Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday afternoon

Just returned from a modest walk up Sunset Drive. It is an ultra-clear day, in the high 50's. Perfect afternoon for it. My legs and lower back remind me I have not been keeping up the habit. Then while fixing my afternoon coffee, my back froze up as is does. A little stretching and it was fine although I can feel it complaining as I sit here at my desk.

So. A solitary Thanksgiving coming up. Kids are all over the place- Jossie at her home in Spain, Adam, Heather and Wyatt at home in Worthington, OH and Cammie and Billy holidaying in Beaufort, NC. Beth is with friends in Centerville, OH. I have to work tomorrow so I have stayed put. Bought a fresh turkey breast from Greenlife to roast along with the fixin's-- potatoes to mash, dressing mix, cranberry sauce, stuff for green bean casserole. And asparagus. The latter may have to wait its turn.

Last night as I was heating some taco shells I realized the bottom burner on the oven wasn't working. Aaagghh. Could I get it fixed in time for turkey roasting Thursday morning? The first thing I did was spray the oven with over-night oven cleaner because it was disgusting-- the oven, not the cleaner. I am hardly a compulsive housekeeper but even I didn't want the apartment manager or whoever might fix it (if anybody) to see it like that. This morning at eight o'clock I called the rental agent because I couldn't find the manager's number. I think I woke him up although he admitted to having a cold. He said he would call Mike and see that someone was out here today. I cleaned out the gunk (it still needs more work) and before I left for work Mike was here. So, fresh turkey breast tomorrow, after the movie or movies. I had figured I could see two movies-- Men Who Stare at Goats and Pirate Radio back to back tomorrow afternoon. But that probably puts me back home after seven at night. We'll see.

Deadly Dancing is with the editor. Hoping for only minor corrections. He repeated his idea of starting his own (or maybe a collective-- "our" own) imprint. Something like Pisgah Press. Including mine, there are three books extant or in process he thinks would be good to start up with. The advantages of doing this over the more "traditional" is not having to find an agent or a publisher. The downside is, no advance money, none of the even modest resources of an established small press. Still have to do all the marketing. I told him I was interested. I am. And ambivalent.

Oh, there's more to catch up with, but I'm going to lie down with Steven King's new book, one I would never have picked up on my own, but Beth bought it and gave it to me to read while she is out of town. It's like popcorn, not very filling but hard to put down. I have not read a King novel (I do read his stories that appear in the New Yorker) since the Shining. That was a good yarn, as I remember, better than the movie. This one is over 1000 pages. Since I read at the pace of a forth grader, maybe, it's going to take longer than her trip for me to finish it. Way longer. Maybe by the first of the year.

Now, to a recumbent position. May catch up with you tomorrow.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bear Scare

It is an "Ahhhh" day in the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains. Carolina Blue sky, with wisps of white, like cosmic cotton balls pulled apart and strewn willy nilly ito the air. I was at my desk at eight a.m., getting antsy. My spirit told me to go up the Blue Ridge Parkway. I grabbed a coffee at Starbuck's (it was the only place open, I'm sorry) and a chicken biscuit at Bojangles (no apologies) and headed east. There were few others on that scenic drive, the Leafers still lolling in their lodgings in Asheville, or not having arrived yet in the area. The foliage was at peak color for the first few miles. I was disappointed when I first experienced fall in the western Carolina mountains, the colors being less dramatic than I had been used to growing up in the Northeast. Over the years I have come to appreciate the more subtle palette of the region, the soft pinks and muted yellows, interspersed with dashs of bright orange and red. The colors faded as I gained altitude. The drive was still spectacular, vista after vista appearing around the curves in the road. There was none of the haze which has become more or less a permanent characteristic of the air in the southeast.

I hiked to the top of the ridge above the Craggy Garden picnic area, somewhat disconcerted by the sign reading, "AREA CLOSED-DANGEROUS BEAR ACTIVITY." However, it was posted near the ridge top, facing away from me, meant to be seen by hikers coming up from the other side. It made no sense, since there had been no such caution at the picnic area itself, which would be the place most attractive to those black marauders. Nonetheless, I did cut my hike short by about ten minutes, in the possibility I had missed something below, since I was the only car in the parking area-- others may have gotten the message somehow. Back at the picnic area parking lot, there were now several cars. I ask a man if he had seen any other such warnings. He had not. I have decided it is an artifact from earlier in the year, other postings have been removed, and they didn't get to this one.

My spirit renewed, I returned to my table and have spent the next three hours finding things to do other than work on the novel. I am twenty-five pages or so from finishing my run through making changes suggested by Andy. There will be some additional work to set up the main villain better, flesh out a subplot and make our protaganists wife a richer character. My goal was to have it done by the end of the month and if I quit doing THIS and focus on THAT, I may make it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Home Stretch

Three forty-five, Wednesday afternoon, cup of cafe au lait at hand, unlit Camel dangling between my lips, dressed in writing attire -- 2006 Rome (GA) International Film Festival T-shirt, gray cotton gym shorts, green wool blend socks (my toes get cold, perhaps a harbinger of great circulatory issues to come). Candle lit. Windows open. Didn't sleep well, up from two-thirty to five-thirty, during which time I read and thought I might have to see my doctor about getting some Trazadone, standard anti-depressant sleep-aid drug. Discovered this morning I didn't take my nighttime meds which include melatonin -- a non Rx sleeping aid -- and my generic Dylantin, anti-seizure meds which have some sedative effect. So, no wonder I didn't sleep. Skip the Trazadone for now.

Glorious afternoon, mid-60's, clear blue skies, light breeze, a voice says "you ought to be out in this." The voice carries little weight against the forces of sloth. Or shall we be more affirming to ourself. We are writing. Then we might be napping. Lack of sleep and all, you know.

Andy, my editor, had much to say. The work is in the last stages of creation. Need to deepen Kathy, the wife of the protagonist; draw out a plot line more; create more tension near the end. I envision how the first and last of these will go. The drawing out of the particular plot line ("the movie") is going to be the greatest challenge. I struggled with it in the original and it showed. It is a vehicle for generating suspicion of one of the main characters and was more intentionally constructed than other parts of the narrative which flowed more directly from the initial story line, although we always new this particular character - Jay - would be a suspect. I played with alternative narratives none of which seemed satisfying.

Part of my difficultly lies, I think (I'm just making this up, but it seems reasonable) is my ADD, my difficulty in thinking the thing ALL the way through. I get part way into it, it seems to be good, and then I get into problems. Maybe this is sloth, the failure to attack it with the necessary discipline -- if "a" happens, then "b" happens, then "c" happens, all the way out to "n." And all of this is happening while two or three other story lines are also going on, and none are entirely separate from the others. Andy suggests, however, that the movie story line be kept MORE separate from the others. I thought it was. There's the rub. Because that story is what brings us to our first contact with the prime villain. And is the problem then that it is too much of a stretch, or do I have to lay more groundwork so it is more organic to the larger narrative?

My goal is to be done in a month, lets say November 1. I have already done 40 pages of general clean up. He will then read it again.

I may have written before about the why of a free-lance editor as opposed with selling the book and let the publisher do the editing. And the why is, in this ultra-competitive environment I would like to have the tightest, best-written work I can before sending out to the universe. (And, of course, it keeps me one step away from the dreaded HAVING TO PEDDLE THE BOOK stage.)

Trivia tonigh sans daughter and Billy. I feel a nap coming on, to get my brain into a state that random knowledge contained therein will be more to come to the fore when summoned.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Getting Ready

I'm meeting with Andy over dinner tonight at his place, excited and anxious. He has said he likes this draft much better than the last, but that does not mean he won't have suggestions for serious changes. I don't mind the work, if it seems to fit with what I want to do with the novel. It is the time that bothers me. I want to get this off to a publisher, agent, whatever comes first. I am clearing the decks, putting all the other fiction work to the side (having submitted the first 1000 words of my novella, Come Back, to Glimmertrain's "First Pages" contest, and gotten some ideas for places for the short story, Junk Mail-- I will continue try to place it, but the writing is done!) and getting the desk top clean. This is in lieu of writing fiction this morning, a condition akin to withdrawal for me. I was writing on the second of the Rick Ryder books into yesterday afternoon when I had to tell myself, STOP. Put it down. It will wait.

Fall has come to the mountains, a few days late, having been shoved aside for some late summer storms. Cool, clear, breezy this morning. Took a walk to the City Bakery. They had no bread! It hadn't come from the ovens yet (the ovens being across town.) Was forced to choose among cinnamon roll, bagel, bear claw. Cinnamon roll won. Real pastry! And Asheville Coffee Roasters was closed late yesterday morning. What's going on here? Thwarted at every move!

(Spell Check for this doesn't recognize ASHEVILLE!?)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A tree dies in Asheville

Back on Day Two I noted the orange band around one of the two sycamores in the yard. I knew what that meant. Like when you see a noose hanging from a scaffold and a man being walked up with a hood over his head. At the time I had also seen a similar ribbon hanging from one of the lower branches of the other sycamore on the property, the one that I saw right outside my window, the one I looked to for inspiration. I assumed the ribbon hanging on a branch indicated that some of the lower branches needed to be removed. So when the Asplund trucks arrived a few afternoons ago, I knew the one tree was about to meet its demise. I talked to a supervisor looking kind of guy, the only one there at that time, apparently reconnoitering the area. I said it was too bad the tree had to go but saw it was dying and how dangerous that can be in a residential area. He said, yeah, the other one's going, too. I hadn't noticed, as much as I have looked at that tree, that the upper branches were barren. Three mornings ago, they came. When I got home from work, both trees had been stripped of limbs. The next morning they came to finish them off. I watched some as chain saws ate into the flesh of the trunks. Loud thwumps shook the building when they finally toppled.

Who knows what was killing them. Some bug? Air pollution? The stress of urban living? I understand why they were taken down. It is a loss just the same. Less CO2 being taken care of. Fewer roots to hold water (although, the stumps were not removed- they have this piece of equipment, a saw blade maybe three feet across, that is worked back and forth over the top of the stump, grinding it down to about a half foot below ground level- we suppose the hole will be covered and the roots will not be able to breath, and will eventually die themselves). Less green to balance the greys and blacks and browns of the city.

Now I see directly across the street to the "vacant" lot. It is not really vacant at all. It is so dense with growth, I can not see past the vegetation at sidewalk level, although as the hardwoods lose their leaves, more will become visible. There is a great maple tree, taller perhaps than the sycamore. It is already showing orange. My view of it will be unobstructed (except for the philodendron hanging in my window I have to maneuver my head around).

Still, I will miss my old friend. I will get used to it. What don't we? What can't we live without? It is not the same as a loved one -- a parent or sibling gone -- there is no pain. Not really much sadness. A slight void. The squirrels and birds which populated it will no longer be around either. It is a chain. The web of all living things. A slight tear in the web, hardly noticeable, possibly balanced by something new growing somewhere else.

Ah, Saturday. Time to write. Meeting with Andy -- the editor -- tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Last day of the experiment

The week is over. Now I have to assess whether I will continue to use this for my morning writing or return to my freehand journaling. I aware of the showoffy nature of this, a certain narcissism. Look what's on my mind. I'm writing to other people rather than writing for the writing itself. We may know tomorrow morning what I have decided.

I joined my daughter, Cammie, and some of her friends for dinner last night at Carraba's, a slighly uppish-scale pizza and pasta place, uppish meaning cloth napkins et al. A nice place. I've always liked it. And I like her friends, smart, funny, reasonably sober (no one had more than one drink unless the pitcher of Sangria provided more than one apiece for the two who shared it.) Much of the conversation related to contemporary pop culture, TV and movies, and hand-held electronic devices. Not having one of the latter and my TV watching limited to the three channels I can get with my rabbit ears (four, sometimes, if I jump around just right), I was an aural voyeur for much of the conversation.

Earlier in the day, a friend was showing off his hand held device and explaining the business of "apps." (I at least knew that meant applications!) Several "pages" or screens full of apps. He opened, for instance, the GPS. Ok, that's cool. But when in my life have I ever needed a GPS. Oh, maybe that time I got turned around in Charlotte looking for a house due to the sketchy directions I had and the tendency of Charlotte streets to change names willy-nilly. If I was into the markets like he is (he has been working on regaining his networth) I guess it would be nice to be able to look at them 24/7. But I can't imagine how one has time to use all those things, much less the inclination.

Soooo. When I read in the Times this a.m. about how much electricity is being used by the profusion of electronics gear, I got to be smug in my abstinence from them. (I do have a cell phone; it makes and receives phone calls; it can receive text messages [I probably can send them, too] but the only ones I get are the no-charge ones telling me my phone bill is available on line- now there's a whole story in the paper about that, too). Living on a modest income, I don't choose to spend the money for techy stuff, it is partly an economic issue with me, not just a pricipled environmental stand. (All this consumer electronic stuff is going to require hundreds of new coal or nuclear fueled power plants at a time when the "movement" is working to reduce demand to avoid having to build new plants. ALternatives apparently will not generate sufficient "new" energy to come anywhere near offsetting the increase in demand.) I can justify my choices in moral-superiority terms. While, yes, typing away at an energy using computer-- perhaps this is justification enough for going back to pen and paper.

We're having a nice little storm right now, although it feels like it's winding down. Wind still whipping the sycamore branches around, but in gusts. The rain has let up. I may stay hunkered down or may go see a movie. And get filters for the fish tank before it gets out of control. Again.

Whitman catalogues wonders of the world and the universe in a section of Leaves of Grass and ends the passage, "Come I should like to hear you tell me what there is in yourself/that is not just as wonderful,/ And I should like to hear the name of anything between Sunday/morning and Saturday night that is not just as wonderful." Great way to start the week.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday in the land of ease

9:10 a.m. I read three poesm. Paula Bohince, Josephine Jacobsen. Sharon Olds. It is not to deconstruct the poems, but to hear language. I read out loud, to myself and whatever spirits lurk in my apartment. To get the brain used to unusual, fractured ways of writing. Like electroshock, scramble it up. To unlock possibilities.

I find it is easier to take this writing less seriously than the writing I did freehand in the mornings. I am aware I may have an audience. Not less seriously in terms of the writing itself, the commiting of words to . . . space, I guess, but in how I regard the practice. Although, I have during this week's experiment, only skipped one morning and made it up later in the day, something I would never do when writing by hand.

It is, as I have reported, less freewheeling. That may be good. Much less introspection. Heaven knows, if there is a something that constitutes a full plate of looking inward in one's life, I must have filled mine near the edges.

The Asheville Writing Enthusiasts meets later this morning. I have submitted pages to be critiqued, from my novela, Come Back, about a young baseball phenom from a difficult family in the boonies of western North Carolina who gets messed up with methamphetamine. "Gliimer Train," the literary magazine, is having a "First Five Hundred" contest for unpublished writers - that would be me - the first five hundred words from a work. I want feedback from the group before I submit to it. However, I am aware I sent it out as an email attachment with as an Open Office document. OpenOffice is freeware that is much like Word but cannot be read without OpenOffice. In the past I have saved the documents as Word doc.s before sending and forgot to this time. SOooo, it is likely no one will have been able to read it before the meeting. I will take copies to be read there. I will report back.

I am baching (?) it this week end, as in being without significant other. I could get a lot of writing done. Or I could watch football. Or hike. Or all of the above. I become anxious when large blocks of unplanned time looms out in front of me. On the other hand, I am neurotic about having large blocks of "free time" available to me. I make up the story that these are concurrent results of being brought up in a family in which spending a lot of time by oneself was suspect. And in which many activities were planned, the usual suburban things, Scouts, Sports, YMCA, Church. I, without choice and with resentment participated. It is I believe, why joining things as an adult has been difficult.

Ooops. We seem to have landed in the land of introspection. Time to go. I can get a half-hour of work on Marijuana Murders.

Friday, September 18, 2009

What i had for breakfast

I had vowed to myself that this would not be a "what I had for breakfast" kind of a blog. That it would be something with literary merit. Yes, well, so much for that. I din't have any breakfast. Hardly ever have breakfast although I did buy a box of some maple crunch thing at Greenlife, all-natural-all-the-time kind of stuff, tasty, actually, lots of carbs. I did have some for a couple of breakfasts but also as late night snacks. Once upon a time in my life, I ate a blended concoction of almonds, frozen bananas, whatever other kind of fruit I might have around - usually apples, but could be strawberries, blueberries . . . - and enough juice so it would blend. Has to be a sweet juice, orange or apple, mango blueberry worked. Grapefruit juice didn't. I return to that sporadically, even keep a supple of frozen bananas going. But, you know, it takes time. I'd rather be writing in the morning.

Followers - both of you - might note that I didn't write this a.m. I did work on novel 2 (working title "Marijuana Murders"). My plan was I was going to get up and going early and get to work early so I could get six hours in and be off by mid-afternoon. Not. I am having the Asheville Mysterians - our little group of mystery writers in town - read it. So I am spiffing up the next two chapter for our next meeting.

OK. Enough of this. Here's the BIG news. My editor has finished reading THE BOOK - that would be Deadly Dancing for those of you who haven't been paying attention. We are meeting this upcoming Thursday. I'm very excited. There will be more work to do, of course, and then comes the very serious business of selling the thing. It will happen.

I came home very tired after work, a couple hours later than I hoped I would, and couldn't decide between a Gin and Tonic or a Martini. Figured I could have a second G&T but two martinis would put me to sleep. And the new New Yorker came, so I will want to read it. And maybe watch an episode or two of Weeds, a show to which my elder daughter turned me on. It was like crack, habit forming from the first exposure.

Friday night, raining in the city. Leaves are beginning to accumulate in the gutters. The gloom gathers. A night to hunker down.

May you be blessed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

too early

6:53 a.m. Have to be in early to work for a meeting. Black outside. I can hear the sounds of I-240 more clearly this morning. Because of the rain? Does humidity serve as a sound conducter? If I stare out the window, I can make out vague outlines of things, a car at the curb. I cannot see the tree, only that I cannot see a part of the car. I do not hear rain but the windows were wet when I went to open them. A cool air drifts across my work table, spills down across my legs. Sip coffee.

Today is my elder daughter's thirty-first birthday. Happy Birthday, Cammie. I gave her the Wilde book I had acquired from a friend to give her. Leather bound. Old. I got my Medicare card in the mail yesterday. Making me, I guess, officially, old. Some of us of a certain age were discussing the concept or definition of elderly and decided we were not it. The word is used by some I believe to be softer way of saying 'old.' I think old is more encompassing. The not-so-old, the really old, the very old, I think of the very old as the elderly. Then there's the senior thing. I do feel OK saying 'I'm a senior' at Greenlife or asking for senior tickets at the movie theatre. There is of course the notion that old is only a state of mind. 'You're only as old as you feel."
And what does that really mean. What should almost 65 feel like. How do I know if I'm feeling 65 or 42 or 73? What's the difference? I don't 'feel' significantly different than I did ten, twenty . . . years ago. A few more aches. The hip stays sore for longer periods. The hair is whiter. I don't know that I've lost a whole lot more. I can't see the bald place, but that's been there for a long time. I guess I do tire more quickly while hiking. Spiritually, it doesn't seem much different than it has seemed for years. (Here comes a school bus, it's not the one for my neighbors.) Since, as they say, I cleaned up my act.

Ah, all is visible outside. It is a small pickup truck on the other side of the sycamore tree. The street is still black. I hear the kids gather on Chestnut Street. The tops of the trees are involved is some sultry dance. The sky is a dirty cotton cover over the earth. The truck sounds have gone away, or are masked by other ambient sounds not audible over my tinitus.

We are cutting this short today. In honor of Cammie!! Because I have to leave early for work and want to get on with the work of the novel. #2 in the "Rick Ryder" series. Maybe some of that will wind up here.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Day Two

7:26. The school bus has come and gone. The street has turned dark gray except under the cars parked at the curb where it remains dry. Nothing moves. Except my fingers and the candle flame. I noticed the other day that one of the two sycamores in the yard, the one I cannot see from my window has an orange band tied around it. I believe that means it is scheduled for execution. Perhaps euthenasia is more correct, as it seems to be unhealthy. The lower trunk and branches on one side are bare although a portion of the upper tree still live as if ignorant of what is happening to the rest. I am a poor judge of height (I remember learning a technique while in the Boy Scouts of estimating height by holding one's thumb up to it . . . but I do not remember how it went) but I would estimate the tree to be a good forty feet, about the same height as the one directly outside my window. It is sad to know the time is up for creations of such stature. It is for the best, I know. Preventive maintenance. The thing could blow over in a storm-- larger oak trees in neighborhood have met such fate and only by grace missed any houses as they topled). This particular tree is aimed more or less at the Princess Anne Hotel across the street. But predicting where trees will fall is tricky and I suppose it could be turned this way and my apartment is closest to it, being on the corner and the second floor.

A couple walks by in the mist. Casually dressed. For recreation or work? They move at a brisk pace with no jackets, no umbrella. A car slips down Furman, turns toward town on Chestnut, then another, a white sedan, of recent vintage, the shape of a Toyota Avalon, appropriate car for moving in the mist.

I read Whitman (in "Good Poems") this morning, from Song of Myself. It is also the song of everyone. I wonder how long it took him to write those three pages, did he take notes of people he saw over time, or did he just describe them from remembered images? THen a couple of pages of Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Goal. About an execution by hanging. I'm sixty four, with a birthday coming in a couple of weeks, and I've never read Wilde. Have seen some plays (notably The Importance of Being Ernest in which my daughter performed!) and movies of his work-- oh, yes, we read The Portrait of Dorian Gray in high school. I have acquired a collection of his work (although for reasons not germaine to this writing, I may have to give it up) and for some reason began my trek through his oevre with that poem. Could be the first thing in the book! I am discovering the lineage of poetry. How much Rexroth and Simic and Merwin owe directly to Wordsworth and Whitman and, of course, the Bard.

I passed the Unitarian Universalist church of which I am a member a few months ago and noted the sign and cars reminding me the annual book sale was underway. I decided I would return after running my errands and if there was a collected works of Shakespeare, I would buy it. I'm not making this up. When I returned, I went first to the poetry table. And there it was, no kidding, The Shakespeare, The Complete Works. And in print of a size that even my aging eyes can read. $4.00!! There are some markings presumably made by a student (or students). But they are isolated. I have also not read Shakespeare since high school. I began with the sonnets and have read now 26 of them. I began reading Othello. A challenge for me is that most of my recreational reading is done at night in bed. The book is too big to hold comfortably there. (It is a big book after all, the complete works and all . . .) We'll see.

I also picked up again this morning Annie Dillard's Living Fiction. She is writing in the passage I read about "device" and "technique" in fiction, contending that a work of fiction is the device, that device and technique while accepted in other forms of art have acquired a bad name in fiction. (the book was written almost thirty years ago). I think I understand what she is getting at.

We are at 31 minutes now. I will close. A note for those who may just be starting to read this. These morning pages are unedited. I assume there will be typos, grammatical errors, etc.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The experiment begins

7:27 according to the computer. The first time I use this blog as the place and technique for my morning pages. (See below). I have already, in less than three sentences, found myself editing, one of the things Julia Cameron warns or admonishes against while doing morning writing, just write. And I am conscious that others might read this and do not want to appear incompetent. I want my thoughts clear before committing them, and the point is to let them come, clear or muddled or not even formed at all. So, I look out at the sycamore tree, my morning companion for the years that I have lived in this one bedroom apartment near downtown Asheville. I note again the brown creeping in, beginning to overpower the green. The grass is littered with the vanguard of fall. The school bus came by just as I was sitting down to the work table. the dump truck is on its rounds, garbage truck, bang clatter whack, whir of motor, down the street and now back, backing up, driver looks down Furman Avenue, takes off forward again.

I pick up the cigarette. Unlit. Haven't ingested the toxic fumes of one of these things for I don't know, thirty years, was when I was in Cullowhee, twenty-five years ago. Someone, this also may have been Julia Cameron but I don't think so suggests dressing up to write, some way that you wouldn't ordinarily appear in public. Perhaps in a way that suggests a character one is writing about. I write much, although not exclusively about private investigators and we think of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe and can't imagine them without cancer sticks in their mouths. I sometimes wear a hat, if I haven't showered preparatory to going out in the world, don't want to get the hat hair. I have a shirt I wear almost exclusively when writing, a blue chambray shirt, but it is too warm to wear in hot weather, I put it on this morning. 62 degrees out although warmer by ten in my house even with the AC on last night. Under the blue shirt I am wearing the t-shirt with the picture of the Conquistador on a steed with lance, Don Quixote like, given to me by my daughter who lives most of the year in Madrid. Seems the right thing for writing.

The garbage truck has cleared the area. The quiet is broken only by the hum of the computer. If I listen closely I think I can hear highway noise on I-240. But the computer and my tinitus cover up certain low level ambient noises.

I read poetry in the morning. Have been doing this since reading a little book about writing by Walter Mosely in which he suggests doing same. I am torn (happens a lot as I live up to the stereotype of a Libra) between reading one poet all the way through a book and reading anthologies. I have been reading Wordsworth but picked up Garrison Keillor's collection, Good Poems. I like it. Read Louis Jenkings and Debra Spenser this morning. Some mornings this- the blog -- may appear in poetry like fashion, depending on how brave I am. More coffee.

Coffee. Bad stuff for you. I love it. Milk, a little sugar. Just an edge of bitterness. Same was I like my ale. Although I like my coffee hot, put it in the microwave even if I have just poured it out of the pot. Hot. Ale, cold, none of this room temperature business I understand some peoples prefer. I'm an AMerican beer drinker, as in I grew up and live in America. Grew up on Miller Hi-life, and Blatz and PBR and Schmidt's and, while at school in southwestern Ohio, Schoenling and Weideman and Hudepohl (Hudie!). And, of course, Bud. Have gravitated to local beers and ales although I like Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale and Newcastle as well as the offerings of the local microbreweries and now I feel like I'm getting into the what I had for breakfast kind of blogging I told myself I wouldn't do. Maybe I'll just report sometime when I've come across something especially good.

OK. I've been into this a half-hour. Seems like I lost the flow when I got up for that second cup of Joe. Maybe thirty minutes is my limit here. It's been OK. I'm giving it a week.


Monday, September 14, 2009

I have no clue what I'm doing

I want to get rid of myself as a Follower of myself. And there is some other stuff that shows up on the right hand side that are more referrences to me. I want to get rid of them, too. They do not work with the standard way of right clicking to get to delete or cut. Just reinforcement for the notion that I shouldn't get too full of myself here. Might be good to find a consultant or young offspring to help.

I think I know so much

So. I'm feeling all cool and hip and like I have a clue what is going on because I discovered how to connect this to Facebook. But, it's just another posting. Somehow I have to get it sent to all my 'friends.' (Now those of you who really are my real-world friends, don't get all bent out of shape by the '...' around the work 'friend' but the reality is many of my Facebook friends are really acquaintances and some I've never met but know of them) And then I click on this thing at the bottom of my blog page, it says "Subscribe to: Posts (Atom)" and up comes this thing in Spanish. What the hell is that about. And then I click on "Other Blogs" and something about design comes up. Nice graphics and all, but why? And then I notice the "Label" at the bottom of my previous entry and it says "Every work counts." And it should say, Every word counts. And, now I'm not even sure what that means.

But the real issue I want to relate is how I do my morning writing. Many years ago (fifteen?), I read a book, The Vein of Gold, by Julia Cameron, the woman who wrote The Artist Way, and started that whole movement. She suggests writing three pages longhand every day as a discipline. I have been doing that, more or less, for all those years. Some days I don't do three pages, and recently the journals I've been writing in have been smaller than the 81/2 X 11 I started with. But I have been rigorous about it. She believes there is something about writing longhand rather than typing which fosters creativity. And, the idea is not to journal or diary but to WRITE. Whatever comes. (some people might consider that a kind of journal).

I am going to take a bold step here and beginning tomorrow, I am going to write my "pages" here. This may mean I have to do some self-editing. This may mean I'm not as "creative" as I would be if I didn't think someone else might read the stuff. But I'm going to do it for a week and see how it goes. If I'm going to have this blog, and eventually figure out how to invite people to read it, I might as well be doing some writing on it. So, tomorrow, between seven and seven-thirty, I will begin the experiment. I'll let you know how it's going-- that is, my assessment of how it compares to the freehand writing.

Monday, August 31, 2009

3:50 am

Awake at three-fifty in the morning, thinking, 'you've started a blog as people who seem to be hip to how writers get noticed these days suggested and then it has just sat.' The problem is, or perhaps challenge is the more appropriate word, the challenge is, how to get people to read it. We mess around some. We are on Facebook and follow the link there. There is also a place to put in email addresses of those we would like to invite to read this. I can't figure out how to import them. At any rate, I have decided, for today anyway, to keep it up. And pursue the whole "connectivity" as I go.

Just started reading How Fiction Works by James Wood.

And now it's time to try to sleep. We'll read some more of Road Dogs, Elmore Leonard's most recent popcorn. I love it. Although, further reading of Baudolino is more likely to get my eyes to close.

More to follow, Gentle Reader.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Noviate

"the period or state of being a novice" per Webster.
At the urging of people who present themselves as knowing about the publishing biz these days, I creating a blog. In this regard it is a purely mercenary activity, i.e., something that may somehow someday interest people sufficiently in my writing to buy it. This means I will be posting excerpts from my work, current or past. And other things I come across in the process. For instance, today I was reading the article, "Castles in the Mind," from the July 2009 issue of "O", given to be a friend with whom I have talked about the trials and tribulations of writing. In a sidebar there is a quote from "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."

We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made or only just happened. Jim he allowed they was made, but I allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to make so many. Jim said the moon could a laid them; well, that looked kind of reasonable, so I didn't say nothing against it, because I've seen a frog lay most as many, so of course it could be done. We used to watch the stars that fell, too, and see them streak down. Jim allowed they'd got spoiled and was hove out of the nest.

What I don't remember learning about in English or Literature courses anywhere along the way was about the WRITING. We were taught the stories, why they were good stories and worth talking about. But I don't remember really examining the writing. Appreciating the writing. Huckleberry Finn is not just a great book because the story, as wonderful as it is, it is because the writing is terrific. Ok, you may say, if the writing was terrific, we wouldn't be reading it, but I mean to listen to the words and talk about how it is to hear the words. Oh, well, I go on.

The short of it for me today, is to back to my writing, to look at each sentence, at each work, to treat it like a painter putting strokes on canvas or a sculptor removing stone from a piece of marble. Each motion is significant. Thought out, to some degree, even if it is only to see how it looks. I am inspired, encouraged, to go on.