She wasn’t sure she was up to the challenge. How could she look him in the eye and tell him that this dress, this hair, these shoes, none of it was her? How could she have possibly believed she would ever escape the casual cruelty of her mother, let alone though such fantastic means? Her cousin had lent her the outfit, amused at playing fairy godmother. “No one will even recognize you!” She would tell him. She had to. If she really loved him, she owed him the truth. Her resolution evaporated with the first stroke of midnight. She ran.
So I’ve been in a bit of a writing desert recently. However, one thing that I never have a problem cranking out (though there’s rarely any call for it) is silly poetry in classical formats. Without further ado, I give you Goofy Poems About Friends, Installment 1.
Amanda has a doctorate in brains
and studies the effects of arbor growth
when dendrites are subjected to tests both
of stress and non-stress type. She takes great pains
to see her work brings scientific gains.
Indeed, regarding research, she is loath
to be sneaky, except in one case. Quoth
Amanda, “There are some quite specific strains
that — with some tinkering — could well improve
human performance. Add to that a bit
of DNA manipulation… tread
carefully, though. Folks don’t really approve
of messing ’round with living subjects. It’s
best to build your army from the dead.”
This beautiful instrument is my new Parker Sonnet. It is not my everyday pen. It is not the pen I use in my idealized author’s garret to write stories (I prefer pencil for that, anyway). This is the pen I use when I am writing letters to my friends or thank you notes or birthday cards. I’m still getting used to this particular pen, but I love the way ink flows from a Parker (I’ve had a couple others, including my grandmother’s Parker 51 and my very first fountain pen which was lost during a small bike accident a few months back). I love the weight of fountains pens in general, as if the weight of the pen somehow conveys something more to my words. For me, the paper has to be good, too. No notebook paper or stationery pads. Right now, I’ve got a mix of Cranes, Crown Mill (in grey and in yellow) and some from local stationers.
None of this is vital, of course. I’ve enjoyed postcards and notes scribbled on Texts From DS9 memes. there’s always great pleasure in receiving a letter from a friend. But for me, there is equal pleasure in the writing– in choosing the pen, the ink, the paper to suit the recipient. My mother made me practice handwriting until I reached high school, and I hated it. But now, there’s pleasure in the physical act of placing words on paper and knowing they don’t look out of place with the quality of the materials. And it’s always nice to think that you might make someone’s day better when in amid the bills and the junk, there’s a handwritten letter for them. Not an email or a text or something equally ephemeral, but a tangible, physical thing that says someone cared enough about them to spend some time considering language, considering news or stories, considering them.
This past Monday was my birthday. That, in and of itself, if not the exciting part. The exciting part is that I got an email. This particular exciting email informed me that a short story that I wrote two years ago and submitted on a whim (after many, many rejections) will be published this August in A Literation.
I realize this is a short post, but the words I have are inadequate to the excitement of my first real publication, and I do not believe anyone want to read lines and lines of the transcription of the high-pitched sound that echoed through my brain as it tried to comprehend the news.
In short: hooray for writing and hooray for A Literation!
In case you maybe somehow haven’t heard, the Harper Lee novel Go Set a Watchman was released yesterday. I have seen plenty of comments and posts saying they will read it or they will never own a copy. I have seen plenty of reviews that say it falls far short of To Kill a Mockingbird (honestly, how could it not). I have also, just like many of you, questioned the motivation and timing of its release. If it is, however, what it is purported to be — an earlier draft of Mockingbird given a strong Revise & Resubmit by her publishers — then it is utterly fascinating.
It is a fascinating glimpse into the HOW of writing something as timeless and enduring as To Kill a Mockingbird. Personally, I don’t care whether she’s accurately captured our hopes and dreams for the future of beloved characters because — and this is very important — they aren’t the same characters. So Atticus is a racist? That’s an important stop the character made on the way to becoming the man who defends Tom Robinson. Jean-Louise’s grown-up problems fade into the sharper, more black-and-white, fair-and-unfair problems of a six-year-old. I confess, there’s something comforting about the idea of Aunt Alexandra being largely unchanged.
Some people have suggested that this new writing will irreversibly taint the old. I humbly suggest that these people are wrong in both their expectations and their extrapolations of Watchman. To be fair, it is not all their fault; Watchman was billed as a sequel, which it is not. It is billed as new, which it is not. It is a draft. To Kill a Mockingbird is a wonderful, beautiful, enduring novel, but it did not spring fully-formed from the mind of Ms. Lee. It took work and messiness and writing and rewriting. I think there is both room and reason to appreciate Go Set a Watchman for what it is: an imperfect stepping stone to one of the pinnacles of American literature.
So I finished writing a children’s story this week and sent it off to a publisher on Friday. It’s a different kind of story that I usually write, but that could be a good thing. I’m excited and optimistic, but realistically, there are at least a few more rejections in store. At least the current publisher I’ve submitted to actually responds to all submissions. Nothing’s worse than waiting 3-6 months to hear… nothing.
In the meantime, I’m trying to crank out some poetry and flash fics and submitting them where and when I can. Personally, I find the hardest part of writing is actually forcing myself to do it.
So I’m working on a new short story in a genre I’ve never worked in before. I’m moving from mystery to horror for this one, but I’m having a bit of a difficult time switching gears. So really, I have some questions for anyone who would care to answer.
- Do you genre-hop when you write?
- If you do, does it take you a while to get in the swing of your new genre?
- How do you combat that?
- Does this mean I am doing writing ALL WRONG? (trick question)