Google Analytics

Sunday, April 27, 2014


I'm keeping a list, separate from the current writing projects, of ideas that I'd like to explore in writing at some point. These are seeds rather than fully-formed concepts. Some may even be more interesting as morsels for conversation but not necessarily as foundations to a story.

I have not started a new project, per se, but I am thinking that out of these ideas I may come up with a theme for the next volume of short stories. The first volume, Because She Was a Woman, was based on a conversation about a song and followed from a line in a poem a friend had shared with me years ago.

Occasionally I try to broach one of these topics in my Facebook page, but it is not always a success.

Words are funny things. They are easily misconstrued, especially online where they seem to take a life of their own and in unexpected ways.
Things break. Some, delicate little things, can not be glued back together. You may pretend you cannot see the cracks by squinting or dimming the lights. You may pretend its surface is still smooth and beautiful even as your finger bleeds, jagged glass ripping the skin apart. It is still irrevocably broken. You can't unshatter it. Is the value of the thing entirely in what it brought to your life? Do you keep the broken artifact for sentimental reasons or do you accept it is no longer the thing you once loved, let it go and dump it -- live off the memories and not the reality?

I am not entirely sure that everyone who participated in the ensuing discussion understood the deeper meaning of the words in the same way – which is the beauty of it because that makes each answer nuanced and personal. Each perception then becomes a different story – if the exercise is successful.

I didn't explain it beyond that and I received a variety of responses. The eternal optimist that believes anything can be fixed. The more pragmatic realist that recognized that sometimes you need to let go, but also that some times you must ease yourself into that state. The eternal romantic that feels that there is an almost metaphysical relationship where an understanding is achieved... (I admit being completely ignorant of such things and missing the point almost entirely, luckily my stupidity in matter of the heart doesn't affect our friendship.) And finally, the beautiful mind that introduced me to the concept of kintsugi and added a classical elegance to the conversation.

And this is precisely what I wanted to see, a network of ideas springing from a single thought and growing into as many possibilities as varied as the minds and voices added to it.

The inspiration for the original thought? An extended and unstructured journey through Pinterest that lead to re-purposed antiques -- people using damaged porcelain and glassware to make new works of art and jewelry. I wondered if these pieces of discarded heirlooms would, in turn, become heirlooms to a new generation in their newest guise.

A simple thought gave way to a larger conversation with far more possibilities than the story of a single mosaic pin made out of a broken tea cup. But even if no other stories come of this specific exercise, what interesting ideas come from it and what a perfect opportunity to learn something new – about history, life, and the people that populate your life!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tilting at Windmills

I did something today I have not done in quite some time. Sitting on a subway train, I took out my tiny notebook and mechanical pencil and I started writing.

It wasn't random. It followed the last scene I wrote for the novella, Magical Stilettos.

The man standing over me seemed confounded, as I saw his expression on the glass door across from us. The mechanical pencil threw him for a loop, “It's a pen yet it is a pencil!” Deep down I think he felt an urge to point at me and accuse me of sorcery.

I started writing this as a lighthearted narrative, now it is turning into what may be a study of perception and reality.

There are some uncomfortable topics to cover: evil; slavery; emotional, physical and sexual abuse. And suddenly this is not as funny as I assume it'd be...

Worlds collide and I still do not know where it is going. But once I started to identify the topics at hand, I also realized that there are huge themes that want to come out and inhabit the page.

Of course, once you come to terms with this, the next realization is that you must do the topics justice. None of these ideals should be treated tritely. 
And then horror starts to set in: Do I have it in me to immerse myself in something so big? Is this something that can be properly dealt with in a novella? Are you freaking insane?

I have no particular desire to delve too deeply into any of these topics, but I don't see how I have much of a choice if that is what the story is about. I just transcribe for the Muse, I know my place.

Knowing my place in Real Life also should propel the rest of the writing. I am feeling slightly disenfranchised at the moment. This feeling that saddens and angers me should be the perfect fuel. 

Aren't tears and bitterness the inspiration to centuries of tortured art?

As long as I'm going to be moody, why not channel it into writing before I can start obsessing about it and fermenting into bitterness. Titling at windmills is a better way to go.
I just want the Universe to know that sending me lemons will not result in lemonade, just because that is what is expected proverbially. I will simply squeeze it into a vodka cocktail! (The fact that I do not have any vodka is but a minor detail, so shut up, Powers That Be. I have an imagination. I can pretend.)

Tomorrow, I have an appointment in the city. I will travel by subway -- in rain and probably snow (when will it finally end?!). I hope I am again compelled to take out the little notebook and mechanical pencil and confuse kids who've never read cursive.

Now if I could find a balance, even if slightly perverse, to add humor to this horror I will be a happy writer. (A happy writer? The ultimate fantasy!) 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Big Bad is Toying With Me

My Grand Jury service came and went and I, sadly, did not find the villain I thought would walk into the courtroom and lend a face, and perhaps a voice, to this character I want to write.

I know better than to force it, so I was hoping he'd insinuate himself in real life by walking right into my day and smiling slyly. I imagined I'd feel a slimy metaphysical disgust that made me shudder from head to toe and want to scream, “Ewwwwww!” and run home to shower it off my psyche.

This did not happen.

There was some research involving mythology and more about nomenclature and language.
There was a lot of sitting around waiting to make justice. Do justice? Affect justice? Effect justice? Justify justice? There was a lot of sitting around.

I can say that I am not hopelessly blocked: I was able to write a scene.

It is an important scene because it's not a throw-away moment. This must appear in the final work. It's a simple thing that moves one character from one place to another – which requires little more than standing, putting a foot ahead of another, and letting momentum take its toll. But there is more to it!
The character is unaware it is undergoing a sort of transformation and in this scene the reader is given its first clue that something is afoot. Something evil, in fact. Or maybe just sinister, perhaps evil is too strong a word. 
(Hmm, lies. These are lies!)

In writing the scene, I was able to convey this, allude to the action preceding it and even managed to add a moment of comedy.

The scene, in short, is a success! The problem is that, while it brings me closer to introducing the Big Bad, it stops just short. And therein lies the question that grabbed me and owns me right now: how much foreplay can you do with your reader before you introduce them to the Big Bad?

Do I hand out tidbits or do I push him out into the open, effectively giving the reader a horrendous full frontal beast? Do I seduce them and then shake them into the horror of what this creature truly is? Or is he far less scary than I think he is right now, and will I be playing the literary equivalent of John Williams' “Jaws” leitmotif simply to find later he is just shadows and mist?

The problem is that he hasn't told me yet. I think that he lies... I'm fairly sure he's still lying to me now! He is a shadowy form that exists in this dark, foggy forest and he wants to pull me there. I insist he can tell me from over there, I can hear him. He's trying to trick me. I just know it! 

I'm not blocked, I'm cautious. (You're welcome.)