing

Dear blog readers, creative writing workshop made self very tense because she honestly had never met any American writers until she got into the Creative Writing Program, and they intimidated the heck out of her. One of her (male) classmates got up and danced on the table before the start of the workshop. Self can only say: she had never seen anything like it and was so amazed. Because if any of her college classmates in Manila had done that, they would have been arrested. Banned from campus. Reprimanded. But here, she got to enjoy the man’s dancing. LOL

In addition, her classmates wrote about things like going hunting. Or going on road trips. She made herself read Jack Kerouac just so she could understand Americans better. The other writers came from different states: Arizona, Texas, North Carolina, Louisiana. Self was from the Philippines, and she for the life of her could not even open her mouth. Once there was sharp disagreement about one of her stories and self couldn’t even get up the gumption to explain what she was trying to do. Much to her everlasting shame, a fellow writer had to stick up for her and defend her, and then was so overwhelmed by the task that she left the workshop and had to hide in the Women’s Room for a while. And self followed her there but had nothing to say. Self was such a blithering idiot. This woman was kind enough to pick up the cudgels for her and all she could do afterwards was stare helplessly at her? She absolutely had no courage.

Seriously, every time she opened her mouth, she ended up putting her foot in it.

Gil Sorrentino was one of three professors who took turns leading workshop. He was this amazing, experimental writer and before self met him, she didn’t even know what “experimental fiction” was. His most famous book was Mulligan Stew. He led workshop on the day self’s story, Ginseng, was up.

Told from a “we” point of view, and self was so nervous.

After all the discussion, Gil looked at her and said, “What the narrator doesn’t understand is, after everything is said and done, the man still has his pride.”

Self realized that Gil had more sympathy for the old man than for the detached and critical narrator.

She didn’t realize it at the time, but the fact that Gil felt he had to defend the old man was an amazing thing.

Ginseng is narrated by a man whose father is gradually sinking into dementia. The narrator keeps describing all his symptoms while getting more and more amazed: why does the old man insist on putting on a Panama hat before he takes a walk?  Why does he carry around that fancy walking stick? The narrator felt only exasperation.

Self always imagined the narrator as a man because to write about an old person from a woman’s point of view and to be that detached was something self felt she couldn’t pull off.

The story begins:

  • My father is 83. Once he was very handsome, but now he has plump hips and breasts, with dark, pointed nipples on top of two triangles of brown, leathery skin. It is impossible for me to think of him as still a man in the usual sense, in the sense he has wanted me to think of him for so many years.

At VCCA, a long time ago, one of the other writers found this story, she doesn’t know how. He found a copy of the journal that had published it on one of the shelves of the VCCA library and showed it to her. AMAZING!

By now, self has read many, many American writers. She loves Jim Harrison. Part of the reason might be that she loves Yellow Dog and another reason may be that Harrison writes novellas. His stories are set in Michigan’s UP and they are so specific to that place but also so universal. She never got into Kerouac. She adored Cynthia Ozick and Grace Paley.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Morning: Annaghmakerrig

IMAGINE YOUR TYPICAL MORNING.

— Cheri Lucas Rowlands, The Daily Post

The below are from last spring, when self was at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig. As soon as she woke up, she’d start writing. Sometimes she wouldn’t bother sleeping. So, coffee. Loads and loads of coffee.

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Self’s unit had a window seat in the second-floor studio. Also, a previous resident had left behind a paperback copy of George R. R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings, which helped.

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Kitchen Window

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Self kept herself going with coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. This last trip, she brought Philz coffee from San Francisco.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

#amwriting: Novel-in-Progress, WILDERNESS, Chapter 1

  • The old servant woman placed before each of them a white plate on which were artfully arranged four thin, golden slices of ripe mango.

Novel got her into the 2015 Banff Literary Studio, where one of her mentors was so scrupulous he marked sentence by sentence. Things like: WHO IS THE SPEAKER HERE?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“All the Missing” Continued

Some are blonde. Some are brunette. Some are redheads.

Some have braces. A few have freckles.

The parents stand on street corners. They organize search teams. They implore complete strangers:  Please, please.

Self wrote “All the Missing” before she discovered Galway Kinnell’s 9/11 poem, When the Towers Fell (just this year) but it’s almost uncanny, the similarities between her scene and Kinnell’s. No, this does not mean she’s putting herself on the same level as Kinnell. But it does mean that sometimes writers in different parts of the world stumble on the same cultural pulse, working off pure intuition! Pay close attention, dear blog readers: you will see this happening over and over again.

In Kinnell’s poem (which is one of his longest), people stand on New York City street corners, holding up pictures of their loved ones, asking “Have you seen _____ my child/my husband/my wife/my brother/ my sister/ my friend?” And people can’t look them in the face. Passersby sweep past them, muttering,  “Sorry, sorry.”

And here’s a site that references poets who’ve written about 9/11.

“All the Missing” appeared in Phoebe 41.1 (Spring 2012)

Stay tuned.

Writing/Revising

Self is going through a stash of papers that she’s been toting around in her suitcase, for the longest time.

Lo and behold, it’s a print-out of her story, “Ice.” The one that Bellingham Review is going to publish.

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Page 1 of self’s dystopian fantasy, “Ice”

Self’s writing is very, very spare.

Some have even described it as “simple” though self really takes exception to that word as her process is anything but. It is the most intricate process ever.

She cuts ruthlessly during revision.

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Flash Fiction Revision: every phrase that isn’t 100% necessary gets cut.

What’s left on the page is not simple.

At least, not in self’s humble opinion.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Word Cloud: Story-In-Progress

Self loves Wordle.

This evening, she did a Word Cloud of a story she’s currently working on, called Gerry Dreams the Ocean.

It’s about a teen-age boy who lives in San Bruno, CA and whose mother has just passed away. His grandmother in Manila keeps trying to get the father to send the boy “home.”

The Wordle for this story was so beautiful! Don’t know if this link will still be good later, but here it is anyway (She used to be able to save her Word Clouds to a Gallery. Does this just happen automatically now?)

And, for good measure, the words that got “wordled”:

left * Gerry * girl * tumblr * find * English * dry * Stars * ocean * even * strong * sleep * shivered * on-line * sleep * Fangirl * hair * whipped * Filipinos * throat * bonfire * fathers * beer * someone’s * ago * speak * day * fun * hair * beach * comforting * discouraged * find * house * many * Tagalog

Fascinating, simply fascinating.

Stay tuned.

Emptiness of Air: Published in Vela Magazine In a Response to Typhoon Haiyan

EMPTINESS OF AIR

Pericles lost his wife to a great emptiness of air, water, and sound. One moment, she was alive in the house. In the next moment, she had shifted somewhat. She still had the same form, the same face, but something had changed. He couldn’t explain it, but he knew what had happened had happened. He also knew there was no going back. She was stolen from him, as surely as if she had been abducted.

All the sampaguita blossoms had been knocked off the trees. He wandered the garden, lost. He smelled jasmine.

He picked up a white petal from the ground. The brown edges were uncommonly soft.

All the red flowers — santan, lantana, gumamela — where had they gone?

And the orchids his wife had loved: purple and white, tongued.

Small brown Maya birds used to perch on telephone wires strung up and down the street. Now, there were no poles. Wires dangled like snakes, a few sparkling like firecrackers.

  • NOTE: Since self wrote this super-quick (in about 30 minutes) under Vela’s deadline, she’s now going back and editing for clarity. Stay tuned.

 

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