my article “from the stage to the page” is up on the web as of today. go to alison gresik’s website, wrestling the angel, to see my thoughts on using the elements of theater in fiction writing. while you are there, poke around her site and check out her links…it’s a great resource!
tuesday seemed as good a day as any to get back to blogging. so here i am, back in the saddle again. i’ve been thinking about my novella (of course) and picking my way through notes, valued opinions of others and my own desires. the great thing about notes is that they either inspire you to alter your course, or better define your intended one.
when i first began to tackle my second draft up in canada, it was with great conviction for the faults revealed in my first draft. however, some of my summer reading has made me wonder if those same faults might also be corrected within the intentions of the original story. the dear ones who have offered me guidance, gave no demands on what i was to do with what they felt or noticed in what they had read…but as i am an all or nothing personality (in case you didn’t know), my initial attack on a second draft was rather dramatic (what a shock). now i am taking a pause to see just HOW i wish to address my next steps.
my editor reminded me – as i was flailing about on IM, tossing in a sea of possible solutions and issues – that in the end it was i who was the author. that statement both thrilled and frightened me; i hate to be in charge. but timidly i began to muse over what it was that had spilled out in story . was it worthy of listening to? was there something to be gained in a softer approach, in waiting to see if there was indeed a thread i might miss if i jumped to quickly “fix” it.
so fickle am i. today i pause, tomorrow i flail. such is the life of a storyteller.
i realize i have been remiss in my blog entries. we had a death in the family and an odd ending to our stint in the low-country of south carolina. it was my husband’s aunt, and she was known to be sick, but still the sight of my mother-in-law’s eyes, rimmed red and half-mast, was a sobering sight.
i shall soon be back to my normal ramblings. for now a moment of silence, to honor aunt gwen’s story, seems to be the order of the day.
while sitting on the low country beaches of south carolina, i have read some lovely passages of fiction. some time ago – in the not so distant past – these beautiful sections of writing would have left me somewhat discouraged, worried that i was not up to par, and might never be. this time however, i recognize the thread of the author’s artistry that was honed and built upon to produce these exquisite works. this gives me hope. i believe that we “spill a story,” that art overcomes us with its muse, full of our own history and longing, but where i find hope these days is that the crafting of this inspiration into a viable work is just that…work.
i have great passion and an insanely active imagination. but for me to know that it is not genius i need, but perserverence to craft the work until it is finished…this brings me great hope. i can always repaint the canvas, i cannot change the gifts i was given.
hmmm…reading a little, writing a little, sunning a little. mulling, resting, musing. what a lovely part of creating. in this manner i imagine The Creator pausing to enjoy his beach before filling it with creatures.
to hover, to make, to pause, to enjoy, to create again – in this image was i created.
so…for those of you who are paying some sort of attention to the saga of my novella progress, i had a fun day by the pool wrangling my story. thinking, talking, musing about what might happen to lily on her south florida gulf island, what style or scene would support the heart of the story, what things might turn out to be self-indulgent. it was thrilling to lay aside ideas, beautiful words and lovely scenes for the sake of the story. for the sake of telling something worth hearing. i am in love with the process, the passion and the intellect of writing.
imagine how few stories we’d have if it weren’t for fathers. how full of longing we are for this relationship, how greatly it matters. to the good and to the bad, the relationship between father and child is foundational. and, i think, it mirrors deeper realities than we can see with our eyes or touch with our hands.
happy father’s day to each of you, you whisper truths we hope for and often fear to embrace.
i am empty. this is not a negative. it is simply a reality. when i worked in the theater there were always the “closing night blues.” i just closed a show – the birth of my baby niece. now i am off to summer vacation on the outer banks of the carolinas. how blessed is that? but i am still empty. my hubby is on the other coast with his sister – as he should be – and i am here, packing the truck without him. (how in the hell DO those men pack the car?) so i have nothing to say about story. i am empty.
perhaps this is the space between the lines? the selah at the end of a chapter? the beginning of something new?
to the young man,
just beyond tomorrow’s knowledge,
a thing to be conquered, owned.
to the man of middle age,
wisdom appears in humble packages –
brown paper, string;
sometimes flesh its wrapping
and the surgery of humiliation
but for the aged,
for this man, wisdom comes
not as a trophy
nor cloaked in pain
but lying like an unveiled bride beside still waters.
i’m drawn to southern, irish and native american tales. i do have roots from all these traditions in my family tree, but i also think they are tribes that capture well my passion for naming myself with story. i also love african and caribbean tales and i can’t claim any heritage there.
i am visiting my brother in canada and am sitting across his bookshelf. on it there are books about the irish and the native americans and it makes me wonder if we are all drawn to people who name us with stories or if it is a genetic thing or a shared familial delight.
here is something i wrote describing why my short story collection is so “southern:”
I was born in Oklahoma to the great-grandson of a Cherokee, had a nanny from Vietnam and learned to read and write in Tennessee. My grandma was raised an Irishwoman – a matriarch at that – and I came of age with German Mennonites near a cow farm outside Philly. It was beneath the citrus sun and Spanish moss I turned a woman and by the sea I birthed my babies like a turtle in the sand. But I am southern for my stories – sad and slow and full of family, riddled with laughter and fraught with pain. Monuments to my Mamma and myself.
it is funny to think that even deeper than my family tree or culture of origin, are my roots of story.