Monday, November 30, 2009

What I have learned this past week...

--Making up a hospital bed with a terminally ill person lying in it is a science

--Managing pain is an art

--Writing 50,000 words in one month is easy

--Writing 50,000 words worth their paper is not

--Eating meatballs and spaghetti on Thanksgiving Day is amazingly satisfying

--Most of my greatest friends I have never met

--My children are capable of accepting sadness and death

--My father is the strongest person I have ever met, aside from my mother.


The Writing... I 'won' NaNoWriMo on Day 29. This year, I was fussier with my words, not satisfied with 'filler'. I'll detail the process later, and how I dealt with slow periods (I refuse to call them blocks), but first I want to read through the 152 pages (!) I wrote these past 30 days. Now, Clayton Pettigrew calls me, perhaps because North Carolina inspired this particular character and I have spent so much time in that state. Several contests and submissions to send in, after receiving my fair share of rejections...

The Reading... I've given up on GRAVITY'S RAINBOW, it's just too intense for me to read right now. I'll return to it after the New Year. Now, in the thick of PEOPLE OF THE BOOK which is stunning in its structure and evocative retelling of history.

Peace, Linda

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Another Kodacolor Moment

My eyes land on the photo: the two of us at Nantucket harbor, the sunset glowing behind us, a gaudy Mai Tai, while I stare into the camera, serious as the wind whips my hair, but he looks at me, eyes soft, mouth curved in a small smile. I pull the picture from its Lucite frame, gaze at it nestled in my opened hands, and tear it; the rip cleaves his face in two, a jag of white interrupts his smiling mouth, but then I shred the pieces in half again, and again, until my hand fills with ragged-edged papers. For a reason unfathomable to me, I blow; the soft shards float in the air like dandelion seeds parachuting on a gentle spring breeze, scattering and drifting downward, covering the bed, my slippers, the cracks between floor boards, scores of pieces reflecting his hair and mouth and shirt and hands and eyes. I fall on my knees, scramble to pick them up, but the small bits hover in the invisible drafts created by my outstretched hands, eluding me.

God, he’ll always be with me.

I sob again.

Excerpted from BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT. A similar version appeared in Six Sentences, Volume I, 2008.

Peace, Linda

[Don't mind me, I'm a Technorati verification tag SFKHCCNQP63W ]

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Why I Write

I sit here in the near dark, and wonder: why is it I pound away at the keyboard, creating scenes about people who never existed but in my imagination and my heart? What compels me to pour word after word on a blank computer page, even as my father's labored breathing fills the room, seems to tremble around me in time with my own pulse? I look up only when his noises stop, my body clutching at the sudden silence -- is this it? And after his breaths resume, it seems to me so pointless to write, there are so many reasons not to, especially now, when every second should be savored, remembered, never forgotten.

I write for many reasons: for joy of the word, the love of my imagination, to share stories, to make truths, to discover myself, to make meaning of an incoherent world, but now, late this night, I write madly because the sheer motion of putting down the words is the only act within my control.

Peace, Linda

Thursday, November 19, 2009

High Flyer

My very atoms vibrate: from caffeine, from sleep deprivation, from the constant moving forward. From erratic consumption of my mood regulators. But my mind is sharp, focused; my dreams, Technicolor wonders. Everything I touch explodes from this magical sub-cellular energy surging within me. When I press on the closed hollow-wood door to my shrink's office, it flies open with a bang, the knob gouging the plaster wall. He sits at his desk, the room dim but for the green glow of a single lamp, head bowed, not noticing my tumult.


Originally published in Six Sentences, Volume I, 2008. Excerpted from BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT.

Prayers today to: John, Franklin, Tracie, and so many others.

Peace, Linda

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Outlines, Like Rules, are Made to be Broken

Today marks the halfway point of National Novel Writing Month. Word count-wise, I'm about a day ahead of myself. Every night, before I fall asleep, I review the scene I wrote earlier, then look at my synopsis to see where I'm heading the next day. I sleep, hoping my subconscious kicks into gear while I sleep and the morning will bring brilliance in abundance.

Making an outline ahead of time keeps me on track -- sort of. But a funny thing keeps happening along the way to the end of my scenes -- new characters invent themselves. Very bossy folks, these new supporting cast members include Victor and Nayla Borenchenko, disabled scientists who defected Russia, and Jeremy, a glassblower with a drug habit. So the middle is a muddle, but I see the way out of the crazy maze I've weaved. And I'm having a blast.


Good friend John Towler, writing group buddy from the Nudge-Nudge Collective, and friends Greta Igl, Stephen Book, and Jane Banning, have released 30 Days, 30 Writes, a chapbook of short prose and poetry created last April in response to daily prompts. You can download the free pdf, or purchase the print copy. Treat yourself to some excellent reads.

Another friend, fellow fridayflasher and Harbinger John Wiswell from The Bathroom Monologues, faces surgery this Friday. He's suffers from a life-long neuromuscular condition and because of his per-existing condition, is unable to obtain health insurance. But rather than ventilate about the general suckiness of our health care system, I ask you to dig into your pockets and jiggle up some change to help him pay for his procedure. Please support a great person and writer by donating whatever you can. You can read more and support him HERE.

Write hard, dig deep, appreciate every minute... Peace, Linda

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pharming - #fridayflash

The small room reeks; yellow urine puddles by the john, streamers of toilet paper and clods of crap circle slowly in the bowl. I do my thing, then cling to the sink as white and grey dots skitter across my open eyes. A hot, heavy fullness bubbles up my throat; an urge to vomit up all the chemicals strikes me, but I swallow it down, blast the faucet and splash myself with water. Bloodshot eyes stare back from the glittering glass, the green of iris obscured by vacant, opaque cisterns. I shake my head, but nothing changes; the stranger gazes back at me. Someone bangs on the door, so I turn from the sink, stagger back to the ballroom.


(A rerun, originally published in Six Sentences: Volume 1, 2008, and an excerpt from BRIGHTER THAN BRIGHT)

Peace, Linda

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Future is Here

Have you ever prepared yourself for some future event -- a marriage, a birth, the completion of a doctoral degree -- and the date seemed unreachable, the journey neverending? You dream about the culmination, prepare for the emotional and physical and spritual aftermaths when 'it' is attained. Then, suddenly, that impossibly faraway intangible is here. Now. And you wonder -- when did the future catch up with today?

A hospital bed was delivered to my father yesterday. The future has grabbed a toe-hold...


The Writing... If it's November it must be NaNoWriMo. As of day 10, I have amassed 18,452 words, all told in Ben's voice (or some facsimile). Even though I used a fairly detailed outline to knock out significant scenes, of course I followed some unpredicted tangents, resulting in the creation of two new characters, including Nayla, a animal lab tech with a prosthetic leg, and her husband, brilliant neuroscientist Victor Borenchenko, both defected from Russia. But I've had the most fun with antagonist Stanley Minkenstein, the shrink running the clinical trials. Here, an unexpurgated excerpt from the weekly staff meeting:

"Um, wait folks," Stan said over the murmur. "One more thing."

The room quieted.

"You kiddos read this?" He held up the print copy of the The Chronicle of Higher Education. No one nodded. "Well, do peruse this fine rag. A lot of folks think it's just about literature and political science and all those other soft pansy disciplines the academy's unduly fond of. But The Chronicle also provides insight into the culture and politics of academic science. So please -- educate yourselves. You can learn a lot about how to advance your career -- and how not to. For instance, take a lesson from these idiots."

He waved the paper over his head before sliding it across the table. It landed in front of me. I peered at the headline. "Postdocs blog their disgruntlement over ivory tower abuses."

Stan stared at me hard over the heads of the exiting students. "Never, ever crap where you're fed."

The Reading... Who has time to read? I'm too busy writing. Actually, still plugging away at GRAVITY'S RAINBOW, as well as Richard Russo's EMPIRE FALLS and Geraldine Brook's PEOPLE OF THE BOOK.

I know, I know -- I've not posted a debut author from an Indie press review since September. In part, real busy. In part, the two books I purchased were pretty awful and I couldn't finish them. In part, life's really been socking it to me, so...

Write hard, live harder... Peace, Linda

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Bookends of a Life: II

Only the steady thump-thump of the hissing machine, valves pressing and depressing against your will, remind me you are here. Like you, I dress in white; like you, many patients call me angel and I guess I am, administering to their wounds and sighs and bedpans and now, ministering to you, embellishing the chart with your vitals, watching you waste to a shrunken, wheezing vessel. The clacking ventilator reminds me of the ice cubes rattling in your highball the nights I nagged you to stop, your hands jittering between the glass and the cigarette, but your yellowed fingers stabbed and twisted the butt into ashes, proving you did not love me - enough. You moan and turn your withered face to the weak gasp of winter sun bullying its way through the window. It’s only a matter of time, I rationalize, and fiddle with the tubing, adjusting the flow. The morphine races down to the catheter in your wrist and I wonder: Mama, did I love you enough?

Originally published in 6S: Volume 2, 2009.

Peace, Linda

Sunday, November 01, 2009

And They're Off...

This morning marked the first day of National Novel Writing Month. I was up (per usual) at 5:30, suffering from a Babe Ruth-Butterfinger-Twix hangover. It was slow going - I've been in deep edit mode, and in deep edit mode with another character who 'speaks' in present tense - but I managed to churn out ~1,100 words and will work again tonight.

I'm better prepared this year than last - a scene-by-scene outline, considerable pre-writing around my characters, and a new notebook to keep notes. I'll preface every writing session with a 5 minute longhand 'dump' session to get in the mood of my tasked scene. My gameplan? Ten days per character. I'll spend through November 10 focusing on Ben, then switch gears to Kevin (which nicely dovetails with my GOTHAM class submission due date for that character), and wrap up with Phoebe scenes. Of course, I anticipate tangents galore, but it feels good going in with a map.

Looking forward to the luxury of focusing on PURE. A whole 30 days. I'll be posting excerpts, updates, and #fridayflashes.

Write hard, live harder. Peace, Linda