because a REAL post will be coming tomorrow or the next day or most certainly, the day after that, but in the mean time, I am sorting through a whole bunch of my writing, organizing, organizing, organizing, because, after all, this year I will complete one draft of my novel, and then a revision of it as well, so in 2009 I can send it out, and also I want to work on my essays, and I have an idea for a nonfiction book proposal, and I want to really step up my day-time career a notch or four, so to do all of this one must be, yes, ORGANIZED and that means sorting through all the documents on my computer, and on my desk, and seeing to it that the printer has ink, my laptop a new battery, and things are BACKED UP and READY TO GO, and that there are pens, and pencils, and notebooks to brainstorm whenever an idea distracts me, and so this is what I’m doing, as a recovery from a week of horrific driving, and it turns out, I think, I wrote the beginning of some short stories, which I never took anywhere. Here they are:
Camille prophesied her husband’s death one year, six months, twenty-two day, three hours and fourteen minutes before it occurred. She was drunk at the time, too many cocktails on an empty stomach, and she was seeing through a rum-inspired glitter, which she later decided to call an aura. One minute the world was normal, she and Steve sitting around a campfire during their annual Fourth of July getaway weekend, and the next she glanced over and saw with complete certainty the fact that Steve’s time was closing quickly. Something in the way the firelight glinted off his face, enhancing the shadows beneath his eyes while also flushing his pink cheeks. She knew he would die the same way she knew beforehand every single time a man tried to break up with her, the same way she knew to postpone her honeymoon when her mother died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. Camille had always known things, but nobody had ever believed her.
I forgot about this promptly after I wrote it. I found it in a folder called “short story ideas to write later.” I don’t always, in fact, I rarely, like my writing, but I sort of dig the rhythm of this. I wrote it because I had to cut Camille out of the novel and I thought she needed a place to go.
Here is another…
She catalogued the memories of the times he touched her with the same vigilance she once invested in her shadowbox, like they were precious things requiring attention and care. In her shadowbox, she remembered a tiny crystal giraffe balanced precariously on impossibly delicate legs, a heavy silver turtle half the size of her palm, a variety of dull-colored ceramic jungle animals and, her favorite, an upright glass polar bear playing a white grand piano. Her mother gave her the crystal giraffe for her tenth birthday, her brother purchased the turtle during a spring break he spent in South Carolina, the jungle animals she rescued from the dusty bottoms of yellow Lipton tea boxes and her grandmother gave her the piano-playing polar bear three months before she passed away.
I went a little further with this short story, which I wanted to be sort of a love story to the city of Pittsburgh, but which became horribly ruined with an utterly unsympathetic narrator. I don’t believe any redemption exists for the narrator and her man, but I gave it a try.
Here’s the beginning of my essay on Hemingway, which I can just never get right:
I heard Hemingway first. Or at least, I like to think I did, tucked upside-down in my mother’s womb, comforted by the familiar cadence of my parents’ voices, my mother singing along to Diana Ross and the Supremes or Smokey Robinson, probably talking directly to me when she was home alone, which was a lot because my dad worked and she did not. And my father, in the messy, confusing middle of his graduate thesis, which was, of course, on Hemingway, I know he read his drafts out loud to my mother, read them with his serious voice, the one he now mostly uses to discuss college basketball, his golf game, and the State of the World Today, which is to say, his stage voice, if he had been an actor, but perhaps more appropriately, his authoritative voice, the one that means you are trapped, forced to listen to him until he decides he’s done, having effectively made his point. Which can be a long time. So I like to think that I heard, in its entirety, his dissertation on The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms, all before my mom gave birth, and probably the reason I decided to come into this world, upside down and a month early, was to escape this talk. I hated Hemingway, even as a fetus.
And my attempt at a nature essay, here:
At our cabin, the path that leads down to the lake is bordered on either side by clusters of slim, elegant aspen trees. Their branches, decorated with paper-thin, transparent-green leaves, stretch skyward, bending and swaying when a wind stirs them. Even on the stillest summer day the leaves flutter and rustle toward one another and then separate as if changing dance partners. I can watch these trees for hours from the cabin’s screened-in front porch, and sometimes I think I could stay in that spot for months, watching the leaves turn to light gold in late autumn, then pirouetting to the ground in early November. Beyond the aspen trees West Town Corner Lake is visible, winking in the sunlight or sulking beneath the clouds.
It turns out, I think, that I don’t have any problem writing. No, I seem to have no trouble with output. So, 2008 will have to be the year of follow through, of queries, of finishing things and sending them into the world. I can’t properly complain about failure, until I’ve at least tried. In terms of my private writing life, 2008 will be the year of no excuses. I hope all my fellow writers will join me.