stories


Random quote of the day:

“Make up a story…For our sake and yours forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light. Don’t tell us what to believe, what to fear. Show us belief’s wide skirt and the stitch that unravels fear’s caul.”

―Toni Morrison, The Nobel Lecture In Literature, 1993

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Hold those things that tell your history and protect them. During slavery, who was able to read or write or keep anything? The ability to have somebody to tell your story to is so important. It says: ‘I was here. I may be sold tomorrow. But you know I was here.’”

—Maya Angelou, The New York Times, October 26, 2010

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“The nurture for telling stories comes from those who have gone before. Telling or hearing stories draws its power from a towering column of humanity joined one to the other across time and space, elaborately dressed in the rags and robes or nakedness of their time, and filled to bursting with life still being lived.”

—Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

I’ve been doing some clean-up work on my blog, trying to eliminate duplications and other messes that happened long ago when I transferred it from LJ to Dreamwidth. It’s never been a high-priority thing, but something I dip into when I’m in the mood to do something fairly mindless (and kidding myself it’s productive). (Or as a time waster instead of writing, but we won’t talk about that.)

I ran across an old post from June of 2011 which was just at the beginning of my caregiving for my mother when she was on peritoneal dialysis and still able to do most things for herself. That changed in September of that year when she had her stroke—but that’s not the point of this post. Apparently, in June I had just finished my last read through/clean up of my second completed novel, Blood Geek. I think maybe I had the idea of self-publishing. That idea was overtaken by my mother’s illness and never came about. It’s just as well, I suppose. It was a decent effort, but not my best work.

But that’s not the point of this post, either. In the above-referenced post I was talking about the strange parallel of writing a novel (almost twenty years prior at that point) about a woman whose early life had been constrained by caring for her sick mother. She was just about to break free and live life for herself. In 2011 I was rather amazed by the “haunting echo, now that I am helping to care for my own mother, that keeps bouncing through the chambers of my heart. It’s a little disturbing. I knew more than I thought I knew back then.” But in June of 2011 I had no idea, really, of what was to come, how consuming caregiving would be, how it would leave no room for anything but working and caring, how it squeezed out all time for anything like creativity.

But again, that’s not the point of this post. This is, this paragraph I came across:

And now I am in a different phase of my life. I have no vision for what comes next. I can’t see that far beyond the day-to-day. I do know that when I get back to writing something new again, I don’t want it to echo that day-to-day in the slightest. Which is not to say I might not use some of these characters again—in fact, I fully intend to. But they will be engaged in some other enterprise, something that blows the doors open to other worlds with no fences.

What blows the doors off my mind on this day, in 2020, is that I am writing new things again, and the new novel I’m writing does involve some of the same characters—in a whole new enterprise, a whole new process of growth and transformation. (And I am going through that transformation with them.) I haven’t really thought about these characters much in the last nine years, although one of them, Carmina, kept popping up now and then to insist she had a story I really needed to tell. I poked at her story over the years, but beyond the first two chapters, nothing gelled. I didn’t start last year thinking she will be the one. I started last year just trying to write something, anything. And then I wrote a completely different novel in a completely different universe. Also one I’d used before, but nothing to do with these characters.

Yet here I am. Happy and more than a little surprised that this fall Carmina’s story finally took off.

And that’s why I say that no story I have ever committed to paper or electrons (or, hell, even the ones that knock around in my head that I haven’t bothered to do that with) is every truly dead—until I am. Or until my brain blows out. Even my first completed novel, which if I have anything to say about it will never see the light of day, has produced nuggets that I have mined and used in later books. Like the clerk in the dead parrot sketch of Monty Python fame keeps insisting, these stories are not dead. Even if I’m not aware of them on a conscious level, they’re still in there. Resting.

Random quote of the day:

“Stories are embedded with instructions which guide us about the complexities of life. Stories enable us to understand the need for and ways to raise a submerged archetype.”

—Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“We photograph things in order to drive them out of our minds. My stories are a way of shutting my eyes.”

—Franz Kafka, as reported by Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

—Anne Lamott, Twitter, April 23, 2012

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Wear your heart on the page, and people will read to find out how you solved being alive.”

—Gordon Lish, quoted by Amy Hempel, Juniper Summer Writing Institute, 2012

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“Scars are tattoos with better stories.”

—Jonathan Carroll, Twitterfeed, June 5, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Laurel and Hardy, Ariana Grande, or the Salvation Army Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Or nickel plate, as the case may be.

I’ve been in the writing game a long time. I have little to show for it, publishing-wise, except good will. Some editor’s choices on workshops, several close calls with agents and editors for my novels (some frustratingly close), some short stories that were praised by editors but “not quite right” for them (with assurances that I would be able to sell them elsewhere). (“Oh yeah, where?” I always want to ask, but one does not engage in that kind of back and forth with editors generous enough to give one a personal reply.) (They mean well, I assure myself.) (And I’m confident they do mean well. They wouldn’t have taken the time otherwise. I am grateful.)

There’s been enough of that kind of thing that I’ve stopped doubting my ability. I may not be a gold star writer, but I know I don’t suck. If I am good, I think I’m just not the right kind of good. My stuff tends to be hard to categorize, or it slips sideways between categories. And here’s the killer: I once submitted one of my stories to an anthology for interstitial fiction. I got a very generous rejection letter on that, assured it was a great story that I should have no trouble selling elsewhere, but it wasn’t interstitial enough. At that point with that particularly story, I’d submitted to just about every periodical in the known universe and although a number of editors had praised it, no one thought it was “quite right.” So, I put it back in the trunk and decided no more submissions on that one.

I’ve hit that particular wall with a number of my stories. I am not a big fan of short stories nor a talented short story writer. It’s not my thing so I don’t bother anymore because I’ve always figured I was more of a novelist. But I do have several stories that went through a process similar to the story mentioned above. Objectively speaking, I know they are not an embarrassment because professional people who had no dog in the hunt said they were good. And I’ve reached a point in my life where they are just sitting in my trunk—or my treasure chest if I’m in an uncharacteristically upbeat frame of euphemism. I’ve decided that maybe I’ll just start posting them. Time is in infinite supply. Maybe it’s time to share my gold (nickel plate) rather than hoarding it like a miser. (Don’t worry. I don’t have an inflated sense of my own worth. It’s more a sense that it will be doing this or nothing at all for these stories and they will disappear forever once I die and my hard drive is reformatted.)

I’m not 100% sure I’ll do this. First, I’d have to get my website in shape. My web designer left the business and I have no way to update my current site. I am not talented in that way myself. I can do basic html but my brain pretty much freezes when I try to do more. So, I’m thinking of scrapping the old website altogether and doing something simpler, like Square Space. I’m thinking my old website—as much as a love the graphics my designer came up with—is part of the past. Maybe the biggest lesson of the past six months of my life is that I have to let go. I’m in a transition these days that has been unexpectedly difficult. I’m having to redefine myself from the ground up. Who knew retirement could be as baffling as puberty?

I’ve lived most of my life having to conform to the schedules imposed on me by the outside world. Now I have the freedom to do what I want, to make myself anew—and it’s fricking terrifying. And exhilarating. And tingly. And overwhelming. And ohmygodwhatdoIdowiththis? You know, like puberty.

So who am I? Not a fricking clue. But I may not be someone who hoards my gold (nickel plate) anymore. Only time will tell. I hope I don’t run out of time before I figure it out.

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