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Tag: novel

I Can’t Blame the Agent

If you’ve been following this blog, you know I spent about fourteen months attempting to rewrite my manuscript, Train Trip: Lucinda Mae’s Quest for Love, Honor, and the Chickens, into a novel a particular agent could successfully represent. At the end of this process, the agent declined representation.
This is not her fault.
Every step I made along the way—to submit, to analyze her comments and conclude the manuscript could be transformed as she desired, to try and try again—all of it was the result of decisions I made. I knew what I was doing, and I chose to take this route. I do not blame the agent, who has 100% discretion in the manuscripts she chooses to rep, just as I have 100% discretion in the agent I choose to sign with.
In the end, the truism is true: it’s a matter of fit. What I want from an agent is a good fit. Sometimes it takes a while to discover you’re not as good a fit as you thought you were. That’s disheartening, frustrating, makes-you-wanna-holler upsetting. But I have to trust that, ultimately, agents know what they’re doing. They know what they can and cannot sell in the marketplace. That’s the business they’re in.
I’m in the business of writing.
Hopefully, at some point, I will write something an agent somewhere feels he or she can sell. Who knows, I may have already done this with Train Trip—the agent is out there, waiting to discover my manuscript made amazing by a fourteen month rewrite. If that happens, I’ll be glad. If it doesn’t, well, sooner or later, I’ll decide how to best get my work out there. In the meantime, I’ll keep doing what I do, which is writing.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

The Spinning Plates are Real

For those of you concerned about me after my Great Public Failure (I didn’t get an agent, to put this in perspective), here’s my current game plan:

* send the Train Trip query to the paid-editor for tweaking: STATUS: DONE

* send Model for Detective (When her model partner disappears, a Memphis fashion model uses her “clothes whisperer” skills to investigate the case, only to discover clues to the murder of her long-lost favorite cousin) to the paid-editor for a reader’s review: STATUS: AWAITING PRICE QUOTE

* continue revising In the Name of Mississippi (A young documentarian returns to the South to film a historic civil rights reparations lawsuit, but when the case begins to fall apart, the mixed-race young man questions his own place in the world.) STATUS: IN PROCESS

* use breaks in revising In the Name of Mississippi to send out Train Trip queries in batches of 20: STATUS: JUST AS SOON AS I GET THE QUERY BACK (or sooner if I can’t wait on her)

* send the Train Trip query to my old agent (yes, I once had an agent when this novel was so grossly unfinished as to be embarrassing) to see if he wants to get back on board with a new, polished manuscript STATUS: IN THE MAIL TOMORROW

* decide whether a hybrid publisher (manuscript review/project acceptance/paid publication) might be the answer for me (moves me off square one; gets the work out there; puts me in control of the order of publication, offers me agent introductions if appropriate to the work; offers publication to manuscripts trad pubs would probably never touch, such as The Bone Trench (A controversial private prison project brings Mother Mary and her son Jesus back to modern-day Memphis where Mother Mary is determined—this time—to protect her son from harm.) STATUS: INQUIRY DRAFTED; MULLING SENDING

And, yes, I’m continuing to promote my audible short story collection by securing publicity, tweeting out developments, tracking downloads on podiobooks, and posting fairly ineffectively on the Facebook page

On my other blog, I posted a mocku-resume (“Holder of the French Legion of Honor”—after all, who can say what actually happens in France?”). One of my created talents was plate spinning. You know, that thing they do in the circus involving a long pole and frantically scurrying women in white bodysuits.

All I can say is, the subconscious is an amazing thing.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

(d) Whatever

I’ve found a rhythm. While my editor in Oregon has Train Trip, I’m working on another novel. The first round, I was in Memphis and I revised Bone Trench, a Christian fantasy novel set in Memphis. Second round, I was down in New Orleans so I finished (!) Jazzy, a Katrina novel. This round—hopefully the last—I’m revising A Model for Deception, the first in a fashion model detective series.
When the editing on Train Trip is complete, I will send the manuscript back to the agent who expressed an interest (i.e., sent me a lengthy email on what needed to be done to make it publishable), thus setting in motion all this editing. Once Gretchen (my editor’s name) finally hands over Train Trip, I will send her the next novel to revise.
All things being equal, I think I’ll send her A Model for Deception. The tone and subject matter are similar to Train Trip, so it would be a logical follow-up. I will repeat the approach above: rounds interspersed with working on the other novels.
Of course, all of this could derail if (a) the agent reads the labored-over Train Trip and says, naw, it won’t do. Or (b) she has no interest in the Model for Deception. Or (c) I get hit by a bus. Or (d) whatever. We can’t plan everything but we can make a plan.
I’ve made a plan.
I feel good.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

I want to work on my novel. They want me to buy Christmas presents. And wrap Christmas presents. And think about food for Christmas. And pack to leave town for Christmas.

But Vangie Street is stuck on the runway. She keeps taking a knee—is she Teebowing? Will anyone even remember that phrase in five years?—and popping up like toast. She grins, she prays, she pivots, she bunny-hops. I cannot get it right.

The novel is written. I’m revising. This is the opening scene. Did I mention I can’t get it right?

This year, Christmas is just gonna have to wait until I can get Vangie off the runway.

Remember: You Cain’t Do Nothing with Love

Chicken Musings

“I have written a novel about the commercial abuse of chickens.”
Every time this statement comes out of my mouth, I think, that is the strangest thing.
Yet, it’s true.
Train Trip pivots on a drug scandal made possible by our “modern” methods of chicken raising and processing. The theme has grown in importance as the novel has been revised. It’s been so long since I began this novel, I don’t even remember how chickens came into it in the first place. But they’ve been integral to the plot (and humor) since the beginning.
Only as I worked on the novel—and worked on it and worked on it—did the really disgusting facts of commercial chicken production come into play. Karma twists and turns the plot, a little odd in itself since the characters are Bible-Belt Southerners. But rest assured: all works out well in the end. At least it does for the chickens.
Frequently, you read articles by authors who marvel at how “the characters just took over.” Never before have I read writerly advice to let the chickens take over.
So here it is: if you are writing a novel involving chickens, don’t be afraid to let the chickens take over. You might just wind up with a novel with a conscience.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

Forget the Writing Rules

If I knew every book I picked up would be as fascinating as the unpublished novel I just finished, I’d live each day with a readiness for the quiet moments when I could get back to the world between the pages.
Most books I read are not so fascinating. Many are poorly written. Or well-written with characters whose lives I could care less about. Or full of self-indulgent description that swamps the plot. Or sporting an affected difficultness that is intended to signal to the reader, hey, look how smart I am! Or written with realism’s lack of style that sags into BORINGNESS.
All of these disappointing novels were traditionally published. The agent-editor-publisher offers no guarantee I will be seduced into the story of the novel.
This novel—not yet published, never to be published, I don’t know the answer—beguiled. It had no dialogue. The plot was created by a patchwork of many, many vignettes that spanned centuries and continents. The story was “told.” An unidentified omniscient narrator presided and, every once in a while, mentioned the plot line was about to bend onto a new path. The description was so dense you needed a machete to hack through it.
Did I mention it had no dialogue? You understand no dialogue means no scenes, right?
And yet it fascinated.
My take away? Forget the “writing rules” (e.g. no unidentified narrators; the plot must pull us through the story; scene, scene, scene). Find your style, understand what you’re doing, know why you’re doing it. Then work it to the nth degree, take it to the utmost extreme. Work it, own it, revel in it, trust it, celebrate it. If you’re good enough at it, the reader will sigh with relief at the jewel she’s holding in her hands.

Remember: You Cain’t Do Nothing with Love

Sometimes I get so frustrated by the pace of my writing career, I Google the titles of my novels to see if something is going on with them that I don’t know about. This is an insane activity, as the novels haven’t been published. The only place they exist—other than a mention or two in contests I’ve placed in over the years—are in my computer. Yet, my lack of control over the excruciatingly slow pace—snail doesn’t begin to describe it; a snail could have traveled to Mexico, attended Carlos Fuentes funeral, and traveled leisurely back to Memphis via Omaha—has driven me to such wacko behavior.

Novels, you say. Novel. I thought she was a short story writer? Well, you see that’s the problem. Before this venture, I was “the woman who wrote that book about making crosses.” I loved my experience of the cross book, and then it was time to move on. I next chose, in effect, to self-publish as a collection these short stories that individually appeared in literary journals, my desire being to introduce folks to my fiction. Do you feel introduced? Are you ready for the next thing?

Maybe my problem is an above-average need for attention and acclaim, fanfare and fawning. But here’s the honest truth: I’m ready for the next thing before most people are ready for me to be the next thing. I’m already skipping down the sidewalk, and they haven’t processed my last chalk drawing. I can’t help it. I’m ready to bop. I want the short stories to do their work and, well-loved, subside into the background.

Lord, did you see what that snail did with Burnt Water? That’s what happens when a snail gets too much tequila.

Remember: You Cain’t Do Nothing with Love (or craziness)

 

The Endearing Parts

I hate to admit failure. So what I do is re-define reality.
No, I didn’t fail to place as highly in the contest as I’d hoped. What I did was to learn a major truth about my revision process.
I am trying to shift my novel-writing from voice-driven, told story to scene-based, plotted story. I say “shift” but it’s more like those old draw-bridges that don’t open upwards but swing to the side— a screeching, rusty, grating to the ear process.

Old Apalachicola River Swing Bridge
Old Apalachicola River Swing Bridge

The revision I’m searching for entails, first of all, cutting. If I stop there, however, I’m left with a story leached of everything that was interesting. I must return to the manuscript and strategically add that which is me. The fun, the pun, the spot-on description, the endearing parts.
The Bone Trench failed to do well in the contest because—so proud of my new-found shears—I stopped at the cutting stage. What I submitted was, in fact, the bones. That’s okay. Now I get to have fun. I get to add the soul back into the book.

Here’s to creative synthesis . . .

Death Enters the Story

I just finished mapping out the last fifty pages of the new Katrina novel, Jazzy. I don’t begin writing with an outline; I begin with a character and a situation. As I write, I jot down a bare-bones outline of what I think is coming next. Often this turns out to be untrue. Sometimes I go back and outline what I’ve written, to see what I’ve written. Here, at the end, the outline takes on a more detailed imagining. In these last fifty pages of Jazzy, elements of what I initially thought would happen remain, but they’re all slightly different. The one hard fact of the ending remains the same: if this is to be a Katrina novel, death must enter the story.
I HATE writing death. I like for death to be the emotional triggering event–in the past. Read my novels and short stories and you will see death over and over again. I attribute this to my daddy dying when I was three years old, suddenly, tragically, graphically. Haunted by that, I’ve explored the death of mothers, several cousins, a sister, strangers, an uncle, a grandfather, boyfriend, wife, the near-death of a nephew, and the death of too many fathers to count.
Only once or twice have I written the death of a character who lived and breathed when I began the story. In one novel, I was so averse to having a young cousin die, I had him run off and become a Jesus freak instead.
All of which means the character in Jazzy, of whom I am extremely fond, must not die in vain. The hard part, of course, will be when I return to the beginning of the story for the editing process. Now I will know the character is going to die. Everything I write about him will be tinged with poignancy. It will be hard going. Death always is.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

She Will Love Venice

My character in Jazzy, the new novel I’m working on, will love Venice, Louisiana. Venice will be a place Jazzy drove to with her daddy, one of her many “memory containers” destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. She will be devastated to learn the Katrina surge so inundated Venice to make the land indistinguishable from the Gulf of Mexico. The memories from my trip this week that I will give to her to create this love are:

* We stop the car so I can take a photo of the minuscule elevation between water and the road. I open the door and step from the car. All I hear is the wind rustling the tall water grasses. Gradually, the sound of machinery underneath makes itself known. My ear adjusts and listens instead for the wind in the rushes. My character’s dad will tell her, “Listen.” They’ll stand stock still so they can hear the wind rustling the saw grass, watch the egrets dipping into the marsh, wait for a dragon-fly to land on the tip of a lily, its wings beating.

* Hunting a place to eat, we travel the dirt road past huge oil buildings surrounded by chain link fencing hung with red-lettered “Keep Out” signs. Taking a right, we drive through several parking lots and come upon a grill. As I walk the short distance to the wooden house sitting high on stilts, I catch a glimpse of the water. Relief washes over me. Oh, Ellen, you can get a beer and a po-boy and sit on the deck and watch the sun sparkle on the blue water. The grill is closed, but I will give my character the longing I felt when I rounded the corner to the grill.

* When I look at the water edging into the road and soak in the lack of a clear line between land and river and Gulf, I see physically what I believe theologically. The line between here and there is wavering, indistinct, easily penetrated. Some say I have an overactive imagination; I say the division we proclaim is itself a figment of our imagination. To this end, I will have my character ride in her Daddy’s car from asphalt to gravel to dirt to the standing water that signals the road is about to give out altogether, then park and walk until all they can see is water where they’ll stand in awe, amazed the water lapping at their ankles is the same water spreading out and becoming the Gulf of Mexico.

My character will love Venice, Louisiana.

IMG_4006

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

At Beth’s Bookstore, I slipped a paperback from the shelf. I read the first line. That’s how I chose a book: the first line, then the first paragraph. Sometimes if I’m unsure, I continue further down the page. Then I either buy the book or I put it back.

I’ve been burned using this method—occasionally, a book doesn’t live up to the opening—but not often. This time, “The Revolution of Little Girls,” proved to be one of the funniest books I’ve run across in a while.

After I finished I went on-line to learn more about the author and the book. Because the book was published in 1991—before-on-line dominance—the Amazon reviews were sparse. Of the 9, 3 were negative. On Goodreads, the majority were 3 or below. The novel received enthusiastic reviews when it was released; it won awards. Many on-line commentors, however, did not like its “Southernism;” its structure (“jumps around too much”); or its resolution. To me, the major flaw of the novel was that, about 2/3s of the way through, it actually became too linear after the author had taught us to expect discreet, non-linear chapters.

I am so glad I had this experience. As a woman trying to get my Southern novel into the marketplace, I needed to see the negative reviews of a novel I thought was hilarious. This switches the question from, “Will they like it?” to “Do I like it?” Have I written exactly the novel I wanted to write? Do I love it more than Christmas? If so, then when others say, “Anh, not so much,” I understand they just have different taste. And that’s okay.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

The Next Big Thing Blog Roll

Thank you to Susan Cushman for including me in this The Next Big Thing Blog Roll project. Susan has been an inspiration to my writing career in many ways, the primary one being her graciousness in inviting me into the writing community. To me—who is so focused on community—her immediate welcome has meant a lot.

Like so many participating in this blog roll, I have multiple projects to choose from: the novel an agent is waiting to re-review once I complete some editing work; the short story collection I’m preparing to podcast; the memoir whose excerpt will be workshopped at the Creative Nonfiction Conference in May in Oxford, Mississippi; the Katrina novel I’m currently writing; the Door of Hope book forthcoming from our weekly writing group of men and women with a personal experience of homelessness; or, the novel that made it to the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Because it’s my blog roll, I’m gonna talk about the Amazon novel. So, even though I feel a bit like Jimmy in The Commitments interviewing himself in the mirror (“Tell us about the early days, Jimmy. How did it all begin?”) here we go:

What is the working title of your book?

The Bone Trench

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Two sources. My first published short story, which appeared in The Pinch, featured Mother Mary (as in the Mother of God) and her guardian angel, Little c. I wanted to return to these two characters, and one day I saw an image of Mother Mary standing beside a trench, peering in. At the bottom of the trench lay eleven skeletons, neatly arranged. This forms the central image of the novel.

What genre does your book come under?

Christian fantasy? This was a hard conclusion to come to (hence the continuing question mark), because the plot line is not going to appeal to those with a more traditional take on Christianity, yet it features Mother Mary and her son, Jesus. Based on the recommendation of Phyllis Tickle, I’m owning it as fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? ’

I am not much of a moviegoer (see above, quoting a 1991 movie) but Johnny Depp is the acerbic guardian angel, Little c. (When my husband reads this, he’ll say, “Of course he is. You’d say Johnny Depp even if the novel was about nothing but hedgehogs.”)

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Mother Mary and her son, Jesus, return to modern-day Memphis where they bring together the Black and white descendants of an exploitive plantation owner to foil a controversial private prison project and save the world, again.

Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

None of the above. I’m focusing on contests for this book. I started with the granddaddy of them all, the Amazon Breakthrough Novel  Award. The manuscript made it into the second round, based on the following pitch:

The Second Coming isn’t turning out like anyone expected. Jesus, arriving in Memphis, Tennessee, can’t remember why he returned to earth. His Mother Mary, instead of cooperating with God, flies from heaven to save her son. There she learns that the fate of the world depends on an old Delta family with its finger in every economic atrocity from slavery to sharecropping. Oh—and Jesus’s lone disciple is an Elvis fan.

Jesus and Mary arrive to a city split down the middle by a private prison, made worse when bones from the South’s exploitive past are discovered at prison construction sites. The controversy sucks in Jesus and Mother Mary. Of course, Jesus gets arrested. Unexpectedly, he’s pregnant. The Black and white branches of the Delta family—descendants of an exploited sharecropper and the crooked plantation owner—must somehow unite to thwart the prison project. When an earthquake rumbles and lightning flashes, Mother Mary must trust that her son is birthing a new way for us to stay connected in love.

The Bone Trench is a novel that features Jesus, but is hardly religious. The main character is a fantastical Mother of God, but her desire to be a better mother is universal. The circumstances are imagined; the historical truths are all too real. My desire to explore in The Bone Trench America’s repeated willingness to use prisoners for profit was triggered by my own family’s involvement in prison management.

Using a colorful host of characters—living, dead, and everything in between—The Bone Trench offers a message of our redeeming connection to one another. With the irreverent humor of Christopher Moore’s Lamb, the spirituality of Mitch Albom, and the historical accuracy of Roots, The Bone Trench is a wild ride of humor, wisdom, and heart-breaking sadness.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I wrote the first draft of The Bone Trench sitting on the veranda of the Gibson Inn in Apalachicola, Florida. We were there for two weeks. Each afternoon, I’d write, then read my husband what I’d written. When we packed our bags, I was about two-thirds finished with the first draft.

While this is a lovely anecdote (and true) it fails to reflect the unrelenting revisions the manuscript has endured, most of them generated by the comments of amazingly generous volunteer readers who have guided the book from a rough, too-told story (I was reading it out loud! It sounded terrific!) to a fully-realized, socially-conscious novel. I hasten to add that I hold none of these readers responsible for the final product—I have written a controversial book.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

That’s the problem, right? It’s too funny to be C.S. Lewis (she says modestly), too political to be J.R. R. Tolkien. I’m open to, and welcome, suggestions.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I alluded to it in the pitch: my ancestors were on both sides of prison labor issue. One held the management contract for the Arkansas State Prison. In a later generation, my great-grandfather, who served as President Pro Tem of the Mississippi State Senate for 20 years, introduced and championed the legislation outlawing convict leasing in Mississippi. What caused that generational change? I don’t know, but I’ve written a novel in which such a conflicted family holds the key to the future of the world.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

The Memphis Pyramid turned into a private prison, Mother Mary hovering over the city of the Blues, Jesus pregnant—what else do they need?

Now What?

Check out the next participants in this very interesting project, The Next Big Thing Blog Roll:

(1) Emma Connolly

I met Emma in Richard Bausch‘s Moss Workshop at the University of Memphis.  We’ve stayed in touch, in part because we share a passion for taking writing to those whose lives don’t have the luxury of waiting for writing to come to them. I can’t wait to read about her Next Big Thing!

(2) Elaine Blanchard

Elaine and I met at a Trinity Institute Conference. Since then, she has three times (!) led workshops at the Door of Hope Annual Community Writers Retreat. I have been a guest in her Prison Stories project wherein I’ve had the pleasure of talking with a prison-based writing group of women, facilitated by Elaine. Elaine is a professional story-teller; I want to hear what she has to say.

(3) Marisa Baker

Marisa and I met through her work with those who have a personal experience of homelessness. She is a wonderful, creative, funny writer. She also makes beautiful handmade books. I have so enjoyed reading her blog; I want to hear which of her many projects she will choose to share with us.

(4) Rick DeStefanis

Rick is one of my long-time gracious readers. He’s guided me through the “I know she’s trying to say something, but dang if I know what it is” phase. He is multi-talented: a wonderful writer and skilled photographer. I’m sending you to his FaceBook page where he’ll talk about his soon-to-be-released Vietnam sniper novel.

These four writers will be sharing with you next Wednesday their upcoming projects, so stay tuned.

peace in creativity, Ellen

A Novel I Love More than Christmas

At Beth’s Bookstore, I slipped a paperback from the shelf. I read the first line. That’s how I chose a book: the first line, then the first paragraph. Sometimes if I’m unsure, I continue further down the page. Then I either buy the book or I put it back.

I’ve been burned using this method—occasionally, a book doesn’t live up to the opening—but not often. This time, “The Revolution of Little Girls,” by Blanche Mccrary Boyd, proved to be a very funny, poignant read.

After I finished reading, I went on-line to learn more about the author and the book. Because the book was published in 1991—pre-on-line dominance—the Amazon reviews were sparse. Of the 9, 3 were negative. On Goodreads, the majority were 3 or below. The novel received enthusiastic reviews when it was released; it won awards. Many on-line commenters, however, did not like its “Southernism,” its structure (“jumps around too much”), its resolution. To me, the major flaw of the novel occurred about 2/3s of the way through, when it actually became too linear, after the author had taught us to expect discreet, non-linear chapters. Still, I thought it wonderful, as so many did not.

I am so glad I had this experience. As a woman on the verge of hiring an editor to get my Southern novel into the marketplace, I needed to see the negative reviews of a novel I thought was hilarious. Earlier, in the course of evaluating potential editors, I’d looked at Amazon reviews on work they’d edited. One author in particular had screechingly negative reviews. I thought that relevant. Now I’m not so sure.

More importantly, this experience has made me comfortable with something I knew intellectually but now embrace: some will like my novel, many will not.

The main thing, therefore, is for ME to like it.

So, in choosing an editor, the determinative question is, which one will help me create a novel I love more than Christmas? Which editor can take this work—which many will not care for—and make it the best the work can be? If I accomplish that, wedging my work into the cadre of writers whom I love, appealing to the readers who like what I like, then I will have been successful.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

At Beth’s Bookstore, I slipped a paperback from the shelf. I read the first line. That’s how I chose a book: the first line, then the first paragraph. Sometimes if I’m unsure, I continue further down the page. Then I either buy the book or I put it back.

I’ve been burned using this method—occasionally, a book doesn’t live up to the opening—but not often. This time, “The Revolution of Little Girls,” proved to be a very funny, poignant read.

After I finished reading, I went on-line to learn more about the author and the book. Because the book was published in 1991—pre-on-line dominance—the Amazon reviews were sparse. Of the 9, 3 were negative. On Goodreads, the majority were 3 or below. The novel received enthusiastic reviews when it was released; it won awards. Many on-line commentors, however, did not like its “Southernism,” its structure (“jumps around too much”), its resolution. To me, the major flaw of the novel occurred about 2/3s of the way through when it actually became too linear, after the author had taught us to expect discreet, non-linear chapters. Still, I thought it wonderful, as so many did not.

I am so glad I had this experience. As a woman considering hiring an editor to get my novel into the marketplace, I needed to see the negative reviews of a novel I thought was hilarious. Earlier, in the course of evaluating potential editors, I’d looked at Amazon reviews on work they’d edited. One author in particular had screechingly negative reviews. I thought that relevant. Now I’m not so sure.

More importantly, this experience has made me comfortable with something I knew intellectually but now embrace: some will like my novel, many will not.

The main thing, therefore, is for ME to like it.

So, in choosing an editor, the question is not, which one will be most likely to get me published? The determinative question is, which one will help me create a novel I love more than Christmas? Which editor can take this work—which many will not care for—and make it the best the work can be? If I accomplish that, wedging my work into the cadre of writers whom I love, appealing to the readers who like what I like, then I will have been successful.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

Terrible in its Sorrow

Sometimes I read what I’ve written and I think, how could you do that?

The Bone Trench novel is pocked with very brief flashbacks of the deaths of the bones in the trenches. Despite their brevity, they are intense. When I re-read them, I wonder how I could write scenes filled with such sorrow. 

I’ve just finished revising a short story told from the point of view of a young man who becomes an arsonist. It breaks my heart.

Tonight, at an open mic event, I’ll read a story that, to me, is terrible in its sorrow. I wrote it, I’m choosing to read it. How could I?

Maybe the answer lies in my experience of sorrow. Maybe things seem chilling to me that others shrug off. Maybe I don’t write such difficult things. Maybe I’m too sensitive to sorrow, even that which I create.

here’s to creative synthesis . . . 

Writing Theory into Reality

Finally, I wrote an ending to my novel that makes me cry. Most of the rest of the novel makes me laugh – a phenomenon I think is so strange, that something I wrote – I know the joke, right? – can make me laugh.

But when it comes to resolution, I want to feel it reverberating in my heart, welling up in my tears, spilling over in my trembling smile of satisfaction.

To accomplish that, I had to finally get to the relationship between the individual, real-life people in the book. Not the Celestials. Not theology. Certainly not politics.

This is the theme of the book: we can only solve our problems when we are in relationship with one another. Funny it took me so long to realize the truth of it.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

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