Wednesday, November 30, 2011

In which I do a little victory haiku dance...

I Won Now What

hollow victory
open space mars manuscript
so much more to do

Monday, November 21, 2011

In Which Vera Has A Day Off & Writes a Little

A chill mist whispered in  the trees. Dry leaves, here and there clung to their branches as if hoping that the seasons were wrong. That really, it was early spring and they could stay. Vera kept repeating that in her head. She bought a notebook at one of those discount pharmacies, the one where she got her medicine.
            Then she walked to a small pocket park and sat down in the early morning gloom.
She wrote:
            Trees whisper chill words
            One leaf clings to her bare branch
            Hoping spring will come.

Not bad. She wrote some more:

            The man eats mashed sardines.
            Without onion they are not so good,
            he explained once to me.
            tomato cuts the salt, sweetens it.
           The bread has to be toasted rye
            to remind him of his childhood.

            I wish I had a food I loved like that
            My childhood noodles are nothing
            but mush.

That one needs work but it will do. For now.

One more small one:

Iris blue eyes searching
Mine did not know to look

But that did not work.

I dreamed you were sweet in my hands
like syrup and you stuck to me

And that was all she could write. Maybe later.  As Vera walked back to her apartment in the darkening gloom, she wondered if she would ever see Iris again. She felt something like irritation and embarrassment in her heart. She wondered if she had been precipitous to think that she and Iris had any kind of connection at all. She still had the drawing, with the heart, but had not heard anything at all from Iris.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

First Person? Third Person? Who Knows?

And I'm at 14117 words right now. But who cares? What's important is that sometimes my narrator switches from 3rd to 1st Person and it's worrisome, but one WriMo told me that it might be a way for the protagonist to let me know exactly what the story is or how to tell it.

And that is somewhat true. I don't quite have a beginning, middle and end sort of story right now. It's all like the shapeless mass the earth was when the big bang happened.
With that in mind, I'm going to offer another excerpt. It includes some snatches of poetry. I like the sardines one best.

Please share only with attribution. Thank you.

Back on the Food Truck:
            I was filling the napkin holder with twice as many as Garland said I should. I just was not being careful. Or so I would let him think. In reality, I had had a dream, a dream in which I wrote beautiful poetry on napkins and gave them to our customers. They would read like fortunes and people’s lives would change.
            For instance, when I thought of Mrs. Robusto’s regular order for chili dogs on Chili Dog Wednesday, something like a haiku came to me:
            "When you bite me, dear
            You burn your lips. Hot mustard
            coats your lower teeth."
            Then Mr. Rosavsky’s sardines sandwiches:
            "I did not swim in salt for long enough
            to grow to my full size
            I was netted and gutted
            then smoked and drenched in oil
            How dare you! You don’t know what I’ve been through!
            That tomato is an insult."
I wrote with a soft, but sharp pencil and when Mr. Rosavsky came I got his napkin ready, stuffed it in his bag along with the nicely wrapped sandwich. I wondered what he would say when he saw it.
            But no.
            Garland grabbed the bag.
            Whew. It was just to put the cookie in.
            Then he winked at me.
            I wondered if he had seen. Of course I wondered what would happen when Samuel J. Rosavsky the third would read my silly poem about sardines. What if he just threw the napkin out?
            Just then Carl Strommer from the Internal Revenue Service came by. “Grilled cheese?” I asked him cheerfully.
            He nodded and said, “I wonder if I can get two sandwiches today. I’m pretty hungry and we have a lunch meeting. Also, do you know where I can get a hot chocolate? I usually like to drink one of your cans of lemonade, but I have a scratchy throat and want something warm.”
            Now that was one problem we had. We did not make hot drinks for our customers.  We could barely make a couple of cups of coffee for ourselves, let alone satisfy the hot beverage traffic. I looked over at Garland who was starting in on the sandwiches and told Carl, “If you stop by that cart over there, they have hot coffee. They might have cocoa or tea” I pointed with my elbow to a small cart a few feet away from us, the one run by the Gunderson twins: Big Julie and Chuckie.
            Quickly I scribbled:
            "the chill hurts my throat.
            my cry for cocoa, almost unheard
            if all the world was steam and smoke
            I would be happy."
            I had just enough time to finish it and stuff it in the bag without Garland seeing when he handed me the grilled cheese to give to Carl. Carl came back from the Gunderson cart with a small styrofoam cup. He did not look happy.
            “I got some hot water,” he said glumly.
            I felt so sorry for him, I handed him a packet of lemon juice we sometimes gave customers who ordered our fried calamari buns on Fish Fridays. I told him it might help soothe his throat.  He looked like it was the nices thing that anyone had ever done for him.
            “So,” said Garland, “What are you putting in those bags? Menus, I hope.”
            “Don’t be a kidder, Garland. I’m not putting anything in them.”
            “I saw you, Vera. Don’t lie to me.”
            I faced him directly and said, “Poetry.”
            I felt defiant, as if I were thirteen years old and had been caught climbing the tree in the neighbor’s back yard so I could get their apples from the tallest branch. And they would catch me and I would say, “I wasn’t doing nothing!”
            “Is it a crime to write poetry? What are we? In Stalinist Russia?”
            “No, but what if these guys don’t like it? I don’t want to drive customers away.”

Monday, November 07, 2011

Vera confided in me

My protagonist Vera confided in me last night as I was leaving the KanMoWriCo Write-In. She whispered that she was so afraid that if I told her true story, I would break my own heart in the telling.
No. That's a lie.
What Vera is worried about is that I won't do her story justice. That I won't be able to tell it, only report it. What I am worried about is that I will want to report, but also embellish and then I worry that if I embellish, it's not the truth.

But the truth of it is, it's a novel. It's my novel. Vera's story is my story, and I can tell it any way I want to.

P.S. KanMoWriCo is Kansas City, MO. & Kansas City, KS participants (and environs) of NaNoWriMo. This is not an official NaNoWriMo site, and the content has not been reviewed by National Novel Writing Month. For more information on National Novel Writing Month, visit

P.P.S. If you think that a protagonist can NOT whisper in your ear, think again.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Vera Hates Me

It's back to standard time and my protagonist, Vera doesn't care that we gain an hour. She is right now resisting all my cajoling and threats. I want her to spill the beans on what really happened. I want her to trust me.
But of course I'm a writer and want someone to read what I write.
No wonder Vera hates my guts.
But then I went and visited Now About Music and listened to the tracks about time. The author of the post is so perceptive and truly gets what music is all about. And time.
I wonder if I can calm Vera down and bring her out of her shell with a little drop of music...

Thursday, November 03, 2011

With Closed Fist: Growing Up in Canada's Toughest Neighborhood

but the best news is that my friend, Kathy Dobson is launching her book tomorrow at St Columba House in Montreal. Her book, which I have not read, but am eagerly awaiting is called With Closed Fist: Growing Up in Canada's Toughest Neighborhood.  A review of the book has created some controversy and bullies were evidently threatening the release event. But St. Columba is holding fast and I trust it will be wonderful.
Kathy is a smart and compassionate woman. I love that as a journalist she's been able to report on events and situations in which she is thoroughly engaged. I love that she will be able to turn her talent to a story that needs to be told.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Excerpt & 2600+

Here's an excerpt from the first or second chapter. As you can see it's very rough.

Vera awakened at the nightmare hour: a short time after four in the morning and well before the eastern sky would gray itself awake. She could feel the leaden, lowering sky in her head. A shrill bark from a neighbor’s dog pierced her brain and seemed to draw a raging force through her left temple.
She hadn’t had that much wine, had she?

Thirty days to a new Vera and already she had to call in sick with a migraine. Lucky Kay would understand because she got them herself. Vera rolled herself gently to the edge of the bed, trying not to move her head. No good. Her stomach began to push waves up through her throat. Toilet. Now.

She made it, retched and sank to the floor as the pain in her head became volcanic. She felt as if she could not leave the bathroom for any time. She pressed her forehead to the cool tile floor as tears squeezed out of her eyes and her sinuses swelled. Nothing was going right. The unforgettable images of the bad movie that was her life kept scrolling through her thoughts: the thing that had happened when she was four; how their family moved right after that; how she’d never fit in at any school, or work and finally how the child’s balloon had risen to the ceiling, popped and began to pop all her dreams for the stable, quiet life she craved.
Vera pushed herself up to a sitting position. Her stomach seemed settled for now. She moistened a washcloth with cool water, sprinkled a little lavender onto the cloth and patted her face with it. The scent and chill revived her a little and she went into her kitchen to make some coffee. She used a stovetop Moka for her coffee, and a very dark roast. She was not about to grind any fresh right now, though. Especially when she knew the sound would tear up every cell in her body. Fortunately, she had some she’d ground yesterday. Enough for a double.
While she waited for the coffee, she dialed Kay’s home number. Kay would probably be annoyed, especially if she had a migraine herself. Nothing drew sympathy more than seeing a fellow migraineuse in the throes...

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


...with 500 words sort of about snot.
I needed a prompt. I was stalling.
I pulled a pebble out of a bag. Yeah, I know it was probably some kind of quartz thing, but it had that milky, pearlescent quality of a big dab of mucus.
In the story, wailing child = snot.
Got at least 500 words out of it.

Off to a good start with some back story on the protagonist.