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Posts Tagged ‘Writing’

The Band-Aids are blue. Four that I can see. One masking each little knee poking from below her skirt’s hem and one on each elbow, like patches covering holes on an old man’s cardigan. The rest are hidden, but I know they’re there. They’re always there.

Back one night as she lay on her firm cot, she whispered into the lamp’s soft glow; “They can change, you know. When I’m happy, they turn purple. It’s like magic.”

I’d stayed very still, blocking the breaths of the nine other girls asleep in the room. Silently willing Evie to share more secrets.

“But they’ve been blue for a really long time.” She said with a sleepy softness before drifting off.

Alone now, we sit facing one another. She scans my expression. I see her brown eyes, upturned and massive through strands of mousy hair. Her lips look dry. Her petite hands are folded in her lap. Her eyes dart from me to Jiffy. He’s trying his best not to squirm.

I’d planned various greetings while waiting for them to arrive today. Even said them aloud while fussing with the fruit bowl. But when the doorbell rang, I’d merely opened it and stood, my gaze dropping from the social worker’s eager eyes to Evie, her backpack and her Band-Aids. She seemed even more fragile out here in the big world and everything I thought I’d say had left me.

My heart thumps. What do I do with this helpless creature? Adopting Jiffy was so different. A single pat had sparked instant love. But this? I suddenly feel like a fraud.

I finally stand and she pulls herself smaller. Shrinks into the chair’s dark corner.

Resisting the urge to scoop her up like a curly new pup, I present Jiffy instead. “Want to hold him? He loves kids.”

She shakes her head. Unfolds her hands. Gathers her skirt into two mid-thigh rosettes.

“It’s okay,” I assure her. “He might want to get to know you first anyway. He’s smart like that.”

I smile and her body seems to grow just a tiny bit.

“You should definitely come see your room though. I think you’ll like it in there. At least, I hope so. I read every decorating magazine out there trying to make it look cool.”

She doesn’t laugh, but gently leans over and picks up her backpack. It’s a small victory.

I walk delicately. Terrified she’ll break along the way. But when I open the door, I hear her draw a quiet breath behind me.

It’s cliché, really. A room much like the ones most girls her age should find themselves in. Shades of lavender. A single bed. A fluffy rug and an old bookshelf I’d bought at a yard sale up the street. I’d been pleased with my efforts but now that she’s here, they seem somehow not enough.

My doubt mounts as she walks in and drops her knapsack. Kneels in front of the crammed bookcase.

“I’ve never owned a book.” She says in a Christmas morning kind of whisper. “We weren’t allowed to take them out of the reading room in foster care.”

“Which one was your favourite?” I ask, hoping I’ve masked the sadness in my voice.

“I don’t know what it was called,” she answers. “The cover was ripped.” She picks up one of the books I’d bought at the same yard sale as the shelves. Runs her hand across the front. Already lost in it.

I set Jiffy down and am amazed when he doesn’t rush at her like he would anyone else. We watch in silence. She takes the book over to the big beanbag and sinks in. It’s like she forgets we’re here. Her body becomes so engulfed in the chair’s violet fabric all I can see are the milky cotton socks spilled around her ankles.

I sneak away to make some lunch. She must be hungry and I’m sure I’ve burned through a thousand calories by now my heart rate is so high.

I smooth jam over bread, but can’t help myself and tiptoe back to Evie’s room for a peek. I find her and Jiff asleep on the beanbag and as I move Evie’s backpack out of the way, a frayed, coverless book falls out onto the floor. Stooping to pick it up, I notice she’s scribbled over her blue Band-Aids with a pink hi-liter, turning them a mottled purple.

“It is magic.” I whisper.

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I entered a contest a while back. I didn’t win. Or even place this time. Which stings. But it’s okay. It’s okay, because I always pay extra to receive a serving of critique alongside my disappointment. And sometimes. When I’m lucky. It ends up making my disappointment taste like dessert.

Yes, there were words like, uneven and cliche (ouch) but the words that really stood out for me were…wonderful imagery, mind-blowing, my favourite sentence and I would enjoy reading more by this author.

And all of that makes me want to grow. Be better.

What’s not sweet about that?

Anyhow, here’s my story:

Missing Love

He fills with words that will only reach the earth, he’s been warned, should they carry their weight in truth. The sweat of his pudgy finger crimps the creases he’s so carefully folded, and he pulls himself in tight, hurling his most sincere spirit into what he must believe will be an accepting unknown…

It can be hard to remember how something began. Details fuzzy and timing, non-specific. But Elian and Luna are not spared in this way. The moment that first child disappeared is forever cut into their hearts. After all, watching someone fade is not easily forgotten. To see them laughing one minute and evaporating the next like a recalled raindrop, hangs heavy in their atmosphere.

Long before despair scraped its way to the core like a surgeon’s scalpel, this small town had been a home. They’d lived in colourful houses. Slept in cozy beds. Trailed fingertips through the fountain and sacrificed pennies for precious wishes. They’d even believed they could swing high enough for their toes to touch the hopeful stars. 

But as children began to vanish one by one, so did the bliss.

Panic took the place of the light hearts that once filled the streets. Terrified mothers imagined mass murders. Undiscovered bodies. Fathers waited with shotguns at the ready for an evil that would never show its face. Paranoia and mourning became a way of life for this once content little place.

Time passed and slowly the township reached a decision to try and understand rather than fight. And as they deliberated, they became shamefully aware that those who’d faded were solely the ones conceived outside of love. Their beginnings had cultivated from the seed of greed. Selfishness. Or pride. Some spawned from lust. Envy. And some, simply a product of rash disregard. 

Slowly, the town determined that not one of the lost had bloomed from a pure moment of tenderness or a sincere form of love.

And, as is human nature, they were eager to replace what was gone. To fix the broken. Fill the void. And so, no lesson learned, they attempted to conceive through what could only be deemed as despair. But their loveless efforts refused to bear the fruits they once had and their barren souls remained smothered in empty darkness.

Now, as Elian and Luna make their way to the fountain, unearthly quiet fills the creeks and crevices. Swings sway loosely in the intermittent wind, their rusty chains straining against a tongue-tied backdrop. The two maneuver through the littered streets, Luna’s fingers curving around Elian’s palm. Long and loose like the limbs of a weeping willow.

The park feels smaller now, its surrounding fence halting at their hips. And they loom over jungle gym bars they couldn’t even reach at three feet tall. Roots of now massive Oaks have thrust through the dusty earth. Tossed the time-warped slide upside down. A wavy serpent. Vacant face peering upward. And a carousel cocked on its side lies like a forgotten toy on a nursery room floor.

But today is unlike any of the many days they’ve ambled this same path. The waterless fountain urges them on, its surrounding air fused with static. A vibrating hum pulling them to it like the towropes that had once hauled them up to the highest of mountaintops. They carry no pennies. Only wishes. And with no words, they hear what the other is thinking. With one glance, they feel what the other is feeling. One touch and they want what the other is wanting.

They are one.

Elian turns and presses his lips to Luna’s forehead. They stand this way for some time, paused in the moment between what was, what is and what could be. Most gave up. Some moved on. Others simply bided their time. Waiting. Withering. Becoming ash between the sheets. But Luna and Elian had only grown stronger. Looked after one another. 

Flourished. Together.

And now they stand at the fountain’s edge. Luna’s lemon coattails flapping in the wind. Elian’s dark curls shifting freely over his brow. He takes her hand in his once more. Waits as the sky begins to change. Magnificent hues kaleidoscope into shapes and patterns. Azures and indigos fold into amethysts and tangerines. They believe it to be the most beautiful thing they have ever seen.

And for a brief moment, it is.

Until a small white tip, the determined nose of a well-intentioned craft, breaks through a slit in the sky’s colourful curtain and glides gracefully, softly, silently into the hearts of their two accepting souls.

This is the most beautiful thing they’ve ever seen. 

Luna feels the stir. Almost sees the pudgy finger. Elian reaches down to touch the swell of colours that cascade from the sky and stretch across her belly.

“Welcome, little one.” He whispers. “This is love.”

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Do you ever feel like writing – like, really blowing something out of the water – but your mind is so muddled. So clouded.

 

That you can’t.

 

For the life of you.

 

Figure out what it is you wanna say. Or what it is that’s worth saying.

 

Well, hang on to your hats. Because that’s me this time ‘round.

 

I know I’m almost always obscure. Abstract. But in general, I mostly have an idea when I start a post, of how I want it to read. What point I want to smear across that foreboding blank page. What it is I want to say. What it is that’s worth saying.

 

But not today.

 

No, today, I come to you with open arms and a murky mind. And I ask you – What do you think I should say? What do you wanna hear? And what would make it all worthwhile?

 

Hard questions, I know. And more than likely, impossible to answer.

 

So, stuck here, am I. With a desire. A desire that cannot be fulfilled. Because I am failing to pinpoint the words, the meaning, or the value that I need to convey my purpose.

 

Heartbreaking, isn’t?

 

Sometimes, I think it would be nice to simply curl up on a grassy knoll. Under a rainbow, or maybe the stars. And let it all come to me. Because it seems the more I try to chase it, the further away it gets.

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I know what you’re thinking. This blog is nebulous no more. It’s hastily becoming crystal clear that Hazy is hog-tied by the harrows of her habitat. She seems to be engulfed in the epic endeavors that go along with, well, existing.

You’re only half right. Yes, it’s true. I have found comfort in crafting cunning (at least I think so) tales of ballsy baristas, bereaved bowsers and bursting brains, but I’ve also been writing. Not dysentery dribble, but writing, making things up out of thin air, fabricating fairy tales, staging stories…working my Wonder Woman.

And, I have proof. The other day, after reading through a bunch my past blogs and realizing that most things I write are…for lack of a softer adjective…shite, I received an email telling me that I’ve made it through the first round of judging in another writing contest.

Sometimes I do believe in that higher power. The one that looks out to the turbulent waters, sees you’re drowning and tosses you a floatie in the form of a new follower, a generous comment or sometimes, a glimmer of those very specific affirmations we writers inadvertently crave ~ conspicuous creds.

While I’d love to share the black and white of it all, certain contests forbid submission of works that have been published in any way, including via personal blogs. Makes a blogger feel important, doesn’t it?

So, in the meantime, let’s talk about how much cream cheese I found when cleaning out my far-too-long forgotten fridge.

Cream Cheese

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She wrote thousands of words.

And unlike most other times, it took very little effort. They flowed as quickly as her willowy fingers could scroll them over the page. She didn’t look them up or second-guess, she simply wrote and wrote and as she did, her heart pounded with euphoric anticipation.

Within minutes the story had taken on a life and turned into something she alone, never could have conjured. The characters were vivid smudges of color on the chalky paper. Each one weird, wild and wonderful. Much to her delight, they twittered, twirled and twinkled in front of her very eyes.

Descriptions were riveting and the plot, engrossing. All awakened at her fingertips and she relinquished control of what was happening.

They took over. Grew more animated, more tangible. She felt a draft as they hurried past, saw the pores of their skin, smelled the booze on their breath. Heard them swallow as they ate the food from their plates.

She reached out, wanting to touch what seemed real, but her hand was slapped away. A feeling hard to describe, covered her like a blanket of ice.  Her skin erupted in fear and her heart, still pounding, skipped a beat, maybe two, in shock.

As she stared in horror, the longhand scroll she’d so relished penning, rose up off the page united, and slowly, deliberately made its way around her thin, long neck.

“This is our story.” the robust rope seethed. “You can’t force us to do anything.”

The linked words were frayed at the edges and as they tightened, the delicate skin on her neck began to burn with the friction.

“Your words are ours now. You are ours now.”

As she lay limp, breathless and seconds from lifeless, her once enraptured heart finally stopped beating as she herself, became a part of the story that was never really hers.

Rope 3

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The Next Big Thing 1

An intriguing writer, new friend and born-to-be soul sister from, get this, Northern Ireland, approached me about taking part in a trending blog hop called The Next Big Thing. Flattered, proud and utterly gobsmacked, I accepted before she could change her mind. To peruse Lesley’s charismatic utterings on the subject simply click here.

Lesley Richardson is a writer from Bangor, Co. Down, who is currently writing her second novel, The Possibilities of Elizabeth. Her first novel, Biddy Weirdo, is yet to be published, but Lesley and her agent, Susan Feldstein, are hopeful that that will soon change.

Represented by the Feldstein Agency, Lesley has received a grant from The Arts Council of Northern Ireland and a writing bursary from North Down Borough Council. She launched her blog, Standing Naked at a Bus Stop last year.

Lesley’s Links:

Standing Naked at a Bus Stop  

Twitter 

Agent, Susan Feldstein 

Giddy with possibility, I rise to the challenge of fulfilling this blog hop quest:

  • What is the working title of your next book?

I currently have two WIP’s; About Face and Hazy Shades of Me

  • Where did the idea(s) come from for the book(s)?

I wrote About Face in 2009, coming up with it literally on a whim as I sat down to start my 50,000 words for a NaNoWriMo challenge. The words streamed onto the page, because you see, Lenore Nashun, my main character, looked a little less than friendly unless she was smiling. I simply had to come to her rescue and prove to readers her cool exterior was actually hiding her warm heart. The story took on a life of its own, as they most often do, and ended up being a mixture of mystery, romance, life lessons and love.

Hazy Shades of Me is a compilation of emotions and experiences morphed into short bites of metaphors. The title, obviously my blog name, could seem a short cut, but honestly, I thought long and hard and I feel it’s what fits best….for now.

  • What genre does your book fall under?

About Face is definitely Chick Lit, although that classification is somewhat forbidden these days and Hazy Shades of Me, is well, shorts of all shades in abstract form.

  • What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie?

Ryan Gosling. Really, he’s probably much too mature to play an aspiring young buck at this point, but I’m assuming it would mean I’d get to meet him, so I don’t care. Besides, as you’ll learn when you read my novel, make-up can work wonders.

Sorry, what’s that? The question refers primarily to the main character? Oh, okay. Well Jennifer Lawrence would be a pretty good pick.

  • What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A young woman’s journey in finding herself through expression and oddly, a fundamental freedom from its hold.

  • Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Oh, to have the luxury…I would dearly love for it to be rep’d by an agency. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

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

About Face: 30 days as per the NaNoWriMo guidelines, then add on the last four years for editing!

Hazy Shades of Me is very much a work in progress, still to be completed.

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

I’m not sure about specific titles, but I tend to think Jennifer Weiner and Sophie Kinsella style when I read About Face.

As for Hazy Shades of Me, I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever read a book of short story metaphors. I guess I have some research to do!

  • What inspired you to write this book?

Writing is a long-time love, but NaNoWriMo is what brought it home for me in 2009. I bought ‘the kit’ as a sort of gag for both a friend and myself. We had been talking about ‘writing a novel’ for some time and I thought it would be something to give us a giggle. To my surprise, she took me seriously and the next thing I knew, we were scribbling 1,667 words a day. More if, heaven forbid, we had to resume reality and miss a day here or there.

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

My characters are tangible, likeable and sincere. Besides, who doesn’t enjoy a mystery slash romance involving mannequins?

The metaphors are, of course, open for interpretation and can mean what ever the reader needs them to, which makes them universally relatable.

Both ideas are fresh, interesting and original.

This is my time to sign off and pass the torch over to a few more stellar stars…again Lesley, thanks so much for the support.

Dex Raven:

Dex writes dark fantasy and horror, when his muse, Violet, cooperates. When she doesn’t, he still attempts to write with varying results. He has a thing for classic monster legends, Egyptian and Nordic mythology, coffee, sarcasm and words that end in “esque”. He is currently working on two books: a fiction/non-fiction mash-up and his first novel.

You will find his fiction as well as his thoughts on the writing process on his primary blog, Dex*Raven

Dex’s (other) links:

LIVE LIKE A GROWNUP

Dex on facebook

Dex on Twitter

Gabriel Lucatero:

My name is Gabriel Lucatero, an aspiring writer. Although Spanish is my first language, everything I write is in English. I don’t really know why I chose to do it that way, but I did it. I’ve studied the language for over 8 years and have written short stories (and a novel in progress) for the last 4 years. I like to write horror with a little bit of mystery thrown in. It was just recently, last October 2012 to be exact, that I decided to show my work to the world. “How else will you ever get published, duh!” I said to myself when I realized that my work couldn’t ever be read if it was in a dusty old drawer.

Gabriel’s Links:

Gabriel’s Blog

Twitter

Gabriel’s Motivational facebook Page

Jennifer Findlay:

I’m just a mom on a mission to spread pearls of wisdom and random photos from her couch, with coffee in hand. I’m an artist at heart with a passion for photography and painting (which I don’t do nearly enough).

I detest doing laundry, especially ironing, and I loathe cleaning out my counter compost bins. I think there’s a mouse in our crawl space, and I’m hoarding a stack of old Weight Watcher’s books that I got every time I joined. Just keepin’ it real.

My favourite time of day is right after I drop off the kids at school, and I have an hour to myself just to sit with my dogs, coffee and computer, while I live vicariously through blogs, Facebook and Pinterest. People are just so damn fascinating.

Jennifer’s Links:

Coffee & Couch on WordPress

Coffee & Couch on facebook

Coffee & Couch on Pinterest

Coffee & Couch on Twitter

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Will I ever be a good writer?

They say the best are those who have no one, hermits, recluses, loners. Everyone they know, dead and gone, all chance of new connections sacrificed. Perhaps, purposely avoided.

I know a lot of people.

I like them. I want to keep them.

I think about and analyze each word, never mind sentence, that I write. It’s hard. Hard to write fiction that may be taken as truth. Is she the sexually abused, the office wallflower, the promiscuous teen…the brokenhearted? 

Writing is a risk. People are always going to read into your words….your stories and make them into what they need them to be.

It’s dicey and, it. is. frightening.

But, it is what we’re gifting. Leeway. License. Liberty. Those who know us will get it.

The ice may crack, a bridge might collapse and we could be dealt a crappy hand.

Forget easy eights, but if we’re willing to work a hard six, we may just hit a lucky seven.

The writer must be in it

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Well, it’s pouring.  No, let me change that to bucketing.  For some, a depressing downer of a wet day, but for me, a perfect opportunity to hole up fireside and delve into post number fifty-one.

I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to come to this place and point for inspiration.  After all, I love this lady, her story, her blog and her wonderful book.  She came highly recommended by a friend of mine a few years ago and let me tell you, one taste and I was hooked.

A ‘foodie’ I am not, but I do eat the stuff and I find it’s much, much better when delicious.  (Simply picturing me winking here is sufficient because when I actually do it, I look a bit like my back just went out)  I digress…

This Superwoman does it all; blogs, cooks, writes books, snagged a husband is a wife, runs businesses, grows babies, photographs all of the above and looks fabulous while doing it.

I’d like to say I adore this (insert one specific thing about her here) the most, but I can’t.  The whole package is just crazy palatable.  Her writing style is seducingly smooth; her subject matter, quite literally devourable.

Spending endless hours in the scullery, or simply eating what comes your way, this master of many trades will arrive at your heart’s doorstep whether she journeys there mentally or digestively.

The site: Orangette, the heroine: Molly Wizenberg.

Molly started her blog in 2004 and published her book in 2009.  Her blog is still going strong and her book is a must-read.  She connects food, dishes and recipes with reflections and her descriptives will have you salivating.  The cuisine is undeniably delectable but honest accounts of her days in Paris, her father and his passing will have your heart aching.

Her very first blog post is here and a glimpse into her book can be found here.

This post wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t acknowledge her grace and generosity.  In March 2011, I emailed Molly, asking if she’d meet in an alley at Delancey (which she happens to own) during one of the nights I’d be in town.  I never expected an answer, but thought it would be a good story, me explaining the nutty thing I’d attempted to pull off.

As luck would have it, she replied.

Within an hour…maybe less…I had an email from Molly Wizenberg saying; “Sure.”

I was ahh-mazed, ahh-stounded and ahh-bsolutely freaking out.

*Side Note: I am in no way encouraging anyone to follow my lead.  This was over a year ago and ‘Mrs. Wizenberg’ has since started a second book, had a baby and opened another bar/restaurant (named Essex, FYI) and is, presumably, much, much busier than she was way back then.

I was very touched by her kindness and will never forget the evening or the experience.  If you ever happen to read this, oh great one, I thank you from the bottom of my writer-reader heart.

By the way…the food just happened to be top-notch.

Molly and Hazy hangin’ Delancey style.

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Today, I’m struggling.  Okay, I struggle most days, but we don’t need to go there.

Today, I am specifically struggling with my blog and what, if anything, to do with it.  I took the appropriate steps in warning you that my premise would be murky and I think I was right on the mark there, but now, I’m wondering if that’s a problem.  It may be a little too hazy…even for me.

I definitely love being able to write whatever it is I’m feeling that day or hone in on something that’s inspired me, but I now find myself contemplating whether or not I need to be more specific.

I’m toying with a second blog; a blog explicitly for fiction.  A glass house in which my stories can live.  Is this a good idea?  Are blogs more fruitful when focused?  Is it a no brainer?  Am I slow off the line or is this a normal rate of progression?  Is this progression?  Or would I be spreading myself too thin?

Is there such a thing as too thin when it comes to writing?

Is this even something to worry about?  Probably not.  I know that, but worry and me…we’re kinda tight.

Do you have input?   Anything?  Anything at all…

Some things are more tender when slightly out of focus…

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Writing…anywhere, anytime, anyplace…

We all take pride in having interests, hobbies and passions.  Further to that, we enjoy feeling like we’re good at something.  Writing does this for me.  (Easy in the comment section, please)

Writing has lurked in my blood and traveled through my bones year after year, but I had no time for it.  Ooh, I dabbled in this and dipped into that.  I took my fair share of writing courses and participated in an assortment of online classes, but actual writing?  Meh.  It’s easy to find distractions from the nitty gritty…get your hands dirty…prove you can write business.

I was busy working, dating, getting married, being pregnant, raising kids, cleaning, cooking, going for coffee, washing my hair…you name it.

But, writing lingered.  Well, actually it poked, prodded, pressured and pushed me.  Everywhere I went, everything I did, writing was there, strategically changing life’s events into type on a page and punctuating dialogue dangling in my mind.

I could blame myself.  Say I didn’t put in the effort.  Rake myself over the coals.  But really, we both knew, writing and me, that it wasn’t my time.   I wasn’t ready.

What do I love most about writing?  It waited.

Thank you to Writing Tips, Thoughts and Whims and Lit and Scribbles for the inspiration.

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