I don’t write to be famous, I don’t write to be known, I write because I am and I want to be read. How sad to fill a room with paintings no one sees or play music no one hears. Writing is talking without sound, singing without score and dancing without movement and yet, it is all of them. It is a solitary art conjured from thought and expressed by the need to communicate.

HEAD-SLAPS, SPEED-BUMPS and LIGHT-BULBS, one woman's WTF, oops and ah-ha moments of life, is the name of my memoir/essay collection with why I wrote what I wrote and what happened after. They were published once and as every writer knows, once is not enough.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Spinning plates among the pencil trees



Why am I spinning so many plates?

Question: Do other writers spin settings for a table of ten or do they concentrate on just one at the head?
Answer: Of course they concentrate. With a narrowed focus they proceed with finitude and discipline to perfect a performance which can only be perceived as flawless.

Here’s a very honest display of my spinning 10” chipped stoneware:

Column, weekly deadline, am 4 weeks ahead.
Novel #1 complete, 82,000 words, out there, brought back, WTFs the problem?
Novel #2 complete, 78,500 words, full at a publisher.
30 short stories need rewrites.
Essays out the ass, done, polished, a little buffing, click and send
Non-fiction WIP (First year as a newspaper columnist, ‘force and fallout’ compilation)
Novel #3, great American novel, knock your socks off twist. A literary loss if never completed.
Novel #4, unfinished amazing story I can only take time to finish if someone pays me to. Would make a  great movie.
Nonfiction literary memoir/family saga, short version done.
Family, two blogs, posts, comments, FB, QQ’s, full-time job, I ain’t getting any younger. 

I pogo-stick from one project to another. Someone please, tell me what to do, what to focus on. 
Page 13 to 29, Chapter One, The Ambivalent Writer, Betsy Lerner's, The FOREST for the TREES. She personally told me in the last paragraph what to do.

I'm an essayist, God-dammit, I'm a columnist. Thanks Betsy for reminding me.
See, I knew someone would answer my question.
Got any of your own?
Go spin your plates in the pencil-trees.




Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Who done it?



We call ourselves the Inspired Writers, a small pack of word-whores who meet from time to time to learn, bitch and moan about the system but most of all to support each other. We met last night to read. 

We called our short stories ‘Killer Cocktails for the Soul’, sort of a twisted take on the whole chicken soup thing. We had to kill someone in 1000 words or less. It was a blast. I bumped off the UPS man, I mean why not, he didn’t look good in brown, does anyone? Doing him in wasn’t near as interesting as figuring out how to get rid of his big truck full of stuff. But I did it and was never caught. A husband was having an affair, then he wasn’t, but the writer killed him anyway, it was an accident, really it was. A biker-dude was murdered in a very nasty way and two kids blew up the umpire of their losing baseball game. One of the stories which was shared, not read, was the creepiest of all. The person the writer chose to kill, died shortly after she finished writing her short story; she’s burning sage.

We read the books, watch movies and see in the papers how some people end the lives of others. I must say we were creative.

Have you killed anyone...in print?

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Fancy Man


Sitting across the kitchen table from my father, as I did my homework and he paid bills, I disliked what I was doing, just as much as he disliked his task. Sometimes when homework was done, and he had addressed his last envelope, I’d be doodling and he’d be writing a letter. As I struggled to get just the right image, I’d watch as he effortlessly created a message esthetically impressive and emotionally perfect.

Watching his fountain pen race across the page I marveled at how each intricate swirl and line not only created a beautiful picture to look at, but that the drawings, each in their own perfect row created words like love, longing and loss. He always addressed our birthday cards and gift tags; his font was one of pride in making the most of paper, pen and sentiment.

Though sometimes difficult to read, because it was so elaborate, my father’s writing looked like black lace on a white tablecloth.

My mother’s penmanship, the ‘Palmer Method’ she called it, also a series of lovely lines, was easier to read and more practical looking. She was the list maker for groceries and to-do’s. Hers was the hand which wrote the teachers our sick-notes and penned notations on the calendar for school events. For Hallmark, my father’s writing would have been the cover of the card, my mother’s the inside saying.

To my mother and father neat penmanship was as important as an ironed blouse and a pressed crease in a pair of slacks.

“If it is a first impression, make a good one,” they’d say, “and if it’s not, your words should at least be well groomed.”
           
The way my father wrote, with frills, was at odds with the kind of man he was. Straight forward and plain speaking he did not embellish expression and yet he was so funny he'd have us on the floor laughing. He was a cabinet maker and builder. In his wood shop he had every hand tool available and every power tool Sears sold. That from his rough and scarred hands such delicacy of design immerged, spoke of his artistic side.

He was a draftsman, using perfectly sharpened pencils and exacting rules of measurement to create the drawings which communicated to builders how they were supposed to do their job; his proudest accomplishment, helping to design and draw the piping system of the nation’s first atomic submarine, the USS Nautilus.

I was at the launching of the Nautilus in 1954 with my family and though I don’t remember the specifics of the day I do remember the joy and awe my father felt because he had been a part of such an important project. His pride was what spilled over, pride in a job well done, as well as pride in the way he signed his name.

What are you proud of ?


Friday, June 7, 2013

A salty observation


Before they come and after they leave

Sand, sea, cool breeze, waves lapping at the edge of Long Island Sound. It’s a small beach, manageable for someone with half-clothed body issues; I’m worse than many and better than a few.

Giggles rise above the constant hum of the day. Standing on the high water line a mother yells for her kids to get out of the water it’s time to leave and don’t make me come out there and get you. A kid, alone, shouts for mom to look, mom look, mom, mom. Rising above the wash of her book she zeros in on the water-logged voice, the kid does a handstand and is knocked over by a tiny wave. Waves are small at our beach but the little guy comes upright hopping and sputtering did ya see, did ya see? She waves and nods. He dives again for another attempt, goes vertical and holds it until I think his lungs will burst. When his head emerges she waves again and claps; I hear a few more claps on the beach from strangers who have been watching as I have. I do not clap; I focus on a leather skinned fat man. His belly stretched so tight, if I pricked him with pin, like a big brown kid’s balloon he’d rocket above our heads in blubbering s-curves until he landed in a little wrinkled pile of plastic next to a sand castle.

On backs and stomachs bodies prone are soaking up killer rays. Women on blankets sit straight, tug at straps to keep boobs from going south. Upright men on blankets lean forward as a community of round backed males, do they know how disturbing the look of so many naked spines curved in a C.

Though my suit is dry, I lick my lips and taste salt. Coppertone, the smell of summer, drifts among the crowd. The hum continues, the bake increases, laughter, a distant radio, I sit and observe. When I begin to invent stories to fit the characters on the beach, it is time to leave. Enough; I cannot fill my head with a storm surge of more than I have seen.

I ask myself, does observing supersede enjoyment or is it the pleasure?