WIP: The Wilderness

Sometimes you just have to quit trying, and DO.

And then DO SOME MORE.

Self is writing like crazes here in Banff.

Below, an excerpt from a novel-in-progress, Wilderness. It’s about Spain in the 18th century:

Winters were bitter cold, summers an agony of heat. Matias learned to use this to his advantage, remaining closeted in his room. A headache, he told his parents. Dizzy spells.

He read books. His father made sneering remarks about Matias’s laziness. As soon as the shadows lengthened, Matias would gather up his books and leave the house. At night the town’s labyrinth of streets could be dangerous, swarms of beggar children turning aggressive under cover of darkness, finding innocent marks and beating them with heavy wooden staves.

Matias was born into a landscape of suffering. The countryside surrounding the town was reeling from a severe drought that had dragged on many years, and from a pestilence that killed off half the population.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

WIP: “Problems With Sleep”

Sunday was when I met Heather.

I felt I should think of something Ellis and I could do together on Saturday. The Aquarius was having a Monty Python festival. I looked up the Saturday schedule and saw that Life of Brian and A Fish Called Wanda were showing. “Ok,” Ellis said. “When are you meeting your friend again?”

Been working on this story for a long while. Maybe self will finally be able to finish it here in Banff.

Stay tuned.

Poem-In-Progress Self Wrote on Twitter

Self has no idea what #PoemCrawl is. But in no way, shape or form did this prevent her from tweeting a nondescript poem last night. It goes:

An island. Notes written on an island.

An island big enough for games.

Where the death of Jesus sounds like today’s headlines.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Work-in-Progress: Short Story

Monica knew how to laugh! She knew how to enjoy her life! She would never sit at home like her mother, with her nose buried in a book.

— “Things She Can Take” a work-in-progress

Reflections, Yesterday

Feb. 12, 2015: Saw this outside the Stanford Bookstore.

Feb. 12, 2015: Saw this outside the Stanford Bookstore.

It was warm yesterday! While walking around the Stanford University campus, self saw that someone had stuck glittery red hearts around the planter box in front of the Bookstore. The Post Office looked exactly the same. They’re tearing down Meyer. Which means self will have to re-write the stories she’s set there. Yes, she does have stories set in Meyer Library.

The students she spoke to yesterday certainly made her think. Yes, she told them, the stories in Mayor of the Roses were written while she worked at Stanford at various administrative jobs.

Did you ever go to The Bridge (24-hour free counseling service on campus), someone asked. Of course! self replied. Didn’t everybody?

Self told the students that she had a more recent story about the Bridge, but in tone the story is as different from the one in Mayor of the Roses as night and day. In self’s story, which appeared in Waccamaw, the Bridge is a counseling hot-line called 1-800-U-R-Saved. The story is “Bridging.”

She talked about her Creative Writing Program years, and how she felt at the time she wrote the stories in the collection. She really really wanted to take a picture of Professor Miner’s copy of Mayor of the Roses because it was completely marked up. Notes on the margins, arrows pointing every which way. Looked like a piece of post-modern art.

She told the students she was writing science fiction now.

The time was really too short.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Scale: WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge

Self finds this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge — SCALE — very interesting.

She thinks the theme has a lot to do with surprise and contrast. She finds the photograph accompanying the prompt (by Michelle W.) very amusing.

The instructions are to “share a photograph that highlights a size relationship.”

Here are her takes on the theme:

A miniature lamp enlarged self’s childhood imagination (and probably went a long way in determining what she would eventually become: a writer)

Self has had this lamp since she was three or four: a present from her parents. She has it with her in Mendocino, a little talisman. Also, an indication of what work she hoped to do here: an exploration of myth and legends and first life.

Self has had this lamp since she was three or four: a present from her parents. She has it with her in Mendocino, a little talisman. Also, an indication of what work she hopes to do here: an exploration of myth and legends and first life.

Her second trip to Elk was when she finally got to appreciate the view (On her first trip, she was too nervous trying to get out of the way of trucks, buses, etc that all seemed to be crawling up her bumper). Self took this photo from Cottage # 3 behind The Griffin House Inn. A view isn’t a view without something to lend it a sense of scale, and here self used the deck.

Elk, California: View from the Back of The Griffin House Inn

Elk, California: View from the Back of The Griffin House Inn

En route to Chicago, last fall

En route to Chicago, last fall

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Quote for the 2nd Tuesday of December (2014): William Maxwell

Self nearly returned William Maxwell’s So Long, See You Tomorrow to the library yesterday.

For a very short novel, it seemed to move achingly slow.

But, is she ever glad she decided to hang on. Because there’s this passage on p. 27:

What we, or at any rate what I, refer to confidently as memory — meaning a moment, a scene, a fact that has been subjected to a fixative and thereby rescued from oblivion — is really a form of storytelling that goes on continually in the mind and often changes with the telling. Too many conflicting emotional interests are involved for life ever to be wholly acceptable, and possibly it is the work of the storyteller to rearrange things so that they conform to this end. In any case, in talking about the past, we lie with every breath we draw.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

“Jesters”: Disjointedness

This piece came out January 2012 in Used Furniture Review.

Self enjoys writing things that are disjointed.

She started “Jesters” in VCCA (the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts). The house she describes in the piece is the main house there. The books listed in the piece are books self found on the shelves in the main house. Here’s an excerpt:

There is so much weight here: the house, the barn, the chestnut horses in the field, the Chinese elms, the white porch, the brick path, the flowering oregano bushes, the Steinway grand, the porcelain vases, the shelves and shelves of books: Culture & Anarchy, Multilingual Lexicon of Linguistics and Philology, Cassell’s Italian Dictionary, The World and The Text. You run your hands over the dusty spines. You finger the books. You feel yourself melting, slowly.

You know what else self found on the shelves in the main house? A copy of the literary magazine Story, which was the first American magazine to ever publish her. The story was “Ginseng.” Actually, self didn’t find the magazine; another writer did, and showed it to her. Wow! Amazing!

Stay tuned.

More Cover Art, More Stories Yet to Be Written

For a story yet to be written, this:

DSCN3009

Self’s working title for the story: “Offerings”

For yet another story to be written, with working title “Insomnia Diaries”:

DSCN2518

Finally:  How does “The Red Room” sound for the title of a story yet to be written?  Self thinks this picture would do nicely as an accompanying illustration:

The Red Room in Café Paradiso, city of Cork

The Red Room in Café Paradiso, city of Cork

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

More Cover Art: Possibilities for Works of Fiction (Yet To Be Written)

Self wrote a story set in Angkor Wat and Siem Reap. If she were ever to illustrate it, she would choose this:

Detail of wall carving, Angkor Wat: Self was there in 2004.

Detail of wall carving, Angkor Wat: Self was there in 2004.

For a noir-ish novel about Bacolod in the 1950s, probably this collage of photographs:

DSCN1715

And for a noir-ish mystery set in Venice, this:

Fishing near the Arsenale in Venice, April 2013

Fishing near the Arsenale in Venice, April 2013

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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