Sunday, November 14, 2010

It Bleeds...14 Nov. '10

And that is called the hook. The hook gets the reader’s interest. While the 'It' is undefined, the 'Bleeds' sets up a red flag -- not to be coy or a pun. Okay, what It are we talking about? A person or animal can roughly be defined as an It, as well as an alien or entity, or even a plant. This gives a mystery, the reader may not care about the It that much but the Bleeds indicates -- almost anything.

When I looked, only two wings were out on it, bright as a glass bead of fire, veined and elliptical framing the pale lilac tongue. Last night I left it so, I shut off the light and dismissed it from my mind. Today, four more of the orange wings had emerged, tearing silently through the green skin. Amber beads wept and dripped and stilled as they dried. I never thought of it, being so dissimilar a being, glorious, exotic in some parts of the world but common here. I never knew the Bird of Paradise could bleed into beauty.

How long do you want this mystery to last? That depends on the story. Ideally one hook should catch, and lead to another, and another as the writer keeps drawing the reader on. The writer doesn't have to make all the characters likable, but they must keep the reader's interest, keep those questions coming.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Alone with One Line - 26 Apr. '10

Alone with One Line

Writing is a singular obsession, and hard to share. Upon a landscape, an artist looks at a canvas or a photographer takes the camera, and another, an audience, can look upon the scene, albeit with a less discerning eye but it is shared. The musician, the dancer–both offer audible, spatial exhibits. Even when starting out, something is there screeching and puttering along.

For the writer, the mindscape is closed to all until the words come out, and even then it’s not visible, but still unformed, Proteus, the god of all shapes and none. A writer takes images with the mind’s eye, fleeting and distorted as they maybe, and often as hard to hold as quicksilver.

Grab the pen, the paper, jot them down and hope to catch them, a foot print, a lost feather, a wisp of scent. Sometimes the writers do this at their peril when it coincides with family, friends, strangers who wonder about the person scribbling, lost to the matter at hand.

"I wore the bones for fifteen years."

"The only light in the blasted cavern came from her hair, like gold spun with dawn's pale pink newness."

"Wires shot out and imbedded in her flesh."

At the moment they came, I wanted to write them down. Granted, these may be throwaways, never used. I may take apart the idea, rearrange, lose interest, seek another bit, but these lines meant something, and I wanted to hold them.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Guilt - 21 March, 2010

Guilt--brings a lot to a characters works for and against a character laying waste and blame and heartache, a wonderful device…


It had been a year since Hannah's mother passed, didn't really matter how, she was gone, irrefutable, irrevocably and irreversible.

Mom…so many things I didn’t tell you…but then, how much did you tell Gramma? Did you tell her your first kiss made you want to throw up because the neighbor, Mr. Thomson said it was a ‘special day’ and he wanted to share it? He smelled like cheap liquor and that Paco Raban cologne knockoff that had a bitter edge to it—the kind that that company sold along with the other knockoffs that were more alcohol than decent work with blended scents and futures hoped for. He touched me…I didn’t tell you that either. I was 14, I wore that pale peach jersey, sleeveless. I guess from a distance it looked like I wasn’t wearing anything, to M. Thomson at least. I had tied that long dark cloth around my neck, listened to it flap behind me like a cape as I sped along on my bicycle, too old for the little kid’s game, too young for the others. Just right for him.

I was Viceroy, like the butterfly, only—just close to what a Monarch butterfly looks like, but one or the other, I’ve never remembered which, has a bad taste, so the birds leave it alone. I always loved that idea, how the look, not exact, but close enough, saved the one, for a mistaken identity.

You thought I was one thing, trying to make me into the image of the little girl you wanted, and—I couldn’t be that. Gods and little fishes, how much does it take for me to NOT say, “I’m sorry.” Why should I apologize for being me? Why couldn’t you accept me for me? You were you…maybe not the you, you wanted, but I could never be that either, didn’t you recognize that? A year passed, more and more, when I lived away from home, I tried to be what you wanted, sometimes I didn’t, but was that rebellion or being true to myself?

I didn’t want your life, I wanted mine. Why did that feel like a betrayal, a crime against the woman who bore me, who treated my sicknesses, who taught me about being—the kind of woman she was…

I remember the first time I thought of you as not my mother, but an entity with a life, separate and beyond, and simultaneously, I felt closer to you than I ever have, and farther away than ever from the you I thought I knew.

We are layers, webs, fractions parceled out among those we meet.

I did not know you, and was content with my separateness. Now, I wonder, how much of you is still in me, like the lining of the old trunk, pictures from lining paper out of stock, out of fashion, and never reordered for lack of interest. Then I open it, the scent of cedar and old silverware, scales from moth wings, and the handkerchief Gramma edged with lace to make it fancy.

What embellishments did we use, unknowing, to cover, to extend and pass as something else?

I’m still learning, and for that, I do thank you.

So, an excerpt from the mind of a daughter...