Wednesday, November 30, 2011

how can I explain it???

Coincidence: a remarkable concurrence of events without explanation

This needs to be broken down a bit for me to properly address the situation.

Remarkable: striking, noteworthy

Concurrence: simultaneousness

Explanation: a statement or account that makes something clear

hmmmm...yeah, I'm scratching my head too and here's why

In the fourth novel I wrote...the main female character is named Stephanie Friedman...and the novel centers around whether she will make a fateful flight back to her small town in Florida for a's a long story but bear with me.

So, I'm in the Denver airport this past Friday and I'm waiting in the line for security when over the loud speakers I hear:

"Stephanie Friedman, please report to your gate. Your flight is departing in 5 minutes. Stephanie Friedman. Please report to your gate at this time. Your flight will be departing shortly."

I was floored. It was her name, the exact name and it was the setting, the exact setting in which my character found herself and which serves as the crux of the novel. Coincidence? Absolutely...without explanation? Maybe not. I'm looking at this as a sign to step up my efforts to get that novel published. At the very least, I'll have a great story to share with my readers once it's all said and done.

For now, I'm still mulling it over, finding it hard to believe even if I can fashion a hopeful explanation.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

lunch break reading

I picked up my copy of "Weegee Stories" today to do some lunchtime reading. In this collection of short shorts, Robert Olen Butler captures the spirit of a woman's inner yearning for life and the accompanying struggle perfectly. While there is a lot more going on than just this, I feel this is a valid point to be examined and for me to document for my own purposes in dealing with these same issues.

For readers interested in what I mean, take a peek at "Christine Matheson" The narrator says at the conclusion of the short short, "let me live in my body and just paint" and it's briliant. It makes me want to pick up a brush and start.

Then there's "Dorothy White" where the narrator is enraptured with strong feelings and says "I am inside my body and outside my body" and while I'm not sure I see this sentiment in the photo itself, the sentiment still resonates from the story. It's as if she is saying, it's okay for me to scream every once in a while. It's okay if that's what it takes to be heard, to be seen, to be acknowledged. She is saying "look at me" but what she wants us to see is that she is engaging in the scream. The sound and tone and pitch and length of it don't matter. What matters is that she's done it.

In "Mary Simmons" the narrator starts "make me a pallet on your floor" and goes on to express her desire for this man she's set her sights on and it's sensual and stated in a way that a woman understands, in a way she thinks. It, like "Christine Matheson" encapsulates a sort of desperation that is subtle and almost always there in the way a woman needs.

This is shown perhaps best in the short short "Louise Brecht" which is a companion to the "David Brecht" one. Read by itself, "Louise Brecht" is heartbreaking...with lines like "weary I drift, my eyes puffy from crying, and I try to make out the trees in the dark and he used to kiss me under those trees", the reader is drawn inside the aching spirit of the narrator and all because she is mourning over the loss of a kiss or of the man who would kiss her that way. alongside the "David Brecht" short, the image takes on a much darker and deeper portrayal of the misunderstandings that make women fight for their own inner lives even more. His ends with "I wish to hell I knew what this was all about" while hers ends with "you come home and you don't give me a kiss, you don't even say a word" This is also one where the photo that accompanies the story is perfect and memorable and in my opinion, the best of the collection.

Weegee Stories can be purchased online at

Monday, November 28, 2011

quotably noted

I discovered this quote today from a Brian Morton book entitled "Breakable You" that I've just ordered off Amazon.

“What you are is a complicated girl with simple needs. You need your books and time to read, and you need a few friends and you need someone-not to take care of you, but to care for you. If you have all those things, you'll always be alright.”

This is just lovely and I thought it needed a place to live on my blog so, here it is.

Friday, November 25, 2011

up early

It's amazing to me how clearly I think in the mornings when I'm up early writing. Is it that my house is quiet or that I have a sense of the day ahead of me? That I don't feel like I'm running out of time? Or is it that morning is where my words live?

The name of my blog hints at that but until this morning, I didn't think about my words living in a space other than in my mind and spirit. Today though, I feel like my words live in the morning and here is what my morning has given me so far:

“Don’t do this,” I say even though I know that sparing him won’t change how he feels. He’s always been annoyed with me trying to dull the pain by talking it away. That what the drugs are for, he’d say. Don’t waste one of your words much less a sentence on it.

Yes, this is out of context but this paragraph is something I'm proud of in and of itself and also for what it means to my story as a whole. Now...back to getting those morning words in.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Updated Reading

As promised, here is where I've been and where I'm headed with my reading as the year comes to a close:


23. A Moveable Feast-Ernest Hemingway
24. Silk-Alessandro Baricco
25. Swallow-DM Thomas
26. Seize the Day-Saul Bellow
27. The Pleasure of My Company-Steve Martin
28. Eleven Minutes-Paolo Coelho
29. Alleys of Eden-Robert Olen Butler
30. The Deep Green Sea-Robert Olen Butler
31. The Folded Leaf-William Maxwell
32. Venus in Furs-Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch
33. Starting Out in the Evening-Brian Morton
34. On Distant Ground-Robert Olen Butler
35. Sun Dogs-Robert Olen Butler
36. A Window Across the River-Brian Morton
37. Ocean Sea-Alessandro Baricco
38. Edisto-Padgett Powell


158 Pound Marriage-John Irving


Soul Thief-Charles Baxter
Master and Margarita-Bulgakov
Nemesis-Philip Roth


I haven't maintained this blog like I promised I would but it's Thanksgiving Day and I can't help but want to find a space to thank all of the writers who have inspired me and moved me to write, to read, and to live.

From March through October, that person was Robert Olen Butler. Everything he wrote and still writes makes me want to write better, makes me want to experience life more. But, things change and people change and for those reasons, we go in search of new writers or new feelings to replace the old ones and we hope we aren't disappointed because if we are, the old feelings won't fade. It's like how many of Butler's characters, particularly in the Vietnam novels, go from woman to woman, proud of themselves for being faithful for the time that they're faithful, cherishing every moment even if only for a few days or a few weeks. It's their commitment to an idea or a person, the fact that the commitment can even occur, that seems to enliven his characters. From David Fleming searching for his lost son in "On Distant Ground" to Ira Holloway embracing his own martyrdom in "They Whisper," the characters love but they love in their own ways until they can't handle it anymore.

It's that way with reading and maybe it's that I'm getting fickle now that I've turned 34. Or maybe it's that I am trying to allow myself the variation that others so freely engage in. With reading, it's no different. So, because it's Thanksgiving Day, I thank Robert Olen Butler for waking the reader in me and for giving me the courage to read someone else now. I will update my reading list soon to reflect where his fiction fit into my life.

But, right now, Brian Morton is that variation person for me. I'm reading "A Window Across the River" and I'm once again blown away by how sensitive he is to the artist's predicament of how to maintain human connections without letting those connections alter one's art. Can an artist be true to himself and love at the same time? How does love shape what that artist can know and how that artist can express what he knows?

Since reading his novel "Starting out in the Evening" in September, a phrase from the novel has stuck with me and I can't shake it. It's this and I paraphrase:

"Loving someone is not about giving her what she wants, it's about giving her the extras."

On this Thanksgiving day, I'm grateful for Mr. Morton's writing. It's the extra something I've been needing and I recommend it for anyone else in search of the same.